Mechanical properties of Al–Li alloys Part 2 fatigue crack propagation

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-907
Journal / PublicationMaterials Science and Technology (United Kingdom)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1989
Externally publishedYes


Mechanisms influencing the ambient temperature mechanical properties of commercial Al–Li alloys 2090, 2091, 8090, and 8091 are examined, with specific emphasis on the role of microstructure. In Part 2, results on fatigue crack propagation behaviour are presented for both ‘long’ (≥ 5 mm) and ‘microstructurally small’ (1–1000 μm) cracks and compared with behaviour in traditional high strength aluminium alloys. In general, it is found that the growth rates of long fatigue cracks in Al–Li alloys are up to two to three orders of magnitude lower than in traditional 7000 and 2000 series alloys, when compared at an equivalent stress intensity range ΔK. By contrast, corresponding growth rates of microstructurally small fatigue cracks were up to two to three orders of magnitude higher than the long crack results. Such observations are attributed to the prominent role of crack tip shielding in Al–Li alloys resulting from the tortuous and deflected nature of the crack paths which results in a reduced crack tip ‘driving force’ from crack deflection and, more importantly, from the consequent crack closure induced by the wedging of fracture surface asperities. Since microstructurally small cracks are unable to develop the same level of shielding from crack closure by virtue of their limited wake, small crack growth rates are significantly accelerated. Unlike fracture toughness behaviour, artificial aging of commercial Al–Li alloys to peak strength has a mixed influence on the (long crack) resistance. Although behaviour at higher growth rates is relatively unaffected, in 2091 nominal threshold ΔKTH values are increased by 17%, whereas in 8090 and 8091 they are decreased by 16–17%. However, all alloys show reduced effective fatigue thresholds at peak strength after correcting for crack closure.