In the defence sector, the high strength to weight ratio of light alloys can be utilised in numerous ways for combat vehicles. These alloys can be used to decrease the weight of vehicles, making them more manoeuvrable, or to increase the thickness of armour plating. In general, 7XXX series Aluminium alloys are higher strength than 5XXX series Aluminium alloys, however 5XXX series alloys exhibit greater weldability and corrosion resistance. As such, we must consider a balance of properties when selecting materials.

The project aims to improve the strength of 5XXX series Al alloys. The alloys exhibit dispersoid precipitation, which can be used to strengthen the material. As such the size, distribution, and volume fraction of dispersoids must be optimised to give rise to increased strength, while also maintaining a mix of desirable properties. Property optimisation will be done by controlling and tailoring the thermo-mechanical treatment of the alloys, and with analysis conducted by a variety of methods. The project will make use of SEM imaging techniques to characterise the resulting microstructures of the alloys, and mechanical testing to determine their applicability in the real world. The project will also explore modelling of the dispersoid strengthening in the alloys during treatment. This modelling will build upon previous work, guiding the choice of alloy treatments and giving an insight into the strengthening mechanisms. It is hoped this will further improve the understanding of the desired property optimisations. The work is being conducted as part of a large collaboration between UK, Australian, and American partner institutions.