For markets ranging from automotive vehicles, to beverage cans and bottles and consumer electronics, aluminum sheet producers strive continuously to deliver products with ever more attractive property combinations. To be successful, it is critical to properly understand how performance in the customer’s manufacturing process as well as in the end application are controlled by the material’s structure and behavior at a microscopic level. Equally important is to then translate this into enhanced products by manipulating that microstructure through the application of advanced alloy and process design.
Through recent examples, the use of advanced characterization and testing tools to yield important insights into material behavior and its relationship with microstructure will be highlighted. In turn, it will be shown how these are being used to develop better products, often in combination with advanced modeling techniques. Lastly, some key remaining metallurgical challenges facing researchers in the industry will be discussed.