Thixoforming investigations have been developed primarily for the manufacturing of bulk components, and the current knowledge is very limited with respect to the fabrication of thin cross sections of alloys. We studied the effectiveness of thixoforming process for the fabrication of A356 aluminum alloy bipolar plates with microchannels on both sides. Feedstock semisolid slurries, with different solid contents of ∼55, 50, and 45 pct, were prepared at 858 K, 863 K, and 868 K (585 °C, 590 °C, and 595 °C), respectively, and were used to thixoform 1.20-mm-thick bipolar thin plates. The microstructures of the thixoformed thin plates consisted of (i) large primary α-Al globular grains, (ii) a quenched liquid phase, and (iii) fine secondary α-Al particles. The fraction and size of the primary α-Al globular grains decreased, and the primary α-Al globular grains became more spherical with the increasing thixoforming temperature. It seemed that these changes in the microstructural features led to the reduction in the agglomeration and interaction among the primary α-Al globular grains surrounded by the liquid matrix during thixoforming. This enabled the semisolid slurry to effectively flow and fill in the sharp corners (such as the microchannels) of the die cavity at higher thixoforming temperatures. The thin plates thixoformed at 868 K (595 °C), consequently, exhibited the highest dimensional stability and the fewest internal defects. The liquid matrix surrounding the primary α-Al grains solidified inside the die cavity after thixoforming. Either the liquid phase was instantly quenched or fine secondary α-Al particles were formed inside the die cavity. The fraction and size of the latter increased with increasing thixoforming temperature. The surface hardness of the thixoformed plates was measured, and the hardness values were correlated with the microstructural features of the thixoformed plates. © The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and ASM International 2013.
Bolouri, A., Jang, C. H., & Kang, C. G. (2014). Thixoforming A356 aluminum bipolar plates at high solid fractions. Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B, 45(2), 363-371. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11663-013-9882-0