Investigation of microstructural and mechanical properties of cell walls of closed-cell aluminium alloy foams
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This study investigates the influence of microstructure on the strength properties of individual cell walls of closed-cell stabilized aluminium foams (SAFs). Optical microscopy (OM), micro-computed X-ray tomography (µ-CT), electron backscattering diffraction (EBSD), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) analyses were conducted to examine the microstructural properties of SAF cell walls. Novel micro-tensile tests were performed to investigate the strength properties of individual cell walls. Microstructural analysis of the SAF cell walls revealed that the material consists of eutectic Al-Si and dendritic a-Al with an inhomogeneous distribution of intermetallic particles and micro-pores (void defects). These microstructural features affected the micro-mechanism fracture behaviour and tensile strength of the specimens. Laser-based extensometer and digital image correlation (DIC) analyses were employed to observe the strain fields of individual tensile specimens. The tensile failure mode of these materials has been evaluated using microstructural analysis of post-mortem specimens, revealing a brittle cleavage fracture of the cell wall materials. The micro-porosities and intermetallic particles reduced the strength under tensile loading, limiting the elongation to fracture on average to ~3.2% and an average ultimate tensile strength to ~192 MPa. Finally, interactions between crack propagation and obstructing intermetallic compounds during the tensile deformation have been elucidated.
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