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Development of Al-Si-Cu FGM using

Centrifuge technique
Karthik P
, Jayanth D
, Kaushik R
and Prasad S L

Abstract In this work Al-Si-Cu Functionally Graded
Material (FGM) is developed using centrifuge technique. The
FGM is characterized through Microstructure and Hardness. It
is found that the Cu segregated at the bottom of the casting and
Si at the top due to the density difference. Similarly the
hardness at the bottom of the casting and at the top of the
casting region is more when compared to region in between the
top and bottom of the casting.

I ndex TermsGradient, Centrifuge, Microstructure,

UNCTIONALLY Graded Material (FGM) are totally
different from the conventional material in such a way
that in FGMs the structure and properties vary from one end
of the casting to the other end whereas in conventional
materials the structure and properties is assumed to be
uniform over the entire specimen[1]. FGMs multi functional
characteristics have enabled them to use in several
application from aerospace, automotive to biomedical sector.
The development of a FGM mainly depends on density
difference between the alloying element and the base
Al-Si alloys strength can be increased by introducing small
amount of Cu, Ni or Mg. In this work Cu is introduced in the
Al-Si alloy. The addition of Cu betters microstuctural
properties, improves impact toughness, increases the
mechanical properties. Al-Si-Cu alloy is a high strength-
ductility cast alloy[2]. It is often used to cast large structures
and bearing components to realize the integrated casting
structure from assembly casting parts. Al-Cu alloy
substituting for some forging blank may decrease production
cost. Therefore, the Al-Si-Cu alloys have been widely used in
aerospace, automobile, and airplane applications.
The process of centrifugal casting differs from the
conventional casting processes in that, the mould itself is
rotating during the time the molten metal is solidifying. The
application of centrifugal force to a metal as it solidifies can
be used to distribute the molten metal into mould cavities and
to achieve a dense, sound casting. This work uses a modified
centrifugal technique to produce in situ blocky Al/Si FGMs.

1. All Authors are under-graduates students studying in 8
Mechanical Engineering at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology,

A. Principle
Fig. 1 shows the setup used to produce the castings. In this
process the centrifugal forces i.e. G forces or Number is
given by the equation,



Where R is the radius of the arm in m, is the arm
rotational speed in rad/sec and g is the acceleration due to
gravity. This G plays an important role in positioning the
reinforcement during solidification. FGMs with ex situ and in
situ reinforcements can be processed by this technique. When
particle-containing slurry is subjected to centrifugal force,
two distinct zones, one with enriched and the other with
depleted particles are formed separated by an intermediate
graded zone. The extent of particle segregation and relative
locations of enriched and depleted particle zones within the
casting are mainly dictated by the relative densities of the
particle and liquid, teeming temperature, melt viscosity,
cooling rate, particle size and magnitude of centrifugal
acceleration (Watanabe, 2002)[3]. The lighter particles
segregate towards the axis of rotation, while the denser
particles move away from the axis of rotation. Cu, alumina
and zircon in Al alloy system will settle at the lower region,
while the lighter Si, graphite, mica will settle in the upper
region. In this work the forced segregation of hard in situ Si
particles towards the upper regions of the casting while Cu
precipitates at the bottom region by centrifugal forces
provides a unique approach to production of FGMs with
Surface Hardness and Wear resistance of the cast, while
retaining high levels of toughness in the remaining region.

Fig.1 Centrifuge casting setup

B. Casting Technique
The equipment used to cast is a modified version of
centrifugal casting process based on centrifuge technique.
This machine mainly consists of an arm wherein a mold is
allowed to swing at one end and the other end is provided
with a counter weight. This arm is centrally mounted on a
motor shaft of 0.5 HP capacity[4].
The alloy was melted and heated to 800
C in a resistance
furnace and held for 20min. Then Cu is added to the melt and
stirred. Then this melt was poured into the metal mold hung
at one end of the arm without any degassing treatment. Then
the arm is rotated at 400rpm. A charge of 150gms of material
was used in each experiment. The process parameters are
shown in table 1. The casted FGMs are obtained as the
cylinders of 40mm diameter and 42mm high.

Table 1. Process Parameter
Melt Temperature 800
Rotational speed 400rpm

C. Characterization
The specimens were cut along the length through the
centre of the cylindrical block. These specimens were
polished by the standard metallographic methods. The
microstructures of the specimens were investigated. The
silicon volume fractions were manually measured.
Brinell hardness was measured along the polished surface
of the specimen to find the hardness profile. The indentations
were carried out using steel ball 5mm diameter at a load of
15.625kg. Brinell ball makes the deepest and widest
indentation, so the test averages the hardness over a wider
amount of material, which will more accurately account for
multiple grain structures and any irregularities in the
uniformity of the material.

A. Microstructure

Fig. 2 Micrograph showing Primary Si at the top of the

Fig. 3 Micrograph showing eutectic and Al
Cu at the mid
of the casting.

Fig. 4 Micrograph showing Al
Cu at the bottom of the

It is seen from Fig.2 to Fig.4 the the Cu is segregated at the
bottom of the casting while Si is segregated at the top of the
casting. The segregation is mainly due ti the density
difference between the Al, Si and Cu. Since Si is lighter than
Al the Si is segregated towards the axis of rotation i.e
opposite to the direction of the centrifugal force. While the
Cu density is more than Al the Cu segregates towards the
bottom of the region i.e. along the direction of the centrifugal
In the micrographs white phase represents the Al
During the Al-Cu alloy solidification process, the primary
first precipitates from the liquid metal, and then as the
eutectic transformation temperature is reached, the eutectic
reaction takes place and forms simultaneously phase and
Cu phase. The -phase produced by eutectic reaction
grows adherently to the primary -phase. The Al
Cu phase
distributes with the -phase. It is also seen that the primary Si
refined by the cu addition at the top of the casting.

B. Hardness

Fig. 5 Hardness plot along the length of the casting.

In FGMs it is expected that the properties vary with respect
to the direction of centrifugal force. The segregation of hard
particle s towards one side of the specimen will significantly
improves mechanical and tribological properties. It is seen
that primary Si are pushed to the top. The reason for this is
the difference in density of the Si and Cu with respect to Al.
The centrifugal force progressively increases the volume
fraction of the Si and Cu reinforcement within the liquid Al
matrix along the length of the specimen, owing to the density
difference between the three materials (Al =2700 Kg/m
Si =2300 Kg/m
, Cu =8920 Kg/m
). In this section
hardness is plotted against the length of the FGM cast
cylinder to show the variation.
It has been observed that a maximum of (841 BHN) at the
top surface and (761 BHN) for a mold speed of 400rpm. It
also exhibited a good gradation of hardness from top to
bottom face having very low value of BHN at the mid of the
casting. This is strengthen by the previous discussion.

a. Successfully developed the Al-Si-Cu FGMs.
b. Microstructure of the casting revealed
segregation of Si at the top of the casting while
Cu at the bottom of the casting.
c. A maximum of 84BHN and 76BHN hardness was
observed at the op and bottom of the casting

[1]. Concept and P/M Fabrication of Functionally Graded
Materials, Akira Kawasaki ,Ceramics
International,23(1997) 73-83.
[2]. K G Basavakumar ,(2006), Effect of grain refinement
and modification on microstructure and impact properties of
Al-12Si and Al-12Si-3Cu cast alloys-Trans.Indian Inst.
[3].Y Watanabe et al, (2002), Particle size distribution in
functionally graded materials fabricated by centrifugal solid-
particle method, Composites science and Technology,
[4].Dr. Kiran Aithal, Microstructure, Hardness and Wear
Characterization of Al-Si FGMs, Indian Foundry Journal,
Vol58, No.5, pp 39-48.