You are on page 1of 42

Fabrication Process of Metal

Matrix Composites

Manufacturing processes of MMCs
The manufacturing processes of MMCs are
broadly divided into
Primary Processes
Secondary Processes

Manufacturing processes of MMCs
The primary industrial manufacturing processes
can be classified into
Liquid state processes
Solid state processes
Secondary Processes include machining
process such as drilling, milling, turning. Joining
processes like welding soldering brazing etc

Manufacturing processes of MMCs
Liquid state processing basically consists of
casting the liquid matrix and solid reinforcement
using either conventional casting processes or
pressure infiltration casting techniques. Metals
with melting temperatures that are not too high,
such as aluminum can be incorporated easily as
a matrix by liquid processing methods

Solid state processing basically involves powder

metallurgy techniques.

Liquid State Processing

Liquid state processing method includes

Casting or liquid infiltration
Squeeze casting or pressure infiltration
Slurry casting (Compocasting)
Stir Casting

Casting or Liquid Infiltration
Casting or liquid infiltration involves infiltration of a fibrous or particulate
reinforcement by a liquid metal.
Infiltration is a liquid state method of composite materials fabrication, in
which a preformed dispersed phase (ceramic particles, fibers, woven) is
soaked in a molten matrix metal, which fills the space between the
dispersed space inclusion
Because of the difficulties with wetting of ceramic reinforcement by the
molten metal, it is not easy to make MMCs by liquid infiltration process
The fiber coatings which are used to improve wetting and control reactions ,
must not be exposed to air prior to infiltration because surface oxidation will
alter the positive effects of coatings.
When the infiltration of a fiber preform occurs readily, reactions between the
fiber and the molten metal may take place which significantly degrade the
properties of the fiber

Casting or Liquid Infiltration
A liquid infiltration process called the Duralcan process involving
particulate reinforcement, has been successfully used for MMC
Ceramic particles and ingot-grade aluminum are mixed and melted.
The melt is stirred slightly above the liquidus temperature
The solidified ingot may also undergo secondary processing by
extrusion or rolling.
The Duralcan process of making particulate composites by a liquid
metal casting route involves the use of 812 m particles.

Casting or Liquid Infiltration

Casting or Liquid Infiltration

Another pressure less liquid metal infiltration process of

making MMCs is the Primex process (Lanxide), which
can be used with certain reactive metal alloys such as
Al Mg to infiltrate ceramic preform.

For an Al Mg alloy, the process takes place between

7501000C in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere, and typical
infiltration rates are less than 25 cm/h.

Squeeze casting or Pressure Infiltration

Involves forcing a liquid metal into a

fibrous or particulate preform. Pressure is
applied until solidification is complete.
The preform is made first and then used in
squeeze casting.

Processes of making Preform

Pressure forming and Suction forming of a Preform 12

Squeeze casting or Pressure Infiltration
In squeeze casting technique a porous preform is inserted into the die.
Molten metal is poured into the preheated die . The applied pressure (70-
100 Mpa) makes the molten metal penetrate the fiber preform and bond the
By forcing the molten metal through small pores of the fibrous preform, this
method obviates the requirement of good wettability of the reinforcement by
the molten metal.
Composites fabricated with this method have the advantage of minimal
reaction between the reinforcement and molten metal because of the short
processing time involved.
The process is conducted in the controlled environment of a pressure
vessel , complex shaped structures are obtainable .
Alumina fiber reinforced inter metallic matrix composites, e.g., TiAl, Ni3Al,
and Fe3Al matrix materials, have also been prepared by pressure casting

Squeeze casting or Pressure Infiltration

Slurry casting or Compocasting
Compocasting is a liquid state process in which the
reinforcement particles are added to a solidifying melt while
being vigorously agitated.
The primary solid particles already formed in the semi-solid
slurry can mechanically entrap the reinforcing particles,
prevent their gravity segregation and reduce their
This will result in better distribution of the reinforcement
The lower porosity observed in the castings has been
attributed to the better wettability between the matrix and
the reinforcement particles as well as the lower volume
shrinkage of the matrix alloy.

Slurry casting or Compocasting

Stir Casting
In a stir casting process, the reinforcing phases are distributed into
molten matrix by mechanical stirring.
Mechanical stirring in the furnace is a key element of this process.
Stir casting is suitable for manufacturing composites with up to 30%
volume fractions of reinforcement .
A major concern associated with the stir casting process is the
segregation of reinforcing particles which is caused by the surfacing
or settling of the reinforcement particles during the melting and
casting processes.
The distribution of the particles in the molten matrix depends on the
geometry of the mechanical stirrer, stirring parameters, placement of
the mechanical stirrer in the melt, melting temperature, and the
characteristics of the particles added
The final distribution of the particles in the solid further depends on
material properties and process parameters such as the wetting
condition of the particles with the melt, strength of mixing, relative
density, and rate of solidification

Stir Casting

Solid State Processing

Solid state processing methods include

Diffusion Bonding
Powder Processing or Powder Metallurgy
Sinter Forging
Deformation Processing
Deposition Techniques

Diffusion Bonding
Diffusion bonding is a common solid-state processing technique for joining
similar or dissimilar metals.
Inter diffusion of atoms between clean metallic surfaces, in contact at an
elevated temperature, leads to bonding.
The principal advantages of this technique are the ability to process a wide
variety of metal matrices and control of fiber orientation and volume fraction.
Among the disadvantages are long processing times, high processing
temperatures and pressures (which makes the process expensive), and a
limitation on the complexity of shapes that can be produced.
There are many variants of the basic diffusion bonding process, although all
of them involve simultaneous application of pressure and high temperature.
Vacuum hot pressing (VHP) is an important step in the diffusion bonding
processes for metal matrix composites.
Hot isostatic pressing (HIP), instead of uniaxial pressing, can also be used.
The HIP process subjects a component to both elevated temperature and
isostatic gas pressure in a high pressure containment vessel

Diffusion Bonding

Powder Processing Methods
Powder processing methods are used to fabricate particulate or short fiber
reinforced composites.
This process typically involves cold pressing and sintering, or hot pressing
to fabricate primarily particle or whisker-reinforced MMCs.
The matrix powder and the reinforced fibers or particles are blended to
produce a homogeneous distribution.
The blending stage is followed by cold pressing to produce what is called a
green body, which is about 80% dense and can be easily handled.
The cold pressed green body is canned in a sealed container and degassed
to remove any absorbed moisture from the particle surfaces.
The material is hot pressed, uniaxially or isostatically, to produce a fully
dense composite and extruded. The rigid particles or fibers cause the matrix
to be deformed significantly.
Deformation processing
Deformation processing can also be used to deform and/or densify
the composite material.
In metal matrix composites mechanical processing (swaging,
extrusion, drawing, or rolling) of a ductile two-phase material causes
the two phases to co-deform, causing one of the phases to elongate
and become fibrous in nature within the other phase.
The properties of a deformation processed composite depend
largely on the characteristics of the starting material, which is usually
a billet of a two-phase alloy that has been prepared by casting or
powder metallurgy methods.
Roll bonding is a common technique used to produce a laminated
composite consisting of different metals in layered form. Such
composites are called sheet laminated metal matrix composites.

Deformation processing

Sinter-forging is a novel and low cost deformation
processing technique.
In sinter-forging, a powder mixture of reinforcement and
matrix is cold compacted, sintered, and forged to nearly
full density.
The main advantage of this technique is that forging is
conducted to produce a near-net shape material, and
machining operations and material waste are minimized.
The low cost, sinter-forged composites have tensile and
fatigue properties that are comparable to those of
materials produced by extrusion.


Deposition Techniques
These techniques include
Immersion plating
Spray Deposition
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)
Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD)

Immersion plating

Immersion plating or dipping is similar to

infiltration casting except that the fiber
tows are continuously passed through
baths of molten metal , slurry etc.

This process produces a coating from a solution containing the ion
of the desired material in the presence of an electric current

Fibers are wound on the mandrel, which serves as the cathode, and
placed into the plating bath with an anode of the desired matrix

Advantage of this method is that the temperatures involved are

moderate and no damage is done to the fibers

Disadvantages include void formation between fibers and between

fiber layers, adhesion of the deposit to the fibers may be poor

Spray Deposition
This process consists of winding fibers onto a
foil coated drum and spraying molten metal onto
them to form a mono tape
The source of molten metal may be powder or
wire, which is melted in a flame, arc or plasma
Advantages include easy control of fiber
alignment and rapid solidification of the molten

Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD)
In the chemical vapour deposition process (more often called as chemical vapour
infiltration), a metal matrix is chemically vapour deposited on the surfaces within a
fiber preform.
The preform is kept in a high temperature furnace A carrier gas (H2, Ar, He, etc.)
stream passes through a vessel containing gaseous reagents and carries their
vapour into the reactor.
In the reactor, the chemical reaction of gaseous reagents leads to the formation and
deposition of metal matrix vapour on the heated surface of the preform
Other reaction powders diffuse out of the preform and are carried by the flowing gas
stream out of the furnace.
The deposition process continues, until all the inter fiber spaces are filled up resulting
in a homogeneous and more or less void free composite.
The main advantage of this process is that it causes minimum damage to the fibers,
as the process temperatures and pressures are relatively lower compared to those in
hot press sintering and liquid infiltration
In Situ Processes

In these techniques, the reinforcement phase is formed in situ.

The composite material is produced in one step from an appropriate
starting alloy, thus avoiding the difficulties inherent in combining the
separate components as done in a typical composite processing.
Controlled unidirectional solidification of a eutectic alloy is a classic
example of in situ processing. Unidirectional solidification of a
eutectic alloy typically results in one phase being distributed in the
form of fibers or ribbon in the matrix phase.
The relative size and spacing of the reinforcement phase can be
controlled by simply controlling the solidification rate, although the
volume fraction of reinforcement will always be constant.

In Situ Process

Solid State Bonding
This method is used to manufacture laminated
In this process composites in the form of sheets
are inserted in between the reinforcement fiber
and placed in between the hot plates
Metal and reinforcement are heated by a hot
plate and the load is applied by hydraulic press
Due to load and temperature, the metal and fiber
are combined

Joining Methods

Non destructive Evaluation Methods

A variety of non destructive testing (NDT) techniques are

available for detecting both surface and interior flaws in
Visual inspection and liquid penetrant methods can be
used for identifying surface defects
More sophisticated tests are required for detecting
internal flaws (that is voids, inclusions, debonds, fiber
non uniformity etc). These techniques include
Ultrasonics, Radiography, Thermography, Acoustic
Emission, X ray testing etc.