Residual Stresses in DC cast Aluminum Billet: Neutron Diffraction Measurements and Thermomechanical Modeling
Thermally-induced residual stresses, generated during the industrial Direct Chill casting process of aluminum alloys, can cause both significant safety concerns as well as the formation of defects during down-stream processing. Although these thermally induced strains can be partially relieved by permanent deformation, cracks will be generated either during solidification (hot tears) or post-solidification cooling (cold cracks) when stresses exceed the deformation limit of the alloy. Furthermore, the thermally induced strains result in the presence of large internal stresses within the billet before further processing steps. Although numerical models have been previously developed to compute these residual stresses, most of the computations have been validated only against measured surface distortions. In the present work, the variation in residual elastic strains and stresses in the steady state regime of casting has been measured as a function of radial position using neutron diffraction in an AA6063 grain-refined cylindrical billet. These measurements have been carried out on the same billet section at Poldi at PSI-Villigen and at Salsa at ILL-Grenoble and compare favorably. The results are used to validate a thermo-mechanical finite element casting model and to assess the level of stored elastic energy within the billet.