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Title: Investigation into the contribution of the MC-DC process on microstructural evolution of direct chill cast round ingots of 6XXX series aluminium alloys with an aim to reduce homogenisation
Author: Jones, Simon John
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2014
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Aluminium applications can be found in the vast majority of industries – particularly the automotive, aerospace and building sectors. Light weight, good corrosion resistance, high strength with good machining and weldability has led 6xxx series alloy to be the most widely used for extrusion products. Semi-continuous direct-chill (DC) casting is a well established process and the most widely used in the production of wrought aluminium extrusion billets. The techniques have continuously evolved since its invention in the 1930s. To ensure high productivity and a quality billet by DC casting, grain refiners are added during casting prior to solidification. It is efficient, cost effective and considered optimized in modern production techniques. However, some problems still persist, for example, macrosegregation, centerline cracking, porosity, hot tearing, etc. For surface finish critical products, particles in added grain refiners may cause surface defects during downstream processing. Additions of grain refiners are also not desirable for recycling of the end use products. As a novel DC casting technology, the melt conditioned DC casting (MC-DC) technology is developed to achieve uniform fine equiaxed grains without deliberate additions of grain refiners. The MC-DC process is implemented by submerging a rotor-stator high shear device into the mould assembly of a conventional hot-top vertical DC caster. In this work, the fundamentals of MC-DC process has been investigated by studying the flow patterns in the sump using computer modelling in combination with thermal field measurement and delineation of the sump profile. Followed is the microstructural evolution of the MC-DC castings. Then the formation of Fe-bearing intermetallics which are critical to the arrangement of homogenisation treatment are presented. The grain refining mechanism by MC-DC is due to enhanced heterogeneous nucleation on dispersed oxides and grain fragments by intensive melt shearing, in combination with dendrite fragmentation and transportation in a uniform temperature and solute field. By optimising MC-DC parameters, alleviation of macrosegregation can be achieved even compared with DC-GR castings. Another finding is the correlation between grain structure and the distribution of the Fe-intermetallic particles. It has been demonstrated that equiaxed dendritic grains with fine secondary dendritic arm spacings achieved in MC-DC are preferred rather than finer granular grains in grain refined material. MC-DC also promotes the formation of α- Fe-bearing intermetallics. All these offer the potential for the reduction of homogenisation practices currently required as part of the DC process.
Supervisor: Fan, Z. ; Stone, I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Solidification ; Shearing ; Melt conditioning ; Dendrite fragmentation ; Heterogeneous nucleation