Here is a question that no one in the industry answered me if I can do
it yet. I am building on the side an aluminum bicycle frame. I would
like to heat treat it after welded. All that I have however available
in my company is an oven that can heat up to 450F. So all we can is
pretty much age it after welding. I know that as per the literature
available, after welding you have to heat treat in solution and quench
it and than age the piece. Here is the question though, that I will
highly appreciate if anyone can answer it: Is it possible to just age
the frame after welded let's say 6 hours at 350 degrees. Or is that
going to be worse, since I am re-aging a T6 tube and will be in fact
over-aging it and make it very brittle. Second question: If that is the
case what would happen if I can get 6061-T4 tubing, weld it and than
age it, again without heat treating or quenching it. Would that make
the tube actual T6 after welded. What would happen with the actual
weldment and annealed area? I am trying to find the easiest way to
recover some strength at the joints, without making it worse than not
doing anything at all.
Thanks in advance!
If you just artificially age 6061-T6 welded with 4043 or similar, you
might end up with around 70% or better of the original tensile strength
of the material in the T6 state. The weakest point is going to be where
the metal was melted or in the heat affected zone (not melted, but
stucture affected by the welding heat) where the base metal has been
overaged. Overaging does not make aluminum alloys brittle. It reduces
the tensile strength and makes them less susceptible to cracking.
One option may be to use material in the T4 temper and artifically age
according to manufacturer's specifications after welding. This should
prevent the overaging in the heat affected zone. I don't think you will
get optimum strength in the fusion zone because the slower rate of
cooling than with quenching will allow some phase change. But it may be
Of course, the best option is still to solution heat treat after welding
then artificially age to get back optimal strength throughout.
BTW you can minimize the overaging in the heat affected zone by
minimizing heat input. In other works, use small stringer beads (no weave).