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International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING 6340(Print), ISSN

N 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME AND TECHNOLOGY (IJMET)

ISSN 0976 6340 (Print) ISSN 0976 6359 (Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, September - December (2012), pp.565-573 IAEME: www.iaeme.com/ijmet.asp Journal Impact Factor (2012): 3.8071 (Calculated by GISI) www.jifactor.com




Jeevan.V1, C.S.P Rao2 and N.Selvaraj3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Warangal, Warangal, Andhrapradesh, India. Email: vemula.jeevan@gmail.com

ABSTRACT A trend has been observed in the field of aluminum based composite materials to employ silicon carbide as reinforcement material in developing composites of unique properties. In the present study, an attempt has been made to fabricate the unreinforced Al and its composites were synthesized using the Powder Metallurgy (P/M) manufacturing route with blending, pressing and sintering allows the near net shape fabrication of precision parts. The composites are further solution heat treated at 5290C for two hours and artificially aged at 1750C for 18 hours. Optical Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy has been carried out to analyze powder morphology and composite structure. An increasing trend towards micro-hardness and compressive strength with increase in weight percentage of silicon carbide has been observed. KEYWORDS: Al-SiCp, Mechanical Properties, Microstructure, Powder Metallurgy. 1. INTRODUCTION Particulate Reinforced Aluminum Matrix Composites (PR AMCs) have evoked a vehement interest in recent times for potential applications in aerospace, defence and automotive industries. PR AMCs exhibit improved physical, mechanical and wear resistant properties such as higher stiffness, superior strength-to-weight ratio, improved wear resistance, increased creep resistance , low coefficient of thermal expansion, improved hightemperature properties, and high workability of the composites over those of the monolithic metals oralloys [1-5]. Earlier studies on Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs) addressed the behaviour of continuous fiber reinforcement composite based on aluminum, zinc and titanium alloys matrices. The wide usage of these composites is restricted because of high production cost of composite and composite fiber. MMCs that include both particulate and whiskers have attracted considerable attention than fiber reinforced MMCs, because of their low cost and considerable ease of manufacturing. A wide range of PR AMCs manufacturing processes has

International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME been developed. These are generally manufactured either by solid state (Powder Metallurgy processing) or by liquid state (stir casting) processes effectively [6]. To fabricate PR AMCs, among the various manufacturing technologies powder metallurgy is one the most advantageous techniques to fabricate isotropic distribution of particles in matrix, good dimensional accuracy, complex, net shape lightweight components can be produced cost effectively. Powder metallurgy is especially suitable for producing PR AMCs as it prevents some wettability problems of silicon SiCp and deleterious reactions that may appear during casting routes. Blended fine powder mixtures in the solid state with particulates, whiskers or platelets along with binders produce materials of uniform microstructure. The conventional powder metallurgy process can easily formulate different composition by mixing elemental or premixed powders along with reinforcement, and pressing the powder mixture to form green compact by applying hydraulic pressure and sintering the green compact in inert gas atmosphere. Few microstructural parameters control and contribute to the advancement in the properties of PR AMCs. These involve the matrix alloy, the morphology, size, and weight fraction of the reinforcement particulate; the material processing technique; and the heat treatment adapted [1-7]. PR AMCs powder is highly compressible. Mostly, green densities of more than 90 % of theoretical can achieve utilizing low compacting pressures around 200MPa, allowing the use of presses with smaller capacity. Sintering of PR AMCs parts is more economical than for most other PM materials due to the relatively low sintering temperatures. Due to the low density of PR AMCs, more than twice number of parts can be produced from unit weight of powder as compared to ferrous, copper and tungsten based powders. During last decade, several researchers have reported the fabrication of Al-SiCp composites and testing of their properties such as tensile strength, hardness, wear resistance and microstructural characterization. Most of the researchers have observed that an increase in tensile strength, hardness and wear resistance while decrease in ductility with increase in reinforcement content and aluminum alloy powders are difficult to sinter because of the stable aluminum oxide film covering the powder particles and thus reducing sinter-ability. In addition, the presence of hard ceramic particles in aluminum ductile matrix increases the processing difficulty. Related work carried out on aluminum alloy by reinforcing ceramic particles such as SiC, Al2O3, ZrO2, TiO2 etc., with varying reinforcement sizes, volume/weight fractions, lubricants, compaction pressures, sintering temperatures, sintering time, and sintering atmospheres. By varying these parameters will result optimal set of parameters lead to resultant microstructure and properties [7-22]. The 6xxx series aluminum alloys have a widespread application, especially in the building, aircraft and automotive industry due to their properties. Increasing demand for these materials have resulted in increasing research and development for high strength and high-formability aluminum alloys. Among 6xxx series aluminum alloys AA6082 one of the most common engineered aluminum alloy. It offers a combination of better corrosion resistance and weldability due to its lower strength values in the welding zone. In numerous applications, AA6061 can be replaced with AA6082 due to its higher strength [11-12]. The objective of the present investigation is to fabricate the unreinforced Al and its composites. Hence, the present studies are aimed at fabrication of Al and Al-5 wt% of SiCp composite that is fabricated by powder metallurgy route followed by solution heat treatment and artificially aged. Microstructure, micro-hardness and compressive strength of the developed unreinforced Al and its composites are studied. alloys [1-5].


International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

2. EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE 2.1 Materials It is necessary to select pure metal powder and optimal processing parameters for the preparation of specimens. Commercial pure aluminum is obtained from M/S Metal Powder Company Ltd, Tamil Nadu, India. Silicon, Magnesium, and Manganese are supplied by premier industrial corporation limited Maharashtra, India. Silicon carbide is obtained from outside vendor at Tamil Nadu, India. The morphology of raw powders (Al, SiCp) was made with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), JSM-6390 Model (JOEL) shown in figure 1(A), 1(B), 1(C), 1(D) and 1(E). The EDAX analysis has shown in figure 2(A) and 2(B).Particle size and purity details for raw materials are given in table 1.

Fig. 1(A) SEM of Aluminum Powder

Fig. 1(B) SEM of Silicon Powder

Fig. 1(C)SEM of Magnesium Powder

Fig. 1(D)SEM of Manganese Powder


International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

Fig. 1(E) SEM of Silicon Carbide Powder

Fig. 2(A)EDAX of Aluminum Powder

Sl.No 1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 2(B)EDAX of Silicon Carbide Powder

Purity 99.50% 99.57% 99.67% 99.78% 98.0%

Table 1: Details of Raw Material Raw Material Particle Size Aluminum -200/+325 mesh Silicon -325 mesh Magnesium -150 mesh Manganese -325 mesh Silicon Carbide -1200 mesh

The chemical composition of the AA6082 prepared by elemental mixing is as follows: Al 1.0Si0.9Mg0.7Mn/5.0 SiCp (all concentrations by weight). Contech Precision Balance (Type: CA 223) is used for weighing elemental powder. Metal and ceramic powders were blended in a Turbula mixer with Jar container. Blending is one of the crucial processes in powder metallurgy where the metallic powders have mixed with the ceramic reinforced particles.Good blending produces no agglomeration of both the metallic and ceramic powders. 1.5% of acrawax by weight was added to the base Aluminum powder and mixed separately for 15 minutes. In general lubricant was added and homogeny blended to reduce friction between the powder mass and the surface of the die and obtain a good compaction. Addition of 1.0 Si, 0.9 Mg, 0.7Mn as elemental were made to the lubricated base powder and mixed for 15 min each, after which a composition similar to that of wrought 6082 Al alloy was gained. Finally by addition of 5% of SiC particulates by weight to the 6082 Al alloy powder and mixed for 20minutes. The obtained powder mixtures with ceramics were homogeny at macroscopic level. 568

International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

2.3 The Specimens Compacting For pressing, a hydraulic press (Model: plus one machine fabric) was used to obtain green compacts. Die wall is brushed with zinc stearate powder for easy ejection of pallet and to reduce the friction between them. Blended Powders were compacted at 200 5 Mpa in a hardened steel die. In order to avoid damage of the samples during ejection, the compaction pressure was decreased to 5Mpa after maximum pressure was obtained. The dimensions of green compacts are 13.3 x 13.3 x 13.3 mm3. The theoretical density assuming zero porosity was calculated by Rule of Mixture (ROM). The green density of the compacts was determined from weight and volume measurements. The AA6082 and AA6082-SiCp powder mixtures exhibit uniform die filling and provides good reproduction of part configuration. Theoretical density and green density are shown in Table 2. Table 2: Theoretical Density and Green Density Material Theoretical Green Density Density (%) (g/cm3) AA6082 2.62 94.32 AA6082-SiCp 2.64 91.36

2.4Sintering and Heat Treatment The mild steel boat with dimensions 30x15x5 cm3 and 0.4cm thickness is filled with fine sand and the green compactswith achieved dimensions are placedin the boat. The boat is moved slowly inside pre heating zone with hydraulic arm. The temperature within the furnace rises slowly in the preheat zone till it reaches the actual sintering temperature. The green compacts are de-lubricated in the preheat zone at 3500C for 30 minutes. After de-lubrication of pallets the boat enters into hot zone or sinter zone where the temperature raised slowly to 6200C it remains essentially constant for 45 minutes in a protective atmosphere cracked ammonia. The sintering temperature is kept below the melting point of the base metal. The boat is pushed into the cooling zone where the drop in part temperature is controlled precisely and cooled to room temperature. As the parts travel through the furnace, the temperature cycle results change in composition, microstructure and properties. In the preheat zone, the lubricant volatilizes, leaves the part as a vapor, and is carried out by the dynamic atmosphere flow. In the hot zone, metallurgical bonds develop between particles and solid state alloying takes place. The part then moves through the cooling zone. The microstructure developed during sintering determines the properties of the part. Dimensional changes encountered after sintering. The premixed elemental AA6082 specimens are subjected to volumetric expansion. Sintered densities of specimens were measured by the Archimedes principle (water displacement technique). The porosity is increased during the sintering process compared to the green one. The large porosities reduced the sintering densities due to wide polymer burn off range leaving residual porosity. Proper bonding between metallic matrix and ceramic particles at interface and the morphology and distribution of pores and carbides in the matrix are achieved. The composites are further solution heat treated at 5290C for two hours and artificially aged at 1750C for 18 hours in a muffle furnace.


International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

3. RESULT AND DISCUSSION 3.1 Microstructure The purpose of microstructure examination was to investigate grain size and shape morphology and distribution of the silicon carbide particles. The microstructures of the unreinforced Al and Al-SiCp composites were studied using optical microscope. For this purpose small samples were cut from the cube fabricated by powder metallurgy process.The flat samples were polished using silicon carbide paper (320, 400, 800, 1000, and 1500 grit) and finally using a short-nap cloth with fine alumina powder as slurry. The samples were then etched using the Kellers reagent. Figure 4(A) and 4(B) shows the optical microscope photographs for the the unreinforced Al and Al-SiCp. Micrograph indicates the nearly uniform distribution of the SiCp particles in the aluminum matrix and some clustering of silicon carbide arise reinforcement in the matrix.

Fig. 4(A) Microstructure of AA6082 3.2 Micro-hardness Test

Fig. 4(B) Microstructure of AA6082-5SiCp

Vickers Microhardness measurements were performed on polished flat specimens according to ASTM E384-08 with indenting load of 200gf and dwell time 15 seconds. The average microhardness data given in this paper resulted from five measurements. The position of indentation on the sample was chosen randomly. The microhardness test gives a good indication on the strength of the material. As the SiCp increases from 0 to 5 percentage hardness also increased. The results were shown in Figure 5.
50 48 Micro-Hardness 46 44 42 40 38 36 AA6082 AA6082-5SiCp

Fig. 5 Microhardness of P/M AA6082 and AA6082-5%SiCp


International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

3.3 Compression Test The compression test was chosen as it requires small size specimen. The samples which are a problem in case of powder metallurgy produced aluminum silicon carbide composites. For each combination, four compression Specimens were tested. Figure 6, illustrates the effect of Silicon carbide particulate reinforcement content on the compression strength of the composite. It is observed that the compressive strength of the composite increases as the reinforcement content increases from 0 to 5 weight percent. This increase in the compression strength is attributed to the presence of hard particles, which imparts high strength to the composite. This may be due to very small amounts of particulates at different orientations, which can make significant difference in stress-strain behavior. The rigidity and crushing strength of particles is much higher than that of matrix material hence the strength increases.

600 580 Compression Test 560 540 520 500 480 460 AA6082 AA6082-5SiCp

Fig. 6Ultimate Compressive Strength of P/M AA6082 and AA6082-5%SiCp

4. CONCLUSION During compaction of powders, the shape and quality of final component depends upon the quality of initial manual compact. Therefore, the manual compact should be prepared carefully and proper allowances should be in dimensions to get the desired final component. Compaction at 200 MPa followed by sintering at 6200C has been successfully used to produce Al alloy and Al-SiCp composites. During thepecipitation hardeningthe alloy is transformed to a homogeneous, one phase solution. Micro-hardness, compressive strength of powder metal Al alloy and Al-SiCp composites increases with increase in reinforcement content from 0 to 5% weight of SiCp. 5. Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Mr.VinayChoudary (C.E.O) and Mr. Saibaba (GM), Innomet Powders, Hyderabad, for their support and encouragement during the research studies.

International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

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International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET), ISSN 0976 6340(Print), ISSN 0976 6359(Online) Volume 3, Issue 3, Sep- Dec (2012) IAEME

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