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Magnesium alloys are very promising materials for weight-saving structural applications due to their low density, comparing to other metals and alloys currently used. However, they usually suffer from a limited formability at room temperature and low strength. In order to overcome those issues, processes of severe plastic deformation (SPD) can be utilized to improve mechanical properties, but processing parameters need to be selected with care to avoid fracture, very often observed for those alloys during forming. In the current work, the AZ31B magnesium alloy was subjected to SPD by incremental equal-channel angular pressing (I-ECAP) at temperatures varying from 398 K to 525 K (125 °C to 250 °C) to determine the window of allowable processing parameters. The effects of initial grain size and billet rotation scheme on the occurrence of fracture during I-ECAP were investigated. The initial grain size ranged from 1.5 to 40 µm and the I-ECAP routes tested were A, BC, and C. Microstructures of the processed billets were characterized before and after I-ECAP. It was found that a fine-grained and homogenous microstructure was required to avoid fracture at low temperatures. Strain localization arising from a stress relaxation within recrystallized regions, namely twins and fine-grained zones, was shown to be responsible for the generation of microcracks. Based on the I-ECAP experiments and available literature data for ECAP, a power law between the initial grain size and processing conditions, described by a Zener–Hollomon parameter, has been proposed. Finally, processing by various routes at 473 K (200 °C) revealed that route A was less prone to fracture than routes BC and C.
- structural materials
- metallic materials
- magnesium alloys
- severe plastic deformation (SPD)