Fatigue Crack Growth Assessment and Fatigue Resistance Enhancement of Aluminium Alloys
Fatigue damage of aluminium alloys is one of the key concerns in transport industries, particularly in the aerospace industry. The purpose of the project is to develop new knowledge and techniques against fatigue failure for these industries through a systematic investigation of fatigue resistance and crack growth behaviours of aluminium alloys. Fatigue and fracture mechanics have been investigated analytically, numerically and experimentally in this project. Overload transient effect on fatigue crack growth has been examined by considering various parameters including crack closure, overload ratio (OLR), load ratio (R ratio), baseline stress intensity factor range, (∆K)_BL and geometry. It was found that crack closure can be correlated qualitatively and quantitatively to all other parameters associated with overload transient behaviour. It is proposed that the effect of crack tip plasticity on the non-linearity of the compliance curve can be separated to obtain reliable crack closure measurement. In this project, different methods are used to better understand the transient retardation process so that the damage tolerance design (DTD) of the components made of aluminium alloys can be enhanced. Another important parameter for fatigue and damage tolerance design (DTD) of engineering components is the threshold stress intensity factor range for fatigue crack growth, ∆K_th. A small variation in identification of ∆K_th can lead to a big change in overall estimation of fatigue life. In this project, an analytical model has been developed for aluminium alloys by fitting an analytical curve with raw crack growth data in order to identify the ∆K_th. This model has the capacity to identify ∆K_th for different aluminium alloys at various R ratios. There is a great demand for enhanced fatigue life of aluminium alloys in the transport industry. This project has carried out a detailed investigation of electromagnetic treatment (ET) in the form of electropulsing treatment to develop an efficient technique for fatigue resistance enhancement. ET parameters including the treatment intensity, treatment time and the number of applications have been optimised. It is suggested that the duration of ET treatment can be used as the main parameter among all these to control the fatigue resistance of the aluminium alloy. The improvement in fatigue resistance has been explained by the change in microhardness and conductivity of aluminium alloy due to ET. Additionally, the fracture morphology was analysed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The precipitates and dislocation characteristics were also studied using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The outcomes of this investigation will help improve structural integrity by enhancing fatigue resistance of aluminium alloys.
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