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Journal of Surface Engineered Materials and Advanced Technology, 2012, 2, 11-15 11 Published Online January 2012 (

Effect of Processing Paramters on Metal Matrix
Composites: Stir Casting Process
G. G. Sozhamannan1*, S. Balasivanandha Prabu2, V. S. K. Venkatagalapathy1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Pondicherry, India; 2Department of Me-
chanical, Anna University, Chennai, India.
Email: *

Received September 14th, 2011; revised November 1st, 2011; accepted November 20th, 2011

Conventional stir casting process has been employed for producing discontinuous particle reinforced metal matrix
composites for decades. The major problem of this process is to obtain sufficient wetting of particle by liquid metal and
to get a homogenous dispersion of the ceramic particles. In the present study, aluminium metal matrix composites were
fabricated by different processing temperatures with different holding time to understand the influence of process pa-
rameters on the distribution of particle in the matrix and the resultant mechanical properties. The distribution is exam-
ined by microstructure analysis, hardness distribution and density distribution.

Keywords: Stir Casting; Processing Temperature; Holding Time

1. Introduction ity in the many related areas [4].
The foundry casting processes have been a favoured
Since the early 1960, there is demand for new and im-
processing method as they lend themselves to the manu-
proved engineering materials with advancement of mod-
facture of large number of complex shaped components.
ern technology interest in the areas of aerospace, auto-
Especially, the stir casting mostly used to produce the
motive industries had forced a rapid development of
metal matrix composites. High demands on material for PRMMCs because it shown to be a very promising for
better overall performance has led to extensive research the manufacture of near net shape composites in a simple
and development efforts in the composites fields. Among and cost effective manner. The major problem in this
the composites field, the aluminium based metal matrix technology is to obtain sufficient wetting of particle by
composite materials are widely used. To meet emerging the liquid metal and to get a homogeneous dispersion of
need, innovations in materials processing enabled achiev- the ceramic particles [5]. Several structural defects such
ing an enhancement in stiffness, realization of high as porosity, particle clustering, oxide inclusions and in-
strength to weight ratio, an improvement in wear resis- terfacial reactions were found to arise from the unsatis-
tance, maintaining strength at elevated temperatures [1,2]. factory casting technology [6]. Smeulders et al., (1986)
Aluminium based metal matrix composites have been [7] studied the thixotropic behaviour, development of the
one of the key research areas in materials processing particle shape, and particle distribution in the metal ma-
field in the last few decades. Most of the research work trix composites by using stir casting. The particles size
has been dealing with aluminium matrix and SiC rein- distribution depends on the cooling rate and stirring rate.
forcement requiring the light weight in combination of The processing temperature influence the cooling rate
high strength and high stiffness. This is because alumin- and stirring rate. These both parameters influence parti-
ium is lighter weight which is first requirement in most cles distribution in the matrix. At low stirring rate, di-
of the industries. In additionally, it provides impressive ameter of cluster is appeared is smaller than higher stir-
strength improvement and the thermal expansion coeffi- ring rate.
cient of Al matrix composites can be adjusted by using Lloyd (1989) [8] studied the processing parameters
silicon carbide, carbon and boron carbides [3]. As a re- such as processing temperatures, holding time, and ve-
sult, these materials are now being rapidly utilized in locity of SiCp in liquid melts. This factors influencing
industries that traditionally used metals, and these have the production and microstructures of the cast Al-SiCp
become the forefront of research and development activ- composite, and also influence the formation reaction
Corresponding author. products (Al4C3) at the interface of Al-SiCp, which also

Copyright © 2012 SciRes. JSEMAT

002 0. The viscosity decreased and the carborendum Ltd. There is no large pore and particles clustering ties in the cast condition. The stainless steel stirrer blade dency for formation of particle cluster was greater in the was coated with zirconia to avoid the reaction between higher holding time than in the low holding time. Structure of Al-10% SiCp Composites The matrix material used for the current study was The optical micrographs of aluminium composites rein- Al-11Si-Mg alloy. ties such as Tensile.68 0. The mixture is allowed to tendency for particle cluster or porosity is high in the solidify in the preheated (300˚C) steel die. supplied by universal shearing rate of the melt. This can be attributed more particles clustering in melt and the slurry was consciously stirred using a stir. higher temperature with prolonged contact between ma- Table 1. This study quantitatively measures the actual SiC concentration. clustering was attributed to the high viscosity and low forcement (average size 40 µm. They were found the improvement of wettability. Stirrer blade setup. the particles cluster fairly formed in the volume of preheated SiC powder was added in the liquid melt.. The 10% by peratures. Effect of Processing Temperatures on Processing Al-SiCp Composites 11. hardness and impact be- haviour. and 30 minutes) to achieve ho. When the specimen was prepared at 700˚C and 750˚C. However. (1993) [9] made an attempt to study the influence of im- peller geometry and baffles on the uniformity of distribu- tion of SiC in water.1. Si Cu Mg Ti Ni Li Zn Fe Mn Al 3. The existence of pores and particle (700˚C. Zhou and Xu (1997) [6] studied the particulate reinforced metal matrix composites by gravity casting and two step methods mixing. the vided to avoid different stagnant zones in the liquid melt particles were agglomerated in the melt. the geometry Argon gas was supplied into the near the crucible during of the capturing of the particles does not restrict their the stirring to avoid the formation of oxide layer on the movement inside the liquid metal as well as solidification. is an increase in the particle clustering with increase ent holding time (10. the particles were distributed uniformly and den- weight percentage as shown in Table 1. India) was preheated at 1000˚C for shearing rate decreased when increasing process tem- two hours before added in the matrix melt.31 0. India) in 800˚C. 750˚C. Stirring of the mixture is carried out at differ.2. ring. particles distribution. it was observed that the ten- mogeneity of particulates.027 0. Although there by stirrer. 800˚C. ductility. processing temperature. The matrix material was loaded existed in these SEM micrographs. provided by the supplier (Sargam metals Ltd. the other in a graphite crucible and it was placed inside a top two composites (at 850˚C and 900˚C) having pores and loaded resistance furnace at different temperature level particles clustering. Which were stirred for a con- is shown in Figure 1.73 0. The Al-11Si-Mg drite structure was more obvious in the microsturcture alloy has an excellent combination of mechanical proper- (figure).32 remains The effect of processing temperature is illustrated where Copyright © 2012 SciRes. Four blades stirrer setup processing temperatures. stant speed with longer period at higher temperature. the maintained throughout work. Hence. JSEMAT . Thus. 850˚C. and also they found SiC particles distribution in the interdendritic regions.002 0. Experimental Work 3. 20. the Al matrix. 900˚C). Results and Discussion 2.009 0. Rohatgi et al. Also the presence of a low viscosity of liquid metal tents surface of matrix melt. Composition of aluminium alloy. The axial and radial flows are pro.12 0. 3. During stainless steel and Al alloys at higher temperatures.12 Effect of Processing Paramters on Metal Matrix Composites: Stir Casting Process affects the casting fluidity of composites.. The Stirring speed 450 rpm was to physically not restricts growth of porosity. The four blade Stirrer was designed in order to It can be seen from the figures that there is an increase produce the adequate homogenous particle distribution the particles cluster corresponding to an increase in the throughout the matrix material. having composition average values forced with 10% of SiCp are shown in Figures 2(a)-(e). The SiC rein. The the higher holding time with temperature. trix and reinforcement. The objective of the study is the influence of stir casting process parameters such as processing temperature and holding time on the uniform distribution of particles and resulting mechanical proper- Figure 1.

B = 16. The at lower temperature (<800˚C) but the contacts time be- viscosity of liquid Al matrix with 10% SiCp is often cal. the liquid has sufficient viscosity R-Universal gas constant processing temperature. served in the 20 minutes holding time. The similar results are ob- where η0-viscosity of aluminium at the melting tempera. tached with air bubbles to form the particles cluster in the essing temperatures are shown in Figure 3. at lower viscosity with higher temperature (above 800˚C). tween matrix and reinforcement too large. A vortex created in which A = 0. the particles are distributed uniformly in the matrix at 700˚C. In the case of 30 ture. Effect of Holding Time minutes holding time.5C 2  exp( A B) . the geometric of par- ticles are captured and it was unable to restricts by the vortex of molten metal under the constant stirring speed.5C  10. Effect of Processing Parameters on than the Al matrix without reinforcement. The change matrix. Changes of visosity as function of temeprature. as can be seen by comparing cluster are found in the composite bar. At higher temperature (>800˚C).3. Therefore.6. more particles of viscosity is significant. But. As the results.1. 10 minutes. The suspending liquid apparent viscosity of Al-SiCp is higher by nearly 38% 4. But. minutes holding time. the particles are distributed uniformly in liquid even though some of particles form cluster which could  0  1+2. Al alloy and Al-SiCp composites. strength as a function of temperature is illustrated for the geometric contacts of particles is restricted by vortex Al-10% SiCp composites with different holding time. The changes of viscosity influence the particle distribution in the Al matrix. the particles were at- The changes in viscosity with respect to various proc. At Figure 4 shows the variation in the ultimate tensile higher viscosity with lower temperature (below 800˚C). Effect of Processing Paramters on Metal Matrix Composites: Stir Casting Process 13 25µm 25µm (a) 700˚C (b) 750˚C 25µm 25µm Figure 3. Effect of the holding time helps in the Al-SiCp compos- the contact time between reinforcement and liquid Al ites mainly two ways: to distribute the particles in the metal with different holding time. Tensile Properties creased from 700˚C to 900˚C. liquid. The holding time between matrix Al matrix and also it accelerating the chemical reactions and reinforcement is considered as important factor in between them. 750˚C and 800˚C. The processing tem. C is volume fraction of during the stirring can suck the air or gas bubbles in to particles. (c) 800˚C (d) 850˚C of molten metal. be also are located in the matrix region. Copyright © 2012 SciRes. the particles are distributed uniformly in this range.0023. The liquid matrix has  E    0 exp   sufficient viscosity in the temperature range. the both Mechanical Properties of Al-SiCp viscosity is increased when processing temperature in- 4. and to create perfect interface bond between rein- perature is mainly influencing the change in viscosity of forcement and matrix. This change of viscosity was calculated the processing of composites. Optical image shows particles distribution at 20 3. and velocity  RT  of particles flow is small. the liquid metal. The conclusion can be drawn that viscosity of liquid de- 25µm creased when increasing processing temperatures with (e) 900˚C increasing holding time. JSEMAT . Figure 2. When the holding time is theoretically by using Arrihenious equation [10]. During this culated with the Einstein function as follows [11]: period. E-Activation energy for viscous flow of aluminium.

constrains to the plastic deforma- ferent tensile behaviors. then began posite. The ultimate strength of Al-10% SiCp composite has aluminium is a soft material and the SiC particles being been increased and reached a maximum as the processing hard. tion depend on the distribution of the particles in the ma- ites is influenced by distribution of particles in the ma. The Figure 5 shows the hardness number distributions along length of the cast 800 4 6 8 specimens. The high values is obtained 10 mins. Hardness Distribution brittle SiCp which may act as stress concentration areas. Impact value of Al-SiCp composites. It is interesting to note there is a little variation in decreased further. The viscosity also matrix. place the values are higher. JSEMAT . creases with increasing the processing temperatures.3. The impact values are slightly in- ites. The overall strength of compos. The presence of stiffer and stronger particles leads decrease with further increase of processing temperature to constrain the plastic deformation of the matrix during from 800˚C to 900˚C. mainly depends on the distribution of the particles in the trapped the gases inside the matrix. of the cast specimen at an interval of 1 cm. But. 20 mins. urements were taken in cast specimen to understand the vious that the reduction in viscosity on increasing the distribution of the SiC particle in the Al alloy at different processing conditions. The fected due to clustering nature decrease of impact values at lower temperature in the Al-SiCp composites can be attributed to the presence of 4. Effect of processing parameters on tensile strength Al/SiCp. if the particle accumulated in a particular It is show that the SiC particles are uniformly distrib. Some local regions in the composite show remark- trix.14 Effect of Processing Paramters on Metal Matrix Composites: Stir Casting Process Figure 5. Processing temperatures (˚C) ium and some places is more. contribute positively to the hardness of the com- temperature changes from 700˚C to 800˚C. The hardness meas- at 700˚C to 800˚C for 10 minutes holding time. composites fabricated with different processing tem- crease in temperature from 800˚C to 900˚C. The low temperature with holding time hardness values at some Impact values with different holding time (J) places is minimum it close to harness values of Alumin. and if the particles are absent uted in the matrix when the processing temperatures are in some places the values are lower. The SiC particles added to the aluminium 850 5 8 8 alloy matrix have a satisfactory effect in improving the 900 5 10 10 hardness of the composites. Effect processing temperatures on Hardness of Figure 4. It is ob. Further in. The Brinell hardness number was measured along length Table 2. from the places where the particles is accumulation more 700 3 4 6 and lower hardness values is obtained from places where 750 3 6 6 SiC particles where absent. trix. The clustering of particles has consid. the value for the different processing conditions as erable effect on strength and plastic behavior of compos. 30 mins. the particles peratures with holding time are given in Table 2. These composites exhibited dif. shown in Table 2. the presences of particles hinder the dis- location movement during plastic deformation and it ex- 4. Therefore. processing temperatures which is shown in figure during the tensile load. Elastic response of the composite is not much af. The results of the charpy impact tests for Al-10% SiCp the ultimate strength is increased gradually. of Al/SiCp.2. the hardness test. Impact Test hibits the isotropic properties in the matrix. This is to be expected since Copyright © 2012 SciRes. able changes. The cluster associated with porosity is formed in the liquid test results revealed that the impact energy of Al-SiCp is matrix due to the vortex of molten stirrer which en.

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