In situ X-ray Diffraction during Casting: Study of Hot Tearing in Al-Zn alloys
During solidification of metallic alloys, coalescence corresponds to the formation of solid bridges between grains when both solid and liquid phases are percolated. As such, it represents a key transition with respect to the mechanical behaviour of solidifying alloys and to the prediction of solidification cracking. Coalescence starts at the coherency point when the grains begin to touch each other, but are unable to sustain any tensile loads. It ends up at the rigidity temperature when the solid phase is sufficiently coalesced to transmit macroscopic tensile strains and stresses. This temperature, also called mechanical or tensile coherency temperature, is a major input parameter in numerical modelling of solidification processes as it defines the point at which thermally induced deformations start to generate internal stresses in a casting. The rigidity temperature has been determined in Al Zn alloys using in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) during casting in a dog bone shaped mould. This set-up allows the sample to build up internal stress naturally as its contraction is prevented. The cooling on both extremities of the mould induces a hot spot at the middle of the sample which is irradiated by X-rays. Diffraction patterns were recorded every 0.5 s using a detector covering a 426 x 426 mm2 area. The change of diffraction angles allowed us to observe agglomeration/decohesion of growing grain clusters and to determine a solid volume fraction at rigidity around 98 % depending on solidification time for grain refined Al 6.2 wt% Zn alloys.