In order to develop the application of the more cost-effective copper-based shape memory alloys (SMAs), rather than nickel–titanium as earthquake energy dissipaters, the influence of ausforming-induced plastic deformation on phase transformations, microstructure, super elasticity and mechanical properties of the shape memory alloy Cu-26Zn-4Al was examined. These specific SMA properties were targeted by applying appropriate parameters of the thermomechanical (the so-called ausforming) process: beta-phase homogenization at 800 °C for 20 min, one-step hot rolling at 800 °C and water quenching. The results showed significant microstructural changes, increased mechanical resistance and change in the phase transformation behavior. The SMA treated by ausforming retained the reversible austenitic–martensitic transformation ability, with the appearance of the super-elastic effect up to 6% of strain recovery. Although some strengthening occurred after hot rolling (an increase in true yield strength of 125 MPa was detected), all phase transformation temperatures were decreased. The smallest decrease was detected for the austenite finish temperature (32.8 °C) and the largest for the martensite finish temperature (42.0 °C), allowing both the expansion and the lowering of the temperature range of super elasticity, which is favorable for construction applications. It is concluded that it is possible to achieve an optimal combination of adequate strength and improved transformation behavior of Cu-Zn-Al alloy by applying the ausforming treatment.
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