Failure by Blowout of Aluminum Alloy 6061-T6 Connector Tubes From a Water-Cooling System
Several of the aluminum alloy 6061-T6 drawn seamless tubes (ASTM B 234, 2.5 cm (1.0 in.) OD with wall thickness of 1.7 mm (0.065 in.)) connecting an array of headers to a system of water-cooling pipes failed. The tubes were supplied in the O temper. They were bent to the desired curvature, preheated, then solution treated, water quenched, and then aged for 8 to 10 h. Analysis (visual inspection, slow-bend testing, 65x macrographic analysis, macroetching, spectrographic analysis, hardness tests, microhardness tests, tension tests, and microscopic examination) supported the conclusions that bending of the connector tubes in the annealed condition induced critical strain near the neutral axis of the tube, which resulted in excessive growth of individual grains during the subsequent solution treatment. Recommendations included bending the connector tubes in the T4 temper as early as possible after being quenched from the solution temperature. The tubes should be stored in dry ice after the quench until bending can be done. The tubes should be aged immediately after being formed. Flattening and slow-bend tests should be specified to ensure that the connector tubes had satisfactory ductility.