Severe plastic deformation (SPD) can be used to generate ultra-fine grained microstructures and thus to increase the strength of many materials. Unfortunately, high strength aluminum alloys are generally hard to deform, which puts severe limits on the feasibility of conventional SPD methods. In this study, we use low temperature equal-channel angular pressing (ECAP) to deform an AA7075 alloy. We perform ECAP in a custom-built, cooled ECAP-tool with an internal angle of 90° at −60 °C and with an applied backpressure. In previous studies, high-strength age hardening aluminum alloys were deformed in a solid solution heat treated condition to improve the mechanical properties in combination with subsequent (post-ECAP) aging. In the present study, we systematically vary the initial microstructure—i.e., the material condition prior to low temperature ECAP—by (pre-ECAP) natural aging. The key result of the present study is that precipitates introduced prior to ECAP speed up grain refinement during ECAP. Longer aging times lead to accelerated microstructural evolution, to increasing strength, and to a transition in fracture behavior after a single pass of low temperature ECAP. These results demonstrate the potential of these thermo-mechanical treatments to produce improved properties of high-strength aluminum alloys.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited