The creep behaviour of pressure diecast zinc-aluminium based alloys
The creep behaviour of three pressure diecast commercial zinc-aluminium based alloys: Mazak 3, corresponding to BS 1004A, and the new alloys ZA.8 and ZA.27 with a series of alloys with compositions ranging from 0% to 30% aluminium was investigated. The total creep elongation of commercial alloys was shown to be well correlated using an empirical equation. Based on this a parametrical relationship was derived which allowed the total creep extension to be related to the applied stress, the temperature and the time of test, so that a quantitative assessment of creep of the alloys could be made under different conditions. Deviation from the normal creep kinetics occurred in alloys ZA.8 and ZA.27 at very low stresses, 150°C, due to structural coarsening combined with partial transformation of ε -phase into T' phase. The extent of primary creep was found to increase with aluminium content, but secondary creep rates decreased in the order Mazak 3, ZA.8 and ZA.27. Thus, based on the above equation, ZA.8 was found to have a substantially better total creep resistance than ZA.27, which in turn was marginally better than Mazak 3 for strains higher than 0.5%, but inferior for smaller strains, due to its higher primary creep extension. The superior creep resistance of ZA.8 was found to be due to the presence of strictly-orientated, thin plate-like precipitates of ε(CuZn4) phase in the zinc matrix of the eutectic and the lamellarly decomposed β phase, in which the precipitation morphology and orientation of ε in the zinc matrix was determined. Over broad ranges of temperature and stresses, the stress exponents and activation energies for creep were found to be consistent with some proposed creep rate mechanisms; i.e. viscous glide for Mazak 3, dislocation climb over second phase particles for ZA.8 and dislocation climb for ZA.27, controlled by diffusion in the zinc-rich phase. The morphology of aluminium and copper-rich precipitates formed from the solid solution of zinc was clearly revealed. The former were found to further increase the creep rate of inherently low creep resistant zinc, but the latter contributed significantly to the creep resistance. Excess copper in the composition, however, was not beneficial in improving the creep resistance. Decomposition of β in copper-containing alloys was found to be through a metastable Zn-Al phase which is strongly stabilised by copper, and the final products of the decomposition had a profound effect on the creep strength of the alloys. The poor creep resistance of alloy ZA.27 was due to the presence of particulate products derived from decomposed β-phase and a large volume of fine, equiaxed products of continuously decomposed α-dendrites.