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Because of their ease of fabricability, durability, and good specific properties, precipitation-hardened aluminum alloys have been the materials of choice for subsonic aircraft for over 50 years. At the present time, precipitation-hardening alloys are being evaluated for use in elevated temperature applications such as supersonic transport aircraft. These applications require stability of mechanical properties, implying stable microstructures. In this study, it has been shown that for three materials of interest, microstructural evolution at relatively low temperatures may result in complex changes in mechanical properties with fracture resistance being a salient example. Changes in amounts and kinds of grain boundary fracture, probably related to growth of grain boundary precipitate phases or segregation of embrittling species to the boundaries, appear to dominate the behavior.
fracture, aluminum alloys, elevated temperature exposure
Assistant professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Senior research scientist, Analytical Services and Materials, Hampton, VA