In subatomic particle physics, unstable particles can be detected with a so-called vertex detector, placed inside a particle accelerator. A detecting unit close to the accelerator bunch of charged particles must be separated from the accelerator vacuum. A thin sheet with a complex 3D shape prevents the detector vacuum from polluting the accelerator vacuum. Therefore, this sheet has to be completely leak tight. However, this can conflict with restrictions concerning maximum sheet thickness of the product. To produce such a complex thin sheet, superplastic forming can be very attractive in cases where a small number of products is needed. In order to predict gas permeability of these formed sheets, many mechanical experiments are necessary, where the gas leak has to be measured. To obtain insight in the mechanical behaviour of the used material, ALNOVI-1, tensile experiments were performed to describe the uniaxial stress–strain behaviour. From these experiments, a high strain rate sensitivity was measured. The flow stress of this material under superplastic conditions was low and the material behaved in an isotropic manner upon large plastic strains. The results of these experiments were used to predict the forming pressure as a function of time in a free bulge experiment, such that a predefined target strain rate will not be exceeded in the material. An extra parameter within these bulging experiments is the application of a hydrostatic pressure during the forming process. Such a pressure postpones the nucleation and growth of internal cavities, which means that higher plastic strains can be reached before failure. Results from these experiments showed that at higher hydrostatic pressures, higher bulges were made. All these bulges were leak tested, showing also that higher hydrostatic pressures lead to a lower void volume fraction at higher hydrostatic pressures, since these bulges were more leak tight at the same bulge height than bulges made without the application of this pressure. This article describes the setup and results of the uniaxial (tensile) and biaxial (bulging) experiments on the superplastic aluminium ALNOVI-1.
- Superplastic forming
- Mechanical experiments