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A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion

and phase-transformation simulation

A.C. Sekkal, C. Langlade

, A.B. Vannes
IFoS lab, STMS Dept, Ecole Centrale de Lyon, 69134 Ecully Cedex, France
Received 22 October 2002; accepted 30 March 2003
An impact test with energy control has been developed to study the degradation phenomena generally encountered on materials
submitted to complex conditions including impacts, for example during erosion. The test permits the material response to single or
multiple impacts at a microscopic and a macroscopic scale to be characterized. The energy of each impact is precisely controlled
and may reach a value of 100 mJ per impact. Experiments have shown that the dynamic loading duration is very short, typically
between 100 and 200 js, and deformation speeds on the impacted metals are in the order of magnitude of 10
. Indenters of
various tip radii have been used and a large range of impacting conditions tested. The high reproducibility of the tests conrms that
it permits the simulation of damage phenomena already identied in metallic substrates submitted to erosion wear induced by hard
particle impacts.
KEY WORDS: impact, dynamic indentation, erosion, tribologically transformed surface
1. Introduction
In service, mechanical parts are generally subjected to
complex conditions generally including several compo-
nents such as sliding, rolling or impact that may lead to
surface damage. While sliding and rolling conditions are
quite commonly reproduced on standard friction rigs,
only a few impact simulators exist [1]. Moreover, these
testers usually tend to reproduce erosion or grinding,
which means that they are designed to perform a large
number of impacts at high frequency. In the case of
erosion, for example, sand-blasting apparatus is gen-
erally used and allows the material weight loss to be
determined as a function of the mass of the projected
sand, the geometry of this sand, the impinging velocity
and the angle of incidence between the sand ow and the
target surface [2,3]. If these data are used in the
aeronautical eld to estimate the endurance life of
components subjected to sand erosion, they do not give
any information about the damage origin and evolution.
These impact testers are generally hardly able to isolate
a single impact [46] or to generate only few tens of
impacts of given energy at the same place [710]. This is,
however, necessary, if one wants to better understand
the material response to an impact event and to identify
the elementary mechanisms responsible for the surface
degradation. Understanding the damage initiation and
evolution is the only viable way to design a long term
anti-erosion solution. A test designed to perform a single
or xed number of impacts of controlled energy was
therefore needed. The objective of our work was to
develop and validate an apparatus able to perform such
a test. This paper reports on this machine and the
adopted testing procedures.
2. Concept
For a realistic evaluation of the erosion resistance of
materials, the impact test conditions should simulate the
same damage mechanisms as those observed on eroded
or abraded pieces. To bring about a real improvement
compared to classical erosion or abrasion rigs, it should
offer new insights into the failure initiation. The issue is
then to control the exact number of impacts performed
on a surface as well as the energy and location of each
shock. The objectives that should be achieved using the
new impact tester we have developed are
. possibility of performing single impact tests,
. feasibility of multi-impact tests at the same place
. possibility of controlling double impact tests to study
the interaction between two impacts as a function of
the separating distance.
In terms of targeted characteristics, the new tester
should ensure:
. a control of the kinetic energy of each impact, Ec
. a control of the number of impacts, N
. a control of the impact location to produce a given
distance d between two impacts or to ensure two
impacts to superimposed.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: cecile.

Tribology Letters, Vol. 15, No. 3, October 2003 (# 2003) 265
1023-8883/03/10000265/0 # 2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation
. the possibility to vary all the previously cited
parameters (Ec, N, d) over a large range of values.
. a good reproducibility of these parameters.
3. Experimental apparatus and procedures
The apparatus consists of an impacting stylus
(indenter) that is accelerated into the sample to be
tested either by an electromagnetic system (gure 1) or
by a compressed air ow. Preliminary studies have
shown that the electromagnetic mode ensures a better
reproducibility of the impacts (better control of the
impact energy) and offers a larger range of possible
impact energies (especially in the low-energy range). The
electromagnetic system has therefore been preferred and
exclusively used in the following.
Indenters are terminated by a hemi-spherical part
made out of WC-Co cermets for the smallest radii (100,
200, or 300 jm) or of 100Cr6 bearing steel for the largest
radii (500 jm).
The position of the indenter before impact may be
controlled in the three directions.
. the altitude z of the tip over the sample surface
controls the acceleration length, and thus the impact
energy (see section 3.1).
. the (x. y) position in the plane of the sample surface
enables the indenter to hit at a given place for impact
superposition or xed spacing.
Depending on the electromagnet control and on the
indenter geometry and position, the impact parameters
may vary as described in the following.
3.1. Kinetic energy
As the dynamic behaviour of materials is of concern,
the kinetic energy of impact is one of the most important
parameters to have under control. From the classical
mechanics we know that:
where m is the indenter mass and v the speed of the
indenter when it hits the sample surface.
Considering the electromagnetic system used to
initiate the stylus movement, the impacting speed
depends on the value of the current intensity in the
electromagnet and on the acceleration length, which
corresponds to the indenter altitude z over the surface
sample. Using both laser Doppler velocimetry and a
high-speed Video system (1000 images per second), the
acceleration regimes and indenter speeds have been
measured. Figure 2 shows a sequence of the stylus
displacement taken every millisecond. The covered
distance may be measured thanks to the cross-hatch
pattern installed behind the test zone. From these
images, the whole displacement sequence has been
established. Figure 3 presents the indenter displacement
as a function of the elapsed time. It clearly shows three
different regimes. The downward path of the indenter
Figure 1. Schematic of the experimental installation.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 266

1 ms
2 ms 3 ms
4 ms 5 ms
7 ms 6 ms
Figure 2. Images captured by an ultra-rapid camera using 4 ms electromagnetic accelerating time and acceleration rate of 450 m,s

Figure 3. Displacement of the indenter as a function of time (4 ms acceleration time, acceleration rate 580 m,s
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 267
shows two phases: the rst one corresponds to the
forced regime controlled by the electromagnetic accel-
eration, whose duration t
has been taken equal to
4 ms. The second phase is related to the free dynamic
inertia. In the absence of impact, the indenters reverse
path is electromagnetically controlled and the return
spring induces an oscillatory regime.
Tests performed using different values of t
that this forced acceleration time has to be short enough
to avoid any interaction during the impact event but
sufcient to ensure impact reproducibility and stability.
Its value has therefore been chosen equal to 4 ms. Table
1 summarizes the accelerations, speeds, and energies
that may typically be reached using our impact tester.
Figures 4 and 5 illustrate the established calibration
curve giving the evolution of the indenter speed as a
function of the elapsed time (gure 4) and the impact
energy as a function of the electromagnetic acceleration
and stylus altitude (gure 5).
The injected power per indenter mass has been
calculated using:
f Ec
where f is the impacting frequency and m the indenter
3.2. Dynamic impact force
As the dynamic impact force controls the materials
deformation regime as well as its amplitude, its value
has to be known. To access this data, indenters have
been equipped with high-frequency strain gauges (see
gure 1). A rapid recording system enables the
evolution of the dynamic normal loading to be
precisely followed and linked to the resistance force
developed by the material submitted to dynamic
penetration as a function of time. In the case of a
plastic deformation regime, we can thus evaluate the
dynamic hardness of the material dened as the ratio of
the maximal normal loading over the residual indent
area. Figure 6 presents the results obtained when
impacting (single impact) pure titanium (T40) and a
well-known commercial titanium alloy (TiAl6V4) sam-
ple using the same testing parameters. It presents two
characteristic phases. The rst part of the curve
corresponds to the deceleration phase when the stylus
indents the surface and is braked; the second phase
shows the rebound of the indenter, when its speed
changes its direction. The coefcient of restitution e
characterizing the amplitude of the elastic rebound is
correlated to the mechanical properties of the impacted
material [11]. For a purely elastic impact, e 1. the
rebound speed is equal to the impact speed, the
dynamic impact force curve is perfectly symmetrical
and no damping is observed (gure 7(a)). The lowest
rebound effects are observed when testing plastic
materials having high damping coefcients (gure
7(b)). When analysing the two curves presented in
gure 6, the following data, summarized in table 2,
may be obtained. The mean deformation speed has
been estimated from the ratio of the indentation speed
over the indent diameter d. This leads to:
_ cc

where o
is the maximal penetration depth and t the
time needed to reach the maximal depth. The plastic
deformation is simply deduced from the experimental
formulae from Tabor [12], which link the equivalent
deformation to the ratio of the indent diameter over the
indent diameter d/D:
c 0.2
. 4
Accessing this information in the case of multi-impact
tests (same location) may also give some insights into
the materials behaviour when submitted to cyclic
dynamic loadings.
To illustrate the possibilities of the apparatus, multi-
impact tests have been performed on T40 titanium and
PEHD polymeric substrates. Figure 8 shows the changes
in the apparent maximal loading force as a function of
the number of impacts. This type of evolution, showing
an initial increase up to a steady-state value, has already
been observed by Wellinger [7] in the case of a metallic
substrate. Figure 8, in particular, shows that the normal
load reaches its maximal threshold value after 50 cycles
in the case of a T40 substrate, while 40 cycles are
sufcient in the case of PEHD. It can also be noticed
that the braking intensity increases when increasing the
number of cycles. Both phenomena (maximal load
threshold and braking effects) are likely to be due to
cyclic cold working (substrate hardening).
3.3. Dynamic hardness
From the tribologists point of view, the material
hardness characterizes the materials resistance to any
indentation attempt. However, the hardness values
Table 1
Mean characteristics of the impact test.
Micro-macro impact test
Type of indenter motion Impact
Indenter velocity (m/s) 0.1 $2.4
Acceleration rate (m/s
) 130 $580
Kinetic energy (mJ/impact) 0.1 $100
Impact frequency (Hz) 11 $125
Impact power per impact (W/g/impact) 0.0006 $0.17
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 268
depend on the materials properties as well as on the
nature and geometry of the indenter and on the type of
the imposed excitation. Several techniques are available,
most of them using static conditions, such as Brinell or
Rockwell hardness. Only a few techniques are carried
out under real dynamic conditions. One may cite the
Shore hardness test, which measures the rebound height
of the indenter (especially used on polymeric materials),
and the Martel hardness (obsolete), which considers that
the indent volume is proportional to the indenters
Figure 4. Evolution of the indenter speed as a function of the elapsed time.
Figure 5. Kinetic energy of the indenter as a function of the acceleration rate and displacement.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 269
energy. Some recent works [5,6,13] have linked the
dynamic hardness to the dynamic impact loading. In the
case of a dynamic Vickers test, Koeppel and Subhash [6]
have shown that the dynamic hardness is increased
compared to the classical static hardness. This increase
may reach 20% in the case of a TiAl6V4 titanium alloy
and 30% for a commercially pure T40 titanium. In order
to estimate the dynamic hardness using our new impact
machine, dynamic indent tests have been performed on
TiAl6V4. Energies of impact ranging from 1.3 to 20 mJ
have been realized, leading to a continuous increase in
the indent diameter. According to the Meyers relation,
which links hardness to the mean pressure at the indent
surface (static conditions), the following relation may be

. 5
For the dynamic situation, (5) may be rewritten as:

where F
is the maximal loading force and a
residual indent radius.
Figure 6. Evolution of the dynamic normal loading as a function of time for two different titanium alloys. (a) TiAl6V4 and (b) T40.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 270
Figure 9 presents the evolution of the dynamic
loading per impact as a function of indent radius a
From this curve, the dynamic hardness, corresponding
to the curve slope, may be estimated. It is of about
5.3 GPa for the tested TiAl6V4 substrate.
3.4. Accumulated energy
The impact energy may be linked to the size of the
indent area by calculating the work of the normal load
over the penetrated depth for each deformation regime.
The energy absorbed by the substrate during a pure
plastic impact (i.e. without any rebound, the coefcient
of restitution being equal to zero) is given by the sum of
the energy of elastic, elastoplastic and fully plastic
deformation [14]:

F oo
F oo
F oo. 8
Figure 7. Schematic effect of the damping coefcient on the dynamic loading curve: (a) no damping, (b) with damping after [12].
Table 2
Materials related impact characteristics.
TiAl6V T40
Kinetic energy per impact (mJ) 1.86 1.86
Maximal loading force F
(N) 103 21
Elapsed time to F
(js) 160 200
Total impact duration (js) 280 380
Penetration depth o (jm) 18 27
Deformation (%) 8 10
Mean deformation speed _ cc (s
) 700 675
Figure 8. Evolution of the maximal loading force as a function of the number of impact cycles.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 271
The values of o
and o
bound the two domains of
elastoplastic and fully plastic deformation. For a fully
plastic impact (no rebound) inducing a purely plastic
deformation, the energy absorbed per impact may be
estimated using:

F oo 9
F p
where F is the normal load, o
is the residual indent
depth, p
the mean impact pressure taken equal to 3o
in the case of pure plastic indent tests [15] and a
radius of the residual indent.
Supposing that a - r. the residual indent depth is
equal to

where R is the indenter radius.
This leads to a cumulated energy per impact of







" #
. 12
4. First results and discussion
The macro/micro impact test presented in this paper
enables single or multi impact tests to be performed at a
controlled energy. It has been used to reproduce the
damaging mechanisms encountered in many real tribo-
logical conditions that lead to plastic deformation (shot-
peening), surface fatigue (pitting) or erosion. Two main
kinds of degradation mode have been observed when
performing mono impact tests under fully plastic
conditions on various metallic substrates.
. Crack formation: Observations using optical micros-
copy of impact scars reveal the presence of radial or/
and circular cracks around the impact indent (gure
10). Plastic deformation may also be observed. This
intense plastic deformation occurring in the surround-
Figure 9. Evolution of the dynamic loading force as a function of the square radius indent in the case of impacts on titanium alloy TiAl6V.
Dynamic Meyer hardness (DH
) is given in GPa.
Figure 10. Optical observation of radial or/and circular cracks around
the impact indent.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 272
ing area creates a stress eld that may lead to cracking
phenomena. By reducing the distance separating two
impacts, the associated stress elds are superimposed,
which enhances crack initiation and propagation
(gure 11). This may also induce particle detachment
in the event that a whole network of cracks is created.
. Plastic deformation and phase transformation:
During multi-impact tests, numerous slip lines
appear all around the indent scar (gure 12). Their
presence is due to the mechanical stress applied to
the substrate during the impacts. The tested sub-
strate, made of ARMCO steel (low-carbon steel) in
the case of gure 12, may be very easily plastically
deformed and the plastic deformation mechanism
involves the formation and displacement of slip-lines.
The density of these lines depends on the grain
. Cross-section observations just below the indent
centre reveal the occurrence of a phase transformation
similar to the Tribologically Transformed Surface
commonly found in fretting or ball-bearing applica-
tions [16]. Figure 13 shows the presence of a new
microstructure, which can easily be distinguished
from the original matrix. Further investigations
using scanning electron microscopy as well as nano-
hardness tests [17] have evidenced the presence of
three different domains:
. A transformed volume (zone I), which exhibits a dark
colour compared to the matrix when using HNO
HF4% chemical reactant and having a nano-hardness
of 7.5 GPa, i.e. twice the value of the initial matrix
. A severely cold-hardened zone (II), without colour
contrast compared to the matrix and having a nano-
hardness of 4.7 GPa. This increase in hardness under
the indenter is similar to that observed on real eroded
. A slightly cold-hardened zone (III) having a nano-
hardness of 4 GPa.
The elastic modulus of the two last zones (II and III)
is almost constant and equal to 125 GPasimilar to the
value obtained on the initial matrix material. In
contrast, a signicant increase of the elastic modulus
in the transformed zone (I) has been evidenced. This
Figure 11. Crack propagation between two closely located impacts.
Figure 12. Slip lines in the surrounding impact area.
Figure 13. Micrographs of the deformation and transformation area in titanium alloy (TiAl6V4) induced by dynamic indentation at 1.86 mJ
kinetic energy and after 1750 impact cycles.
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 273
increase of about 10% reveals the more elastoplastic
behaviour of the transformed zone.
Different models have been recently developed that
predict the occurrence of such transformations under
mechanical situations similar to those used in this study
[18]. These models enable the possible mechanisms
leading to the formation of a new microstructure to be
described. Most of them suggest synergistic effects of
several complementary phenomena. The mechanical
and thermal effects which may be induced by the plastic
deformation are especially difcult to separate. Among
the different models, we particularly examine the
adiabatic shear-band model [19,20], which favours the
dynamic recrystallization process and the mechanical
alloying model and has been established using test
conditions very similar to ours as demonstrated in table
3. Further work has to be carried out in order to better
understand the conditions of the phase transformation
occurring during multi-impacts tests.
5. Conclusion
A new impact test has been developed to simulate
single or multi-impacts of controlled energy. The device
consists of a modication to and instrumentation of a
standard engraving machine. Impacts of controlled
energy ranging from 0.1 to 100 mJ per impact and
impacting speed of 0.1 to 2.4 ms
may be performed at
a very precise location on a sample surface. The very
good repeatability of the impacts enables multi-impact
tests to be performed. Using this test, it is now possible
to study the effect of a given number of impacts of a
given energy, and to evidence the synergistic effect
between two impacts as a function of the separating
distance. The initial stages of the erosion damage can be
examined. Furthermore, two kinds of degradation
mechanisms have been observed: crack formation and
phase transformation. These two phenomena, especially
the Tribologically Transformed Surface are now to be
further investigated. New insights into the transforma-
tion parameters (e.g. cumulated impact energy, volume
of transformed material) are expected.
The authors wish to thank Prof. L Maiffredy from
the GMC lab at INSA Lyon for his help in the ultra
rapid video recording manipulations and fruitful dis-
cussions and Mrs C. Vialle from the GEMPPM lab at
INSA Lyon for the nanoindentation experiments.
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Table 3
Impact characteristics compared to typical mechanical alloying test parameters.
Impact test
Grinding systems
Pulvo.0 SPEX
Nature of the impact Impact Impact Impact
Impact speed (m/s) 0.1 $2.4 0.14 $0.24 [20] -3.9 [21]
Kinetic energy (mJ/impact) 0.1 $100 3 $30 -120
Impact frequency (Hz) 11 $125 15 $50 [20] 200 [23]
Impact power per impact (W/g/impact) 0.0006 $0.17 0.005 $0.14 -0.24
A.C. Sekkal et al./A micro/macro impact test at controlled energy for erosion and phase-transformation simulation 274