Variability in the Experimental Response of Thermally Excited Aluminum Alloys
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The use of aluminum alloys for load bearing elements continues to expand rapidly across the marine, aviation, and commercial building industries, among others. Some factors driving this expansion are aluminum's low density, good formability, and high corrosion resistance when properly alloyed and tempered. These properties give aluminum a number of competitive advantages, especially for light-weight structures such as airplanes and ships, as compared with other structural metals. However, one factor hindering the expansion of aluminum alloys, especially in high temperature applications, is that it has a relatively low melting point. This, combined with a lack of knowledge regarding the uncertainty of aluminum's performance at high temperatures often counteracts the weight savings provided by aluminum's low density. Existing studies of aluminum alloys have omitted discussion of the uncertainty in aluminum's response to high temperature environments. In order to address this lack of data, this thesis presents experimental results of 100 tension tests and 54 plane strain tests of the most commonly used structural aluminum, 6061-T651 aluminum alloy. Key results of the study include engineering stress-strain curves and statistics of mechanical properties obtained using digital image correlation. These statistics show the variation in the mechanical behavior of aluminum under two different stress states, six different temperatures, and between different batches of material.