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Article · March 2012

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Metallurgical Evaluation of Al 6063 Alloy Using Eddy Current Non-Destructive Testing (ECNDT)

Eng. HOZIEFA W. (1) , Prof. Ahmed Atlam (1) , Prof. A. Motagaley (1) , Prof.M. Elshafaaey (2) (1) Mining and Pet. Department, Faculty of engineering, Al azhar University (2) QA/QC Dep. National Center of Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control

ABSTRACT:

The paper examines the solution heat treatment of an extruded 6063 aluminum alloy using eddy current testing (as a NDT tool). The study shows that the strength and fracture resistance

of this metal alloy can be influenced to an appreciable extent by the solution heat treatment

used in this investigation and can be detected by applying the non-destructive techniques by relating it to the relative electrical conductivity.

AA 6063 alloy was casted using direct shell technique, and then being extruded to obtain high strength (T4) condition, specimens were Solution Treated (S.T) at 550 o C for 3 hours, then quenched in fresh water, followed by artificial aging for different times and temperatures. That treatment leads to microstructures evolution and so different states. The material alloy under investigation record high strength at specified limits which are (120 o C for 10 h aging time and 180 o C for 6 h that called (T6) condition. where after that limit the strength decreased. Applying ECNDT technique lead to produce a profile look like that profile results from hardness and tensile results, so characterization of such properties can be carried on using ECNDT, and that satisfy aim of work.

As all engineering industrial applications subjected to loads that can considered at the elastic region so fabricated extensometer was manufactured to represent that loads and measure the relative conductivity; it can be noticed that the relative electrical conductivity being increased slightly and so we can see that as displacement increases the relative electrical conductivity increased.

KEYWORDS: Eddy current testing, Fabricated extensometers, Non-Destructive Testing

1. INTRODUCTION

A variety of mechanical properties could be changed during alloy working; these changes can

affect the engineering projects, resulting in expensive repairs. One key component for ensuring such mechanical properties changes is inspection and monitoring for detection and characterization of the properties. In-service inspection of alloy can be carried out using eddy

current (EC) bobbin coils, which are adequate for the detection of such changes. [1]

Aluminum is a very light metal with a specific weight of 2.7 kg m -3 , about a third that of steel. Pure, untreated aluminum is a soft metal with insufficient strength for most engineering applications. Its strength can be adapted to the application required by modifying the composition of its alloys and by various thermal and mechanical treatments. [2]

Alloys in the 6xxx series contain silicon and magnesium approximately in the proportions required for the formation of magnesium silicates (Mg 2 Si), thus making them heat treatable. Although they are not as strong as most 2xxx and 7xxx alloys, 6xxx series alloys have good formability, Weldability, machinability, and corrosion resistance with medium strength. Alloys in this heat treatable group may be formed in the T4 temper (solution heat treated but not precipitation heat treated) and strengthened after forming to full T6 (solution heat treated

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plus precipitation heat treated). Uses of Al-Mg-Si alloys include architectural applications, bicycle frames, transportation equipment, bridge railings, and welded structures. [3]

Aluminum alloys are extensively used as structural materials in the nuclear industry such as in fuel cladding and reactor cores because of their good corrosion resistance and very low capture cross-section for fast and thermal neutrons. In the past, the choice of a particular alloy for use as a structural material was based on the measured properties of the un-irradiated material. [4]

The ability to control the working stresses level in mechanical components and structures is an important factor in engineering industries. Evaluation and monitoring of the stress state of these elements is time consuming, because of the conventional techniques involved. [5]

D.E.Esezobor, S. O. Adeosun [6], examined the solution heat treatment of an extruded 6063 aluminum alloy. The study shows that the strength and fracture resistance of this metal alloy can be influenced to an appreciable extent by the solution heat treatment used in this investigation.The ultimate tensile strength (UTS) increases as the solution time increases from 6 to 20 hours for treatment temperature of 90 o C. The maximum UTS (198.8MPa and 188.6 MPa) occur at 120 o C and 150 o C respectively at the solution holding time of 10 hours. While, at 120 o C and 10 hrs. the UTS are relatively the same as the as-received specimen, though the latter exhibits a higher fracture stress. Annealing at 470 o C results to lower UTS value (114.3MPa) and poor fracture resistance (522MPa). [6]

Lifetime extension of components in technical applications is a general task with tremendous economic benefits. NDT/NDE has developed first attempts for materials characterization taking into account damage assessment as part of the in service inspection. We have shown in this work the relation between parameters obtained by eddy currents measurements and mechanical parameters. The curve representing the impedance or the phase as function of the elongation or deformation follow a well determined trajectory where the elastic limit and the start of the plasticity of the material can be detected by the impedance amplitude or the phase measurement. In case of aluminum the relations between the impedance phase and the load as function of the elongation has the same shape. The curve of the phase increases linearly with the load in the elastic regime and therefore it is possible to determine Young’s modulus. This work shows the ability to determine the material behavior exposed to external loads in the elastic as well as in the plastic regime by analysis of eddy current inspection results only. The elastic limit or the start of plasticity can be detected by the impedance measurement. In the case of aluminum, it is also possible in the future to evaluate Young’s modulus by the phase analysis. The results are very significant for the non-destructive mechanical properties determination and useful to be applied for In- Service Inspection. [7]

2. EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURES

2.1 Material The material used in this study is 6063 aluminum alloy with the chemical composition shown in Table I. The specimens used in this experiment having dimensions of [30*35] and thickness of 8 mm.

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Table I. Chemical Composition of Aluminum Alloy 6063 (Weight Percent)

Al

98.9 %

Mg

0.457

%

Si

0.411 %

Fe

0.158

%

Pb

0.0014

%

Cu

0.0002

%

Cr

0.0008

%

Ti

0.012

%

Sn

0.0010

%

Mn

0.037

%

Ni

0.0037

%

Ag

0.0001

%

Sr

0.0001

%

V

0.011

%

Zn

0.0010

%

B

0.0024

%

Be

0.0005

%

Bi

0.0010

%

Ca

0.0007

%

Cd

0.0001

%

Co

0.0010

%

Li

0.0001

%

Na

0.0006

%

P

0.0051

%

2.2 Casting:

The alloy under investigation was direct shell casted, homogenized at 525°± 10° C followed with

formation under extruation to obtain T4 condition.

2.3 Heat Treatment Procedures

2.3.1 Solution Treatment (S.T):

Solution treatment of alloys for at least Three hour (3 h) at 550° C, then quench at fresh water. Proper

solution treating and quenching is essential for the success of this experiment. Measure the hardness of each specimen immediately after quenching.

2.3.2 Aging Treatments:

Perform the artificial aging treatments on each alloy using the aging temperatures and times which are

suitable. Measure the hardness after each treatment. The following chart shows heat treatment sequences associate with time and temperature.

Solution Treatment Artificial Aging As recieved specimen (S.T) at 120, 170,180,200,220 °C at 550 °C
Solution Treatment
Artificial Aging
As recieved specimen
(S.T)
at 120, 170,180,200,220 °C
at 550 °C for 3 hours
for [2, 4,6,8,10 h] for each

Fig.1 Heat Treatment Process Sequence

2.4 Mechanical Testing:

2.4.1 Tensile Test:

Tensile tests were carried to fracture at room temperature using tensile machine of type Tennius Olisen

universal testing machine. The machine has loading range from [0 to 20 ton]. The cross-head speed (C.H.S) of the machine used in this investigation was (2.5) mm/min. The machine is equipped with a chart record for the stress-strain curves which is synchronized with the cross-head speed.

2.4.2 Hardness Test:

Using (EQUOTIP2) made in Switzerland, and taking BHN for the heat treated and as received specimen.

2.5 Microstructure Examination:

- The specimens were grinded and polished using emery papers, starting at 600 till final polishing stage, followed with suitable etching. - A licka optical microscope was used to investigate the microstructure evolution

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2.6 Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Instruments:

The measurements of attenuation were carried out using the Elotest B1&B2 “SDM” (Eddy Current Testing) instrument with bobbin probe. Eddy current test is a method for the inspection of metallic part, in this technique the probe which is excited with an alternative current, induces eddy current in the part under inspection.

2-7 Extensometer (stress application at elastic region) Some tensile specimens were stretched within the elastic limit with different displacement values. Start at zero till about 2mm. the corresponding loads were estimated from load- displacement diagram.

The extensometer was calibrated due to the tensile machine used; it found that every two loops are equal to 0.2543 mm displacement. The extensometer was designed and fabricated for testing purposes; geometry of fabricated extensometer used is shown in figure 2.

of fabricated extensometer used is shown in figure 2. Fig.2 Fabricated extensometer with specimen 3. RESULTS

Fig.2 Fabricated extensometer with specimen

3. RESULTS & DISCUSSIONS

3.1. Microstructure Evolution To assure of structure variation due to heat treating of specimens, microstructure evolution was examined. Whereas the following scans were taken as shown in Fig. 3

170° C 180° C
170° C
180° C
200° C
200° C
220° C
220° C

Fig.3 the microstructure evolution for different aged specimens at 6h (aging time)

The microstructures of the specimens show that the structure was changed and that due to formation of precipitates, this precipitates strength the structure and made it harder.

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The following states were recorded at same aging time (6 h) and different aging temperatures:

- The precipitates were dissolved by solution treating of samples at 550° C for 3 h.

- The precipitates start to grow with increasing aging temperature where its density increased at 120° C reaching maximum in segregation and density at 180° C and then decrease with increasing temperature that refer to that high temperatures after that limit start to dissolve precipitates.

- Precipitates were found on the grain boundaries and that make grains more strength, increasing aging temperature make such precipitates depilates.

- EDX of such states was carried to show phases and precipitates formed to ensure variation and determine precipitates nature. Where the following figures show such assay.

3.2. EDX (precipitates analysis)

figures show such assay. 3.2. EDX (precipitates analysis) Fig.4 EDX for S.T specimen Fig.5 EDX for

Fig.4 EDX for S.T specimen

3.2. EDX (precipitates analysis) Fig.4 EDX for S.T specimen Fig.5 EDX for aged ( 170- 6h)

Fig.5 EDX for aged (170- 6h) specimen

analysis) Fig.4 EDX for S.T specimen Fig.5 EDX for aged ( 170- 6h) specimen Fig.6 EDX

Fig.6 EDX for aged (180- 6h) specimen

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Fig.7 EDX for aged ( 200- 6h) specimen Fig.8 EDX for aged ( 220- 6h)

Fig.7 EDX for aged (200- 6h) specimen

Fig.7 EDX for aged ( 200- 6h) specimen Fig.8 EDX for aged ( 220- 6h) specimen

Fig.8 EDX for aged (220- 6h) specimen

The following states were recorded from EDX:

- The precipitates analysis was taken at magnification of (10 3 x), that to determine the nature of such precipitates and its effect.

- Precipitates formed due to artificial aging where (Fe, Ni, Mn, Zn) were found at different percentages and also noticed from microstructures evolution.

- the precipitates assay was about 22.26 % for S.T specimen, then decrease to be 16.14% at (170-6h) specimen but increase to be 29.69% for (180-6h) , but again decreased to be 22.16% for (200 -6 h), continue decreasing to be 10.41% for (220-6h).

That mean the precipitates increased to a specified limit which is (180-6h) and then decrease because of dissolving some of precipitates that affected by high aging temperatures.

3.3. Mechanical properties 3.3.1 Hardness Test:

The hardness results were obtained and represented the results in Fig. 9 to show the hardness profile for the different aging conditions.

The as casted specimen seems to give low value; where there is no precipitates formed but by extruation value increased that because of particles elongation, again the value being lowered that due to precipitates dissolved by solution treating. Applying the artificial aging lead to a slight increase in hardness value as the precipitates and the new intermediate phase formed. That increase in hardness value is at determined limits as a peak formed at 120° C and at 180° C then decrease in hardness value is again take place as the precipitates start to dissolve.

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BHN Poly. (BHN) 85 75 65 55 45 35 aging temp.- time BHN as cast
BHN
Poly. (BHN)
85
75
65
55
45
35
aging temp.- time
BHN
as cast
Extruded spec.
ST
BH 120-2h
BH 120-4h
BH 120-6h
BH 120-8h
BH 120-10h
BH 170-2h
BH 170-4h
BH 170-6h
BH 170-8h
BH 170-10h
BH 180-2h
BH 180-4h
BH 180-6h
BH 180-8h
BH 180-10h
BH 200-2h
BH 200-4h
BH 200-6h
BH 200-8h
BH 200-10h
BH 220-2h
BH 220-4h
BH 220-6h
BH 220-8h
BH 220-10h

Fig.9 The hardness profile for the different aging conditions.

3.3.2 Tensile test:

The tension results for the samples under investigation are shown at Fig.10, where the tension profile show low UTS for as cast material, and high UTS value for the extruded specimen as result of particles elongation, UTS decreased gradually by solution treating of samples as the phases dissolved , UTS increased due to aging treating of samples. The maximum UTS (188.6MPa and 220.8 MPa) occur at 120° C and 180° C respectively at the solution holding time of 10hours and 6 hours. While, at 180° C and 6 hrs, the UTS are relatively the same as the as-received specimen, though the latter exhibits a higher fracture stress. Those results are typical with D.E.Esezobor, Senior Lecturer, and S. O. Adeosun, Lecturer (from Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering University of Lagos, Akoka- Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria). [6]

U.T (Mpa) Poly. (U.T (Mpa)) 250 225 200 175 150 125 100 U.T. (MPa) As
U.T (Mpa)
Poly. (U.T (Mpa))
250
225
200
175
150
125
100
U.T. (MPa)
As Cast
ext. spec.
S.T
120-2h
120-4h
120-6h
120-8h
120-10h
170-2h
170-4h
170-6h
170-8h
170-10h
180-2h
180-4h
180-6h
180-8h
180-10h
200-2h
200-4h
200-6h
200-8h
200-10h
220-2h
220-4h
220-6h
220-8h
220-10h

Aging Time-Temperature

Fig.10 The tension profile for the different aging conditions.

3.4 NDT Testing (using ECNDT):

Using the Elotest B1, with specifying following standards, ¥= 0°, ƒ= 1.7 MHZ, ƪ = 16 dB and encoding the aluminum as standard. Obtaining the following the results that presented at Fig. 11 to show the conductivity profile for the different aging conditions.

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relative elec.conductivity Poly. (relative elec.conductivity) 10 8 6 4 2 0 Aging Temperature - Time
relative elec.conductivity
Poly. (relative elec.conductivity)
10
8
6
4
2
0
Aging Temperature - Time
realtive electrical conductivity
as cast
rolled
S.T
120-2H
120-4H
120-6H
120-8H
120-10H
170-2H
170-4H
170-6H
170-8H
170-10H
180-2H
180-4H
180-6H
180-8H
180-10H
200-2H
200-4H
200-6H
200-8H
200-10H
220-2H
220-4H
220-6H
220-8H
220-10H

Fig.11 Electrical conductivity profile for the different aging conditions.

The conductivity is started at zero for the received specimen because it was taken as a datum, conductivity increased due to increasing of the aging temperature and time, reaching maximum value at the range of 180° C for 6 h aging time. Slightly decreased after this value, begin to increase again at 220° C for 6 h. such changes in the conductivity values of the specimens referred to the structure that changed due to precipitates formed by artificial aging.

Checking the hardness profile and compare it with the obtained conductivity values we see that the two curves are typical in that at maximum hardness value the highest electrical conductivity was achieved and that can be seen at fig.12.

The two curves can be noted that are same in the behavior so by animation we can detect that the two results are same and by calibration of the alloy used in industrial plans to the standard and then using eddy current techniques, we can obtain the harness profile due to variable times and temperatures which (in service).As the hardness increased the electrical conductivity increased and as decreased it was decreased. So that the hardness profile is look like the conductivity profile. These results can satisfy the aim of the research as we can detect the change of mechanical properties by using a NDT technique.

relative elec.conductivity BHN Poly. (BHN) 75 60 45 30 15 0 Aging Temperature - time
relative elec.conductivity
BHN
Poly. (BHN)
75
60
45
30
15
0
Aging Temperature - time
realtive elec. cond.
--- BHN
as cast
rolled
S.T
120-2H
120-4H
120-6H
120-8H
120-10H
170-2H
170-4H
170-6H
170-8H
170-10H
180-2H
180-4H
180-6H
180-8H
180-10H
200-2H
200-4H
200-6H
200-8H
200-10H
220-2H
220-4H
220-6H
220-8H
220-10H

Fig.12 The conductivity profile vs. hardness for the different aging conditions.

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3.5. Extensometer (stress application in elastic region)

Using the fabricated extensometer to detect change in relative electrical conductivity due to change in displacement due to yield stress, Using the Elotest B2, with specifying following standards:

¥= 0°, ƒ= 104 KHZ, ƪ = 38 dB, and encoding the aluminum as standard, the following results were obtained. Fig.13, show that the relative electrical conductivity being increased slightly and so we can see that as displacement increases the relative electrical conductivity increase and that refer to particles elongation due to tension that make conductivity more active.

realtive elec. Conductivity Linear (realtive elec. Conductivity) 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5
realtive elec. Conductivity
Linear (realtive elec. Conductivity)
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
realtive elec. conductivity

displacement (mm)

Fig.13 Extensometer displacement vs. relative elec. conductivity

That can be applied in the field by applying eddy current testing at the beginning of the project and obtaining the result (which is considered as a default), periodically in service inspection should be carried on and so any alteration can be recorded, relating this alteration with the displacement can give a good imagination of displacement happen.

4. CONCLUSIONS

- This work has studied the material characteristics (taking AA 6063) using a NDT technique (which is ECNDT).

- To obtain the highest mechanical properties of AA 6063, artificial aging is carried on to a specified limit which is (aging temperature of 120° C at 10h and 180° C and at 6 h). Where after that limit precipitates start to dissolve and values being decreased.

- Measuring relative conductivity of the alloy under investigation lead to obtain a profile which like that represent the hardness and tensile profiles, and satisfy aim of work.

- As all engineering industrial applications subjected to loads that can considered at the elastic region so fabricated extensometer was manufactured to represent that loads and measure the relative conductivity; it can be noticed that the relative electrical conductivity being increased slightly and so we can see that as displacement increases the relative electrical conductivity increased.

- That can be applied in the field by applying eddy current testing at the beginning of the project and obtaining the result (which is considered as a default), periodically in service inspection should be carried on and so any alteration can be recorded, relating this alteration with the displacement can give a good imagination of displacement happen.

- Detecting the mechanical behavior of the alloy by using eddy current testing is the important step as it gives the chance for detection of mechanical properties during in service.

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REFERENCES

[1] L.Obrutsky, B.Lepine,J.Lu, R.Cassidy and J. Carter, Eddy current technology for heat exchanger and steam generator tube inspection", published by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, Chalk River Laboratories, Chalk River, Ontario, Canada, p.1, 2004.

[2] S. H. Avner, “Introduction to Physical Metallurgy", published by Mc Craw-hill Inc. NY, p.361, 364, 1964.

[3] “Properties and selection nonferrous alloys and special- purpose material", ASM handbook, formerly tenth edition, Vol.2, p. 3-15, 32, 37-40, 44-57, 1991.

[4] R. T. King and A. Jostsons, Material Trans. A 6a, p.863, 1975.

[5] B. Raj, V. Moorthy,T. Jayakumar and K. B. S. Rao,”Assessment of Microstructures and Mechanical behavior of Metallic Materials Through Non Destructive Characterization”, International Materials Reviews ,Vol. 48 ,N°5, October 2003.

[6] D.E.Esezobor, S. O. Adeosun. “Improvement on the Strength of 6063 Aluminum Alloy by Means of Solution Heat Treatment”, Material Science and Technology (MS&T), p.645-647, 2006.

[7] M. Zergoug, G.Kamel, N.Boucherou, “Mechanical Stress Analysis by Eddy Current Method”, ECNDT, December 2006.and the Journal of American Science, Vol. 4, p.4, 2008.

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