How many of you are aware of aluminum alloy 7075? Back in the 1940s, it was the star! The aluminum alloy 7075 features strength that is reportedly comparable with many popular plates of steel available in the market. It also boasts a high fatigue strength, high resistance to corrosion and average machinability. It should also be noted that it is 1/3rd the weight of steel.
The aluminum alloy 7075 has zinc as its primary alloying element, and it showed great promise when manufacturing was starting. So, what went wrong? As it happens, the welding process for aluminum alloy 7075 is not as easy as many would have hoped it would be. Furthermore, it is next to impossible for using it to create some of the parts that might be required in a factory line. This didn’t stop, however, a team of researchers from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering that has come up with means of welding AA 7075.
Once the AA 7075 is heated to achieve the temperature required for welding, the molecular structure of the allow forms an uneven flow of its comprising elements. This causes the strength of the alloy to become compromised and causing cracking when subjected to heat.
For the uninitiated, the AA 7075 has been created from 5.6-6.1% of zinc, 2.1-2.5% magnesium, 1.2-1.6% copper, and under a half percent of iron, manganese, silicon, titanium, chromium, and other metals. The UCLA team made use of nanoparticles for fixing this issue. Titanium carbide nanoparticles were incorporated into the alloy serving as the filler material between two different AA 7075 welding wires.
The newly welded material was not a victim of cracks or weakened elements. The new weld of the aluminum alloy 7075 was able to exhibit a tensile strength of about 392 megapascals. That is the equivalent strength of some of the materials that are used on aircraft today. The UCLA team is hopeful that by a little experimentation, it will be able to enhance the tensile strength of the AA 7075 joints up to 551 megapascals.
Once the team is able to achieve that, the manufacturers will be able to manufacture faster and much more fuel-efficient vehicles. Xiaochun Li, UCLA’s Raytheon Professor of Manufacturing and the study’s principal investigator, said, ‘Companies could use the same processes and equipment they already have to incorporate this super-strong aluminum alloy into their manufacturing processes, and their products could be lighter and more energy efficient, while still retaining their strength.’