Al- and Al/Zn-enriched layers containing intermetallic phases were deposited on the Mg substrate by heating the Mg specimens in contact with the powdered materials in a vacuum furnace. The Al-enriched surface layers were produced using Al powder, whereas the Al/Znenriched layers were obtained from an 80 wt.% Al + 20 wt.% Zn powder mixture. The microstructure and composition of the layers were analyzed by optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The results showed that the Al-enriched layer comprised an Mg17Al12 intermetallic phase and a solid solution of Al in Mg. The layer obtained from the Al+Zn powder mixture was composed of Mg-Al-Zn intermetalic phases and a solid solution of Al and Zn in Mg. Adding 20% of Zn into the Al powder resulted in the formation of a considerably thicker layer. Moreover, the hardness of the surface layers was much higher than that of the Mg substrate.
The modified surface layers of Mg enriched with Al and Si were fabricated by thermochemical treatment. The substrate material in contact with an Al + 20 wt.% Si powder mixture was heated to 445ºC for 40 or 60 min. The microstructure of the layers was examined by OM and SEM. The chemical composition of the layer and the distribution of elements were determined by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The experimental results show that the thickness of the layer is dependent on the heating time. A much thicker layer (1 mm) was obtained when the heating time was 60 min than when it was 40 min (600 μm). Both layers had a non-homogeneous structure. In the area closest to the Mg substrate, a thin zone of a solid solution of Al in Mg was detected. It was followed by a eutectic with Mg17Al12and a solid solution of Al in Mg. The next zone was a eutectic with agglomerates of Mg2Si phase particles; this three-phase structure was the thickest. Finally, the area closest to the surface was characterized by dendrites of the Mg17Al12phase. The microhardness of the modified layer increased to 121-236 HV as compared with 33-35 HV reported for the Mg substrate.
Al-enriched layer was formed on a magnesium substrate with use of casting. The magnesium melt was cast into a steel mould with an aluminium insert placed inside. Different conditions of the casting process were applied. The reaction between the molten magnesium and the aluminium piece during casting led to the formation of an Al-enriched surface layer on the magnesium substrate. The thickness of the layer was dependent on the casting conditions. In all fabricated layers the following phases were detected: a solid solution of Mg in Al, Al3Mg2, Mg17Al12 and a solid solution of Mg in Al. When the temperature of the melt and the mould was lower (variant 1 – 670o C and 310 o ; variant 2 – 680o C and 310o C, respectively) the unreacted thin layer of aluminium was observed in the outer zone. Applying higher temperatures of the melt (685o C) and the mould (325o C) resulted in deep penetration of aluminium into the magnesium substrate. Areas enriched in aluminium were locally observed. The Al-enriched layers composed mainly of Mg-Al intermetallic phases have hardness from 187-256 HV0.1.