Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Marwan K. Khraisheh

Abstract

The economical and environmental issues associated with fossil fuels have been urging the automotive industry to cut the fuel consumption and exhaust emission levels, mainly by reducing the weight of vehicles. However, customers increasing demands for safer, more powerful and luxurious vehicles have been adding more weight to the various categories of vehicles, even the smallest ones. Leading car manufacturers have shown that significant weight reduction, yet satisfying the growing demands of customers, would not be feasible without the extensive use of lightweight materials. Magnesium is the lightest constructional metal on earth, offering a great potential for weight-savings. However, magnesium and its alloys exhibit inferior ductility at low temperatures, limiting their practical sheet metal applications. Interestingly, some magnesium alloys exhibit superplastic behaviour at elevated temperatures; mirrored by the extraordinarily large ductility, surpassing that of conventional steels and aluminium alloys. Superplastic forming technique is the process used to form materials of such nature, having the ability to deliver highly-profiled, yet very uniform sheet-metal products, in one single stage. Despite the several attractions, the technique is not widely-used because of a number of issues and obstacles. This study aims at advancing the superplastic forming technique, and offering it as an efficient process for broader utilisation of magnesium alloys for sheet metal applications. The focus is primarily directed to the AZ31 magnesium alloy, since it is commercially available in sheet form, possesses good mechanical properties and high strength/weight ratio. A general multi-axial anisotropic microstructure-based constitutive model that describes the deformation behaviour during superplastic forming is first developed. To calibrate the model for the AZ31 magnesium alloy, systematic uniaxial and biaxial stretching tests are carried out over wide-ranging conditions, using 3 specially-designed fixtures. In a collaborative effort thereafter, the calibrated constitutive model is fed into a FE code in conjunction with a stability criterion, in order to accurately simulate, control and ultimately optimise the superplastic forming process. Special pneumatic bulge forming setup is used to validate some proposed optimisation schemes, by forming sheets into dies of various geometries. Finally, the materials post-superplastic-forming properties are investigated systematically, based on geometrical, mechanical and microstructural measures.

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