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Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Materials Science & Engineering A


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/msea

Effects of stress concentration on low-temperature fracture behavior


of A356 alloy
Guanghui Ma, Runxia Li n, Rongde Li
School of Material Science and Engineering, Shenyang University of Technology, China

art ic l e i nf o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The effect of stress concentration on the dislocation motion, the Si particles and the crack propagation
Received 9 February 2016 path in A356 alloy at the temperature of 20 C to  60 C was analyzed by scanning electron microscope
Received in revised form and optical microscope using a series of notched tensile specimens and normal tensile specimens. The
21 April 2016
results show that the sensitivity of A356 alloy to the stress concentration increases, the tensile strength
Accepted 7 May 2016
Available online 11 May 2016
and yield strength of normal specimens and notched specimens increase, and the elongation shows a
decreasing trend with the decrease of test temperature from 20 C to  60 C. The yield strength is not
Keywords: affected by the notch, and the tensile strength is sensitive to the stress concentration. Stress con-
Al-Si alloy centration leads to a large number of dislocation generation. Local plastic deformation occurred in the
Si particle
stress concentration region during the tensile process rstly. With the stress concentration in the alu-
Dislocation
minum matrix between the Si phase and the crack further increasing, the distribution of cracks along the
Stress concentration
Crack expansion Si phase leads to the cracking of aluminum matrix particle.
& 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction concentration which promotes the movement of dislocations has


great inuences on the low temperature mechanical property of
With the rapid development of high-speed railway in recent Al-Si alloy. Previously, the research have found that the plastic
years, A356 alloy for high-speed train sleeper materials are widely deformation of Al-Si alloy in the low-temperature environment
used. Because of the cold winter in northern China, theA356 alloy has the trend of homogenization. This is the main reason for the
castings are in a long-term low temperature state. Beam structure increase in the number of fracture Si phase [20]. The other shows
is very complex, the local plastic deformation caused by the stress that the stress in the aluminum between fractured Si particles
concentration will lead to low stress fracture [1,2]. It is very ne- increases sharply. The Si particles fracture very fast, the aluminum
cessary to study the inuence of stress concentration on the occur less plastic deformation. So the aluminum is more likely to
fracture behavior of A356 alloy in low temperature environment. quasi-cleavage fracture. It is the main reason for the decrease in
During the tension of Al-Si alloys, the initial micro cracks formed the elongation of A356 alloy at low temperature [21]. In this paper,
in the Si phase, and the stress concentration was formed at the the changes of tensile properties at low temperature of A356 alloy
crack tip [310]. Jien [11] found that Si phase fracture occurs only notched specimens and normal specimens were compared, the
in the plastic deformation phase of Al-Si alloys. Doglione study on effect of stress concentration on the fracture behavior of the alloy
A356 alloy and found the size of Si phase, the ratio of length to was studied.
width and the distribution of Si phase are the main factors that
affect the Si phase fracture [12]. Caceres maintained that the
number of eutectic Si phase is proportional to the shape variable at 2. Experimental
room temperature [13,14]. The study of Rincon on A319 alloy
shows that the strength of the alloy decreases with the increase of The experimental material is A356 alloy, and its chemical
composition is shown in Table 1. Alloy was melted in a resistance
temperature [15,16]. Gokhale found that the number of Si phase
furnace, and the melting temperature was controlled at 730 C.
rupture increased with the decrease of temperature [17]. Umeza-
And the Sr was used for modication. In argon atmosphere, the
wa found that the renement of Si phase improved the low tem-
alloy was rened by electromagnetic stirring method, then
perature plasticity of Al-Si alloys [18,19].
casted into billets specimen. The heat treatment process is as
Therefore, micro crack formation region Si phase and the stress
follows: 525 C for 8 h solution treatment, 165 C for 6 h aging
treatment [22,23].
n
Corresponding author. The tensile sample was prepared according to GB/T 13239-2006

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msea.2016.05.026
0921-5093/& 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
460 G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467

Table 1 Table 2
Chemical composition of A356 alloy (mass fraction, %). Physical parameters of A356 alloy [24].

Si Mg Ti Fe Cu Zn Al Elastic modulus (GPa) Poisson ratio Density (g/cm3)

7.24 0.324 0.192 0.154 0.007 0.012 Bal. 69 0.31 2.66

standard. The specimen geometry and notch radii are shown in Fig. 1.
Some of the samples were drawn before polishing to dislocate slip
band during tensile deformation. Tensile testing temperature is 20 C
to  80 C. The sample is cooled in the cooling tank for 15 min and the
tensile rate is 2 mm/min. The experimental results obtained are the
average values of the test values of the 3 samples under the same
conditions.
TM3030 scanning electron microscope was used to observe the
fracture morphology and the distribution of dislocation slip bands
in the tensile test specimens. The microstructure of the fracture
surface of the specimen was observed by OLYMPUS-GX51 optical
microscope.
The nite element analysis of the notch specimen during the
loading process was carried out by ANSYS software. The sample
model was built in actual size (1:1). The process of tensile test was
simulated by transient analysis method. When the notch specimen
loaded on the nominal yield strength, The plastic deformation of
Fig. 2. Tensile properties of A356 alloy at different temperature.
the sample can be neglected. The linear elastic material con-
stitutive relation was selected. The specic parameters of A356
alloy are shown in Table 2 [24]. The loading condition was that the
degree of freedom was completely constrained on one end of the
sample, and the displacement the increased on other end of the
sample. The Time history curve of stress was obtained to extract-
ing the time point, that the average stress reached yield strength.
Finally, the stress nephogram was obtained on the time.

3. Result

3.1. Mechanical property and fracture morphology

The tensile properties of A356 alloy normal specimens and


notched specimens are shown in Fig. 2. Tensile strength and yield
strength are nominal stress. The tensile strength is equal to the
breaking load divided by the net cross-sectional area of the spe-
cimen. The yield strength is equal to the stress divided by the net
cross-sectional area of the specimen when the specimen is in the
Fig. 3. NSR of A356 alloy at different temperature.
overall yield. The minimum cross-sectional area of the notched
specimen is equal to the cross-sectional area of the sample. As can
Notch sensitivity ratio (NSR) of normal and notched A356 alloys
be seen in Fig. 2, the tensile strength and yield strength of normal
specimens and notched specimens are increased with the decrease specimens is shown in Fig. 3. As can be seen from the Figs. 2 and 3,
of test temperature, and the elongation shows a decreasing trend. the tensile strength of notched specimens at room temperature is
The yield strength and elongation are not sensitive to the stress lower than that of normal specimens, and NSR is 1.08. When the
concentration. temperature is reduced to  20 C, the tensile strength of the two

Fig. 1. Schematics of tensile specimens: (a) normal tensile specimens; (b) notch tensile specimens.
G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467 461

Fig. 4. Fracture morphology of normal tensile specimens at different temperature: (a) 20 C; (b)  60 C.

samples is basically the same, at this time NSR is 1.09. When the appeared a large area of the quasi cleavage plane at  60 C in
temperature drops to  80 C, the tensile strength of the normal Fig. 5(c). Compared with the center position, the area of quasi
specimens increased signicantly, while the tensile strength of cleavage planes is larger in Fig. 5(d).
notched specimens is small, and the NSR increases to 1.18. This
phenomenon shows that the stress concentration has a great in- 3.2. Tissue structure near fracture
uence on the fracture of A356 alloy at low temperature.
Fig. 4 is the fracture morphology of the normal sample. As The tensile fracture surface of the normal specimen at 20 C is
shown in Fig. 4(a), the fracture morphology of normal specimens shown in Fig. 6(a). The turning point of the main crack path is not
consist of dimples at 20 C. The bottom of the dimples are tiny close to the 90 angle, which indicates that the main crack is ex-
cleavage planes of Si partials. As shown in Fig. 4(b), a large area of tended from the inside of the sample. As shown in Fig. 6(b), cracks
the quasi cleavage plane appears in the normal specimen fracture have been extended along the eutectic structure, a large plastic
morphology at  60 C, with the number of dimples decreasing. deformation occurred in the -Al dendrites near the crack end
Fig. 5 is the fracture morphology of notched specimens. As can point which lead to necking. As shown in Fig. 6(c), the crack
be seen from Fig. 5(a) and (b), the fracture morphology in the area changes the expansion path under the inuence of - Al dendritic
of the notch and the center is composed of dimples and tearing distribution state. As shown in Fig. 6(d), there are many cracks
ridges at 20 C. The fracture morphology of the center position near the fracture of eutectic area.

Fig. 5. Fracture morphology of notch tensile specimens: (a) center of notch tensile specimens at 20 C; (b) boundry of notch tensile specimens at 20 C; (c) center of notch
tensile specimens at  60 C; (d) boundry of notch tensile specimens at  60 C.
462 G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467

Fig. 6. Fracture microstructures of A356 alloy at 20 C: (a)(d) normal tensile specimen; (e)(h) notch tensile specimen.
G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467 463

Fig. 7. Fracture microstructures of A356 alloy at  60 C: (a)(d) normal tensile specimen; (e)(h) notch tensile specimen.

Fig. 6(e) is a notch specimen tensile fracture structure at 20 C, Fig. 6(f), the crack near the notch root with axial 45 angle has a
its main crack starts from the eutectic organization near the notch short extension. When faces with the block of -Aldendritic, the
root and extends to the center along the eutectic organization. In crack changes direction and expands to the test center. At A point,
464 G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467

there are two different direction of crack propagation. Among


Fig. 7(b). In Fig. 7(c), the main crack extensions into A and B , stress
them the distribution of the eutectic organization is not conducive
concentration make Si phase near the A fracture form tiny crack. It
to the upward crack extend to the center. In Fig. 6(g), there are tiny
can be seen from Fig. 7(d) that the crack bypasses the -Al den-
crack on the tip of the branch crack near the eutectic area. This is drite and forms the rough path.
because of the stress concentration which causes the local plastic Fig. 7(e) is a notch specimen tensile fracture structure at
deformation in the vicinity of the eutectic structure at the crack tip  60 C. Cracks form near the notch of the specimen and extend
during the expansion process. As a result, micro cracks form in the along with the axial direction into 45. Compared with Fig. 6(e),
Si phase. Fig. 6(h) shows that the main crack connected with the there are many small cracks near the fracture surface and the
tearing eutectic structure along the opposite direction is at the expansion path of the main crack is more rugged. Fig. 7(f) shows
closest position at the B point. that the starting point of the crack is not in the notch tip but in the
Fig. 7(a) is a normal specimen tensile fracture structure at eutectic structure affected by the notch stress concentration. As
60 C. Compared with Fig. 6(a), the number of small cracks in- can be seen from Fig. 7(g), the main cracks extending along the
creases in eutectic microstructure near the fracture surface in low opposite direction connect at the C point. As can be seen from
temperature environment. The extending direction of the main Fig. 7(h), the strength of Al matrix is increased under low tem-
crack is 45 with the axial angle and the expansion path is tor- perature environment. The resistance of crack propagation in eu-
tuous. A large number of small cracks appeared in the eutectic tectic structure increases, which causes the crack propagation di-
structure near the edge of the necking zone of the specimen in rection to change or crack.

Fig. 8. Morphology of dislocation slip bands A356 alloys at 20 C: (a)(d) normal tensile specimen; (e)(h) notch tensile specimen.
G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467 465

3.3. Dislocation slip bands near the fracture surface Fig. 8(e) is a notch specimen with a distribution map of dis-
location slip bands near the fracture surface at 20 C. Compared
Fig. 8(a) is a normal specimen with a distribution map of dis- with Fig. 8(a), there are a large number of dislocation slip bands
location slip bands near the fracture surface at 20 C. There is near the fracture surface and only a small amount of dislocation
obvious tearing deformation on the fracture surface and the bulk slip bands far from the fracture surface. In Fig. 8(f), a large number
of the sample is distributed in a large number of dislocation slip of dislocation slip bands appear in the local deformation zone of
bands. There are a large number of dislocation slip bands between the notch root, and the fracture Si phase occurs between the slip
the micro cracks in Fig. 8(b) and the cracks are going to combine bands. In Fig. 8(g), the crack tip forms stress concentration and the
into a big crack. In Fig. 8(c), a large number of dislocations are dislocation slip bands are formed around the dislocations. The
gathered at the tip of the crack propagation process which lead to number of dislocation slip bands and the fracture Si phases in
Si phase fracture. As can be seen from Fig. 8(d), in the expansion Fig. 8(g) is less than that in Fig. 8(c). Because of the large plastic
process of the cracks large plastic deformation occurs in the vici- deformation, a large number of dislocations occurred in the nor-
nity of the aluminum matrix, but the cracks cannot expand mal specimen before the crack growth, and the partial Si phase
through the primary -Al dendrites. was broken. In the notched specimen, the plastic deformation

Fig. 9. Morphology of dislocation slip bands in A356 alloy at  60 C: (a)(d)normal tensile specimen; (e)(h)notch tensile specimen.
466 G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467

Fig. 10. Schematic illustration of micro-cracks initiating in A356 alloy: (a) notch tensile specimen; (b) normal tensile specimen.

Fig. 11. Analysis of stress in the notch tensile specimen: (a) applied stress is 230 MPa; (b) applied stress is 251 MPa.

Fig. 12. Schematic illustration of crack expansion in A356 alloy: (a) dislocation emission; (b) Si particle fracturing; (c) crack coalescence.

occurs only in the crack propagation process. In Fig. 8(h), it is 4. Results and discussion
shown that the direction of dislocation slip is affected by the grain
direction and the direction of maximum shear stress. 4.1. The effect of stress concentration on the formation of initial
Fig. 9(a) is a distribution map of dislocation slip bands near the crack
fracture surface of a normal specimen at 60 C. Compared with
Fig. 8(a), there is no obvious tearing deformation in the fracture Fig. 10(a) is a schematic diagram of micro crack formation in
surface. Fig. 9(b) shows that the strength of the aluminum matrix A356 alloy notched specimens. During tensile deformation, local
increases at low temperature, and the micro cracks form in the deformation occurs at the root of notch. The local deformation
fracture Si phase which are difcult to be further extended. leads to a large number of dislocations produced and piled up in
Compared with Fig. 8(c), the dislocation slip bands near the crack the vicinity of the Si edge. With the increase of dislocation, Si
tip in Fig. 9(c) and (d) are signicantly reduced in the Si phase. fracture caused the initial crack. Therefore, the fracture of notched
Fig. 9(e) is the distribution map of dislocation slip bands near specimen is the crack extending to the center. The formation of
the fracture surface of notched specimens at  60 C. There is only micro cracks in normal specimens is shown in Fig. 10(b). In the
a small amount of plastic deformation at the fracture surface. As process of tensile deformation, the whole deformation of the
can be seen from Fig. 9(f), the crack propagation direction is af- sample is relatively uniform. The motion of dislocations in the
fected by the eutectic structure. Compared with Fig. 8(g), the alloy is mainly affected by the internal structure. With the increase
dislocation near the crack tip is reduced. In Fig. 9(g), it is shown of deformation, because of the piling up of the dislocation initial
that the dislocation near the crack tip cause the formation of micro micro cracks formed in the Si phase in the sample. So the fracture
cracks near the Si phase. In low temperature environment, the mechanism of the normal specimen is that the crack forms in the
strength of aluminum matrix is increased, and the crack tip is internal specimen and expands to both two ends.
difcult to tear the aluminum matrix and connect with the micro Fig. 11 is the stress distribution of the A356 notched specimen
cracks. The number of dislocation slip bands in the two sides of the during the tensile process. As can be seen from Fig. 11(a), the
main crack propagation path is reduced in Fig. 9(h). applied stress reaches the yield strength of 230 MPa (the yield
G. Ma et al. / Materials Science & Engineering A 667 (2016) 459467 467

strength of the alloy at room temperature), the maximum stress of 5. Conclusions


notch root is 656 MPa. Local deformation zone formed near the
notch root. As shown in Fig. 11(b), the applied stress reaches the (1) With the decrease of the test temperature, the sensitivity of
yield strength of  80 C (251 MPa), the maximum value of notch A356 alloy to the stress concentration is increased, both the tensile
root stress is 712 MPa. When the loading of A356 alloy reaches the strength and the yield strength of the normal and notched speci-
yield strength, the stress concentration of notch root will increase mens are increased. The yield strength of the sample is not af-
dramatically. Increasing the local deformation of the stress con- fected by the notch, and the tensile strength is sensitive to the
centration zone will promote the formation of micro cracks in the
stress concentration. The elongation of notched specimen is af-
Si phase. Therefore, the A356 alloy is sensitive to the stress con-
fected by the stress concentration. Elongation of notched speci-
centration at low temperature.
mens decreases under the inuence of stress concentration. But
4.2. The effect of stress concentration on the crack expansion the elongation of the two samples changes the same with the
change of temperature.
Fig. 12 is a schematic diagram of the crack propagation in the (2) Local plastic deformation occurred in the stress concentra-
eutectic structure of A356 alloy. The stress eld at the crack tip can tion region of A356 alloy during the tensile process rstly. A large
be expressed as follows [25]: number of dislocations are generated to cause the Si phase to
crack. Initial crack of notched specimen is produced in the eutectic
3
cos 1 sin sin structure of notch root. The initial crack is generated in the eu-
( r, ) 2 2 2
xx
tectic structure near the internal defect of the normal specimen.
K
yy ( r , ) = cos 1 + sin sin 3 (3) In the process of crack propagation in A356 alloy, stress
2 r 2 2 2 concentration leads to a large number of dislocation generation.

xy ( r , )

sin 3 These dislocations pile up in the vicinity of Si and lead Si phase
cos cos
2 2 2 (1) fracture. With the stress concentration in the aluminum matrix
between the Si phase and the crack further increasing, the dis-
tribution of cracks along the Si phase leads to the cracking of
zz = ( xx + yy ) (2)
aluminum matrix.

xz = yz = 0 (3)

where is Poisson ratio, K is the apparent stress intensity factor, References


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