In recent years, the influence of Ni on high-temperature mechanical properties of casting Al alloys has been extensively examined in the literature. In the present study, room temperature mechanical properties of an A356 alloy with Ni additions from 0.5 to 2 wt % were investigated. The role of Ni-based compounds and eutectic Si particles in reinforcing the Al matrix was studied with image analysis and was then related to tensile properties and microhardness. In the as-castcondition, the formation of the 3D network is not sufficient to determine an increase of mechanical properties of the alloys since fracture propagates by cleavage through eutectic Si particles and Ni aluminides or by the debonding of brittle phases from the aluminum matrix. After T6 heat treatmentthe increasing amount of Ni aluminides, due to further addition of Ni to the alloy, together withtheir brittle behavior, leads to a decrease of yield strength, ultimate tensile strength, and Vickers microhardness. Despite the fact that Ni addition up to 2 wt % hinders spheroidization of eutectic Si particles during T6 heat treatment, it also promotes the formation of a higher number of brittle Ni-based compounds that easily promote fracture propagation.
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