Composition and Microstructure Effects on Superplasticity in Magnesium Alloys

  • Hossain Rashed

    Student thesis: Phd


    Magnesium is the lightest structural metal and magnesium alloys are therefore obvious candidates in weight critical applications. The environmental imperative to reduce vehicle emissions has recently led to intensified research interest in magnesium, since weight reduction is one of the most effective ways of improving fuel efficiency. The hexagonal close-packed structure of magnesium results in poor room temperature formability. However, on heating, several magnesium alloys show superplastic properties, with the ability to deform to very high strains (up to 3000%). This opens up the possibility of forming complex components directly by superplastic forming (SPF). As a result, SPF of magnesium is a highly active research topic. The most widely used class of magnesium alloys contain aluminium as the major alloying addition, which has a relatively high solubility in magnesium, and manganese, which has a less solubility. The effect of these elements on the deformation behaviour and failure mechanisms operating in the superplastic regime is not yet well understood. The objective of this work was to gain fundamental insights into the role of these elements. To do this, alloys with different aluminium content (AZ31 and AZ61) and manganese levels have been studied in-depth.After casting, all alloys were subject to a hot rolling procedure that produced a similar fine grain size and texture in each material. Hot uniaxial testing was performed at temperatures between 300 to 450 degC and at two strain rates to investigate the material flow behaviour, elongation to failure and failure mechanism. All of the alloys exhibited flow curves characterised by an initial hardening and extensive flow softening region. Dynamic recrystallization did not occur, and the flow softening was attributed to grain growth and cavity formation. Increasing the level of aluminium in solution was observed to increase the grain growth rate, and also reduce the strain rate sensitivity. The elongation to failure, however, depended strongly on the manganese level but not on the aluminium content. This attributed to the role of manganese in forming coarse particles that act as sites for cavitation.To study cavity formation and growth, and its effect on failure, a series of tests were conducted to different strain levels followed by investigation of cavitation in 3-dimensions using X-ray tomography. New methods were developed to quantify the correlation between cavities and coarse particles using X-ray tomography data and it was shown that over 90% of cavities are associated with particles. Cavity nucleation occurred continuously during straining, with progressively smaller particles forming cavities as strain increased. The mechanism of cavity formation and growth was identified, and it has been demonstrated that particle agglomerates are effective sites for cavity formation even when the individual particles in the agglomerates are below the critical size predicted by theory for cavity nucleation sites. These results suggest that to improve the ductility of magnesium alloys in the superplasticity regime, it is most critical to minimise the occurrence of particle agglomerates in the microstructure.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2010
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorJoseph Robson (Supervisor)


    • magnesium alloys
    • superplasticity
    • hot deformation
    • cavitation
    • X-ray Tomography

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