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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036

Effect of Si on the interfacial bonding strength of AlPb alloy strips


and hot-dip aluminized steel sheets by hot rolling
J. An*, Y.B. Liu, M.Z. Zhang, B. Yang
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Jilin University, Changchun 130025, PR China
Received 29 January 2000

Abstract

Bonding of AlPb alloy strips and hot-dipped Al or Al2% Si steel sheets were carried out using hot rolling. The effects of addition of
2% Si to the bath, the dipping time, the thickness of the intermetallic layers and the fraction of the blank interfaces on the bonding strength
are investigated. In all case, two different kinds of interfaces are produced, hot-dip aluminized steel sheets and AlPb alloy strips are
bonded through the mechanism of blank and block interface bonding. The total bonding strength depends mainly on that of blank interface
and the fraction of the blank interfaces. The bonding strength of blank interfaces is four or five times as high as that of block interfaces.
There is a linear relationship between the bonding strength and the fraction of the blank interfaces. An EPMA linescan across the blank
interface reveals that higher concentration of aluminum in the transition layer of Fe and Al formed in the blank interface region for a dipped
specimen of Al2% Si than that for a dipped specimen of Al. # 2002 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Keywords: Intermetallic compound; Bonding strength; Block interface; Blank interface

1. Introduction bearing alloy is bonded to the coated steel backing. How-


ever, existing techniques of producing bimetallic sheet of
Aluminum alloys have found considerable applications in aluminum and steel by solid phase cold rolling present
sliding bearings in recent years due to their outstanding problems of low primary bonding strength, an extraordina-
advantages over other bearing materials. Among these rily high reduction (about 70%) being required to ensure
alloys, AlPb alloys have attracted lot of attention as a good bonding [8], sometimes exceeding the load capacity of
feasible alternative to the widely used AlSn bearing alloys, conventional mills, and high work-hardening of the bimetal,
since the former not only provides a better leaded film of which restricts further deformation. If the technique of hot
lubricant but is also much cheaper than the latter [1]. roll bonding is employed in an environment without a
However, the fabrication of AlPb alloys present proble- protective gas, the occurrence of oxidation on the surface
matic segregation attributed to the great difference in density of steel sheets results in failure to bond them tightly because
between aluminum and lead, and immiscibility for lead of the fragile oxidation layer on the steel sheets. Hot roll
contents greater than 1.5% at temperatures above 931.5 K bonding can be accomplished smoothly by using hot-dip
[2]. Unconventional attempts such as stir casting have been aluminized steel sheet as the material of the steel backing,
made to disperse the lead uniformly in aluminum alloys owing to the sufficient oxidation resistance of the aluminum
[3,4], and the friction characteristics of stir cast AlPb alloys or the AlSi alloy top-coat layer on the surface of the steel
have been reported [47]. Bimetallic bearings of aluminum- backing at elevated temperatures, low deformation resis-
base bearing alloys and a steel backing are commonly tance is encountered by employing hot rolling. Therefore,
produced by cold rolling. Because of the low bonding high initial bonding strength and light work-hardening of
strength between bearing alloy such as AlSn alloy and a composite plates can be achieved. In hot-dip aluminizing,
steel backing, a transit layer, usually a pure aluminum layer, the base metals are coated by immersion in a molten metal
is firstly bonded to the steel backing, then an aluminum-base bath. When low carbon steel and liquid aluminum are in
contact with each other, a process of reaction diffusion takes
place, resulting in the formation of an intermetallic com-
*
Corresponding author. pound adjacent to the steel substrate, which is known as the
E-mail address: andongi@cc.cngb.com (J. An). alloy layer. On withdrawing the specimen from the melt

0924-0136/02/$ see front matter # 2002 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.


PII: S 0 9 2 4 - 0 1 3 6 ( 0 1 ) 0 1 1 0 1 - 3
J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036 31

some liquid metal sticks to the solid and solidifies according


to the cooling conditions. For an initially pure aluminum
melt, the alloy layer consists mainly of the intermetallic Z-
phase, Fe2Al5 [9]. It has been well known that silicon as an
addition to the aluminum melt reduces the thickness of the
alloy layer [10,11]. Silicon-containing aluminum melts are
often used in commercial hot-dip aluminizing.
At present, there is no published systematic investigation
on the mechanism of interface bonding and the influence of
silicon addition to the aluminum bath on the bonding
strength of aluminum alloy strips and hot-dip aluminized
steel sheets by hot rolling. For these reasons, the purpose of
this paper is to make a systematic analysis of the effect of the Fig. 1. Schematic diagram of a bonded specimen.
coating layer in a bath containing 2 wt.% silicon on the
bonding strength of AlPb alloy strips and hot-dip alumi-
nized steel sheets by hot rolling. strips and hot-dip aluminized steel sheets were polished with
emery paper. The Al or AlSi alloy top-coat layers on the
surface of the steel sheets are partly removed, leaving a
2. Experimental details thickness of about 30 mm. Prior to hot rolling, a small part of
the surface from one end of an aluminized steel sheet facing
2.1. Preparing hot-dip aluminized steel sheets AlPb alloy strip was smeared with graphite. Thus, the
interface with graphite between AlPb alloy and aluminized
The steel sheets with composition (wt.%) of Fe0.09% steel sheets cannot be hot rolled together tightly. One of the
C0.40% Mn0.0220% P0.0014% S were cut into dimen- AlPb alloy strips was located between steel sheets and
sion of 75 mm  20 mm  1:5 mm. Prior to hot-dip alumi- heated in a furnace at 400 8C for 30 min. Then immediately
nizing, the steel sheets were pre-treated by processes such as rolled together with a reduction of 38% to make a tri-
degreasing, rinsing, rust removing, rinsing, fluxing and metallic plate. After hot rolling, two u-shape-like grooves
drying [12]. To obtain top-coat layers with different com- of 1.5 mm width and 0.7 mm depth were machined across
position and various thicknesses of intermetallic layers both flank surfaces 20 mm away from the other end of the
during hot-dipping in pure aluminum and 2% Si melt baths tri-metallic plate. The part under the grooves was pressed
at 700 8C, the dipping time was chosen to be 0.5, 1, 2 and tightly between a pair of steel jaws and the interface with
4 min. The thickness of the intermetallic layers was mea- graphite then torn to the place where the u-shape-like
sured using a Nikon optical microscope. grooves were tearing could not reach beyond them because
of the state of pressing under the grooves. Finally, two torn
2.2. Stir casting and strip fabrication of AlPb alloy parts were bent outwards around an angle of nearly 908, the
specimen taking the shape as sketched in Fig. 1. To measure
About 2.5 kg of base alloy with the composition of Al4% the bonding strength, one end of the specimen was hold
Si1% Cu0.5% Mg0.4% Mn1% Sn was charged into a tightly while the other end was loaded. The weights were
crucible kept in a resistance-heated vertical muffle furnace. added step by step, the minimum step value of the weights
When the molten melt reached 973 K, the furnace was being 4.9 N, until unsteady fracture occurred along the
switched off and pre-heated baffles were pushed into the bonded interface. The fracture value was then used as the
crucible. At the same time, 10 wt.% of lead shot was added bonding strength of the interface. Similarly, aluminum strips
to the base alloy melt at a proper velocity, and the melt was of the same dimension as the AlPb strips were hot rolled
agitated at 40 rev s1 with a nine-bladed flat stirrer. After together with hot-dip aluminized steel sheets.
stirring for 5 min, the crucible was taken out of the furnace
and the turbulent melt poured into a steel mould. The
elaborate procedure and casting unit have been discussed 3. Results and discussion
elsewhere [3,4]. Thus, a cylinder ingot was obtained, which
was then extruded into strips of 75 mm width and 1.2 mm 3.1. Morphology of the hot-dip aluminized layer
thickness at 400 8C.
After hot-dip aluminizing at 700 8C for 0.5, 1, 2 and
2.3. The hot-roll bonding of AlPb alloy strips and 4 min, the hot-dip aluminized layers were observed as
hot-dip aluminized steel sheets shown in Fig. 2. The cross-section of the aluminized steel
sheets reveals the presence of an intermetallic layer covered
The AlPb alloy strips were cut into to dimension of with an aluminum or AlSi top-coat layer, both formed on
75 mm  20 mm  1:1 mm. The surfaces of the AlPb alloy the steel substrate. The outer layer is composed of pure
32 J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036

Fig. 2. Photomicrographs of aluminized layers treated at 700 8C (for 2 min): (a) pure aluminum; (b) Al2% Si.

aluminum or AlSi alloy, respectively, whilst below it is the 3.2. The bonding strength
intermetallic compound layer adjacent to steel substrate. In
the case of a pure aluminum bath, the tongue-like layer of The variation in bonding strength with dipping time for
Fig. 2 is mainly composed of Z-phase (Fe2Al5). In the case AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al steel, Alhot-dipped Al steel and
of a melt containing 2% Si, the silicon renders the inner face AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al2% Si steel, is shown in Fig. 4.
of the intermetallic layer smoother, the intermetallic com- It is noted that the bonding strength for specimens dipped in
pound being mainly composed of Z-phase (Fe2(AlSi)5) Al2% Si is much higher than that for those dipped in
from the ternary FeAlSi system as given by Rivlin and aluminum, the bonding strength for all the hot-dipped Al and
Raynor [13], in which silicon atoms occupy the structural AlSi alloy increasing with dipping time up to 2 min, but
vacancies of the Fe2Al5 phase, affording good diffusion decreasing beyond 2 min. However, the dipping time has no
possibilities for aluminum atoms in the pure (binary) state, effect on the intermetallic structure and composition but
resulting in a slower solid state growth, as previously only affects its thickness in these experimental situations.
reported [14]. Thus, the relationship between bonding strength and inter-
It is observed clearly that the thickness of the intermetallic metallic thickness is more direct than that between bonding
layers decreases with the increase in Si content. The thick- strength and dipping time. Therefore, the variation in bond-
ness of the intermetallic layers is measured using a Nikon ing strength with the intermetallic thickness is plotted in
optical microscope, a parabolic relationship between thick- Fig. 5. It is observed that the bonding strength for both hot-
ness and dipping time as shown in Fig. 3 being obtained as dipped Al and AlSi alloys varies in the same pattern of
previously reported by others [12,15]. The thickness of the increase with increasing thickness of the intermetallic initi-
intermetallic layers increases with dipping time. ally until a certain thickness of the intermetallic layer is

Fig. 3. The variation of the thickness of the intermetallic layer with


dipping time. Fig. 4. The variation of the bonding strength with dipping time.
J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036 33

aluminum steel sheet and AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al2%


Si steel sheet. In each case, it is seen clearly that in the
direction of rolling, the intermetallic compound breaks into
similarly sized blocks, and blanks formed between them.
Fig. 6(c) and (d) are photographs (SEM) of the fractured
interface on the steel side. The wider blanks in the direction
of rolling are parallel to each other across the surface of the
steel substrate, but there are also narrower blanks perpendi-
cular to the direction of rolling. The formation of these
blanks is attributed to the fact that during rolling, the steel
substrate elongates in the direction of rolling. The inter-
metallic layer cannot elongate with the steel substrate due to
its brittleness, and breaks into small blocks and the blanks
form where the broken blocks move apart from each other
under the action of the elongation of the steel substrate. The
Fig. 5. The variation of the bonding strength with the thickness of the
same behavior also occurs for those blanks perpendicular to
intermetallic layer.
the rolling direction. In these experimental situations, the
length of blanks in the direction of rolling is much greater
approached. In the case of hot-dipping aluminum, the than that perpendicular to the direction of rolling as shown in
intermetallic thickness is 73 mm, whilst in the case of hot- Fig. 6(c) and (d). Therefore, in the rolling process, the AlPb
dipping Al2% Si, the intermetallic thickness is 15 mm, then alloy strips or Al strips as well as the Al or AlSi top-coat
decreasing beyond this thickness. layer adjacent to the steel substrate elongate in the direction
of rolling and are squeezed into the blanks and fill them.
3.3. Bonding mechanism Thus, part of AlPb alloy or Al strip is bonded with
aluminum or AlSi layer above the intermetallic blocks,
Fig. 6(a) and (b) are longitudinal section photomicro- and the rest is bonded with the squeezed aluminum or AlSi
graphs of bonded specimens of AlPb alloyhot-dipped layer filling the blanks between the broken intermetallic

Fig. 6. Microstructures of bonded interfaces: (a) longitudinal section photograph of AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al2% Si steel (OM); (b) longitudinal section
photograph of AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al steel (OM); (c) fractured interface on the hot-dipped Al steel side (SEM); (d) parallel blanks across the fractured
interface on the hot-dipped Al steel side (SEM).
34 J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036

blocks. At the same time, part of the Al or AlSi top-coat


layer is bonded with intermetallic blocks and the rest bonded
with steel substrate at the bottom of the blanks. Therefore,
two different kinds of bonded interfaces are produced, i.e. an
AlPb alloy (or pure Al)/Al (or AlSi) top-coat layer inter-
face and an Al (or AlSi) top-coat layer/compound blocks
and steel substrate interface. The EPMA analysis of lead
mapping reveals that there is no trace of lead on the fractured
interface on the steel side, indicating that the interface
fractures between the steel substrate and the Al (or Al Fig. 7. Schematic diagram showing the position of the AlPb/Al top-coat
Si) layer in the blank interface region, and on the top of layer interface and the Al top-coat layer/intermetallic block and steel
substrate interface, after hot rolling.
broken blocks between the intermetallic blocks and the Al
(or AlSi) layer in the block interface region. Therefore, the
interfacial bonding strength of the former is greater than that X
n

of the latter. The fracture occurs along the weaker interface, lc lci (7)
i1
i.e. Al (or AlSi) layer/compound blocks and steel substrate
interface. Thus the fractured interface is composed of block where i is the individual intermetallic block or blank
interfaces between the Al (or AlSi) and compound blocks between the intermetallic blocks as shown in Fig. 7, and
and blank interfaces between the Al (or AlSi) and the steel n the total number of intermetallic blocks or blanks included
substrate. Based on the present observations, the position of
these interfaces mentioned above are as sketched in Fig. 7.
Obviously the total bonding strength depends on that of
these two different parts of the fractured interfaces, i.e. the
blank interfacial bonding strength and the block interfacial
strength. The stronger one will affect the total strength
considerably. The total bonding strength can be represented
with two different kinds of interface strength as the follow-
ing equation:
F Fb Kb Fc Kc (1)

where F is the total bonding strength, Fb the bonding


strength of the blank interfaces, between the intermetallic
blocks, Fc the bonding strength of block interfaces on the top
of the intermetallic blocks, Kb the fraction of the blank
interfaces between the intermetallic blocks, and Kc the
fraction of block interfaces on the top of the intermetallic.
Fig. 8. The variation in the fraction of the blank interface with the
In order to determine Kb and Kc, the blanks perpendicular
thickness of the intermetallic layer.
to the direction of rolling are omitted due to their being
considerably narrow compared with those in the direction of
rolling, so the following relationships are used:
lb
Kb (2)
llc
Kc (3)
l
Kb Kc 1 (4)
where l is the total length of the interface in the direction of
rolling, lb the length of blank interfaces in the direction of
rolling, and lc the length of block interfaces on the top of the
intermetallic in the direction of rolling. In order to measure l,
lb and lc, the following equations are used:
l lb lc (5)
X
n
lb lbi (6) Fig. 9. The linear relationship between the bonding strength and the
i1 fraction of blank interface.
J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036 35

Fig. 10. Microprobe traces of Al and Fe across the blank interface: (a) AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al2% Si steel; (b) AlPb alloyhot-dipped Al steel.

in the length of l. In this experimental situation, considering aluminum steel sheets. Thus the total bonding strength owes
the feasibility and precision of the experimental data of lb a lot to the bonding strength of the blank interfaces and the
and lc, n is selected as 20. fraction of the blank interfaces.
Fig. 8 shows that for hot-dipped aluminum and hot-dipped Electron microscopy and microprobe analyses in Fig. 10
Al2% Si specimens, the fraction of blank interfaces reveal that there is not an evident transition layer of Fe and
increases with the intermetallic layer thickness up to 73 Al in the blank interface region for bonded specimens
and 15 mm, respectively, but decreases beyond 73 and dipped in pure aluminum, while a 5 mm transition layer
15 mm, respectively. The total bonding strength can also of Fe and Al forms in the blank interface region for those
be represented as the following equation: dipped in Al2% Si alloy, and along with a higher concen-
tration of aluminum. This may be the reason why the
F Fb  Fc Kb Fc (8)
interfacial bonding strength increases; the presence of Si
There should be a linear relationship between F and Kb, and increases the diffusion coefficient and the rate of Al diffu-
F should increase with an increase of Kb. The variation in sion into the steel substrate during annealing at 400 8C.
bonding strength with the fraction of blank interfaces for
both AlPb alloy and Alhot-dipped aluminum steel sheets,
and AlPb alloyhot-dipped AlSi steel sheets, is shown in 4. Conclusions
Fig. 9. The data points are a perfect linear fit. The values of
Fb and Fc can be obtained from the ordinate in Fig. 6, as the 1. Under a given reduction, the bonding strength for both
values of Kb are 0 and 1; the values of Kb being 0 or 1 means specimens dipped in aluminum and in Al2% Si melt
that the bonded interface consists entirely of block interfaces baths increases with the thickness of intermetallic
or blank interfaces. Fb and Fc are found to be 876.93 and compound layer up to 73 and 15 mm respectively,
201.04 N for hot-dipped aluminum steel sheets, and 1492.29 beyond which it decreases.
and 258.85 N for hot-dipped Al2% Si steel sheets, respec- 2. The bonding of AlPb bearing alloy strips and hot-dip
tively, indicating that the bonding strength of the blank aluminized steel sheets by hot rolling is through a
interfaces is four or five times as high as that of the block mechanism, where during rolling the intermetallic
interfaces on the top of the intermetallic. The bonding compound breaks into blocks, and between them form
strength of the blank interfaces for hot-dipped Al2% Si blanks. Thus AlPb alloy strips are bonded with an Al or
steel sheets is significantly higher than for hot-dipped AlSi top-coat layer, and part of Al or AlSi top-coat
36 J. An et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 120 (2002) 3036

layer is bonded with compound blocks in the block References


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