Fatigue, Fatigue Crack Propagation and Mechanical Fracture Behaviour of Laser Beam-Welded AZ31 Magnesium Sheets


Weight reduction is the main driving force in automotive and aircraft structural design. As a result, magnesium alloys, with their high potential for lightweight construction, have attracted a considerable amount of industrial attention. The determining criterion for the structural applications of magnesium alloys is the availability of efficient joining technologies for the construction of lightweight structures and the availability of reliable data for the assessment of their damage tolerance behaviour. Laser beam welding (LBW), as a high-speed and easily controllable process, allows the welding of complex geometric forms that are optimised in terms of mechanical stiffness, strength, production velocity and visual quality. The work accomplished in this study addresses the challenges of the LBW process for typical joint configurations using the magnesium alloy AZ31HP: butt joints, T joints and overlap joints. LBW processes were developed for use with a 3.3-kW Nd:YAG laser to optimise the mechanical performance of such joints with respect to tensile strength, fatigue, fatigue crack propagation and mechanical fracture behaviour. The relationships between the LBW process and the microstructural and mechanical properties of welds were established. Compared to state-of-the-art aerospace alloys, AZ31HP demonstrates that magnesium alloys have potential for use in structural applications, with AZ31HP being comparable to AA2024T351 and AA6061T6. Welded AZ31HP exhibits better crack resistance than the base material, so fully welded integral structures made from magnesium alloys can be used in lightweight construction.
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