Laser-machined microchannel effect on microstructure and oxide formation of an ultrasonically processed aluminum alloy

Ultrasonic consolidation (UC) has been proven to be a suitable method for fiber embedment into metal matrices. To aid successful embedment of high fiber volumes and to ensure their accurate positioning, research on producing microchannels in combination with adjacent shoulders formed by distribution of the melt onto unique UC sample surfaces with a fiber laser was carried out. This paper investigated the effect of the laser on the microstructure surrounding the channel within an Al 3003-H18 sample. The heat input and the extent of the heat-affected zone (HAZ) from one and multiple passes was examined. The paper explored the influence of air, as an assist gas, on the shoulders and possible oxide formation with regards to future bonding requirements during UC. The authors found that one laser pass resulted in a keyhole-shaped channel filled with a mixture of aluminum and oxides and a symmetrical HAZ surrounding the channel. Multiple passes resulted in the desired channel shape and a wide HAZ which appeared to be an eutectic microstructure. The distribution of molten material showed oxide formation all along the channel outline and especially within the shoulder.