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Investigation of mechanical and machinability properties of SiC particle reinforced Al-MMC

Tamer Ozben, Erol Kilickap , Orhan C akr
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dicle University, 21280 Diyarbakir, Turkey

a r t i c l e
Article history:

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
The paper presents the results of experimental investigation on mechanical and machinability properties of silicon carbide particle (SiC-p) reinforced aluminium metal matrix composite. The inuence of reinforced ratios of 5, 10 and 15 wt.% of SiC-p on mechanical properties was examined. The effect of machining parameters, e.g. cutting speed, feed rate and depth of cut on tool wear and surface roughness was studied. It was observed that increase of reinforcement element addition produced better mechanical properties such

Received 10 November 2006 Received in revised form 4 June 2007 Accepted 28 June 2007

Keywords: MMC Mechanical properties Machining Tool wear Surface roughness

as impact toughness and hardness, but tensile strength showed different trend; increased upto 10 wt.% of SiC-p reinforced and then decreased when 15 wt.% of SiC-p reinforcement addition. Machinability properties of the selected material were studied and higher SiC-p reinforcement produced a higher tool wear; surface roughness was generally affected by feed rate and cutting speed. 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



There have been tremendous strides in engineering materials since 1950s. Several super alloys and heat resistance materials have been developed for various industrial applications, especially aerospace/aircraft and defense. Automotive, medical and sport equipment industries pushed advances in materials further to introduce new generation materials particularly having low density and very light weight with high strength, hardness and stiffness. One of the important of these advanced materials is composites (Matthew and Rawlings, 1994). Composite materials are important engineering materials due to their outstanding mechanical properties. Metal matrix composite (MMC) materials are one of the widely known composites because of their superior properties such as high strength, hardness, stiffness, wear and corrosion resistances. Silicon carbide particle (SiC-p) reinforced aluminium-based MMCs are among the most common MMC and commercially

available ones due to their economical production (Bedir and Ogel, 2004). The mechanical properties of SiC-p reinforced Al-based MMC have been studied by various researchers. Embury (1985) reported that multiaxis surface tension in MMCs decreased the ductility of matrix element of MMC. These tensions and pores in matrix rapidly increased the factor that determines the ductility is the formation phase of the pores. Moreover it has been stated that since these tensions and the pores in matrix increase rapidly, the factor that determine the ductility is the formation phase of these pores. Ejiofor and Reddy (1997) have explained the strengthening mechanism of discontinuously reinforced metal and intermetallic matrix composites with constipation of matrix and the strength of the basis structure. Slezenev et al. (1998) have observed that there was a 10% increase in tensile strength and no change in fracture toughness by addition of 1.5% of Mg, although silicon addition causes no signicant change in mechanical properties of composites.

Corresponding author. Tel.: +90 412 2488403; fax: +90 412 2488405. E-mail address: (E. Kilickap). 0924-0136/$ see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jmatprotec.2007.06.082

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Increase in the industrial applications of composite materials brings the matter of shaping of these materials. From this point of view, it is natural that the methods of production by machining are considered initially, for why machining has a prevalence of approximately 70% among all production methods. The processing parameters affecting machinability of a material are the values of cutting speed according to selected set of material properties of work piece and machining parameters. In the investigation of machinability, the cutting speed, feed rate and the cutting depth are important parameters. El-Gallab and Reddy (1998a,b, 2000, 2004) have emphasized on the surface roughness in their study on the machinability of the 20% of SiC-p reinforced Al-MMC. By performing dry turning tests with different cutting parameters, they have investigated the effect of processing parameters on surface roughness. They have found that large chip depths and high cutting speeds reduce the surface roughness. Li and Seah (2001) investigated the machinability of MMC that contains different amounts of SiC, especially in terms of the size and ratio of particle reinforcement. According to the results, when the percentage of reinforcement element in MMC exceeds a critical point, the wear in settings will increase. Weinert (1993) have analyzed the mechanical properties of and applied machining on the composites that include SiC and Al2 O3 particles at different sizes and ratios and that were produced by pressure coating method. Bergman et al. (1996) investigated the machinability of Al-MMC by cutting tools. For this purpose they used HSS and coateduncoated hard metal cutting tools (WC). It has been emphasized that coated WC tools are more durable then HSS and uncoated tools, and the reinforcement element in MMC is an important parameter for wear of cutting tool. Sahin (2003) studied the effect of different particle sizes of SiC and machinability properties of these Al-MMC materials. It was noticed that the hardness and density of Al-MMC increased by addition of SiC-p. Ciftci et al. (2004) examined tool wear in machining SiC-p reinforced Al-MMC and reported that coated carbide cutting tool produced a longer tool life, but uncoated type provided a better surface quality. In this study density, toughness, impact hardness and tensile stress properties of 5, 10 and 15 wt.% of SiC-p reinforced AlSi7Mg2-MMC, the effect of SiC-p reinforcement ratio on machining, and the effects of machining parameters such as cutting speed, feed rate and cutting depth on wear of tools and surface roughness has been investigated.

Table 1 Chemical composition of AlSi7Mg2-MMC (wt.%)

Si Mg Fe Mn Zn Ni Co Cu Ti Al 7 2 0.54 0.38 0.11 0.074 0.116 0.13 0.086 Remaining

of 3060 m. However, ratio of 5060 m particles within this range has been kept lower than the ratio of 3045 m particles. The reason for using different sized particles is that bigger particles support to gain a homogeneous mixture and using small particles at a higher ratio helps to increase strength.


Production of metal matrix composite

AlSi7Mg2-MMC material used in the experiments that has been reinforced with 5, 10 and 15 wt.% of SiC-p was produced 90 mm in diameter and 150 mm length. In order to obtain the matrix material at the beginning phase of the production, aluminum with 99.9% purity was added to ETIAL-140 alloy at an amount that was to decrease Si ratio to 7%. In order to increase wetting capability of reinforcements, 2% of Mg is added. Chemical composition of AlSi7Mg2-metal matrix com posite was given in Table 1 (Akdogan and Ozben, 2001; Ozben, 2001; Klc kap, 2003).


Performing experiments


Experimental studies

AlSi, used as a casting alloy, is an easily shaped alloy with thin hull convenient for casting complex parts. Therefore, AlSi alloy that is suitable for pressure casting has been used as matrix alloy. Moreover, in order to allow for a strong bonding by decreasing the surface energy (wetting angle) between the matrix alloy and reinforcement element, by the way forming an interface bonding with a high strength, 2% of Mg has been added. Easily producible SiC at particle size, which forms a good interface bond with matrix alloy, has been used as reinforcement material. Particles have been ltered to obtain a size

Produced SiC-p reinforced MMC, the mechanical properties were examined by using Precisa 125 A/SCC model equipment for density, Wilson Rockwell Hardness Tester for hardness, balanced impact machine for toughness and Monsntno Tensometer Type W equipment for tensile strength measurements. The sample were sectioned and examined by SEM for metallographic examination. Specimens were prepared by grinding through 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit papers and followed by polishing with 6 m diamond paste. Machining tests of specimens were carried out in conventional universal lathe machine (MKE production, 6.5 kW, 24 steps). The inserts were clamped mechanically in a rigid tool holder PTGNR/L 2525 M16 type. The selected cutting tool was TNMA 160408 according to ISO code supplied by BOHLER. Chip breaker was not used for the experimental study. The cutting tools were TiN coated hard carbide (K10). The machining tests were conducted under dry cutting process. The selected machining parameters were given in Table 2.

Table 2 Experimental conditions

Cutting tool Cutting speed (m/min) Feed rate (mm/rev) Cutting depth (mm) Reinforcement ratio SiC-p (wt.%) TiN coated WC (K10) 50100150 0.511.5 51015


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Fig. 1 SEM images of AlSi7Mg2-MMC: (a) 5% SiC-p, (b) 10% SiC-p and (c) 15% SiC-p.

Tool wear measurements were carried out by using Nikon Epiphot 200 microscope to determine the degree of ank wear on worn cutting tool. The machining tests were carried out for 90 s. Surface roughness values were measured by TaylorHobson Surtronic 3+ measurement equipment.


Results and discussions

3.1. Microstructure and determination of mechanical features

When microstructure of composite specimens obtained by squeeze casting is examined, it is observed that as the amount of SiC particles increase, distribution within structure worsens. SEM images of related microstructures are given in Fig. 1. Hardness, impact toughness and tensile strength of materials which were produced by squeeze casting method and by adding 5, 10 and 15 wt.% of SiC-p to AlSi7Mg2 alloy are shown in Figs. 24. As density of AlSi7Mg2 matrix alloy and reinforcement material SiC-p were 2.65 and 2.80 gm/cm3 , respectively, theoretical density values of composite material calculated according to rule of mixture after increasing reinforcement ratio is high as expected. This increase can be explained by density difference between reinforcement element and matrix element. In composites, hardness increase proportionally by increasing reinforcement amount. Hardness value change due to variation of reinforcement ratio is demonstrated in Fig. 2. Maximum increase in hardness value is found in 15 wt.% SiC-p reinforced composite by a 48% increase when 65 HB Brinell Hardness value of AlSi7Mg-metal matrix material is taken into consideration (EMS, 1997). This is a suitable result for material production purposes; because pressure, used in Fig. 3 Impact toughness values of composite material.

Fig. 4 Tensile strength values of composite material.

Fig. 2 Brinell hardness values of composite material.

squeeze casting, and fast cooling, originating from production method, causes formation of an inner structure with thin particles. Moreover, extremely hard (2480 Knoop Hardness) SiC-p rate plays a signicant role in increasing the hardness values besides the other mechanical features. Impact toughness of metal matrix composite material is low due to brittle structure of reinforcement material. Impact toughness value changes depending on variation of reinforcement ratio is shown in Fig. 3. Extremely rigid intermetallic compound formation particularly between reinforcement element and matrix material interface cause a decrease in impact toughness of composite material. Moreover, reinforcements at particle size, distribution within matrix and its angular structure cause the composite to demonstrate a low strength characteristic. Dendrite air gap, formed due to slow cooling is another signicant factor for formation of a brittle structure. However impact toughness would increase due to high reinforcement rate as well as obtaining better interface bond

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Fig. 6 Effect of feed rate on tool wear: (a) V = 50 m/min; (b) V = 100 m/min; (c) V = 150 m/min. Fig. 5 Effect of cutting speed on tool wear: (a) S = 0.1 mm/rev; (b) S = 0.2 mm/rev; (c) S = 0.3 mm/rev.


Tool wear and surface roughness

of matrix and particle in suitable pressure and temperature conditions. The tensile strength of AlSiMg2-MMC depending on reinforcement ratio is demonstrated in Fig. 4. Tensile strength of AlSi7 alloy is 140 MPa in squeeze casting method. There had been increase in tensile strength of produced composite material when a 180 MPa of tensile strength value for metal mould casting is taken into consideration (Ozben, 2001). Particularity, in 10 wt.% of SiC-p reinforced composite material; there had been 100% and 56% increase in comparison with sand casting matrix material and metal casting matrix material, respectively. However, tensile strength of 15 wt.% of SiC-p reinforced composite material decreased because of broken particles in the structure as seen in Fig. 1c. This is due to inadequate interface bond between particulars and matrix.

In this study, effects of SiC-p reinforcement to AlSi7Mg2-MMC material at different ratios on tool wear in turning this MMC material and on surface roughness have been investigated in terms of selected cutting speed, feed rate and cutting depth. During examination of tool wear, ank wear amount (VB) on free surface was taken as reference. Cutting speed is the most signicant machining parameter on cutting tool wear. By increasing reinforcement ratio, tool wear decreases at low cutting speeds; when values of feed rate and cutting depth are constant. The tool wear increases with cutting speed. As seen in Fig. 5, the cutting tool wear increases with increasing reinforcement ratio. Due to abrasive feature of SiCp the reinforcement material, cutting tool was worn out more rapidly. At constant cutting speeds and feed rates, the lowest wear has been found in 5 wt.% SiC-p reinforced composite material and the highest wear is seen in 15 wt.% of SiC-p reinforced composite material. Additionally, increased cutting


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samples which have higher reinforcement ratio is higher than samples which have relatively low reinforcement ratio. Cutting speed has the most profound effect on surface roughness. In general, when high-cutting speeds are used, lower surface roughness values can be obtained. In Fig. 8, surface roughness is examined in terms of increase in feed rate. As a result of the examination, changes in feed rate as much as 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 increased the surface roughness of machined specimens. In this study, at the same feed rate rates, increasing chip depth cause an increase in roughness value; but does not cause a signicant change. Fig. 7 Relation between surface roughness and cutting speed.



speed increases the tool wear. In experiments where K10 class coated (TiN) cutting sets are used, it has been found that lower cutting speed causes low wear; at the same feed rates and cutting depth, and tool wear increases as the velocity increase (Fig. 5ac). The effect of feed rate on tool wear is examined by using three different feed rate values. Wear values of tool depending on the feed rate are demonstrated in Fig. 6ac. Effect of increase in reinforcement ratio is evaluated under different feed rates (0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 mm/rev). With increasing feed rate, when cutting speed and depth of cut were kept constant surface roughness was determined. When constant feed rate was taken into consideration, ank wear of cutting tool increased as the reinforcement ratio increases. At the same cutting speed and cutting depth values, increase in feed rate caused tool wear to increase. This result was similar to works completed by some researchers (Klc kap et al., 2005; Gurgel et al., 2006). Surface roughness is the nal surface quality formed after the machining on a specimen. The surface quality of a specimen is directly related with cutting speed and feed rate. In turning of 5, 10 and 15 wt.% SiC-p reinforced MMC material, effect of reinforcement ratio on surface roughness is evaluated in terms of cutting speed and feed rate (Figs. 7 and 8). In this study, surface roughness (Ra ) values measured on machined surfaces of specimens were much higher than the traditional materials. During the machining, the removal of SiC particles cause some small gaps in machined surface. It is estimated that this condition caused an increase in surface roughness of composites. Surface roughness of experiment

In this study, density, hardness, impact toughness and tensile strength characteristics of AlSi7Mg2 reinforced with 5, 10 and 15 wt.% of SiC-p was examined and effect of SiC-p reinforcement ratio on machinability has been evaluated: With the increase in reinforcement ratio, tensile strength, hardness and density of AlSi7Mg2-MMC material increased; but impact toughness decreased. Machinability of MMC is very different from traditional materials because of abrasive reinforcement element. This is due to abrasive element causes more wear on cutting tools. Flank wear of cutting tool are also increased with increase in reinforcement ratio. Feed rate is not as effective as cutting speed on tool wear, but as the feed rate increases, the wear of cutting tool also increases. In turning of AlSi7Mg2-MMC samples, surface quality improved when cutting speed decreased. Surface roughness increased due to increasing feed rate values. It was found that increase in particle ratio affects roughness negatively.


Fig. 8 Relation between feed rate and surface roughness.

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