Coarsening- and creep resistance of precipitation-strengthened Al–Mg–Zr alloys processed by selective laser melting

S. Griffiths, J. R. Croteau, M. D. Rossell, R. Erni, A. De Luca, N. Q. Vo, D. C. Dunand, C. Leinenbach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The coarsening behavior of Al3Zr precipitates during aging was investigated for two Al–Mg–Zr alloys (Al–3.6Mg–1.2Zr and Al–2.9Mg–2.1Zr, wt%) processed by selective laser melting (SLM). Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) investigations of peak-aged (400 °C, 8 h) samples reveal both continuous (~2 nm in diameter) and discontinuous (~5 nm wide and hundreds of nanometers in length) coherent, secondary L12-Al3Zr precipitates. In-situ STEM experiments showed that aging at 400 °C results in the appearance and growth of both grain-boundary Al3Zr precipitates, and intragranular nanometer-sized spherical Al3Zr precipitates in Zr-rich dendritic arms. Heating to 500 °C resulted in the disappearance of most Al3Zr precipitates and oxide particles. This microstructural evolution sheds light on the evolution of the alloy strength at elevated temperature. For short-term yield tests, as-fabricated samples displayed higher yield strengths than peak-aged samples at temperatures above 150 °C (e.g., 87 vs 24 MPa at 260 °C). This is attributed to coarsening of grain-boundary precipitates during aging, decreasing their ability to inhibit grain-boundary sliding (GBS) of the fine equiaxed grains (~1 µm). For longer term creep tests at 260 °C, both as-fabricated and peak-aged samples displayed near-identical creep behavior during a long-duration (168 h) creep test; by contrast, during a shorter duration creep test (8 h), as-fabricated samples are more creep-resistant than samples previously aged at 260 °C (threshold stresses of ~40 vs. ~14 MPa, respectively). Again, the creep behavior is consistent with coarsening of grain-boundary precipitates, occurring now during long-duration creep tests at 260 °C. An exact creep mechanism could not be isolated due to microstructural changes during testing but is believed to be a combination of GBS and dislocation motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-202
Number of pages11
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Aluminum alloys
  • Creep
  • Precipitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


Dive into the research topics of 'Coarsening- and creep resistance of precipitation-strengthened Al–Mg–Zr alloys processed by selective laser melting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this