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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016




Aluminium is everywhere. We see it in the packaging, soft drink cans, food plates, foil,
siding, gutters, automotive part and more. What most people dont realize is that
aluminium is practically the perfect recyclable material. Out of the most common
recyclable materials that clutter up our landfills; glass, paper, metals, cardboard, plastics,
aluminium is the only material thats endlessly recyclable, 100% recyclable, and that
pays for itself. Air pollution is associated with synthetic materials and other harmful
impurities that diffuse and become part of the air. These materials are mostly industrial
wastes, vehicle exhaust fumes, action logging and so the issue of solid particles and gases
that escape into the air. There are many adverse effects that would befall mankind if
control measures are not taken immediately to address the contamination. Even for
recycling culture among the country's government intensify campaign 3R (Reuse,
Reduce, Recycle) to provide bins garbage variety of colours so that litter easily separated
by categories such as plastic, glass and paper.

Metals have always been the most recycled material in the world. The recycling of waste
metallic material and use of scrap is important for economic production of steelworks

Matjaz Torkar. In fact, the making of steel requires recycled steel in the production of the
raw material. Recycling metals saves energy and helps prevent the depletion of natural
resources. An entire industry has grown up around recycling metal. This is because
everything that contains metal is intrinsically valuable. In subsequent decades, the
transportation and construction sectors have always been the principal benefactors of
aluminium extrusion products. Even in present times, the bulk of extrusion usage is in
manufacturing doors and windows, followed by passenger vehicles. The short history of
aluminium extrusion, in comparison to other metals, has seen extensive development and
growth, revolutionizing the way we live. As new purposes are discovered in space
exploration and here at home, aluminium extrusion will continue to be an important part
of the future.

Department of Mechanical Engineering, SBCE Page 1

Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

After its discovery in the early nineteenth century [1], aluminium has become an
important construction material for having noteworthy mechanical properties in
lightweight design applications [2]. Additional advantages are high corrosion resistance
as well as a good machinability. On the other hand, aluminium is still expensive to
produce. The energy consumption of the production process is at least twice as much than
steel. Most of the energy consumption takes place at the electrolyse process while
aluminium oxide (Al2O3)recovered from natural bauxiteis divided into unalloyed
aluminium, namely primary aluminium and CO2. Contrary to the expensive
production of primary aluminium, the energy consumption of the recycling process of
used aluminium, also known as secondary aluminium, is considerably lower. Given
these challenges in producing primary aluminium, recycling of aluminium becomes more
and more an important economic and ecological approach [3].

One common recycling method of aluminium is re-melting and casting parts in semi-
finished or finished forms. Overall, this is an efficient recycling method for most
aluminium scraps except of thin-walled scrap (e.g. chips). It can be observed that
especially chips, with its large surface to volume ratio, suffer high material losses mostly
due to contaminants from the production process (cooling lubricant, oil etc.), combustion
(oxidation), slag formation and unadapted furnace settings [4].

The state of the art shows that aluminium chips can be recycled without a remelting-
process by the use of processes providing high forming degrees and sheer strength. The
disadvantage of common processes is that within comparatively long production times
only bulk material can be produced. A further processing by major turning operations and
heat treatment is usually necessary. This article deals with principal investigations of an
alternative non-melting recycling process for aluminium chips which is able to
consolidate the chips into a near net shape model. For this purpose, a hot backward
extrusion process was applied to manufacture semi-finished components out of cold
pressed chips. Besides an increasing production time and reduced post-processing an
integrated heat-treatment can be included in the process.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016



The chips were fabricated out of heat treated (T6) AW2007 and AW 7075 aluminium
alloy bulk material by turning operation. In Table 1 the compositions of the examined
alloys are shown. A hot backward extrusion process was applied after cold pressing.
Contrary to commonly investigated continuous chip recycling routes [14], the introduced
process chain has the potential to manufacture complex parts with a decreased post-
processing effort, less chip waste and faster process times (Figure 2.1).

Table 2.1: Alloying elements of the tested aluminium alloys AW 2007 and AW 7075
(DIN EN573-3)

Composition (wt %)

Si Fe Cu Mn Mg Cr Zn Ti Pb Ni

AW 2007 0.80 0.8 3.3-4.6 0.5-1.0 0.4-1.8 0.1 0.8 0.2 0.8-1.5 0.2

AW 7075 0.4 0.5 1.2-2.0 0.3 2.1-2.9 0.2-0.3 5.1-6.1 0.2 - -

The fabrication of the chips took place in a dry and clean condition without the use of
cooling lubricant. In practice a previous cleaning and drying of the chips is unavoidable.

Nevertheless, actual research fields such as minimum lubrication for metal machining or
high speed cutting are expected to decrease the ecological pollution by reducing the
required lubrication noticeable [17].

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

Figure 2.1: Process chain of the investigated aluminium-chip recycling process in

comparison to established chains

Machined chips can be characterised by the R-value which states the relationship
between the volume of loose chips and the corresponding bulk volume of the same
material amount. With a low R-value of 5 and lesser (1) a densification in one stroke is
possible (Table 2). Bigger chip sizes led to a decrease in bulk density and thus a previous
shredding process will be necessary [18].

Table 2.2: Turning chip composition and measurement points

Length Width Thickness
[mm] [mm] [mm]

AW 2007 4.8 3.8 1.8 0.4

AW 7075 3.7 3.7 1.2 0.4

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

The chips were uni-axially force limited pressed to cylinders ( 36 mm, H = 28 mm)
with a hydraulic press (pressing force 600kN). To achieve a homogenous and high
density, compaction of the samples were carried out by using a two-side uniaxial pressing
tool with a maximum pressure of approximately 600MPa. The die is mounted on springs
which cause the die to move in press direction due to friction forces between the chips
and the inner die wall. This kinematic ensures a relative movement against the ejector
and thus a two-sided pressing operation is applied (Figure 2.2). The advantage over a one
sided pressing operation is that a more homogenous density distribution can be achieved

Figure 2.2: Tool setup for cold pressing

Subsequently, the heated parts were manually fed into the closed hot backward extrusion
die (Figure 2.3) which was preheated to 300 oC by heating jackets. Hot extrusion
processes were carried out with different press speeds (20, 100, 200 mm/s) and maximal
press forces of 125, 175 and 250kN on a hydraulic press (AP&T, LPS 4000-13). To
reduce friction and adhesion between the pressed parts and the die, a spray lubricant was
used (EKamold EP Aerosol). Figure 4 shows the used process chain. To investigate the
forging quality in terms of visible cracks, pores, density and hardness, the extrudates
were centrically separated by wire-cut EDM (electrical discharge machining). From
another batch of extrudates tensile test samples were extracted by turning operation and
quasi-static tensile tests were carried out (Dynamess S100/ZD). The measured values for

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

displacement and force are converted to engineering stress and strain. The calculated
stressstrain diagram was the average of three repetitive measurements.

Figure 2.3: Hot backward extrusion tool setup (left), geometrical dimensions of the
upper die (right)

Afterwards, the microstructure of the separated chips is metallographically examined and

furthermore, macro - hardness and densities were measured along the extrudate. For
metallographic examination the etching method according to Barker was used. The grain
size was determined by a graphical linear analysis. The average linear grain size was
calculated by determining the quotient of an array of lines (measuring length) and the
number of crossed grain boundaries by the array. The macro hardness (HV 10) was
measured in several sections along the shaft. Following, a batch of extrudates was sawed
into pieces to measure the density in every section by the Archimedean principle.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016




Due to full contact between tool and the hot extrudate, as well as the high thermal
conductivity of aluminium, rapid cooling through heat transfer might occur. As seen in

Figure 2.3, the upper die could only heated indirectly by the upper heating jacket. Thus,
mould filling of the extrusion die was achieved by increasing the forging temperature.

Figure 3.1 shows the influence of forming speed (left) and forming temperature (right) on
the forming forces. It is seen that higher forming speeds as well as higher forming
temperatures lead to a decrease of the force enhancement. This observation is rather
untypical since it was expected that an increasing forming speed lead to higher forming
forces. An explanation might be an overlap of increasing force at higher forming speeds
and an increasing force due to rapid cooling. Thus the occurred cooling seemed to be
dominant against the influence of the forming speed. For further investigations only fully
shaped parts were used.

Figure 3.1: Influence of forming speed (left) and forming temperature (right) on the
forming forces

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016


The extrudates were divided into segments and in the following the relative density of
each segment was measured by the Archimedean principle. Figure 3.2 shows for example
the resulting relative densities for each segment of individual extrudates. It can be
observed that for both alloys, namely AW 2007 and AW 7075, the relative density
decreases at the top of the extrudate. This behaviour can be explained by formation of a
dead metal zone and is characterised by a low degree of local deformation. It is
process-related and inevitable in rod extrusion processes.

Figure 3.2: Local density of hot extruded aluminium chips [AW 7075 (left), AW
2007 (right)]
It is noticeable that from segment e up to segment g AW 7075 shows even higher relative
densities than of bulk density (Figure 3.2, left). This might be due to the high amount of
magnesium, zinc and copper and thus the formation of heavy oxide and intermetallic
compounds, occurring during the heating. In comparison to AW 7075 the relative density
of AW 2007 is almost slightly lower than of its bulk material. Only in segment e a
relative density of 100 % was achieved (Figure 3.2, right). A comparably lower oxidation
formation during the heating might explain this behaviour.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016


Macro hardness (HV 10) measurements were performed along the extrudate. Compared
to the bulk material (average 163 HV 10), hardness of AW 7075 chips is reduced about
37 HV 10 in average. Chips out of AW 2007 had an average hardness of 92 HV. The
average reduction between AW 2007 bulk and AW 2007 extrudate hardness lies at 26
HV 10 (Figure 3.3). The overall decrease of the hardness can be explained by an
increasing grain growth due to higher forming temperatures (Figure 3.4) [20].

Figure 3.3: Hardness of hot extruded aluminium chips

In comparison to AW 7075 (ca. 57 lm), AW 2007 has a visible finer grain size
distribution (ca. 32 lm) after hot backward extrusion. As a result the absolute reduction of
the AW 2007 hardness is lower. The pictures of the microstructure were taken from the
middle of the extrudates, between section c and d (Figure 3.4).

Figure 3.4: Grain distribution in the middle of the extrudate of AW 7075 (left) and
AW 2007 (right)

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

Microstructural investigations of AW 7075 showed a characteristic surface layer across

the extrudate (Figure 3.5). Along the surface a 900 lm thick layer with a high
concentration of undesirable alloying elements is visible.

Figure 3.5: Microstructure of the hot backward extruded AW 7075 and AW2007
aluminium chips
The micro hardness of the deposit-layer is 190 HV 0.1/30 and thereby 66 % higher than
the ground-hardness. It might be that the deposits near the surface are mainly AlMgZn2
as also observed at direct-chill semi-continuous casting of AW 7075 [21] as well as at
cold compaction and subsequent hot extrusion of premixed AW 7075 powder [22]. In
[23] is also described that finely dispersed Mg2Si and MgZn2 deposits can increases
hardness, tensile strength and yield strength owing to precipitation hardening. The
surface defect can be attributed to reheating of the shell during the forming related to
continuous wall friction and high forming degrees in this section. In case of AW 2007
such deposits along the surface have not been observed. At the top of the extrudate a high
amount of pores is visible. The reason for the low local density at the top is the formation
of a process related dead metal zone. The length of the zone is 1015 mm. AW 2007
shows clearly higher porosities at top of the extrudate opposed to AW 7075. The high

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

amount of copper may be responsible due to the formation of hard intermetallic phases
For comparing the mechanical properties, tensile test samples (Figure 3.6) were
manufactured out of the extrudates and compared with the corresponding bulk material.

Figure 3.6: Lean Process chain

It was observed that the ultimate elongation of the bulk AW 7075 is three times higher
than of hot extruded chips (Figure 3.7, left). The hot extruded chips ruptured a brittle
fracture whereas the bulk material shows a shear fracture. This behaviour can be
explained by the resulting large grain size of the extrudates (Figure 3.4) and a higher
amount of brittle deposits from the chip surfaces.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

Figure 3.7: Tensile-stressstrain diagram of the hot extruded AW 7075 (left) and
AW 2007 chips (right) in comparison to bulk material (average of 3 measurements)
A major influence of the heavy surface deposits of AW 7075, identified in Section 3.2,
can be excluded since the outer surface of the extrudates was machined before by turning
operation. The yield strength of the hot extruded AW 7075 chips was nearly as much as
half of the bulk material. By comparison AW 2007 alloy shows a dissimilar behaviour
which indicates that the stressstrain intensity of forged chips depends significantly on
the used alloy and the present microstructure (Figure 3.7, right). The ultimate elongation
of the bulk AW 2007 is only two times higher and the yield strength achieves 60 % of the
bulk material.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

This study provides a fundamental investigation on recycling aluminium chips with a
non-melting approach. By using a hot backward extrusion process in a closed die, cold
pressed chips were hot extruded into a semi-finished geometry. A turning process, which
produces small chips, let decrease the resulting bulk density and thus the die filling for
cold pressing is improved. Finally, a relative density of 100 % in sections with high local
forming degree was achieved. For AW 7075, in some sections the observed density is
higher than of bulk material. It might be due to higher amount of Al 2O3 (density 3.95
g/cm3) on chip surfaces and heavy formation of MgZn2 and Mg2Si phases during heating
and forming, as shown in [21, 23].
The highest accumulation of deposits was observed on the surface layer of the extrudate
(AW 7075). The deposit layer has a depth up to 900 m and occurs in sections with high
forming degrees and temperatures. To avoid these layers and prevent uncontrolled grain
growth the forming temperature should be well controlled.
Knowing the apparent drawbacks in comparison to common continuous-extrusion
processes, the mechanical strength should be strongly improved. By means of better
controlled forming temperature grain growth will be reduced. Furthermore, using
multistage die forming can improve the forming degree and thus the mechanical
properties of the recycled chips onwards. A subsequent heat treatment after forging by
quenching can further improve the presented lean process chain. Thus, in future a major
rework by turning operation might be avoided by manufacturing near net shape heat
treated components made of aluminium chips.

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

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Reprocessing of aluminum chips by hot backward extrusion Seminar Report 2016

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