In this work, the bake-hardening (BH) response of an Al-3.0Mg-1.0Cu (in mass%) alloy has been improved by the small addition of Ag as a good example of our proposed Nanocluster Assist Processing (NCAP) technique. From the detailed observation through high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), it is found that the origin of the increased hardness in the Ag-added alloy is attributed to the densely and uniformly formed Z phase at the expense of Guinier-Preston- Bagaryatsky (GPB) zones and the S’ phase. It is new findings that the Z phase is formed even in the ternary alloy although the chemical composition lies in the (α+S+T) phase field. Based on the threedimensional atom probe (3DAP) results, furthermore, it is suggested that nanoclusters of Mg, Ag and/or Cu provide effective nucleation sites for the Z phase, whereas nanoclusters of Mg and Cu do less. Such unique characteristics of Ag are clearly seen in the newly constructed interaction energy map (IE map).