The effect of high densities of dislocations on the formation behavior of two types of nano-scale clusters (nanoclusters), which are formed at room temperature or during pre-aging at ~373. K in an Al-Mg-Si alloy, was investigated by atom probe tomography. Cold rolling was applied to modify the formation behavior and/or the characteristics of the nanoclusters and also the precipitation sequence, which involve both nanoclusters and a strengthening phase to improve the bake-hardening response. Nanoclusters formed during pre-aging tended to form along the dislocations. Cold rolling accelerated the preferential formation of the nanoclusters, whereas the number density of the nanoclusters decreased by cold rolling before pre-aging. However, the number density of the nanoclusters was considerably higher than that of the Β″ phase. Cold rolling before pre-aging enhanced the age-hardenability the most compared with other processes such as the contemporary pre-aging process. It is considered that the nanoclusters along dislocations lead to the preferential transformation to the Β phase and then the rapid growth of the Β″ phase. The nanoclusters formed on dislocations are effective in improving the bake-hardening response for the duration of the bake-hardening process. The kinetics and the distribution of the nanoclusters were found to be affected by the dislocations which were induced by cold rolling.
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