The effect of Be and Fe content on the plane strain fracture toughness K-IC of aluminum-based A357 alloys is investigated. The fracture behavior of A357 alloys has been evaluated as a function of both the magnitude and morphology of iron-bearing compounds and silicon particles. Addition of Be is beneficial for tensile properties and fracture toughness in the case of alloys containing intermediate (0.07 pet) and higher (0.15 pet) Fe levels. On the other hand, Be added to alloys containing the lower Fe (0.01 pet) level appears detrimental to tensile strength, but the quality index, notch-yield ratio (NYR), and plane strain fracture toughness were improved. Fractographic analysis reveals that crack extension of A357 alloys occurs mainly in an intergranular fracture mode. The fracture processes are initiated by void nucleation at iron-bearing compounds or irregularly shaped eutectic silicon particles as a result of their cracking and decohesion from the matrix. Then, void growth and coalescence result in growth of the main crack by shear-linkage-induced breakdown of submicron-strengthening particles. The effect of Be on increasing K-IC is more apparent in the higher Fe alloys than in the lower Fe alloys. Superior toughness obtained by microstructural control has also been achieved in the intermediate and higher Fe levels of Be-containing alloys, with values equal to those obtained in alloys of lower Fe content.
METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS TRANSACTIONS A-PHYSICAL METALLURGY AND MATERIALS SCIENCE