Material Flow and Microstructure Evolution during Additive Friction Stir Deposition of Aluminum Alloys

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Virginia Tech

Serious issues including solidification porosity, columnar grains, and large grain sizes are common during fusion-based metal additive manufacturing due to the inherent melting and solidification that occurs during printing. In recent years, a high-temperature, rapid plastic deformation technique called additive friction stir deposition (AFSD) has shown great promise in overcoming these issues. Because the deposited material stays in the solid state during printing, there are no melting and solidification events and the process can result in as-printed material that is fully-dense with equiaxed, fine grains. As AFSD is an emerging process, developing an understanding of the synergy between material deformation and the resultant microstructure evolution, especially the strain magnitude, its influence on dynamic microstructure evolution, and material flow details, is imperative for the full implementation of AFSD. Therefore, the purpose of this work is to investigate the severe plastic deformation in AFSD through complementary studies on the concurrent evolution of shape and microstructure during the deposition of dissimilar aluminum alloys. In this work, we systematically study (1) the entire deposition via dissimilar cladding along with (2) specific volumes within the deposited layer via embedded tracers printed at varied processing parameters. X-ray computed tomography and electron backscatter diffraction are employed to visualize the complex shape of the deposits and understand the microstructure progression. Investigation of dissimilar cladding of homogeneous AA2024 feed-rods onto an AA6061 substrate establishes a working understanding of the mechanisms related to material flow and microstructure evolution across the whole deposit (macroscopic shape evolution) as well as at the interface between the deposit and the substrate. Variations in tooling and rotation rate affect the interfacial features, average grain size, and depth of microstructural influence. The non-planar and asymmetric nature of AFSD on the macro-scale is revealed and a maximum boundary of deposited material is established which gives a frame of reference for the next material flow study within the deposition zone. An understanding of the mesoscopic morphological evolution and concurrent dynamic microstructure evolution of representative volumes within the deposition zone is determined by comparing depositions of hybrid feed-rods (AA6061 matrix containing an embedded tracer of AA2024). Samples were printed with and without an in-plane velocity to compare initial material feeding to steady-state deposition. Variations in initial tracer location and tool rotation rate/in-plane velocity pairs affect the final morphology, intensity of mixing, and microstructure of the deposited tracer material. The tracer material undergoes drastic mesoscopic shape evolution from millimeter-scale cylinders to long, curved micro-ribbons. There is simultaneous grain refinement in AA2024 via geometric dynamic recrystallization during initial material feeding, after which the grain size remains relatively constant at a steady-state size. The lower bound of strain is estimated based on extrusion, torsion, and shear-thinning factors. The step-by-step mesoscopic deformation and microstructure evolution is further elucidated by characterizing depositions of hybrid feed-rods with a series of embedded tracers. The AFSD tooling is stopped quickly at the end of the deposition with a quench applied to "freeze" the sample. X-ray computed tomography reveals multiple intermediate morphologies including the progression from a cylinder to a tight spiral, to a flattened spiral shape, and to a thin disc. EBSD mapping shows that a refined microstructure is formed soon after the material leaves to tool head with areas off the centerline reaching a fully recrystallized state more quickly. The findings from this work summarize the current understanding of the link between material deformation and microstructure evolution in AFSD. Hopefully these first fundamental studies on the co-evolution of material flow and grain structure during AFSD can inspire future work, especially in the area of heterogeneous multi-material printing.

Additive friction stir deposition, X-ray computed tomography, Severe plastic deformation, Material flow, Dynamic recrystallization