One of the most frequent ways to change the characteristics of a metal alloy is to age it. While heating and quenching or work hardening may change the characteristics of many metals, certain metal alloys are deliberately designed to age. Aging may change an alloy’s physical and aesthetic qualities, giving it traits that are significantly different from its unaged form.
What Is Metal Ageing?
Metal ageing is a process that may be done artificially or happen naturally on solution heat-treated metal alloys. Natural ageing happens over the course of the metal alloy’s lifetime. Metal precipitates are formed by super-saturated alloying components inside a metal alloy during the natural ageing process. These precipitates obstruct metal dislocations, enhancing a metal alloy’s strength and hardness while decreasing its ductility. Artificial ageing is a technique for speeding up the development of precipitates in a solution-heated metal alloy at a pace that is significantly quicker than natural ageing. The solution heat-treated metal alloy is artificially aged by raising its temperature to a level below its recrystallization temperature but high enough to speed up precipitate formation. The metal alloy is then rapidly cooled to prevent any further change in the metal precipitates after the alloying element precipitates have reached the desired size.
What Types of Metals Can Be Aged?
As long as they are solution heat-treatable, a variety of metal alloys can be aged to change their physical properties:
Aluminum: Aluminum alloys of the 2XXX, 6XXX, and 7XXX series are all ageable, and many of their different forms derive their strength from artificial ageing. 6061-T6 is one of the most popular aged aluminium alloys. In the -T6 form, it possesses magnesium silicide precipitates that prevent dislocations and substantially improve strength and hardness.
Stainless Steel: Because of the metal alloy precipitates in their structures, 17/10P, 17/4PH, and 17/7PH are a few typical stainless steel alloys that have exceptionally high strengths and hardnesses when appropriately aged.
Copper Alloys: The copper-beryllium alloys C17200 and C17300 are widely utilised in industry. Copper, which is commonly known to be soft and ductile, can actually be quite hard, strong, and brittle with the correct alloying components and ageing techniques.
Other Metal Alloys: If they have alloying components in their chemical composition that make them solution heat-treatable, metals like titanium, nickel, and magnesium, as well as a variety of others, can be aged.
Overaging is an issue when ageing a metal alloy, whether it is done naturally or artificially. This happens when the size of the precipitates changes as a result of an ageing process that is carried out beyond the point where it is helpful to the application. This frequently leads to a loss of strength and hardness. Welding or cold working a metal are two typical methods for accomplishing this. To guarantee that the necessary mechanical characteristics are still there, it’s important to evaluate if a solution heat-treatable metal has to be artificially aged again using one of these two procedures.
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