Age-hardening response of AlMgZn alloys with Cu and Ag additions
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A recurrent challenge with aluminum alloys is their longstanding trade-off between mechanical strength and formability. Recently recyclability has put further pressure on the development of single-alloy concepts for solving this challenge. This study addresses an AlMg-based system featuring additional elements to facilitate age-hardening but retaining a high Mg content for inherent pronounced strain hardening as a potential candidate. Age-hardening was enabled by T-phase based precipitation in the commercial alloy EN AW-5182 via the addition of 3.5 wt.% of Zn. The investigation shows that minor additions of Cu and Ag enhance and accelerate it. The study also compares single-step and double-step artificial aging. Hardness and tensile testing and scanning transmission electron microscopy methods were deployed to characterize the alloys investigated, mechanically and microstructurally. An alloy with added Zn, Cu and Ag showed improved strain hardening and reduced serrated flow in the soft state, while exhibiting an age-hardening response of up to 326 MPa in yield strength leading to an ultimate tensile strength of 550 MPa in peak-aged condition. The study discusses the evolution of the microstructure during artificial aging in the light of Zn, Cu and Ag additions and their effect on the precipitation process.