Formability of high strength aluminium sheet
An initial review of the subject emphasises the need for improved fuel efficiency in vehicles and the possible role of aluminium in reducing weight. The problems of formability generally in manufacture and of aluminium in particular are discussed in the light of published data. A range of thirteen commercially available sheet aluminium alloys have been compared with respect to mechanical properties as these affect forming processes and behaviour in service. Four alloys were selected for detailed comparison. The formability and strength of these were investigated in terms of underlying mechanisms of deformation as well as the microstructural characteristics of the alloys including texture, particle dispersion, grain size and composition. In overall terms, good combinations of strength and ductility are achievable with alloys of the 2xxx and 6xxx series. Some specific alloys are notably better than others. The strength of formed components is affected by paint baking in the final stages of manufacture. Generally, alloys of the 6xxx family are strengthened while 2xxx and 5xxx become weaker. Some anomalous behaviour exists, however. Work hardening of these alloys appears to show rather abrupt decreases over certain strain ranges which is probably responsible for the relatively low strains at which both diffuse and local necking occur. Using data obtained from extended range tensile tests, the strain distribution in more complex shapes can be successfully modelled using finite element methods. Sheet failure during forming occurs by abrupt shear fracture in many instances. This condition is favoured by states of biaxial tension, surface defects in the form of fine scratches and certain types of crystallographic texture. The measured limit strains of the materials can be understood on the basis of attainment of a critical shear stress for fracture.