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Seung-Hwan Hong1, Kwang-Jo Lee1 and Sung-Chong Chung1*

Hybrid System Design & Control LABoratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Hanyang University, Sungdong-Gu, Seoul 133-791, KOREA

ABSTRACT strength, ductility, etc.) than what is achievable

Thixomolding is one kind of semi-solid casting by the conventional liquid metal die casting
(SSC) processes. In this paper, to understand process. However, there is difficulty for
the thixomolding process to fabricate thin-walled maintaining coexistence of liquid and solid in the
Mg alloy parts, not only mechanical properties thixomolding process. An inadequate set of
such as strength and ductility, but also process parameters causes a high porosity and
dimensional accuracy of the thixomolding unequal cooling in injection molding. Also, it
process are studied through experiments. To causes deformation of products and
fabricate thin-walled magnesium (Mg) alloy parts, nonhomogeneity [2]. Thus, optimal process
thixomolding parameters such as injection parameters should be studied to meet the
velocity, die temperature, barrel temperature, etc. required characteristics of products.
on the quality of the finished products have been
clearly studied through Taguchi methods. To Mg parts are mainly comprised of thin-wall parts.
expedite design processes of the warpage free Using the thixomolding process, the high-
parts, ANOVA is conducted to optimize the precision fabrication of thin-walled components
process parameters. Optimal conditions are with large surface area is accomplished. To
suggested for optimal fabrication of thin-walled produce high quality parts, strength, dimensional
AZ91D alloy parts through thixomolding accuracy and reduction of warpage are critical in
processes. the thixomolding of thin-walled magnesium alloy
parts. They depend upon SSC parameters such
Key Words: ANOVA, Mg alloy, Optimal as injection velocity, die temperature, barrel
parameters, Semi-solid casting (SSC), Warpage, temperature, etc. In this paper, a cell-phone
Thixomolding battery case made of AZ91D is studied through
Taguchi method [3]. For the selection of optimal
INTRODUCTION process conditions, the injection speed, barrel
Magnesium (Mg) is 30% lighter than aluminum temperature and mold temperature affecting flow
and the lightest metal. It has good damping, high and cooling characteristics are selected as
specific strength, and excellent electromagnetic factors [4]. To understand the thixomolding
interference (EMI) shielding characteristics. Mg process to fabricate thin-walled Mg alloy parts,
alloy is widely used for the IT, auto and not only mechanical properties such as strength
consumer electronics industries [1]. Mg parts and ductility, but also dimensional accuracy of
have been produced through the die casting the thixomolding process are studied through
process. Recently, they are being produced experiments.
increasingly by SSC processes such as
thixomolding and rheocasting processes. In this THIXOMOLDING PROCESS
paper, thixomolding process is studied. Fig. 1 shows a schematic diagram of the
thixomolding process. It combines die casting
Microstructure of thixomolding products consists with plastic injection molding and utilizes the
of spheroidal particles, compared with dendrites thixotropy phenomenon [5], which primarily
of conventional casting products. As the injected referred to the reversible changes from a
material into the die has laminar flow and the flowable fluid to a solid-like elastic gel. First,
injection pressure is much greater than the die billets are manufactured by using die casting
casting, SSC gives high-integrity and low- without stirring at the liquid phase. Then the
porosity products. It produces better mechanical billets are made 4mm chips by cutting, and the
property (dimensional accuracy, surface finish,
chips put into the hopper like the injection to the tensile strength and flatness are applied
molding. To achieve the required solid to liquid for the experiments, respectively.
ratio within the slurry, the temperature selected
is to be based on the liquidus and solidus values 1 ns
1 (1)
of the equilibrium Mg-Al phase diagram [6] as SN = 10 log y 2
ns i =1 i
shown in Fig. 2. When the temperature is
1 ns
reached at the prescribed point by reheating, the SN = 10 log y 2
process is progressed as the high-pressure ns i =1
casting process. Thixomolding processes are
able to obtain the uniform structure and the where ns is the total number of characteristic
stabilized casting product with internal defect values in the orthogonal array(OA) table. yi is
and porosity. The present effort is focused on a
the i th characteristic value, and subscript i
magnesium based family, mainly AZ91D, AM50
and AM60. In this paper, AZ91D Mg alloy is means experimental number in the OA table.
selected to fabricate a cell-phone battery cover. Mean statistical analysis is used to obtain optimal
combination of design parameters. Eqs. (1) and (2)
are applied to construct the factor response graph
and to enable the robust design by using Eq. (3).

M Ai =
[(SN )
j =1
Ai j (3)

where M Ai is the mean SN ratio of the factor A at

level i , nA the number of appearances of the factor
FIGURE 1. Schematic diagram of thixomolding
process. A in the OA table, (SN)Ai is the SN ratio of factor A
at level i and subscript j indicates the level

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of

statistical models, and their associated procedures,
in which the observed variance is partitioned into
component due to different explanatory variables.
Fundamental technique is a partitioning of the total
sum of squares into components related to the
effects used in the experiments [4]. SN ratios are
FIGURE 2. The Mg-Al phase diagram for the derived from Eqs. (1) and (2). Variances of each
thixomolding process. factor are applied to analyze contribution of the
factor in the thixomolding process.
Taguchi method is used to develop an
understanding of the individual and combined
effects of various design parameters through
minimum number of experiments. Objectives of
the parameter design are to establish the
optimal combination of design parameters and
to reduce variation of product quality [4,7].
Taguchi method employs signal-to-noise(SN) FIGURE 3. 10 pieces of Thixomolded products with the
ratio to quantify experimental variation. gate system and overflows.
Depending on the particular type of
characteristics involved, different SN ratios are TABLE 1. Experimental conditions for Thixomolding.
applied such as smaller-the-better (SB), Level A (m/s) B () C ()
nominal-is-best (NB), and larger-the-better 0 48 600 200
1 55 590 220
(LB). In this paper, SN ratios for the LB and SB 2 62 580 240
characteristics, given by Eqs.(1) and (2), related A: Injection velocity, B: Barrel temperature, C: Mold temperature
EXPERIMENTS kinds of different thixomolding experiments were
JLM220-MG thixomolding machine (JSW Inc.) is conducted on JLM220-MG machine with AZ91D
used to fabricate battery covers of a cell-phone. Mg-alloy. To obtain stable and noise free results,
Mg alloy AZ91D with a nominal composition of 40 units were fabricated for each parameter
8.5% Al, 0.75% Zn, 0.3% Mn, Fe and Ni below combination through the thixomolding. Among the
0.001%, and Mg as a balance is used for SSC. 40 units last 10 were selected for data acquisition.
Fig. 3 shows thixomolded products. Experimental Fig. 3 shows them.
objectives are to derive optimal parameters to
fabricate a battery case, which is located between Mechanical properties
a gate and overflows in the mold assembly, with Table 2 and Fig. 4 show tensile strength (TS),
good mechanical property and low warpage. Table yield strength (YS) and elongation (Ef) of the
1 shows experimental conditions with three factors product according to experiment conditions. They
and 3 levels selected through prior experiments. were collected through the flat tension specimen
(fabricated according to KS B 0801 standard) and
TABLE 2. OA Table, mechanical properties, and SN the universal testing machine AG-10TE
ratios. (Shimadzu LTD.). Tension tests were conducted
Factors Ef (%)
(gauge length SN
according to KS B 0802 standard. 0.1 mm/min
A B C (MPa) (MPa) 16mm) cross-head velocity was applied to reduce
1 0 0 0 252.74 165 3.18 49.802 velocity effect in tension test.
2 0 1 1 231.52 153 3.03 49.007
3 0 2 2 211.55 138 2.87 48.221
4 1 0 1 247.49 162 3.09 49.612 Table 2 shows SN ratios of TS computed from
5 1 1 2 247.07 159 3.07 49.590 Eq. (1) in LB characteristics. Using Eq.(3),
6 1 2 0 226.50 150 2.91 48.843
7 2 0 2 254.81 174 3.25 49.865
corresponding factor response curve is obtained
8 2 1 0 244.42 148 3.12 49.501 as shown in Fig. 5. According to the Taguchi
9 2 2 1 225.62 143 2.96 48.810 method, maximum TS is obtained when the SN
ratio is maximum. Fig. 5 reveals the optimal
TABLE 3. ANOVA results for tensile strength. process conditions and corresponding factor
Factor SS DOF V F0 P(%)
A 0.262 2 0.131 2.966 10.621 values. They are 62m/s (A2) injection speed,
B 1.993 2 0.996 22.531 80.688 600 (B0) barrel temperature, and 200 (C0)
C 0.126 2 0.063 1.427 5.110
Error 0.088 2 0.044 3.581
mold temperature. Elongation shows similar
Total 2.470 8 1.235 100 results as well.
ANOVA analysis [4] was performed using the
corresponding SN ratios of TS. Table 3 shows
ANOVA results. Barrel temperature, factor B,
has contribution of over 80% about TS. YS and
Ef show similar tendency as well. Taguchi
experiments shows that barrel temperature
should be carefully selected to obtain good
mechanical properties in the SSC process.

Flatness (warpage)
FIGURE. 4. Tensile strength, yield strength and
SSC products have no porosity and excellent
elongation of the thixomolded AZ91D alloy. surface finish, they show better appearance than
die casting products [1,2,6]. In addition to the
surface quality, assessment of flatness is
important to fabricate aesthetic and functional IT
and digital appliance products. Warpage
degrades flatness. This is generated due to
residual stress occurred in cooling process. Fig 6
shows measurement regions and points of the
cell-phone battery cover. 7 points are sampled in
FIGURE 5. Factor response graph for tensile strength. a region. As the back side does not have flaws
and the thickness of the cover is 0.7mm, flatness
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION measurements are collected from back side of 10
Table 2 shows OA table with respect to units by using Surfcom 1800A (Tokyo seimitsu
experimental conditions selected in Table 1. 9 Inc.).
AZ91D Mg alloy has been used to fabricate thin-
walled battery cover of the cell-phone through
the thixomolding process. L9 (34 ) OA table and
Taguchi method has been applied to select
optimal process conditions and to understand
FIGURE 6. Flatness measurement regions and points. the process. They have been selected to
maximize mechanical properties and to minimize
TABLE 4. OA table, warpage values and SN ratios. warpage. ANOVA has been also applied to
quantize the contribution of 3 parameters.
ave. of A~I Following conclusions have been obtained:
1 0 0 0 20.6 -27.641 1. Mechanical properties such as TS, YS, and Ef
2 0 1 1 6.3 -16.305
3 0 2 2 3.4 -11.682
are reduced significantly according to decrement
4 1 0 1 3.3 -10.795 of barrel temperature.
5 1 1 2 4.7 -15.570 2. ANOVA results show that TS is significantly
6 1 2 0 3.2 -12.770
7 2 0 2 6.6 -17.969 governed by barrel temperature (80.688%), and
8 2 1 0 16.3 -27.657 warpage depends upon mold temperature
9 2 2 1 3.2 -12.236 dominantly (45.21%). They should be selected
carefully in the SSC process.
3. 62m/s (A2) injection speed, 600 (B0) barrel
temperature, and 200 (C0) mold temperature
are optimal values to obtain TS over 250 Mpa.
4. 55m/s (A1) injection speed, 580 (B2) barrel
temperature, and 220 (C1) mold temperature
are optimal to reduce the warpage less than 4 .

FIGURE 7. Factor response graph of warpage. REFERENCES

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