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Mold temperature and mechanical properties of cast aluminum silicon carbide composites

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  • Save International Journal of M aterials and Chemistry 2013, 3(4): 75-83 DOI: 10.5923/j.ijmc.20130304.02 Mould Temperatureand Mechanical Properties of Cast Aluminum-Silicon Carbide Composite S. O. Adeosun1, Akpan E. I.2,*, Dare Abiodun1 1Department of M etallurgical and M aterials Engineering, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria 2Department of M aterials and Production Engineering, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Abstract Effect of mou ld preheating on the mechanical properties of stir cast Al-SiC has been studied. The silicon carbide part icles (83????????????????) are washed with distilled water, oven dried at 100℃ for 2hours prior to use. The mou ld temperature is varied fro m 200-600℃before the molten mixture is poured into it. Cast samples are divided into three groups, heated to 400oC normalized, annealed and quenched. These heat treated samples are then subjected to mechanical and structural analyzes. Results show that tensile strength and hardness decline with rise in mould te mperature while e longation and impact strength increase. The highest tensile strength (~57M Pa) is recorded for quenched samples at mould temperature of 200 0C and the lowest (~35 MPa) in annealed samples at the same mou ld temperature.The hardness increase considerably with q u en ch ed >n o rmalis ed >an n ealed . Keywords Mould Temperature, A lu miniu m-Silicon Carbide, Mechanical Properties, Heat Treat ment 1. Introduction With the development of industry and technology, the use of alu minum and its alloys due to its many technical propertiesadvantages, is on the increase worldwide[1]. The increase importance of aluminum and its alloys in recent years, have resulted in its high rate of consumption co mpare to iron-steel products as its now more in use in such areas as electrical, chemical, med icine, construction, automotive and aviation and their sub-industries[2-4]. Particulate-reinforced alu minu m alloys are mo reattractive than conventionalaluminu m alloys for applicationsrequiring higher stiffness and strength. Reinforcementby particles or short fibers of SiC has proved to be advantageous since it offers composite materials with isotropic properties at low cost. Al-SiC co mposite is a material that has silicon carbide particles (SiCp )as filler inalu minu malloy matrix[5] resulting in light weight, high thermal conduct iv ity and contro lled therma l e xpansion materia l. Al-SiCapplications include base plates for Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) for tract ion app licat ions, large industrial equip ment, elect ric vehicles, industrial robotics, weld ing machines and power supplies for medical imaging systems, as well as in Printed W iring board (PW B) cores for defence electronics applications [6]. The introdu ct ion o f SiCp in alu min iu m mat rix has been shown to give good wear resistance and * Corresponding author: (Akpan E. I.) Published online at Copyright © 2013 Scientific & Academic Publishing. All Rights Reserved anti-friction properties with improved strength, ductility and s tiffn ess [7]. Despite its excellent properties, A l-SiCp co mposites have detrimental effects owing to its poor wettability between mo lten Al and SiCp.In addition,brittle phases of Al4C3 and Si are produced due to[8, 9] undesirable reaction between the SiCp and molten Al . It has also been shown that current processing methods for Al-SiCp composites often produce agglomerated particles in the ductile matrix resulting in extremely low ductile material[10].Tensions and pores areformed in the matrix of these composites during solidification wh ich are detrimental to ductility[11]. Most research in Al-SiCp has focused on characterizing the mechanical and wear propert ies of the co mposites by improving the wettability of SiC to Al matrix using appropriate wetting agents [12-14]. The s tudy of Hashim et al (2001)[15] revealed that reduction in solidification time can improve the wettability while increase in volu me fraction of SiCpgave an opposite effect. The init ial cast structure of a material is determined by its thermal grad ient and the contraction rate during solidification. This makes it very important to define and distinguish the variables controlling the in itial cast structure of the Al-SiCp compositebillets in their hot processability. Control of the init ial cast structure could be achieved through control of casting variables namely rate of solidificat ion or rate of diffusion at the solid-liquid interface, temperature gradient at the diffused solid-liquid interface and diffusibility of the soluble at the liquid and the solid interface[16-18]. These are all influenced by surrounding temperature (the mould temperature) condition and mould materials. The 76 S. O. Adeosun et al.: M ould Temperatureand M echanical Properties of Cast Aluminum-Silicon Carbide Composite study by Oji et al[19] on the effect of casting parameters shows that mould temperature is the most significant factor influencing casting quality in terms of strength. The authors suggested further stated in this area so that inference could be reached for industrial application. In the light of the above, this paper presents results of investigation into the effect of mould temperature before casting on the mechanical properties of AA1200alu minum alloy p roduced with the vert ical continuous casting method. In the study, mould temperature is varied fro m 200℃-600℃ and the structural morphology and resulting mechanical properties of the Al-SiC co mposite are examined. The experimental design is purely based on authors’ init iative while results of previous studies serve as a guide. Oshodi, Lagos is placed ina c rucible and heated to 800℃ for 1 hour in a muffle furnace. The homogeneous molten alu min iu m obtained is transferred to a stainless steel cup where SiCpare added and stirred properly with the aid of a glass rod. The mixture is then transferred to the furnace for further heating for about 2 minutes before casting. At each run the mould is preheated to a scheduled temperature between 200 and 600℃ before the mix is poured. 2. Methodology The experiment was carried out by preparing composite samples using stir casting technique. Silicon carb ide (10 wt %) of average composition shown in Table 1is washed with distilled water to improve wettability and enhance contact between the filler and matrix surfaces’. The washed silicon carb ide is oven dried at 100℃ for about 2 hours. Element % Comp Table 1. Chemical Composition of SiCp Si K Ca Mn Fe Cu C 53 3 11 2.2 5.6 7 18 ot hers 0.2 Figure 1. Cast Al-Si composite samples Before heat treat ment, cast samples (see Figure 1) are mach ined to standard sizes for each test . AA1200 alu miniu m alloy (see Table 2) received fro m Nigeria A lu minu m Extrusion Co mpany (NIGA LEX), Table 2. Composition of AA1200 Al alloy Element Si Fe Cu Mg % Composition 0.2041 0.46979 0.05936 0.03565 Element % Composition Br 0.00046 Sn -0.00463 Pb 0.00472 Al 98.9500 Mn 0.10493 Zn 0.00597 Ti 0.01750 Hardness (HRB) 110 105 100 95 90 85 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 mould temperature (oC) As cast annealed normalised quenched Figure 2. hardness response of Al-Si composite with mould temperature International Journal of M aterials and Chemistry 2013, 3(4): 75-83 77 UTS(MPa) 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 mould temperature (oC) As cast annealed normalised quenched Figure 3. Variation of ultimate tensile strength of composite with mould temperature Tensile sample dimension is 60mm long, 40mm gauge length, 5mm gauge diameter and 10mm outside diameter. Impact sample dimension is 60mm long, 10mm d iameter, v-notch at 45° and 2mm deep at centre. Hardness sample dimension is 120mm diameter and 20mm th ick. The heat treatment is carried out in a bo x-type furnace at 400℃ and samples cooled under three conditions namely; annealed, normalized and water-quenched. Hardness of cast samples are measured using the Rockwell hardness tester (model no E66236/ 142c) at a dwell t ime of 10 seconds. Tensile test is done using an M500 Universal testing machine. Impact test of the samples are carried out using theCharpy impact testing mach ine with model no: E742474.The samples surfaces’ are ground to a smooth finish and polished to mirror-like for metallographic analysis. The mixture of sodium n itride and water is used as etchant and the samples are each etched for about two minutes to achieve a dull surface. The etched surfaces are viewed and picture taken using the Digital Metallurgica l M icroscope. 3. Results and Discussion 3.1. Hardness The hardness test results for preheated mould and heat treated cast composites is shown in Figure 2. For all samples the hardness value decrease steadily with increase in mould temperature. Samples cast with mould at ambient temperature (32oC) has hardness of HRC 105 wh ich is superior to annealed(HRC102), normalized (HRC104.65), but slightly inferior to quenched sample (HRC107.75). However, heat treatment processing of cast samples shows a minimal effect over thatby mould temperature. The hardness increased considerably in the order quenched>normalised> annealed. The above results are in agreement with the study result on the mechanical propert ies of A 713 alloy castings by Yadav and Karunakar (2011)[20]. 3.2. Tensile Response Tensile responses of cast and heat treated Al-SiCp composites are shown in Figure 3. Tensile strength of all samples is found to decrease with increase in initial mou ld temperature. The highest tensile strength (~57 MPa) is recorded in quenched samples at 200℃ mould temperature and the lowest of ~35 M Pain annealed samples at this temperature. Oji et al (2011)[19] affirmed with 90% confidence interval that mould temperature has a significant effect on the ult imate tensile strength of alu min iu m alloys. Their results show that the ultimate tensile strength is maximu m at lo w mould temperatures and the results in this present study are in agreement with Oji et al (2011). Investigation of mechanical properties of A713 alloy castings indicates that the tensile strength decreases with the increase in preheating temperature[20]. Tensile elongation responses of the cast composite increase with mould temperature for all heat treatment conditions (see Figure 4).Maximu m tensile elongation (5.877%) is obtained in normalized specimen at 600℃ and followed by as-cast (5.268 %)at the mould temperature. The minimu m tensile elongation is observed in quenched specimen throughout the range of cast mould temperatures. This trend in tensile elongation response may be attributed to the fast growth of columnar grains against the wall at low mould temperatures giving low tensile elongation. However, at a higher mou ld temperature, there is reduction in the number of co lu mnar grains while more equiaxed grains are produced in the matrix (see Plate 1). So me authors have affirmed that elevated mould temperature (lo w cooling rate) promotes uniform casting contraction and reduces stress concentration[21, 22] wh ich enhances tensile elongation but detrimental to tensile strength. Tensile elongation of the quenched samples though inferior to other heat treated samples increases with mould temperatures. This may be attributed to the formation of hardening precip itates during quenching of Al alloys with resultant decline in tensile elongation. Tensile elongations of normalized samples increase steadily, with increase in mould in itial temperature before casting. Normalizing allo ws for proper distribution of phases in the microstructure as clustered particles/ precipitates are rea rranged so that the mechanica l properties 78 S. O. Adeosun et al.: M ould Temperatureand M echanical Properties of Cast Aluminum-Silicon Carbide Composite are improved. The annealed samples’ tensile elongations do not differ significantly fro m as-cast samples’ elongation responses. This may be as a result of the formation of equiaxed grain structure during prolonged cooling. 3.3. Impact Test Results The impact responses of the cast composites are shown in Figure 5. The impact strength of quenched composites fluctuates with cast mould temperatures. Samp les quenched, normalized and annealed show the same impact strength trend. Impact strengthsof samples increase between ambient mould temperature and 300 ℃ , decrease slightly and increases further to maximu m at 600℃ . Impact strength depends on several factors including the presence of notch, temperature, test sample thickness, inherent mo lecular structure of the alloy grade used and the morphology arising fro m the process conditions. However, changes in the geometry of the material could have a major effect on the toughness rating[29] (Swallo we, 1999). Fluctuations in impact energy data are indicative of difference in the surface conditions of the test samples and not generally due to microstructural changes. On the other hand, the presence of Al4C3 in the microstructure (see Plates 1-4) which has been reported to cause matrix emb rittlement[28], may contribute significantly to the impact behaviour of the test material. For example in as-cast samples even distribution of the SiCp with the precipitation of Al4C3(Plates 1d and 1e) observed favour impact energy (co mpare impact strength of as-cast samples at different temperature). The results Yadav and Karunakar (2011)[20] report that impact strength declines with increase in mould temperature of cast A713 alu minu malloy. Annealed, normalized and quenched samples have similar responses as the as-cast samples. 7 6 5 Elongation % 4 As cast 3 annealed 2 normalised 1 quenched 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 Mould Temperature (oC) Figure 4. Variation of tensile elongation of Al-SiC composite with mould temperature 25 20 Impact (J) 15 10 5 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 Mould Temperature (oC) as cast annealed normalised quenched Figure 5. Variation of impact energy of Al-SiC composite with mould temperature International Journal of M aterials and Chemistry 2013, 3(4): 75-83 79 3.4. Microstructural Anal ysis Micrographs of as-cast Al-SiC co mposite are shown in plate 1. These micrographs show the presence of SiC particles (dark phases) and Al4C3 in the dendritic structure of the alpha aluminiu m matrix. These are inferred fro m the colour of the etched phase under the light microscope as reported in literature[30] and previous works[23, 24]. The authors reported the format ion of A l4C3 when pure alu min iu m and alu min iu m alloy is infiltrated SiC part icles due to interfacia l react ions. Iseki et a l.[25] also reported that Al4C3 forms at the interface of the Al/SiC system. A ll microstructures show similar volu me fraction of SiC particles located in the inter-dendritic regions of the matrix. It could be observed that at low preheating temperatures the SiC part icles cluster along the in the inter-dendritic regions in a higher intensity than at higher temperatures, the intensity of cluster decrease as the preheating temperature increases. This may be due to pro longed time of solid ification which leads to formation of Al4 C3 surrounding the SiC part icles found in microstructures of composites cast at high mould preheating temperatures (see Plate 1e). This may be the reason for a decrease in strength of these composites (see Figure 3). This is in line with other researchers who noted that Al4C3 is a brittle phasewhich forms agglo merates at the interface leading to degradation of co mposite strength[26, 27]. Another author posited that the presence of Al4C3 leads to matrix emb ritt lement[28]. Even d istribution of the SiC particles and the presence of Al4C3 found in p late 1d and 1e favour tensile elongation and impact energy but are detrimental to tensile and hardness properties. 200µm (a) (b) 200µm (c) 200µm (d) 200µm (e) Pl ate 1. Microstruct ure of Al-SiC composit e (As cast ) (a) 200℃ (b) 300℃ (c) 400℃ (d) 500℃ (d) 600℃ 80 S. O. Adeosun et al.: M ould Temperatureand M echanical Properties of Cast Aluminum-Silicon Carbide Composite 200µm (a) 200µm (b) Agglomerate SiC 200µm (c) 200µm (d) Al4C3 at the grain boundaries 200µm (e) Plate 2. microstructure of Al-SiC composite (Annealed) (a) 200℃ (b) 300℃ (c) 400o℃ (d) 500℃ (d)600℃ Plate 2 is the microstructure of annealed Al-SiC co mposites after casting. All samples show a redistribution of the SiC particles. At 200℃ preheating temperature the cluster of SiC reduce lead ing to an increase in tensile strength (see Figure 3) but a decrease in hardness (see Figure 2). The cluster increased as the preheating temperature increases with higher volu me fraction of Al4C3 appearing in plate 2d and 2e. Impact energy for annealed samples are lower than as-cast whereas tensile elongationremain constant. This may be due to the formation of Al4C3 in a h igher volu me fract ion than in the as-cast condition. A similar behaviour is seen in plate 3 for all samples. In the contrary plate 4 shows a more coarse structure with pronounced distribution of the SiC part icles and a reduction in volu me fraction of Al4C3 in the matrix. The coarse microstructure and littering of the SiC favoured increase in tensile elongation and impact energy, however, tensile strength and hardnessremain the same. International Journal of M aterials and Chemistry 2013, 3(4): 75-83 81 200µm (a) 200µm (b) 200µm (c) 200µm (d) Agglomerate SiC 200µm (e) Plate 3. Microstructure of Al-Si composite (quenched) (a) 200℃ (b) 300℃ (c) 400℃ (d) 500℃ (d)600℃ 200µm (a) 200µm (b) 82 S. O. Adeosun et al.: M ould Temperatureand M echanical Properties of Cast Aluminum-Silicon Carbide Composite 200µm (c) 200µm (d) 200µm (e) Plate 4. microstructure of Al-Si composite (Normalised) (a) 200℃ (b) 300℃ (c) 400℃ (d) 500℃ (d)600℃ 4. Conclusions Research and Essays Vol. 6, No.13, 2011, 2832-2840, Fro m this study, the following deductions can be drawn: 1. Mould temperature before casting has a significant effect on the mechanical properties of A l-SiCp co mposites [2] P. N. Arun, R. Gnanamoorthy, M . Kamaraj, “M icrostructural evolution and mechanical properties of oil jet peened aluminium alloy AA6063- T6” M aterials Design, Vol. 31, 2010, 4066-4075. 2. Increase init ial mould temperature before casting is detrimental to hardness and tensile strength but improves both tensile elongation and impact energy of the composites. [3] Y. Sun, M . Baydoğan H. Çimeğlu. “The effect of deformation before ageing on the wear resistance of an aluminium alloy” Mater. Lett. 38, 1999, 221-226 3. Heat treatment of cast composite has significant effect on its mechanical properties. Quenched samples show [4] D. AltenpohlEtibank Publications, Publication Number: 716- superior improvement in hardness and tensile strength but A-214, 1986, 258-264. not in tensile elongation and impact. Whereas normalized [5] M etek “Silicon Carbide Aluminum, M etal M atrix samples have better impact energy and tensile elongation. Composites”, 21 toelles road, wallingford, CT 06492 U.S.A. Tel: (203) 265-6731 • Fax: (203) 265-6407, 2007, •, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS [6] Heatwave, “M etal M atrix Composites (MM C): Aluminum The contributions of Mr W.A. Ayoola and the staff of the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Laboratory of M atrix with Silicon Carbide (AlSiC) and Silicon Carbide Diamond Reinforcement” The Rogers’ logo, The world runs better with Rogers., and are licensed trademarks of Rogers University of Lagos,Akoka Nigeria is appreciated. Corporation, 2009 Rogers Corporation. All rights reserved. Printed in USA. www.rogerscorp.comRevised 01/21/2009 0844-0109-0.1CC Publication #132-803, Thermal M anagement Solutions REFERENCES [7] Z. Hasan, R. K. Pandey, D.K. SehgalWear Characteristics in Al-SiC Particulate Composites and the Al-Si Piston Alloy [1] K. Turbalioğlu and Y. 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