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Tailoring hierarchical microstructures and nanoprecipitates in additive-manufactured Al-Zn-Mg-Cu-Nb alloys for simultaneously enhancing strength and ductility

Xiao, Fei; Shu, Da; Wang, Yixiao; Sun, Qinyao; Wang, Donghong; Yang, Chao; Wang, Shubin; Mi, Jiawei; Sun, Baode; StJohn, David H.


Fei Xiao

Da Shu

Yixiao Wang

Qinyao Sun

Donghong Wang

Chao Yang

Shubin Wang

Baode Sun

David H. StJohn


Additive manufacturing provides an efficient way of producing metallic components with complex geometries. Their microstructure is substantially different to those from conventional processing, creating opportunities for manipulating the final microstructure and properties via heat treatment. Here, we demonstrate that as-built heterostructures in an Al-Zn-Mg-Cu-Nb alloy produced during the solidification of molten pools provide a driving force and additional Zener pinning sources for recrystallization. This creates a bimodal grain structure after solution treatment, causing additional hetero-deformation-induced strengthening and hardening. Coarse grains are found to promote work hardening and blunt the propagate of cracks during deformation, increasing ductility. Together with precipitation strengthening from a high number density nanoprecipitates, the simultaneous improvement of strength and ductility in a highly alloyed Al-Zn-Mg-Cu-Nb alloy is achieved. These results provide a simple strategy for the development of additively manufactured age-hardening alloys with improved strength and ductility for high performance structural applications.


Xiao, F., Shu, D., Wang, Y., Sun, Q., Wang, D., Yang, C., …StJohn, D. H. (2024). Tailoring hierarchical microstructures and nanoprecipitates in additive-manufactured Al-Zn-Mg-Cu-Nb alloys for simultaneously enhancing strength and ductility. communications materials, 5(1), Article 52.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 3, 2024
Online Publication Date Apr 16, 2024
Publication Date Dec 1, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2024
Journal Communications Materials
Electronic ISSN 2662-4443
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 1
Article Number 52
Keywords Mechanical properties; Metals and alloys
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© The Author(s) 2024.
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