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Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

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Materials and Design


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/matdes

Technical Report

Application of factorial techniques to study the wear of Al hybrid composites


with graphite addition
P. Ravindran ,a, K. Manisekar a, P. Narayanasamy a, N. Selvakumar b, R. Narayanasamy c
a

Center for Manufacturing Sciences, National Engineering College, Kovilpatti 628 503, Tamil Nadu, India
Mechanical Engineering, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, India
c
Production Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India
b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 9 October 2011
Accepted 8 February 2012
Available online 24 February 2012

a b s t r a c t
The wear and sliding friction response of a hybrid aluminium metal matrix composite reinforced with
hard ceramic (5 wt.% of SiC) and soft solid lubricant (0, 5, and 10 wt.% of graphite) fabricated by powder
metallurgy was investigated. The inuence of the percentages of reinforcement, load, sliding speed and
sliding distance on both the wear and friction coefcient were studied using the pin-on-disk method with
tests based on the design of experiments. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to investigate the inuence of the parameters on both the wear rate and the coefcient of friction. The hardness of the composites decreases as the % of graphite (Gr) increases. The wear and friction coefcient were mainly inuenced
by both the sliding distance and the load applied. The morphology of the worn out surfaces and the wear
debris was analysed to understand the wear mechanisms. The wear resistance of the hybrid composite
containing 5 wt.% SiC and 5 wt.% graphite is superior to that of the graphite free composites and the other
hybrid composites. This study reveals that the addition of both hard reinforcement like SiC and soft reinforcement like graphite improves the wear resistance of aluminium composites signicantly.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs) have recently evoked a keen
interest for their potential applications in cylinder liners, brake
drums, crankshafts, and the aerospace and automotive industries
because of their greater strength to weight ratios and high temperature resistances [1]. At the present time, aluminium metal matrix
composites (AMMCs) have been well recognised and steadily improved because of their advanced engineering properties, such as
their improved wear resistance, low density, specic strength
and stiffness [2]. Among all of these superior properties, the
improved wear resistance of AMMCs has attracted signicant
attentions in the eld of tribology. However, the use of single reinforcement in an aluminium matrix may sometimes compromise
the values of its physical properties [3]. Both the mechanical
strength and the wear resistance of composites increase with the
addition of SiC particulates to the aluminium matrix alloy.
However, the consequent increase in hardness makes machining
difcult [3]. Thus, it is essential identify ways to retain the advantageous inuence of SiC while simultaneously attending to the
Corresponding author. Address: 57/D, Vannar 2nd Street, Melashunmugapuraam,
Thoothukudi 628 003, Tamil Nadu, India. Tel.: +91 0461 2328915, mobile: +91
9842160709.
E-mail addresses: energyravindran@gmail.com, sweetravindran@yahoo.com,
ravicms@necmail.com (P. Ravindran).
0261-3069/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.matdes.2012.02.013

problems of machining SiC reinforced composites. Graphite particulates are well suited to this application, and their addition improves the machinability as well as wear resistance of AlSiC
composites. AlSiC composites reinforced with graphite particulates are known as AlSiCGr hybrid composites. Basavarajappa
et al. [4] investigated the inuence of sliding speed on the dry sliding wear behaviour and subsurface deformation of hybrid metal
matrix composites by a liquid metallurgy technique. In addition,
Riahi and Alpas [5] showed that the formation of a tribolayer delayed the transition from mild wear to severe. Rohatgi et al. have
reported that the reduction in the friction coefcient of Al
10SiC6Gr is caused by the combination of an increase in the bulk
mechanical properties as a result of the addition of SiC and the formation of a graphite lm [6]. The investigation by Basavarajappa
et al. also reported that Al15SiC3Gr composites have a reduced
degree of subsurface deformation (and thereby, a reduced wear
rate) compared to that of graphite-free composites [7]. Biswas
and Pramila Bai [8] showed that unreinforced AlSi composites
had better wear properties than those with 2.75.7% graphite.
Ted Guo et al. have observed that the wear of Al10SiC28Gr increases as the graphite content approaches 5% because of the reduced fracture toughness, and it then decreases because of the
formation of a thick solid lubricant lm that overrides the effect
of the reduced fracture toughness [9]. From the literature study,
relatively little information about the effect of graphite particles
on wear properties is available. Therefore, further discussion of

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

the inuence of graphite on the wear properties of composites is


necessary. In this context, the present study aims to investigate
the tribological performance of sintered AlSiCGr hybrid composites. The effect of graphite on the friction coefcients and wear
resistance of the resulting composites was also investigated using
the general full factorial design of experiments.

43

2.2. Powder characteristics


An SEM micrograph of the as-produced powder mixture containing aluminium, graphite, and coarse SiC particles is shown in
Fig. 1. The graphite takes the form of akes, and the Al particles appear in round and cylindrical shapes. The SiC particles have an
ellipsoidal shape. The micrograph shows that there is no agglomeration of the SiC and graphite particles in the mixture.

2. Experimental setup and procedures


2.3. Microstructure analysis of composites

2.1. Specimen preparation


The composites were fabricated by the P/M process route.
Aluminium 2024 was used as the matrix material in the present
investigation, and details of its composition are given in Table 1.
This matrix was chosen because it provides an excellent combination of strength and damage tolerance at elevated and cryogenic
temperatures. To carry out the study, three types of composites
were prepared:
(i) Al/5 wt.% of SiC composite
(ii) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/5 wt.% of Gr hybrid composite
(iii) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/10 wt.% of Gr hybrid composite
Table 2 provides the details of the SiC and graphite particulates,
which were used as reinforcements. Table 3 gives the details of the
hybrid composites. The mixing of the powder was performed in a
planetary tumbler mixer using stainless steel balls with a diameter
of 8 mm and a ball to powder weight ratio of 10:1. The mixed powders were pressed in a uniaxial press at 845 MPa to form green
compacts [10]. Before each run, die wall lubrication was performed
manually using zinc stearate. The green compacts were sintered at
a closely regulated temperature of 530 C for 60 min, as suggested
by Yamagushi et al. [11]. The sintered composites were solution
treated at 540 C in a mufe furnace for 120 min and water
quenched; then, they were naturally aged for 72 h. The wear specimens were manufactured with a diameter of 8 mm and a height of
30 mm. The ends of the specimens were sequentially polished with
abrasive paper of grades 600, 800 and 1000. The density of the
composite specimens was determined using a high precision digital electronic weighing balance with an accuracy of 0.0001 mg by
using Archimedes principle. The hardness of the composites was
evaluated using a Brinell hardness tester. Table 3 shows the
mechanical properties of the samples.

Table 1
Chemical composition of the matrix alloy.
Element

Cu

Mg

Fe

Mn

Si

Cr

Zn

Al

Content %

4.0

1.8

0.5

0.25

0.5

0.25

0.2

Balance

Fig. 2ac shows optical micrographs of the sintered composites.


The micrographs reveal the ake structure of the graphite particles
and cube-like structure of the SiC particles. These graphite and SiC
particles are uniformly distributed throughout the Al 2024 matrix
phase. The absence of cracks can also be observed from the
micrographs.
2.4. X-ray diffraction analysis
The X-ray diffraction (XRD) results for the prepared composites
are shown in Fig. 3. These results indicate the presence of aluminium (in the largest peaks), and the presence of silicon carbide particles and carbon is indicated by minor peaks. A clearly visible
carbon peak can be observed in the hybrid composites. The increase in the intensity of the carbon peaks with the increasing
graphite content of the composite is evident. A gradual marginal
shift of the Al peaks to higher angles with an increase in the
weight% of the graphite content is also evident. Fig. 3 shows that
there is no oxygen reaction in the samples during the sintering
process.
2.5. Wear test
Dry sliding wear tests were performed in accordance with
the ASTM G99-05 (reapproved 2010) test standards [27] for
pin-on-disc equipment (Ducom, model No: ED-201, Bangalore, India). The counter disc material was of EN31 steel. Prior to testing,
the pins and disc surface were cleaned with acetone. All of the tests
were performed on hybrid composite pins of various compositions
with applied loads of 10 and 20 N. A varying sliding distance of
1000 or 3000 m was employed, with sliding speeds of 1 m/s and
2 m/s. After each test, the specimen and counter face disk were
cleaned with organic solvents to remove traces. The pin was
weighed before and after testing to an accuracy of 0.1 mg to
determine the amount of wear loss. The coefcient of friction
was determined from the applied normal load and the obtained
tangential load from the strain gauges. Each test was repeated
six times, and the average results were taken.
2.6. Plan of experiments

Table 2
Details of reinforcements.
Reinforcement

Grain size (lm)

Density (g/cm3)

SiC
Gr

4353
4360

3.22
2.092.23

The experiments were conducted as per the full factorial design


matrix. The levels of the parameters are given in each array row, as
shown in Table 4. The full factorial design is particularly useful in
the early stages of experimental work, especially when the number
of process parameters or factors is less than or equal to 4. In the
present investigation, full factorial arrays that had 24 rows and 4
columns were chosen, as shown in Table 5.

Table 3
Mechanical properties of the samples.
Sample no.

Composition (Wt%)

Density (g/cm3)

Hardness (BHN)

1
2
3

Al5%SiC
Al5%SiC5%Gr
Al5%SiC10%Gr

2.89
2.84
2.82

55
53
51

3. Results and discussion


The results of the wear performance of the composites determined by the experimental plan are tabulated in Table 5. To ensure
the proper t of the polynomial model obtained in this study, the

44

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

Fig. 1. Typical SEM micrographs of the produced powder mixtures (a) Al/5 wt.% of SiC (b) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/5 wt% of Gr and (c) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/10 wt.% of Gr.

Fig. 2. Optical micrographs of the produced composites. (a) Al/5 wt.% of SiC composite (b) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/5 wt% of Gr hybrid composite and (c) Al/5 wt.% of SiC/10 wt.% of Gr
hybrid composite.

test for the signicance of the regression model, the test for the signicance of the individual model coefcients, and the test for lackof t were performed [12,13]. ANOVA analysis is usually applied to
summarise the above tests.
3.1. Statistical analysis of variance (ANOVA)
ANOVA is a statistical technique that can draw a set of important conclusions based on the analysis of experimental data.

ANOVA was performed using Minitab software [14]. Tables 6 and


7 show the results of the ANOVA analysis for the wear loss values
and friction coefcients of the composite materials. ANOVA calculates the F-ratio (i.e., the ratio between the regression mean square
and the mean square error). This ratio is used to measure the signicance of the parameters under investigation by considering the
variance of all terms included in the error term at the desired signicance level. The last columns in Tables 6 and 7 show the percentage of contribution of each parameter. ANOVA (Table 6)

45

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

Fig. 3. XRD results for the prepared composites.

Table 4
Designed experimental factors and their levels.

Table 5
Detail of tests in actual values of factors and corresponding experimental results.

S. no.

Factors with units

Code

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Graphite content
(% of weight)
Applied load (N)
Sliding distance (m)
Speed or sliding
velocity (m/s)

Gr wt.%

10

L
D
V

10
1000
1

20
3000
2

2
3
4

shows the following parameters: (i) Gr wt.%, (ii) L, (iii) D, and (iv) V.
Table 6 also shows that the interactions between (v) L and V
and between (vi) D and V are the signicant model terms that
inuence the sliding wear of the composites, whereas all other
interactions are less signicant (as determined by their percentage
contribution of model terms to the wear of the composites).
Table 6 shows that the sliding distance (P = 56.74%), the sliding
velocity (P = 13.4%), the weight percent of Gr (P = 11.67%), and
the load (P = 13.49%) are the controlling factors on the wear of
the composites, while the interaction effect of the composites on
the wear is marginal. The interaction between the load and speed
(P = 2.01%) and that between the sliding distance and speed
(P = 1.52%) are signicant interaction model terms. Their error
contribution is 0.93%. It can be observed from ANOVA (Table 7)
that the following model terms signicantly inuence the sliding
friction of the composites, while all other interaction terms have
less signicant percentage contributions to the friction of the composites: the (i) load, (ii) sliding velocity, (iii) sliding distance and
the interactions between, (iv) load and sliding distance. Table 7
shows that the load (P = 62.91%), sliding distance (P = 18.71%),

Gr.
(wt.%)

Load
(N)

Distance
(m)

Speed
(m/s)

Wear loss
(gm)

Coefcient of
friction (l)

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
10
10
10
10
10
10
10
10

10
10
10
10
20
20
20
20
10
10
10
10
20
20
20
20
10
10
10
10
20
20
20
20

1000
1000
3000
3000
1000
1000
3000
3000
1000
1000
3000
3000
1000
1000
3000
3000
1000
1000
3000
3000
1000
1000
3000
3000

1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2
1
2

0.0095
0.0053
0.0198
0.0118
0.0124
0.0098
0.0226
0.0189
0.0050
0.0024
0.0150
0.0079
0.0078
0.0057
0.0162
0.0140
0.0069
0.0022
0.0153
0.0077
0.0092
0.0066
0.0185
0.0166

0.153
0.169
0.161
0.182
0.187
0.196
0.231
0.239
0.146
0.175
0.170
0.181
0.189
0.201
0.209
0.212
0.148
0.179
0.174
0.185
0.191
0.204
0.228
0.242

sliding velocity (P = 7.79%) and the weight percent of graphite


(P = 1.71%) are the factors that control the friction coefcients of
the composites. The interaction between the load and sliding
distance (P = 2.97%) is the predominant interaction model term,

46

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

with an error contribution of 2.43%. The other interactions are less


signicant. Both the sliding distance (P = 56.74%) and the load
(P = 62.91%) have nearly the same degree of inuence on the wear
and coefcient of friction of composites, respectively. It is also clear
that the sliding distance and the load are the predominant factors
that control the wear and the coefcient of friction of the composites, respectively. The present analysis indicates that the dry
sliding wear and friction test parameters have statistical and
physical signicance (the percentage contribution of their interactions > error) in the friction and wear behaviour of the composites.
The interactions between the parameters also have statistical and
physical signicance, as evident from the ANOVA results shown
in Tables 6 and 7.
3.2. Analysis of addition of graphite content on wear
The inuence of each control factor (Gr wt.%, load, sliding distance, speed) on the wear and coefcient of friction was analysed
with a main effects plot, an interaction plot and a scatter plot
(Figs. 46). The optimum values of these control factors could be
easily gauged from these graphs. In the main effects plot, if the line
for a particular parameter is nearly horizontal, the parameter has
little effect. A parameter for which the line has the highest inclination has a greater effect. The main effects plots of the factors affecting the wear of AlSiCGr hybrid composites are shown in Fig. 4a.
The main effects plot shows that the Gr wt.% and sliding distance
are the most signicant parameters, while the load and sliding
speed have relatively less signicant inuence. It is evident from
the plot that the wear of the hybrid composites decreases as the
% reinforcement increases, up to the addition of 5% graphite. This

effect is caused by the solid lubrication of graphite particles, which


are released during sliding and form a tribolayer at the contact surfaces [15]. With greater than 5% graphite reinforcement, the wear
tends to increase. This tendency may be attributed to a decrease in
the fracture toughness of the composite [15]. This trend is not observed with the load, sliding velocity or sliding distance because
there is little difference in the mean values of the wear at different
levels of these three factors. The main effects plot of the factors
affecting the friction coefcient of AlSiCGr hybrid composites
is shown in Fig. 4b. The plot shows that the change in the level
of Gr wt.% affects the coefcient of friction of the composites.
The value of the coefcient of friction decreases as the level of
graphite increases from 0 to 5 wt.%, but it increases as the level
of graphite increases from 5 to 10 wt.%. This increase is caused
by the presence of graphite in the aluminium matrix, which acts
as a solid lubricant material by smearing on the surface. The formation of a solid lubricant-rich lm on the tribo surface reduces the
coefcient of friction by preventing metal-to-metal contact of the
sliding surfaces [1618]. This trend is not observed with the load,
sliding velocity or sliding distance because there is little difference
in the mean values of the wear at different levels of these three factors. The interaction plot (Fig. 5a) shows that the optimal values of
the process parameters for the wear occurred when the Gr wt.%
was at level 2, the load was at level 1, the sliding distance was at
level 1 and the sliding speed was at level 2. The interaction plot
(Fig. 5b) also shows that the optimal values of the process parameters for the friction coefcient occurred when the Gr wt.% was at
level 2, the load was at level 1, the sliding distance at was level 1
and the sliding speed was at level 1. The best wear resistance value
and coefcient of friction occurred at the lower values in the

Table 6
Analysis of variance for wear loss.
Source

Degrees of freedom

Sum of squares

Adjusted sum of squares

Adjusted mean of squares

F-ratio

P-value

Percentage of contribution

Gr. (wt.%)
Load
Dist.
Speed
Gr. wt.%  load
Gr. wt.%  dist.
Gr. wt.%  speed
Load  dist.
Load  speed
Dist.  speed
Error
Total

2
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
1
9
23

0.0000883
0.0001021
0.0004293
0.0001013
0.0000019
0.0000010
0.0000013
0.0000035
0.0000152
0.0000057
0.0000071
0.0007566

0.0000883
0.0001021
0.0004293
0.0001013
0.0000019
0.0000010
0.0000013
0.0000035
0.0000152
0.0000057
0.0000071

0.0000441
0.0001021
0.0004293
0.0001013
0.0000010
0.0000005
0.0000006
0.0000035
0.0000152
0.0000057
0.0000008

56.30
130.23
547.57
129.18
1.24
0.65
0.82
4.40
19.39
7.28

0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.335
0.543
0.470
0.065
0.002
0.024

11.67
13.49
56.74
13.40
0.25
0.13
0.17
0.46
2.01
0.75
0.93
100

S = 0.000885401, R-Sq = 99.07%, R-Sq(adj) = 97.62%.

Table 7
Analysis of variance for coefcient of friction.
Source

Degrees of freedom

Sum of squares

Adjusted sum of squares

Adjusted mean of squares

F-ratio

P-value

Percentage of contribution

Gr. (wt.%)
Load
Dist.
Speed
Gr. wt.%  load
Gr. wt.%  dist.
Gr. wt.%  speed
Load  dist.
Load  speed
Dist.  speed
Error
Total

2
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
1
9
23

0.0002891
0.0106682
0.0031740
0.0013202
0.0001701
0.0001803
0.0000176
0.0005042
0.0001500
0.0000735
0.0004123
0.0169593

0.0002891
0.0106682
0.0031740
0.0013202
0.0001701
0.0001803
0.0000176
0.0005042
0.0001500
0.0000735
0.0004123

0.0001445
0.0106682
0.0031740
0.0013202
0.0000850
0.0000901
0.0000088
0.0005042
0.0001500
0.0000735
0.0000458

3.15
232.85
69.28
28.82
1.86
1.97
0.19
11.00
3.27
1.60

0.092
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.211
0.196
0.829
0.009
0.104
0.237

1.71
62.91
18.71
7.79
1.00
1.06
Pooled
2.97
0.89
0.43
2.43
100

S = 0.00676866, R-Sq = 97.57%, R-Sq (adj) = 93.79%.

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

47

Fig. 4. Main effects plot of factors (a) Wear of AlSiCGr hybrid composites. and (b) Friction coefcient of AlSiCGr hybrid composites.

scatter plot graphs. Fig. 6a and b show that the optimum reinforcement content for both the wear and friction coefcient of the hybrid composite occurs at 5 wt.% of graphite for moderate loads
and sliding distances. Thus, the present analysis suggests that the
hybrid composite containing 5 wt.% of graphite is the optimum
values of both the friction and wear characteristics.
3.3. Coefcient of friction with the effect of applied load
The variation of the coefcient of friction for the Al-5% SiC and
hybrid composites under applied loads of 10 N and 20 N is shown
in Fig. 7. There is an increase in the coefcient of friction as the
normal load increases. The hybrid composites exhibited lower
coefcients of friction than the Al5% SiC composite. A higher
coefcient of friction is exhibited by the Al5% SiC composite for
all of the load conditions. The severity of the plastic deformation

increases with as the applied load increases [19]. It conversely


increases the exposure of SiC particles and the transfer of the Al
matrix to the counter surface. These phenomena may explain the
increase in coefcient of friction with the increase in load.
3.4. Linear regression models
The correlations between the factors (Gr wt.%, sliding distance,
sliding velocity and load) and the measured parameters (wear loss
and coefcient of friction) were obtained by multiple linear regressions. Eventually, the following regression equations were tted to
the wear and the coefcient of friction:

Wear loss gm 0:01108  0:00038 Gr: wt:%  0:00023 L


4:73542e  6D  0:00714V 7:58333e
 8L  D 0:00031L  V  9:75e  7D  V

48

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

Fig. 5. Interaction plots for (a) wear loss and (b) co-efcient of friction (l).

Coefficient of friction 0:074604 0:00021 Gr: wt:%


0:00399L 3:0625e  6
0:03495V  2:25e  5 Gr: wt:%
 L  1:25e  8 Gr: wt:%  D
9:16667e  7L  D

when the measured values of the variables were substituted in


Eqs. (1) and (2), the weight loss and friction characteristics of the

composites could be calculated within the range of the factors


investigated. The adequacy of the model represented by Eqs. (1)
and (2) was veried by using the normal probability plot of the
residuals, as shown in Figs. 8 and 9. The points are very close to
the normal probability line; thus, there is convincing evidence that
the model is adequate. Thus, the model formulated for the prediction of both the wear loss and the friction coefcient of the Al
hybrid composites, as represented by Eqs. (1) and (2), is adequate
[13].

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

49

Fig. 6. Scatter plot for (a) wear loss and (b) co-efcient of friction (l).

Fig. 7. Variation of co-efcient of friction (a) at applied load of 10 N and (b) at applied load of 20 N.

3.5. Analysis of worn surfaces using SEM


SEM analysis of the wear surfaces formed during dry sliding
wear in the steady state regime provides an important tool for
accurate determination of the wear behaviour of the composites.
The wear surfaces of the composites in Figs. 1012 show distinct

morphological patterns that include deep continuous grooves, micro pits, debris and broken particles. The worn surface of the Al5%SiC composite (Fig. 10a) clearly exhibits the presence of deep
permanent grooves and fracture of the oxide layer, which may
have caused the increase of wear loss. However, the worn surfaces
of the other two composites (Figs. 11 and 12) exhibit ner grooves

50

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

Fig. 8. Normal probability plots of residuals for wear of Al hybrid composites.

Fig. 9. Normal probability plots of residuals for friction coefcient of Al hybrid composites.

Fig. 10. SEM morphologies of the worn surface of Al5%SiC composite at applied load of 20 N (a) Low-magnication micrograph and (b) high-magnication micrograph.

and slight plastic deformation at the edges of the grooves. The surfaces also appear to be smooth because of the graphite reinforcement content.

The worn surface of the Al-5% SiC10%Gr composite is shown in


Fig. 11. Indistinct grooves and ne scratches were formed on the
worn surface. These wear mechanisms are characterised by the

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

51

Fig. 11. SEM morphologies of the worn surface of Al5%SiC10%Gr composite at applied load of 20 N. (a) Low-magnication micrograph and (b) high-magnication
micrograph.

Fig. 12. SEM morphologies of the worn surface of Al5%SiC5% Gr composite at applied load of 20 N. (a) Low-magnication micrograph and (b) high-magnication
micrograph.

formation of grooves, which are produced by the ploughing action


of hard asperities on the counter disc and hardened worn debris
[20,21]. The increased temperature on the contact surface during
the wear test is an important inuential factor that determines
the wear mechanism [22,23]. The temperature on the worn surfaces of both the Al5%SiC and Al-5% SiC10%Gr composites increases faster that that of the Al5%SiC5%Gr composites because
of the larger coefcient of friction at the surface, which is evident
from Figs. 4b and 7. The different wear mechanisms can also be
clearly observed from the SEM image shown in Fig. 12. Moreover,
the friction coefcients of the Al5%SiC5%Gr composites are lower
than that of Al5%SiC10%Gr composite (Fig. 7). These parameters
contribute to a slower temperature rise during the wear test, in
which leads to reduced adhesion between interfaces in this
composite [24]. However, the wear feature size in the worn
surface is smaller because of the increased amount of graphite
self-lubrication. Therefore, the probability of adhesive wear in
the Al5%SiC5%Gr composites is low, and abrasion and delamination are the dominant wear mechanisms [25,26].
3.6. EDX analysis
Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analyses of the worn surfaces of
the composites were carried out under dry wear conditions. A typical EDX spectrum of the worn surface of the Al5%SiC composite
at 20 N and 2 m/s is shown in Fig. 13a. The EDX of the worn surfaces shows a low intensity Si peak and a high intensity Al peak.
The high intensity Al peak indicates the plastic deformation of
the Al5%SiC composite during sliding. The EDX spectrum of the
worn surface of the Al5%SiC10%Gr composite at 20 N and 2 m/
s is shown in Fig. 13b. Compared with the EDX prole of the

Al5%SiC composite worn surface, clear C peaks could be observed.


The low intensity of the C peak indicates that the graphite solid
lubricant is ineffective at the contact surface, and a graphite lm
is not formed. The moderate intensity of the Si peak indicates that
SiC particles are pulled out of the Al matrix. The EDX spectrum of
the worn surface of the Al5%SiC5%Gr composite at 20 N and 2 m/
s is shown in Fig. 13c. The strong C peak and the low intensity of
the Al peak (compared with the other two EDX proles) conrms
the increased smearing of graphite particles at the contact surface.
However, a noticeable Fe peak is also found because the steel counter surface material is abraded by the SiC particles. In all of the
composite EDX results, the presence of a low-intensity oxygen
peak was observed. This peak indicates that some oxide formation
occurred at the worn surface of the mating parts. During the sliding
of composite against the steel counter surface, the joint action of
the elevated temperature and the environmental reaction can
cause the development of an oxide lm at the contact surfaces [26].
3.7. Wear debris analysis
SEM analysis of the wear debris formed during steady state
wearing was carried out to identify the wear mechanisms in the
composites. The wear debris particles observed in Fig. 14a are larger and shaped like thin sheets. This morphology shows that the
Al5%SiC composite has undergone signicant plastic deformation,
causing the fracture of the SiC reinforcements. It is clear from
Fig. 14ac that the wear debris from the Al/SiC/Gr composites is
smaller than the debris from the Al/SiC composite because the
graphite particles scattered in the aluminium matrix can minimise
the mean size of the wear particles. However, the wear debris of
the hybrid composite consists of a combination of ne and coarse

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P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

Fig. 13. EDX spectrum of worn surfaces at a sliding velocity of 2 m/s (a) Al5%SiC composite (b) Al5%SiC10%Gr composite and (c) Al5%SiC5%Gr. composite.

P. Ravindran et al. / Materials and Design 39 (2012) 4254

53

Fig. 14. Typical SEM micrographs of wear debris at applied load of 20 N. (a) Al5%SiC composite, (b) Al5%SiC10%Gr composite and (c) Al5%SiC5%Gr composite.

powders with irregular shapes. As shown in Fig. 14b and c, the


composite with 10% graphite has larger strip debris than the composite with 5% graphite because of the greater amount of graphite
self lubrication. Therefore, the morphology and size of the wear
debris is dictated by the amount of graphite in the composite.
4. Conclusions
The effect of the graphite content on the wear loss and coefcient of friction was studied independently by using the developed
mathematical model and the experimental values. The wear loss
and friction coefcient of the Al/SiC composites was reduced by
the addition of 5 wt.% graphite. The addition of increased wt.% of
graphite decreased the hardness, wear, and friction coefcient of
the Al/SiC/Gr composites. All hybrid composite samples demonstrated lower wear losses and coefcients of friction than the
graphite-free composites.
The results of ANOVA show that the polynomial models of the
wear loss and coefcient of friction are well tted to the experimental values. The inuence of the wear parameters on the wear
loss and coefcient of friction was analysed by the obtained mathematical model. ANOVA shows that the most signicant variables
affecting the sliding wear of composites (in terms of their individual percentage contributions) are the sliding distance (56.74%),
sliding speed (13.40%), applied load (13.49%), and graphite content
in the composite (11.67%), as well as the interaction effect of the
load with the sliding speed (2.01%), within the selected range of
investigations. ANOVA also shows that the most signicant variables affecting the friction behaviour of the composites (in terms
of their individual percentage contributions) are the applied load
(62.91%), sliding distance (18.71%), sliding speed (7.79%) and
graphite content in the composite (1.71%), as well as the interaction effect of the applied load and the sliding distance (2.97%),
within the selected range of investigations.
SEM studies of the worn surfaces and wear debris reveals that
the delamination wear is the prominent wear mechanism for the

Al5%SiC5%Gr hybrid composites. A uniform graphite lm on


top of the worn surface decreases both the wear and the friction
coefcient. Therefore, severe wear is avoided. The use of solid lubricant particles (Gr) and hard ceramic particles (SiC) as hybrid
reinforcements can effectively improve the tribological properties
of the sliding system produced by the powder metallurgy route,
setting a new guideline for the design of materials for application
to self-lubricated sliding wear conditions.

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