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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr.

2006)

Effects of Pouring Temperature and Squeeze Pressure on Al-8%Si


Alloy Squeeze Cast Parts
A. Raji and R. H. Khan
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Federal University of Technology
Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria

Abstract
This study investigated the effects of squeeze parameters on the properties of
squeeze castings and the optimum parameters for producing squeeze castings from Al-Si
alloy. It also compared the properties of the squeeze castings with those of chill
castings. Squeeze castings were made from Al-8%Si alloy using pressures of 25150MPa with the alloy poured at 650o, 700o and 750oC into a die preheated to 250oC.
Squeeze time was 30s. It was found that for a specific pouring temperature, the
microstructure of squeeze castings became finer; density and the mechanical properties
were increased with increase in pressure to their maximum values while further
increase in pressure did not yield any meaningful change in the properties. Compared
with chill casting process, squeeze casting enhanced the mechanical properties; it
increased the hardness, UTS, 0.2% proof stress and elongation of the alloy to optimum
values of HRF58.0, 232MPa, 156MPa and 3.8% respectively at squeeze pressure of
125MPa and pouring temperature of 700oC. The study concluded, among other things,
that optimum pouring temperature of 700oC and squeeze pressure of 125MPa are
suitable for obtaining sound Al-8%Si alloy squeeze castings with aspect ratio not
greater than 2.5:1.
Keywords: Squeeze casting, pouring temperature, squeeze pressure, molten alloy.

Squeeze casting has a number of


advantages which have been discussed in some
studies (Lynch et al. 1975a; Rajagopal 1981;
Franklin and Das 1984; Mortensen et al. 1989;
Zhang et al. 1993; Yue and Chadwick 1996).
Some of the advantages include the elimination
of gas and shrinkage porosities, the reduction
or elimination of metal wastage due to absence
of feeders or risers, the ability to cast both cast
and wrought alloys, and the possibility of
manipulation of process parameters to achieve
the required optimum parameters.
Squeeze casting is a very important
manufacturing process that combines the
advantages of forging and casting and is used
for the production of a wide range of products
from monolithic alloys and metal-matrix
composites parts. Such parts include vane, ring
groove reinforced piston, connecting rod, M6-8
bolt, joint of aerospace structure, rotary
compressor vane, shock absorber cylinder,
diesel engine piston, cylinder liner bearing

Introduction
Squeeze casting, compared with
traditional sand casting which dates back to
about 2000-3500B.C. (Amstead et al. 1979;
Rao 1992), is a relatively new casting
technology. It is a technology with a very
bright future, based on its applications and
advantages. Yue and Chadwick (1996)
described squeeze casting as a casting
process in which molten metal is solidified
under the direct action of a pressure that is
sufficient to prevent the appearance of either
gas porosity or shrinkage porosity as opposed
to all other casting processes in which some
residual porosity is left. They further
observed that the process is also known,
variously as liquid-metal forging, squeeze
forming, extrusion casting and pressure
crystallisation. Squeeze casting is also called
liquid pressing (Clegg 1991).
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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

materials among many others used in


automobile, nuclear, aeronautical components,
sports equipment and many industrial
equipment (Bracke et al. 1984; Li and
Mc Cartney 1994).
Despite its relatively small age, squeeze
casting has witnessed a lot of development in
the sphere of articles and materials cast and
quite a number of research studies have been
carried out to improve the process particularly
in the areas of molten metal metering and metal
movement system during pouring into the die,
lubrication systems and the use of
reinforcement among others. However, in spite
of all the research, it was observed that squeeze
casting, particularly the relationship between
the design, the process parameters and the
quality of the squeeze cast components was not
fully understood; thus the need for more
studies in this area of technology for better
understanding of the process (Office of
Industrial Technologies 2000). In addition,
according to Chadwick in Yong and Clegg
(2004), a good understanding of the effects of
process parameters is essential as the structure
and properties of alloys can be optimised
without the use of expensive alloying elements
or nucleating agents. This study was carried out

to determine the effect of squeeze pressure and


pouring temperature on aluminium-silicon
alloy squeeze cast products with aspect ratio
(height-to-section thickness ratio) not greater
than 2.5:1.

Materials and Methods


In this study, an Al-Si alloy scrap with a
composition (in %) of: Si=8.081, Sn<1.980,
V<0.182, Cr<0.110, Mn=0.173, Fe=0.686,
Co<0.027, Ni,0.001, Cu=1.920, Zn=0.511,
As,0.007, Pb=0.073, Zr=0.004, Nb<0.001,
Mo<0.001; and Al as the balance; a prepared
lubricant consisting of 10% graphite in
lubricating oil of the type 20W/50; proprietary
Foseco flux and hexachlorethane tablets
were used. A 2kW electric resistance furnace
and a 150T hydraulic press were the main
equipment used for the study.
Castings of the shape shown in Fig. 1,
with aspect ratio (height-to-section thickness
ratio) of 2.5:1, from aluminium-silicon alloy
were carried out using squeeze casting and
chill casting methods. Specimens were then
prepared from the castings to determine the
mechanical properties and microstructure of
castings by the various techniques and the
results compared with each other.

15

25

26

120
140
Fig. 1. Dimensions of produced castings; dimensions are in mm
Melting of Alloy
Melting of scrap was done in a 0.3kg
capacity crucible placed inside the furnace.
Fluxing was done at about 650oC by covering
the surface of the already molten alloy with
about 2% by weight of charge of proprietary

covering flux. The flux was then worked into


the surface of the alloy to remove aluminium
dross and other impurities. The resultant dross
was removed leaving a very clean surface.
Smaller quantity (about 1% by weight of
charge) of the flux was then added for the
purpose of protecting the molten alloy from the
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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

effect of the atmosphere. Hexachloroethane


tablets amounting to about 0.5% by weight of
charge were used to remove dissolved
hydrogen gas. The alloy was then heated to the
required pouring temperatures of 650o, 700o or
750oC and the metal poured into the already
prepared die or mould.
Casting
Chill casting was carried out in a two part
permanent mould made from mild steel at
atmospheric pressure of 0.1MPa. The lower
half of the permanent mould was mounted on
the hydraulic press. The internal surfaces of
both the lower mould and the upper mould
were preheated to a temperature of 160oC and
then coated with a prepared lubricant. The two
parts of the mould were preheated to a
temperature of 250oC. The two parts were then
assembled together. Molten aluminium-silicon
alloy of the required temperature was then
poured from the crucible into the assembly and
the metal was allowed to stand for a period of 5
minutes after which the moulds were separated
and the casting ejected out of the lower mould.
Squeeze castings were made in a twopart mild steel die made up of a lower die
mounted on a supporting bed on the hydraulic
press table and an upper die (punch) attached to
the ram or plunger of the hydraulic press. The
probe for the immersion pyrometer was placed
in the 8mm hole located in the lower half of
the die through an opening in the door.
Squeeze casting die was preheated and
lubricated in similar manner as was done for
chill casting after which the punch was
withdrawn upward. With the heater removed
away a measured quantity of aluminium-silicon
alloy of the required pouring temperature was
poured from the crucible into the lower die.
The punch was then brought down with a
velocity of 9.45mm/s onto the lower die and
the required pressure was applied for a period
of 30s.
The punch was, thereafter, withdrawn
upward and the solidified casting was ejected
from the lower die with the help of two ejector
pins. Three sets of squeeze castings were made
for each combination of squeeze pressure of

25, 50, 75, 100, 125 and 150MPa and pouring


temperatures of 650o, 700o and 750oC.
Metallographic Studies
Preparation of Al-Si samples for microexamination involved mainly sampling,
grinding, polishing and etching. Samples
measuring 26mm x 15mm x 10mm were cut
from the castings with the help of a hacksaw.
The samples were filed and ground. Grinding
was done in succession on a roll grinder using
silicon carbide abrasive papers of 220-, 320-,
400-, and 600-grits. Rough polishing and final
polishing were done using a paste made from
silicon carbide powder (1000 grit) and a paste
made from pure heavy grade of magnesium
oxide (MgO) respectively on a billiard cloth on
the circular disc machine polisher. The speed
of the wheel was maintained at 600 rpm and
350 rpm for rough and final polishing
respectively. Final rinsing was done with warm
water and the specimens were blown dry with a
hand dryer and then kept in a desiccator.
Etching of the specimens was done using
approximately 0.24% Hydrofluoric acid (HF)
made from 1ml HF (48%) and 199ml water.
The specimens were etched for a period of 60s
each in a porcelain dish and then rinsed in
running water, immersed in a boiling ethanol
for 60s and then blown dry with the dryer.
Each specimen was then mounted on an optical
microscope and the microstructure observed
and photographed at a magnification of x125.
Determination of Density and Mechanical
Properties
To determine the density of the castings,
castings were weighed using weighing balance.
The volume of water displaced by each casting
was determined with the help of a displacement
can. The density of each casting was then
found by dividing the mass of the casting by
the volume of water displaced by it.
Tensile test was conducted on a
Universal tensile testing machine with a digital
300KN capacity. The tensile specimen, made
according to American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM) standard E8M-1990 for subsize specimen (6mm) was held in the machine

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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

using wedge grips with liners for flat


specimens. The specimen was gradually loaded
until it fractured.
Hardness test was carried out on a
Rockwell type hardness-tester using an F scale.
Measurements at three different locations were
made and the average value of Rockwell
number was noted.

Results and Discussion


The results of metallographic study
density, hardness and strength characteristics
are shown in Figs. 2-8. Properties at squeeze
pressure of 0.1MPa refer to those of chill
castings.
Metallographic Studies
The results of metallographic studies of
the cast samples showed that in all cases, the
microstructure of the cast samples were of
hypoeutectic structure consisting of primary
alpha solid solution of silicon in aluminium
( ) in a matrix of eutectic ( +Si). However,
the grain sizes differed for various castings.
The results of micro-examination
revealed that the dendrites of aluminium in
squeeze castings are fine with the fineness
increasing with increase in squeeze pressure for
all pouring temperatures as shown in Figs. 2
and 3; the structure in Fig. 3 being finer than
that in Fig. 2. The grain sizes (ASTM grain
size number) of squeeze cast products made at
squeeze pressure of 75MPa were 6.63, 6.66 and

6.69 for pouring temperatures of 650oC, 700oC


and 750oC, respectively. Increasing the squeeze
pressure to 125MPa yielded finer grain sizes of
7.07, 7.46 and 7.23 for pouring temperatures of
650oC, 700oC and 750oC, respectively. Further
increase in squeeze pressure to 150MPa did not
yield any meaningful refinement for pouring
temperatures of 700oC and 750oC while for
pouring temperature of 650oC it yielded further
refinement of grains (7.16). The fine structures
of squeeze castings were brought about by the
high cooling rates of the dies aided by the
squeeze pressure. These results are consistent
with the findings of Lynch et al. (1975a,
1975b) and Yue and Chadwick (1996). The
results of micro-examination showed that chill
castings were characterised by fairly fine
structures (5.27-5.45) due to high cooling rate
of the moulds only. The structures were
however, coarser than those of the squeeze
castings.
Density
The relationship between density of Al8%Si alloy chill castings as well as squeeze
castings and squeeze pressure for various
pouring temperature is depicted in Fig. 4. The
density of the chill castings and squeeze
castings varied from 2.712 for chill castings to
2.866g/cm3 for squeeze castings that is about
5.68% increase compared to chill castings.

Eutec tic

Al alpha

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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

Fig. 2. Micrograph of Al-8%Si alloy squeeze cast at a pouring temperature of 700oC and a
squeeze pressure of 75MPa (x 125)

Al alpha

Eutec tic

Micrograph of Al-8%Si alloy squeeze cast at a pouring temperature of 700oC and a


squeeze pressure of 125MPa (x 125)

Density, g/cm3

Fig. 3.

2.88
2.86
2.84
2.82
2.8
2.78
2.76
2.74
2.72
2.7

T1=650oC
T2=700oC
T3=750oC

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

Squeeze Pressure, MPa

Fig. 4. Squeeze pressure versus density of squeeze cast Al-8%Si alloy density
at squeeze pressure of 0.1MPa refers to those of chill castings

The initial lower values of density for


pouring temperature of 750oC might be due to
formation of porosities in the casting at higher
pouring temperature and low squeeze
pressures. This is consistent with Cleggs
(1991) statement that there is the possibility of
extrusion of molten metal from the die through
vents and the formation of porosity in thicker
sections, if the pouring temperature is too high.
Generally, for the same squeeze pressure, the
density increased with increase in pouring
temperature as high temperature makes the

molten alloy less viscous and hence easier to


compress and flow with ease.
Hardness
The relationship between hardness of Al8%Si alloy chill castings as well as squeeze
castings and squeeze pressure for various
pouring temperatures is shown in Fig. 5. The
results showed an increase in hardness of Al8%Si alloy from HRF39.5-40.5 for chill
castings to a maximum of HRF58.0 for squeeze
castings which constitutes about 43 to 47%

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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

increase over those of chill castings. The


increase in the hardness of squeeze cast
products is brought about by the faster cooling
rates giving rise to grain refinement and
elimination of porosity and hence increased
hardness of squeeze cast products.
For the pouring temperature of 650oC,
the hardness increased from HRF39.5 for chill
casting at 0.1MPa to HRF53.5 for squeeze
casting at 150MPa. In the case of pouring
temperature of 700oC, the hardness increased

from HRF40.0 for chill casting at atmospheric


pressure of 0.1MPa to HRF58.0 for squeeze
casting at squeeze pressure of 125MPa. Further
increase in squeeze pressure to 150MPa did not
lead to any further change in the hardness of
the squeeze castings.
The curve for pouring temperature of
750oC is similar to that of pouring temperature
of 700oC. The hardness increased from
HRF40.5 to HRF57.5 at 125MPa and then to
HRF58.0 at 150MPa.

65

Hardness, HRF

60
55
50
45
T1=650oC

40

T2=700oC

35

T3=750oC

30
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

Squeeze Pressure, MPa

Fig. 5.

The effect of squeeze pressure on hardness of squeeze cast Al-8%Si alloy


hardness at squeeze pressure of 0.1MPa refers to those of chill castings.

Ultimate Tensile Strength


The relationship between UTS of Al8%Si alloy chill castings, as well as squeeze
castings and squeeze pressure for various
pouring temperatures, is depicted in Fig. 6. The
results of UTS showed that squeeze casting
enhances the strength of cast materials as can
be observed from the graphs. The increase in
the strength of squeeze cast products is due to
higher cooling rates leading to grain
refinement. The reduction in the grain size
leads to increase in the number of grains and
hence increase in the amount of grain
boundaries. Subsequently, any dislocation
moves only a small distance before reaching a
grain boundary and the strength of the product
is thus increased (Askeland 1985).
The curve for the pouring temperature of
650oC shows an increase in UTS from 115MPa

for chill casting at atmospheric pressure of


0.1MPa to 210MPa for squeeze casting at
squeeze pressure of 150MPa. The curves for
the pouring temperatures of 700oC and 750oC
slightly differ from that of 650oC as they
exhibit increase in UTS to maximum values
with increase in squeeze pressure up to certain
pressure and then remain almost constant with
further increase in squeeze pressure. For
pouring temperature of 700oC, the UTS
increased from 115MPa for chill casting at
atmospheric pressure of 0.1MPa to 232MPa for
squeeze casting at squeeze pressures of
125MPa and 150MPa. Similarly, for pouring
temperature of 750oC the UTS increased from
114MPa at atmospheric pressure of 0.1MPa to
226MPa at squeeze pressure of 125MPa and
further increase in squeeze pressure did not
yield any meaningful change in the UTS as a

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AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

value of 225MPa was obtained for squeeze


pressure of 150MPa.
The increase phenomenon in UTS to a
maximum value of 232MPa obtained at
squeeze pressure of 125MPa and pouring
temperature of 700oC for Al-8%Si alloy
squeeze cast products is similar to that
experienced for aluminium casting alloy LM24

(containing, according to Rajan et al.(1988),


8.5%Si and 3.5%Cu) in which UTS of 233MPa
in as-cast condition was achieved (Yue and
Chadwick 1996). This was also experienced for
squeeze cast aluminium casting alloy 356 in
which UTS of 212MPa was obtained in as-cast
condition (Lynch et al. 1975b).

Ultimate Tensile Strength, MPa

250
225
200
175
150

T1=650oC
T2=700oC
T3=750oC

125
100
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

Squeeze Pressure, MPa

Fig. 6:

The effect of squeeze pressure on ultimate tensile strength of squeeze cast


Al-8%Si alloy; UTS at squeeze pressure of 0.1MPa refers to those of chill castings

Proof Stress

0.2% Proof Stress, MPa

The results of 0.2% proof stresses for the


squeeze and chill castings are presented in
Fig. 7. The pattern of 0.2% proof stresses is
similar to those of UTS of squeeze and chill
castings, although with different values. The

reasons for the increase in proof stress are the


same for those advanced for increase in UTS.
The maximum proof stress of 156MPa was
obtained for the squeeze casting with UTS of
232MPa made at a squeeze pressure of
125MPa and pouring temperature of 700oC.

155
145
135
125
T1=650oC
115

T2=700oC

105

T3=750oC

95
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

Squeeze Pressure, MPa

Fig. 7.

Relationship between squeeze pressure and proof stress of squeeze cast Al-8%Si
alloy; proof stress at squeeze pressure of 0.1MPa refers to those of chill castings
235

3.8% at 100MPa and thereafter remains


constant. In the case of pouring temperature
of 750oC, the percentage elongation
increased from 2.5% at 0.1MPa to 3.8% at
125MPa and 150MPa. The increase in
elongation of squeeze cast products is
brought about by rapid cooling leading to
grain refinement and reduction in secondary
dendrite arm spacing so as to speed the
evolution of the latent heat. The reduction in
secondary
dendrite
arm
spacing
is
accompanied by increase in strengths and
ductility (Askeland 1985). The obtained trend
in elongation is similar to those obtained by
Yue and Chadwick (1996).

Elongation
The results of elongation of Al-8%Si
alloy chill castings as well as squeeze castings
are shown in Fig. 8. The percentages of
elongation for the squeeze castings varied
between 2.8 to 3.8% as compared to those for
chill castings which ranged from 2.4 to 2.7%.
The percentage elongation increased for
pouring temperature of 650oC from 2.7% at
atmospheric pressure of 0.1MPa to 3.4% at
75MPa and 100MPa and finally increased to
3.6% at 125MPa and 150MPa. For pouring
temperature of 700oC, the percentage
elongation increased from 2.4 to a maximum of

Elongation , %

3.8
3.6
3.4
3.2
3
2.8
2.6
2.4

T1=650oC

2.2

T3=750oC

T2=700oC

2
0

25

50

75

100

125

150

175

Squeeze Pressure, MPa

Fig. 8.

Variation in elongation of squeeze cast Al-8%Si alloy versus squeeze


pressure and pouring temperature; elongation at squeeze pressure of 0.1MPa refers to
those of chill castings

Conclusions
The following conclusions were made
based on the study:
1. The density of squeeze castings
increases with increases in pressure steeply and
then gradually until it becomes almost
constant. For a given pressure the density
increases with increases in temperature.
Generally, the density of squeeze castings is
higher than those of chill castings.
2. Squeeze casting helps to refine the
microstructures of castings and, thus, leads to
better mechanical properties of the castings.

3. Squeeze casting significantly increases


the density of Al-8%Si alloys to about 2.8252.866g/cm3 at squeeze pressures of 125 and
150MPa. It also improves the mechanical
properties of squeeze castings over those of
chill castings. At the optimum parameters, the
UTS, 0.2% proof stress, hardness and
elongation of 232MPa, 156MPa, HRF58.0 and
3.8% were obtained respectively.
4. Optimum pouring temperature of 700oC
and squeeze pressure of 125MPa can be
utilised for squeeze casting of Al-8%Si alloys
products having an aspect ratio (height to
section thickness ratio) not greater than 2.5:1.

AU J.T. 9(4): 229-237 (Apr. 2006)

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