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The presence of macroscopic residual stresses in heat treatable aluminum alloys can give rise to machining distortion, dimensional instability, and increased susceptibility to in-service fatigue and stress-corrosion cracking. This article details the residual-stress magnitudes and distributions introduced into aluminum alloys by thermal operations associated with heat treatment. The available technologies by which residual stresses in aluminum alloys can be relieved are also described. The article shows why thermal stress relief is not a feasible stress-reduction technology for precipitation-hardened alloys. It examines the consequences of aging treatments on the residual stress, namely, annealing, precipitation heat treatment, and cryogenic treatment. The article provides information on uphill quenching, which attempts to reverse thermal gradients encountered during quenching. It examines how quench-induced residual stresses in heat treatable aluminum alloys are reduced when sufficient load is applied to cause plastic deformation. The article also shows how plastic deformation reduces residual stress.

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