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ROLE OF PFZ AND ITS ROLE IN CONTROLLING MECHANICAL PROPERTIES

INTRODUCTION -In aluminium alloys say for example duralumin(96% Al+4%Cu) mechanical properties are enhanced by age hardening. Aluminium is a soft and ductile metal which cannot resist plastic deformation because the dislocation movement cannot be hindered. On addition of 4% Cu with aluminium and with subsequent heat treatments (solution treatment-quenching-aging) fine precipitates can be dispersed in aluminium matrix. As a result dislocation movement is hindered, which results in increment of strength of the alloy. CRITERIA FOR FORMATION OF PRECIPITATES- For the formation of precipitates a high vacancy concentration is required which is achieved during the quenching process. A critical vacancy concentration must be exceeded for precipitates to form. HOW TO ACHIEVE HIGHER VACANCY CONCENTRATION? Grain Boundaries act as a sink for vacancies. So a vacancy concentration profile will give us a decreasing concentration of vacancies as we move towards the grain boundaries. Now if the value is below the critical vacancy concentration then precipitates will not form along that region.

From the profile we see that higher the quench rates higher will be the area where critical vacancy concentration will be exceeded. Thus faster the cooling rate higher will be the net quenched in vacancies.

PFZ- Again from the profile we see that there will be an area along the grain boundaries where no. of quenched in vacancies is lower than that of the critical vacancy concentration. In this region no precipitates will form. This region where precipitates will not form is called precipitate free zone or PFZ. EFFECT ON MECHANICAL PROPERTIES- Higher the amount of precipitates higher will be the strength. So strength of the alloy will be reduced if PFZ is larger. So in order to get higher strength lower PFZ is desirable. So quenching medium should be something like dry ice or liquid nitrogen (if available and applicable). Again larger PFZ will hamper the uniformity of precipitate distribution. Some regions will be stronger than the other parts. So under the influence of external thermal stress the PFZs will form paths for production of cracks. CONCLUSION- Thus we see presence of PFZ is not at all desirable for the production of a good alloy as uniform mechanical properties with optimum values will not be obtained. So PFZs should be avoided as much as possible.

- METALLURGY ,3rd YEAR, 6th SEMESTER - SAPTARSHI GHOSAL( Reg. No.-111109021,Exam Roll- 110911021, Class Roll-18) -SWADITA ROY(Reg. No.-111109020,Exam Roll-110911020, Class Roll-17)