High strength aluminium alloy AA7075 (Al-Zn-Mg-Cu) is a precipitate hardenable alloy widely used in the aerospace, defense, marine and automobile industries. Use of the heat treatable aluminium alloys in all these sectors is ever-increasing owing to their excellent strength-to weight ratio and reasonably good corrosion resistance. The shortage in corrosion resistance, however, usually poses negative concern about their reliability and lifetime when they service in the variable marine environments. These alloys also exhibit low weldability due to poor solidification microstructure, porosity in fusion zone and lose their mechanical properties when they are welded by fusion welding techniques. Friction stir welding (FSW) is a reliable technique to retain the properties of the alloy as the joining takes place in the solid state. The welds are susceptible to corrosion due to the micro structural changes in the weld nugget during FSW. In this work, the effect of post weld treatments, viz., peak aging (T6) and retrogression &reaging (RRA), on the microstructure, mechanical properties and pitting corrosion has been studied.
Friction stir welding of 8 mm-thick AA7075 alloy was carried out. The micro structural changes of base metal and nugget zone of friction stir welds were studied using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Tensile and hardness test of base metal and welds has been carried out. Pitting corrosion resistance was determined through dynamic polarization test. It was observed that the hardness and strength of weld were observed to be comparatively high in peak aged (T6) condition but the welds showed poor corrosion resistance. The resistance to pitting corrosion was improved and the mechanical properties were maintained by RRA treatment. The resistance to pitting corrosion was improved in RRA condition with the minimum loss of weld strength.