The geometric features of clustered shrinkage pores (CSP) in ill-conditioned aluminum alloy die castings were revealed and their effect on the fatigue strength was discussed. To obtain the geometric features of CSP, an observation using a commercial microfocus X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) system was carried out and the position and size of CSP were confirmed. However, the detailed geometry of the CSP could not be clearly observed by X-ray CT, because each pore in the CSP was too small to observe owing to the insufficient resolution of the CT image. We developed a serial sectioning system with a polishing machine and an optical microscope. Observation using the serial sectioning system clearly showed that a CSP consists of many interconnected small pores, which formed an extremely complicated shape. The CSP was thought to grow from relatively large gas pores, which connect to small pores and consequently generate a cavity with a huge volume and a complicated geometry. The complex geometry of CSP resulted in the concentration of stress around CSP, and significantly undermines mechanical properties such as tensile strength and fatigue strength.
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