ALUFIX proposes an original strategy for the development of aluminium-based materials involving damage mitigation and extrinsic self-healing concepts exploiting the new opportunities of the solid-state friction stir process. Friction stir processing locally extrudes and drags material from the front to the back and around the tool pin. It involves short duration at moderate temperatures (typically 80% of the melting temperature), fast cooling rates and large plastic deformations leading to far out-of-equilibrium microstructures. The idea is that commercial aluminium alloys can be locally improved and healed in regions of stress concentration where damage is likely to occur. Self-healing in metal-based materials is still in its infancy and existing strategies can hardly be extended to applications. Friction stir processing can enhance the damage and fatigue resistance of aluminium alloys by microstructure homogenisation and refinement. In parallel, friction stir processing can be used to integrate secondary phases in an aluminium matrix. In the ALUFIX project, healing phases will thus be integrated in aluminium in addition to refining and homogenising the microstructure. The “local stress management strategy” favours crack closure and crack deviation at the sub-millimetre scale thanks to a controlled residual stress field. The “transient liquid healing agent” strategy involves the in-situ generation of an out-of-equilibrium compositionally graded microstructure at the aluminium/healing agent interface capable of liquid-phase healing after a thermal treatment. Along the road, a variety of new scientific questions concerning the damage mechanisms will have to be addressed.
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