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VISVESVARAYA TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

Jnana Sangama, Belgaum-590018

A PROJECT REPORT ON

EXPERIMENTAL DETERMINATION AND ANALYSIS OF


FRACTURE TOUGHNESS OF MMC
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the award of
degree of

MASTER OF TECHNOLOGY
IN
DESIGN ENGINEERING
By:

SHIVARAJA.H.B
USN: 1DB12MDE12
Under the guidance of
Mr. B.S. PRAVEEN KUMAR
Associate professor Department of Mechanical Engineering
Don Bosco Institute of Technology

Department of Mechanical Engineering


DON BOSCO INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Kumbalagodu, Mysore Road, Bangalore - 560074

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUTION

Page No

1.1 Preamble

1.2 Statement of the Problem

1.3 Aim and Objective of the Project

1.4 Methodology

CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

4-10

CHAPTER 3
INTRODUCTION TO COMPOSITE
3.1 Background

11

3.2 Composites

12

3.2.1 Composite Definition

13

3.2.2 Need for Developing Composite materials

14

3.2.3 Characteristics of composites

14

3.3 Classification of Composite

16

3.3.1 The Matrix Material

16

3.3.2 The Reinforcing Material

16

3.3.3 Classification (According to the Type of Reinforcement)

17

3.3.3.1 Particulate Composites

18

A. Non-Metallic in Metallic Composites

18

B. Metallic in Non-Metallic Composites

18

C. Non-Metallic in Metallic Composites

19

3.3.3.2 Fibrous Composites

19

3.3.3.3Laminated Composites

19

3.4 Applications of Composites

19

3.5 Fabrication techniques of MMCs


3.5.1 Solid Phase Fabrication Method

20
20

3.5.2 Diffusion Bonding

21

3.5.3 Powder Metallurgy Technique

21

3.5.4 Liquid Phase Fabrication Techniques

21

3.5.5 Liquid Metal Infiltration

22

3.5.6 Squeeze Casting

22

3.5.7 Spray Co-deposition Method

23

3.5.8 Stir Casting

23

3.5.9 Compo Casting

23

3.6 Metal matrix composites

24

3.7 Examples

27

3.7.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of MMCs


3.8 Scope of Present Investigation

27
28

CHAPTER 4
SELECTION OF MATERIALS
4.1 Matrix Material: Al 356

29

4.1.1 Chemical Composition and Mechanical Properties


of Matrix Material Al356
4.2 Reinforcement Material (silicon carbide)

29
30

4.2.1 Physical Properties of SiC

31

4.2.2 Applications of SiC

32

4.3 Reinforcement Material (Zirconium Silicate)

32

4.3.1 Properties of Zirconium silicate

33

4.3.2 Applications of ZrSiO4

33

5.1 Stir Casting

35

5.2 Steps Involved in Stir Casting Method


5.3 Composition of matrix and reinforcement

37
39

6.1 Fracture Toughness

40

6.2 Specimen dimensions as per ASTM standards

41

6.3 Test for Fracture toughness

41

6.4 Tensile test

43

6.5 Hardness test

46

6.6 Compression test

48

6.7 Microstructure

48

6.8 Etching

49

6.9 Optical metallurgical microscope

50

6.10 Finite element analysis

51

7.1 Fracture toughness results

53

7.2 Comparison of the experimental and FEA results

54

7.3 Tensile test results

55

7.4 Hardness test results

57

7.5 Compression test results

59

7.6 Microstructure

60

CHAPTER 8
CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 9
6
6
5

63

LIST OF TABLES
Table No

Description

Page No

4.1

Chemical composition of Al356

30

4.2

Mechanical properties of matrix material Al356

30

4.3

Properties of Zircon sand

33

5.1

Different wt% ratios of matrix metal and reinforcement

39

6.1

ASTM codes for mechanical test and sample dimensions

41

7.1

Variation of Fracture toughness with different wt% reinforcements

53

7.2

Comparison of the experimental and FEA results

54

7.3

Tensile properties of the MMC

55

7.4

Variation of hardness with different wt% reinforcement

57

7.5

Compression strength for different wt% reinforcement

59

LIST OF FIGURES
Fig No

Description

Page No

1.1

Project Methodology

3.1

Classification of composites (based upon the matrix materials)

16

3.2

Classification of composites (based upon the reinforcing materials)

16

3.3 Schematic Presentation of Three Shapes of Metal Matrix Composite

Materials

18

4.1

Ingot Structure of Al 356

29

4.2

Reinforcement Material (SiC)

31

4.3

Reinforcement material (ZrSiO4)

32

5.1

Flow chart of fabrication of Composite

34

5.2

Split type mould box

36

5.3

Pre heating the mould box

36

5.4

Electric furnace

37

5.5

Molten Metal in Furnace

38

5.6

Formation of Vortex

38

5.7

Pre heating of reinforcement

38

5.8

Poured molten metal in mould box

38

5.9

Cast Aluminium Composites

38

6.1

SENB specimen

41

6.2

Fracture toughness specimens

42

6.3

Dimension of Tensile Specimen

43

6.4

Specimens for Tensile test

45

6.5

Universal testing machine

45

6.6

Hardness test specimens

47

6.7

Brinell hardness testing machine

47

6.8

Compression test specimens

48

6.9

Polishing machine

49

6.10

Optical Metallurgical microscope

50

6.11

SENB specimen model

51

6.12

FE mesh model

51

6.13

Stress distribution from finite element simulations

52

7.1

Variation of Fracture toughness with different wt% reinforcement

54

7.2 Variation of tensile strength and yield strength with different wt%
Reinforcement

56

7.3

Hardness value for different wt% reinforcement

58

7.4

Compression strength for different wt% reinforcement

59

7.5

Microstructure of Al356+0%SiC+8%ZrSiO4

60

7.6

Microstructure of Al356+6%SiC+2%ZrSiO4

60

7.7

Microstructure of Al356+2%SiC+6%ZrSiO4

61

7.8

Microstructure of Al356+4%SiC+4%ZrSiO4

61

7.9

Microstructure of Al356+8%SiC+0%ZrSiO4

62

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUTION
1.1 Preamble
New and high performance particle reinforced metal matrix composites (PRMMC) are
expected to satisfy many requirements for a wide range of performance-driven, and
price sensitive, applications in aerospace, automobiles, bicycles, golf clubs, and in
other structural applications. In general, these materials exhibit higher strength and
stiffness, in addition to isotropic behavior at a lower density, when compared to the unreinforced matrix material. PRMMC benefits from the ceramics ability to withstand high
velocity impacts, and the high toughness of the metal matrix, which helps in preventing
total shattering. This contribution leads to an excellent balance between cost and
mechanical properties, which are appealing for many applications.
The recognition of the potential weight savings that can be achieved by using the advanced
composites, which in turn means reduced cost and greater efficiency, was responsible for this
growth in the technology of reinforcements, matrices and fabrication of composites. If the first
two decades saw the improvements in the fabrication method, systematic study of properties
and fracture mechanics was at the focal point in the 60s. Since then there has been an everincreasing demand for new, strong, stiff and yet light-weight materials in fields such as
aerospace, transportation, automobile and construction sectors. These materials have low
specific gravity that makes their properties particularly superior in strength and modulus to many
traditional engineering materials such as metals. As a result of intensive studies into the
fundamental nature of materials and better understanding of their structure property relationship,
it has become possible to develop new composite materials with improved physical and
mechanical properties.

1.2 Statement of the Problem


Aluminium and its alloys have continued to maintain their mark as the matrix material most in
demand for the development of Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs). This is primarily due to the
broad spectrum of unique properties it offers at relatively low processing cost. Some of the
attractive property combinations of Al based matrix composites are: high specific stiffness and
strength, better high temperature properties (in comparison with its monolithic alloy), thermal
conductivity, and low thermal expansion.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 1

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


The project is associated with the study of Fracture Toughness and mechanical
properties of Aluminium, Zirconium Silicate and Silicon Carbide Metal Matrix
Composite (MMC). Here we have used the Aluminium alloy of grade 356 with
addition of varying weight percentage composition of Zirconium Silicate and
Silicon Carbide particles by stir casting technique.
Finite element (FE) simulations for the proposed SENB geometry was carried
out using ANSYS software package (v12) to investigate stress distribution
around the notch and to validate the experimental results.
The mechanical properties were tested under laboratory conditions. The change
in physical and mechanical properties was taken in to consideration. For the
achievement of the above, an experimental set up was prepared to facilitate the
preparation of the required specimen. The experiments were carried out to
study the effect of variation of the percentage composition to predict the
mechanical properties as well as to measure the micro hardness.

1.3 Aim and Objective of the Project


The aim of the project is to synthesize and characterize hybrid metal matrix composite
by stir casting technique and to experimentally evaluate the fracture toughness and
mechanical properties of the composite. Then finite element analysis is carried out to
validate the obtained results. The objectives of the project are listed below.

1. Preparation of composite casting by liquid metallurgy route.


2. Preparation of specimen to required dimensions for the various tests.
3. The micro structural observations to evaluate the quality of the castings i.e.,
base alloy with Silicon Carbide and Zirconium Silicate (Al356+Sic+ZrSio4).

4. Tests are conducted to evaluate the Fracture toughness and mechanical


properties such as tensile, hardness and compression.
5. Finite element (FE) simulation to validate the results.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 2

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

1.4 Methodology
The methodology of the project in presented in figure 1.1

Literature review

Identification of the
problem

Development of Metal
matrix composites

Casting and curing

Tensile
Fracture Toughness

Testing

Compression

Hardness
Microstructure
FE analysis

Results and discussions

Conclusion

Fig 1.1 Project Methodology

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 3

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
J.Jenix Rino, Dr.D.Sivalingappa, Halesh Koti, V.Daniel Jebin[1] The present study deals
with the investigation of the mechanical behaviour of Aluminium6063 alloy composites
reinforced by Zircon sand(ZrSiO4) and Alumina(Al2O3) particles were taken in to
account for investigating the properties such as density tensile strength and hardness
of the composites synthesized by Stir casting technique. The mechanical properties
evaluation reveals variations in hardness and the tensile strength values with the
composite combinations. From the experimental studies, the optimum volume fraction
of hybrid reinforcement in Al 6063 alloy on the basis of microstructure and mechanical
properties it is found that the (4+4) wt% combination.

The unique tailor ability of the composite materials for the specific
requirements makes these materials more popular in a variety of applications such
as aerospace, automotive (pistons, cylinder liners, bearings), and structural
components, resulting in savings of material and energy. Discontinuous reinforced
aluminum metal matrix composites (DRAMMCs) are a class of composite materials
having desirable properties like low density, high specific stiffness, high specific
strength, controlled co-efficient of thermal expansion, increased fatigue resistance
and superior dimensional stability at elevated temperatures etc. The properties and
behavior of various Al alloys and their composites are much explored in terms of
microstructure, mechanical properties, loading conditions and applications.
K.K. Alaneme, A.O. Aluko [2] The tensile and fracture behavior of as-cast and age-hardened
aluminium (6063), silicon carbide particulate composites produced, using borax additive and a
two step stir casting method, was investigated. Al (6063), SiCp composites having 3, 6, 9, and
12 volume percent of SiC were produced, and sample representatives of each composition were
subjected to age-hardening treatment at 1800 C for 3 hours. Tensile and Circumferential
Notched Tensile (CNT) specimens were utilized for tension testing to evaluate, respectively, the
tensile properties and fracture toughness of the composites. Experimental results show that the
ageing treatment resulted in little improvement in the tensile strength of the composites. The
tensile strength and yield strength increased to almost the same magnitude with an increase in
SiC volume percent

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 4

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


for both as-cast and age-hardened conditions. The increase was, however,
more significant for the 9 and 12 volume percent SiC reinforcement. The strain
to fracture was less sensitive to volume percent SiC reinforcement and ageing
treatment, with values less than 12% strain to fracture observed in all cases.
Aluminium and its alloys have continued to maintain their mark as the matrix material most in
demand for the development of Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs). This is primarily due to the
broad spectrum of unique properties it offers at relatively low processing cost. Some of the
attractive property combinations of Al based matrix composites are: high specific stiffness and
strength, better high temperature properties (in comparison with its monolithic alloy), thermal
conductivity, and low thermal expansion. The multifunctional nature of Al matrix composites has
seen its application in aerospace technology, electronic heat sinks, solar panelsubstrates and
antenna reflectors, automotive drive shaft fins, and explosion engine components, among
others.

Mohan Vanarotti, SA Kori, BR Sridhar, Shrishail B.Padasalgi [3] Aluminum alloy and silicon
carbide metal matrix composites are finding applications in aerospace, automobile and general
engineering industries owing to their favourable microstructure and improved mechanical
behavior. Aluminium alloy A356 and silicon carbide composites were obtained by stir casting
technique. Silicon carbide content in the alloy was fixed at 5 Weight % and 10 weight % during
the casting. Microstructure revealed a uniform distribution of the silicon carbide throughout the
matrix. Hardness and tensile properties of the composite showed an improvement as compared
to the alloy without silicon carbide additions.The present paper highlights the salient features of
casting technique and characterization of aluminum alloy A356 and silicon carbide metal matrix
composite.
J.E. Perez Ipina, A.A. Yawny, R. Stukeb, C. Gonzalez Oliver[4] Metal matrix composites (MMC)
are materials made from the dispersion of a ceramic phase, typically SiC or Al203 fibers or
particles, in order to improve the mechanical and physical properties of the matrix. In the
particular situation of Aluminum MMCs, both pure Al and alloys are employed. Continuous fibers
(Continuous metal matrix composites CMMC) as well as short fibers and particles
(Discontinuous Aluminum reinforced DAR) are employed. The production and use of composite
materials is under intensive development because of the interesting physical and mechanical
properties that these materials present and also due to the possibility to manipulate them by
means of the variation of the type and proportion of

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 5

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


the reinforcement employed as well as the type of the metallic matrix. Materials with designed
mechanical (yield stress, elastic modulus, etc) and physical (thermal expansion coefficient,
resistivity, thermal conductivity, etc) properties can be produced in this way.
E.G. Okafor , V.S.Aigbodion [5] The as-cast microstructure and properties of Al-4.5Cu/ZrSiO4
particulate composite synthesized via squeezed casting route was studied, varying the
percentage ZrSiO4 in the range of 5-25wt%. The result obtained revealed that addition of ZrSiO4
reinforcements, increased the hardness value and apparent porosity by 107.65 and 34.23%
respectively and decrease impact energy by 43.16 %. As the weight percent of ZrSiO4 increases
in the matrix alloy, the yield and ultimate tensile strength increased by 156.52 and 155.81% up to
a maximum of 15% ZrSiO4 addition respectively. The distribution of the brittle ZrSiO4 phase in
the ductile matrix alloy led to increase strength and hardness values. These results had shown
that, additions of ZrSiO4 particles to Al-4.5Cu matrix alloy improved properties. From the result
of the investigation in this research work it could be concluded that addition of ZrSiO4 particles
using Al-4.5%Cu alloy increased both the strength and hardness and an overall reduction in
toughness and density. Also, little increase in the apparent porosity of the composite with
percentage increase in ZrSiO4 addition was observed. From the result, maximum service
performance of the Al- 4.5Cu/ZrSiO4 particulate composite synthesis via squeeze casting should
not exceed 15% in order to develop balance in the necessary properties. Pronounce increase in
hardness value was observed by reinforcing the matrix alloy with 5-25% zircon sand. Al4.5Cu/15%ZrSiO4 particulate composite could be appreciable in automobile industries (brake
drum, crankshafts, values and suspension arms), recreational products (golf club shaft and
head, skating shoe, bicycle frames and base ball shaft) and in construction company (truss
structure).

Khalid Mahmood Ghauri1, Liaqat Ali [6] The present work was mainly carried out to characterize
the SiC/Al composite which was produced by reinforcing the various proportions of SiC (5, 10,
15, 25 and 30%) in aluminum matrix using stir casting technique. Mechanical properties of test
specimens made from stir-casted Aluminum-Silicon Carbide composites have been studied using
metallographic and mechanical testing techniques. However, beyond a level of 25-30 percent
SiC, the results are not very consistent, and depend largely on the uniformity of distribution of
SiC in the aluminum matrix It was observed that as the volume fraction of SiC in the composite is
gradually

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 6

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


increased, the hardness and toughness increase. The experimental results showed
that the composition of the composite for the optimized properties ranges between
70 to 80 percent aluminum and 20 to 30 percent silicon carbide. It is quite evident
that deformation in metals is because of the movement of dislocations and if we
block these dislocations by some means the strength which is resistance against
the applied force of the material, sufficiently increases. There are numerous ways
to block these dislocations like increasing the dislocation density, alloying and
making composite in such a way that the newly reinforcing phase acts like a barrier
against movement of these dislocations. In the current research work it is evident
that as we increase the amount of silicon carbide in aluminum matrix, there is
improvement in hardness and the impact properties, these are sufficiently high in
the vicinity of mechanical mixture of 25% silicon carbide and 75% aluminum.
G. Hemath Kumar, M. Sreenivasan [7] The present work reports on mechanical properties and
microstructure analysis of Al-SiC particulate composites with different wt. % of SiC. Al-SiC
composite specimens with different weight % of SiC (viz. 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 wt. % of SiC)
were fabricated through casting process. The induction furnace and open furnace were used for
melting of Al-SiC particulate composites. The induction furnace gives the advantage of self
stirring action on the introduction of SiC particles. Grinding and fine polishing was done using
diamond paste to prepare different samples for microscopic study. The microstructure
examination of the polished and carefully etched Al-SiC composite specimens showed that the
structure consists of a network of silicon particles, which were formed in inter-dendritic aluminum
silicon eutectic composition. These SEM micrographs clearly indicate that the SiC particulates
are dispersed uniformly in the Al matrix even at higher percentage such as 20 weight % SiC. The
SiC particulates were observed to be in irregular shape. The Al-SiCp composites were fabricated
using induction melting show higher compressive strength values than those fabricated using
open furnace melting. Al-SiC composites fabricated using induction melting exhibited better
mechanical properties than the composites processed in open furnace. Al-SiC composite poppet
valve guides with 5 to 30 wt. % of SiC were successfully fabricated by casting process. These
guides possess very good surface finish. The compressive strength, density and hardness of AlSiC composites increase with increase in wt. percent of SiC particulates for all the composites
tested. The tensile strength decreases when the amount of reinforcement content exceed to 30
wt. % of SiC.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 7

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Mohammad M. Ranjbaran [8] This experimental investigation was initiated to study the lowtoughness fracture in Al 356-SiCp (silicon carbide particles) with respect to the role of the various
elements of the microstructure and their probable contribution. The fracture in this composite is
studied experimentally, in terms of fracture toughness testing. The low-toughness fracture is
believed to be an inherent property of this composite and is caused mainly by the differential
elastic and thermal properties of the two constituents. These differentials degrade the matrix
alloy near the interface by its strain hardening capacity and by stress intensification introduced
by the SiC particle geometry. Consequently, the matrix near the interface is subjected to high
localized damage leading to premature fracture. It is found that the matrix alloy controls both flow
properties and fracture in the materials investigated. It is concluded that a higher toughness
composite requires a proper choice of constituent properties which dominate the stress state at
the interface. The measurement of valid plane strain fracture toughness, (KIC) values for
particulate reinforced metal matrix composites is an important step in the process of developing
useful products from these materials and increasing confidence in their properties and
performance. The value of the KIC characterizes the fracture resistance of a material in the
presence of a sharp crack under tensile loading,

This study shows that the failure is initiated by micro void nucleation at the different
initiation sites. Void initiation is more pronounced in the matrix near the interface.
The micro cracks can grow from these micro voids to absorb available strain
energy. Crack propagation occurs by linking these micro cracks locating the crack
path preferentially in the matrix adjacent to the interface. This study shows that this
material must have adequate wettability with both Al and SiC to achieve good
bonding. Moreover, the proposed material must have high value of tensile ductility
and a low yield stress in order to accommodate the plastic strain developed during
processing and relax stress concentrations introduced by particle geometry.
Shuyi Qin, Guoding Zhang [9] A structure-toughened SiC particle reinforced 6061
aluminum alloy matrix composite (SiCp-6061Al/6061Al) was designed and fabricated
by vacuum infiltration processing. Its fracture toughness KQ was tested by three-point
bending method and compared with a conventionally stirring-cast SiCp/6061Al
composite's in case of same particle size and volume fraction. The fractography of the
SiCp-6061Al/6061Al composite was observed on a Cambridge Instrument S360
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The results showed that SiCp-6061Al/6061Al

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 8

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


composite has higher fracture toughness KQ but lower yield strength and a
comparative elastic modulus. The crack opening displacement (COD) vs load curve of
the designed composite showed that the fracture procedure of SiCp-6061Al/6061Al
composite is by three stages and the maximum load on it can maintain for a long time.
The deformation of the unreinforced 6061Al matrix and the SiCp-6061Al/6061Al
interface debonding toughen this composite cooperatively. The complete fracture
procedure of the designed composite was schemed by a model. This kind of composite
can avoid abrupt failure occurring in most other conventional composite.
Vignesh. S, Sanjeev. C [10] In this paper, turning experiments on machining of particle
reinforced Hybrid Metal Matrix composite (MMC) have been carried out. The
reinforcement particles selected are Silicon-Carbide of 10% by weight and BoronCarbide of 5% by weight respectively. Stir casting method is followed to prepare
cylindrical rods of specific length and diameter. Poly Crystalline Diamond (PCD) insert
of grade 1600 is used for turning operations. Taguchis method of design of experiment
is followed by using orthogonal array L9. Three level machining parameters selected
are cutting speed, feed rate and depth of cut. The influence of these parameters on
machined surface quality is determined by measuring the surface roughness of the
workpiece by surface roughness tester. The optimal cutting conditions are arrived as
feed rate 0.1 mm/rev, cutting speed as 70 m/min and depth of cut as 0.5mm. The S-N
plot is drawn to show the characteristics of each parameter with respect to surface
roughness. The results are validated by analysis of variance method (ANOVA) and the
percentage of contribution of feed, speed and depth of cut are determined. Tool wear
study also performed for a duration of 20 minutes. Hybrid metal matrix composites are
economically cheaper in both raw materials and method of fabrication. Due to the
reinforcement of ceramic materials, the machining of these metal matrix composites
become significantly more difficult than those of conventional materials. The surface
quality obtained in turning aluminium (Al 356) metal matrix composites with
reinforcements of ceramic particles with 10% by weight of SiC and 5% by weight of
B4C under different cutting conditions with a PCD tool of 1600 grade, have been
investigated using Taguchis orthogonal array (L9). The following conclusions are drawn
based on the experimental and analytical results: 1. By using Taguchi method, the
effect of machining parameters on the surface quality (Ra) has been evaluated and
optimal machining conditions would be arrived to minimize the surface roughness.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 9

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Dinesh Kumar Koli, Geeta Agnihotri [11] This paper reviews the characterization of
mechanical properties with production routes of powder metallurgy and castings for
aluminium matrix- Al2O3 composites. Reinforcing aluminium matrix with much smaller
particles, submicron or nano-sized range is one of the key factors in producing highperformance composites, which yields improved mechanical properties. Nearly 92%
increase in the hardness and 57% increase in the tensile strength were obtained in the
nano-composites as compared to the commercially pure aluminium. Ultrasonic assisted
casting and powder metallurgy methods are becoming more common for the production
of Al-Al2O3 composites. Agglomeration of the reinforcing particles along with the
increasing volume percentage is still a challenging task in composites materials
manufacturing. There are exciting opportunities for producing exceptionally strong, light
weight, wear resistant metal matrix composites with acceptable ductility by solidification
processing and powder metallurgy. In addition, processing methods must be developed
to synthesize these materials in bulk, at lower cost, with little or no voids or defects, and
with improved ductility, possibly as a result of bimodal and tri-modal microstructures.
Metal matrix nanocomposites can lead to significant savings in materials and energy
and reduce pollution through the use of ultra-strong materials that exhibit low friction
coefficients, high wear resistance, low coefficient of thermal expansion and light weight.
Don-Hyun CHOI, Yong-Hwan KIM [12] Friction stir processing (FSP) was used to
incorporate SiC particles into the matrix of A356 Al alloy to form composite material.
Constant tool rotation speed of 1800 r/min and travel speed of 127 mm/min were used
in this study. The base metal (BM) shows the hypoeutectic AlSi dendrite structure. The
microstructure of the stir zone (SZ) is very different from that of the BM. The eutectic Si
and SiC particles are dispersed homogeneously in primary Al solid solution. The
hardness of the SZ shows higher value than that of the BM because some defects are
remarkably reduced and the eutectic Si and SiC particles are dispersed over the SZ.
The composite material of A356 with SiC particles was produced successfully by FSP.
2) In the SZ, the homogeneous distribution of SiC particles as well as the
spherodization of Si needles and their spreading through the matrix are the dominant
reasons for improvement of properties in the SZ. 3) The mechanical properties of the
SZ with SiC particles, compared to the BM and SZ without SiC, were improved by the
dispersed Si, SiC particles and the homogeneous microstructure.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 10

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 3
INTRODUCTION TO COMPOSITE
3.1 Background
New and high performance particle reinforced metal matrix composites (PRMMC) are expected
to satisfy many requirements for a wide range of performance-driven, and price sensitive,
applications in aerospace, automobiles, bicycles, golf clubs, and in other structural applications.
A PRMMC consists of a uniform distribution of strengthening ceramic particles embedded within
a metal matrix. In general, these materials exhibit higher strength and stiffness, in addition to
isotropic behavior at a lower density, when compared to the un-reinforced matrix material.
PRMMC benefits from the ceramics ability to withstand high velocity impacts, and the high
toughness of the metal matrix, which helps in preventing total shattering. This contribution leads
to an excellent balance between cost and mechanical properties, which are appealing for many
applications.
The recognition of the potential weight savings that can be achieved by using the advanced
composites, which in turn means reduced cost and greater efficiency, was responsible for this
growth in the technology of reinforcements, matrices and fabrication of composites. If the first
two decades saw the improvements in the fabrication method, systematic study of properties
and fracture mechanics was at the focal point in the 60s. Since then there has been an everincreasing demand for new, strong, stiff and yet light-weight materials in fields such as
aerospace, transportation, automobile and construction sectors. Composite materials are
emerging chiefly in response to unprecedented demands from technology due to rapidly
advancing activities in aircrafts, aerospace and automotive industries. These materials have low
specific gravity that makes their properties particularly superior in strength and modulus to many
traditional engineering materials such as metals. As a result of intensive studies into the
fundamental nature of materials and better understanding of their structure property relationship,
it has become possible to develop new composite materials with improved physical and
mechanical properties. Based on information now in the public domain, the following military
applications for MMCs appear attractive: high-temperature fighter aircraft engines and
structures; high-temperature missile structures; and spacecraft structures. Testing of a National
Aerospace Plane (NASP) prototype is scheduled for the early to mid 1990s, which might be too
early to include MMCs. However, it may be possible to incorporate MMCs in the structure or
engines of the production vehicle.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

3.2 Composites
Three decades of intensive research have provided wealth of new scientific knowledge
on the intrinsic and extrinsic effects of ceramic reinforcement to metals and their alloys.
The successes of these various researches have stimulated application of composite in
the design of many engineering and non engineering component.
Further, the need of composite for lighter construction materials and more seismic
resistant structures has placed high emphasis on the use of new and advanced
materials that not only decreases dead weight but also absorbs the shock & vibration
through tailored microstructures. Composites are now extensively being used for
rehabilitation/ strengthening of pre-existing structures that have to be retrofitted to make
them seismic resistant, or to repair damage caused by seismic activity.
While composites have already proven their worth as weight-saving materials, the
current challenge is to make them cost effective. The efforts to produce economically
attractive composite components have resulted in several innovative manufacturing
techniques currently being used in the composites industry. It is obvious, especially for
composites, that the improvement in manufacturing technology alone is not enough to
overcome the cost hurdle. It is essential that there be an integrated effort in design,
material, process, tooling, quality assurance, manufacturing, and even program
management for composites to become competitive with metals. The composites
industry has begun to recognize that the commercial applications of composites
promise to offer much larger business opportunities than the aerospace sector due to
the sheer size of transportation industry. Thus the shift of composite applications from
aircraft to other commercial uses has become prominent in recent years.
Increasingly enabled by the introduction of newer polymer resin matrix materials and high
performance reinforcement fibers of glass, carbon and aramid, the penetration of these
advanced materials has witnessed a steady expansion in uses and volume. The increased
volume has resulted in an expected reduction in costs. High performance FRP can now be found
in such diverse applications as composite armoring designed to resist explosive impacts, fuel
cylinders for natural gas vehicles, windmill blades, industrial drive shafts, support beams of
highway bridges and even paper making rollers. For certain applications, the use of composites
rather than metals has in fact resulted in savings of both cost and weight. Some examples are
cascades for engines, curved fairing

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


and fillets, replacements for welded metallic parts, cylinders, tubes, ducts, blade
containment bands etc.
Unlike conventional materials (e.g., steel), the properties of the composite material can be
designed considering the structural aspects. The design of a structural component using
composites involves both material and structural design. Composite properties (e.g. stiffness,
thermal expansion etc.) can be varied continuously over a broad range of values under the
control of the designer. Careful selection of reinforcement type enables finished product
characteristics to be tailored to almost any specific engineering requirement.

The production and use of composite materials is under intensive development


because of the interesting physical and mechanical properties that these
materials present and also due to the possibility to manipulate them by means
of the variation of the type and proportion of the reinforcement employed as well
as the type of the metallic matrix. Materials with designed mechanical (yield
stress, elastic modulus, etc) and physical (thermal expansion coefficient,
resistivity, thermal conductivity, etc) properties can be produced in this way.

3.2.1 Composite Definition


A Composite material is defined as a structural material created synthetically or
artificially by combining two or more materials having dissimilar characteristics. The
constituents are combined at macroscopic level and are not soluble in each other.
One constituent is called as Matrix phase and the other is called Reinforcing phase.
Reinforcing phase is embedded in the matrix to give the desired characteristics.
Generally, a composite material is composed of reinforcement (fibers, particles,
flakes, and/or fillers) embedded in a matrix (polymers, metals, or ceramics). The
matrix holds the reinforcement to form the desired shape while the reinforcement
improves the overall mechanical properties of the matrix. When designed properly,
the new combined material exhibits better strength than would each individual
material. As defined by Jartiz, Composites are multifunctional material systems that
provide characteristics not obtainable from any discrete material. They are
cohesive structures made by physically combining two or more compatible
materials, different in composition and characteristics and sometimes in form.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Kelly very clearly stresses that the composites should not be regarded simple
as a combination of two materials. In the broader significance; the combination
has its own distinctive properties. In terms of strength or resistance to heat or
some other desirable quality, it is better than either of the components alone or
radically different from either of them.

3.2.2 Need for Developing Composite Materials


Composites with high specific stiffness and strength could be used in applications
in which saving weight is an important factor. Included in this category are robots,
high-speed machinery, and high-speed rotating shafts for ships or land vehicles.
Good wear resistance, along with high specific strength, also favors MMC use in
automotive engine and brake parts. Tailorable coefficient of thermal expansion and
thermal conductivity make them good candidates for lasers, precision machinery,
and electronic packaging. However, the current level of development effort appears
to be inadequate to bring about commercialization of any of these in the next 5
years, with the possible exception of diesel engine pistons.

The increasing demand for lightweight, inexpensive, energy saving, stiff and
strong materials in aircraft, space, defense and automotive applications have
stimulated steadily growing efforts to develop composite materials. Lightweight
composites are attracting a great deal of attention due to the possibility of
weight saving in industrial applications. Automobile weight reduction can directly
translate into reduced fuel consumption. Reduction in the weight of aircraft and
marine vessels can lead to increased loading capacity.

3.2.3 Characteristics of the Composite


Metal matrix composites are strong and tough and can be plastically deformed
easily. The crystalline structures make the metals posses excellent properties
like thermal and electrical conductivity, high malleability and ductility.
Dislocations are critically important as they drastically reduce shear stress
required to the slip process and hence make the metals to deform plastically.
Metals can be strengthened by a number of strengthening mechanisms namely, strain
hardening, grain boundary strengthening, precipitation strengthening, strengthening due to
phase transformation and dispersoid strengthening. By intentional addition of hard

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


dispersoid particles in the matrix it is possible to increase the strength as these
particles retard the motion of the dislocation.
Properties of composites are strongly dependent on the properties of their constituent
materials, their distribution and the interaction among them. The composite properties
may be the volume fraction sum of the properties of the constituents or the constituents
may interact in a synergistic way resulting in improved or better properties. Apart from
the nature of the constituent materials, the geometry of the reinforcement (shape, size
and size distribution) influences the properties of the composite to a great extent. The
concentration distribution and orientation of the reinforcement also affect the properties.

The shape of the discontinuous phase (which may by spherical, cylindrical, or


rectangular cross-sanctioned prisms or platelets), the size and size distribution
(which controls the texture of the material) and volume fraction determine the
interfacial area, which plays an important role in determining the extent of the
interaction between the reinforcement and the matrix.
Concentration, usually measured as volume or weight fraction, determines the
contribution of a single constituent to the overall properties of the composites. It is
not only the single most important parameter influencing the properties of the
composites, but also an easily controllable manufacturing variable used to alter its
properties. The orientation of the reinforcement affects the isotropy of the system.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

3.3 CLASSIFICATION OF COMPOSITE


3.3.1 The Matrix Material
Matrix Material

Polymer Matrix

Metal Matrix

Thermoplastics
Thermo sets

Light metals
& alloys(Al,
Mg, Li & Ti)
Refractory
metals

Ceramic Matrix

Ceramics
Carbon
Glass

Fig 3.1 Classification of composites (based upon the matrix materials)

3.3.2 The Reinforcing Material

Reinforcing Material

Particulate reinforced

Large particles
Dispersoids

Fiber reinforced

Continuous fibers
Discontinues
(short)
Aligned or
random

Structural composites

Laminates
Sandwich
panels

Fig 3.2 Classification of composites (based upon the reinforcing materials)

The classification of composites based upon the Reinforcing materials is as


shown in figure. 1.2
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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Systematic combinations of different constituents, conventional monolithic materials have
limitations in terms of achievable combinations of strength, stiffness, coefficient of expansion,
and density engineered MMCs consisting of continuous or is continuous fiber,

Whiskers or particle in a metal results in combination of very high specific strength


and specific modulus. Furthermore, systematic design and syntheses procedures
can be developed to achieve unique combination of engineering properties such as
high elevated-temperature strengths, fatigue strength, damping properties,
electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, coefficient of thermal expansion.
A variety of methods for producing MMCs, including foundry techniques, have recently
become available. The potential advantage of preparing these composite materials by
foundry technique is near-neat shape fabrication in a simple and cost-effective manner.
In addition, foundry processes lend themselves to the manufacture of large number of
complexly shaped components at higher production rates, which is required by
automotive and other consumer oriented industries.

Structurally, as cast MMCs consist of continuous or discontinuous fibers, whiskers,


or particles in an alloy matrix that solidifies the restricted spaces between the
reinforcing phases to form the bulk of the bulk of matrix. By carefully controlling the
relative amounts and distributions of the ingredients constituting a composite and
by controlling the solidification conditions, MMCs can be imparted a tailoring set of
use full engineering properties that cannot be realized with conventional monolithic
materials. In addition, the solidification microstructure of the matrix is refined and
particles, indicating the possibility of controlling macro segregation, and grain size
in the matrix. This represents an opportunity to develop new matrix alloys.

3.3.3 Classification (According to the Type of Reinforcement)


1. Particulate Composites (Compose of Particle in a Composite)
2. Fibrous Composites (Consists of Fibers in Matrix)
3. Laminated Composites (Consists of Layers of Various Materials)

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3.3.3.1 Particulate Composites


This consists of particulates of one or more material suspended in a matrix of
another material. The particle can be metallic or non-metallic, as can the matrix
following are the types. Fiber composite materials can be further classified into
continuous fiber composite materials (multi- and monofilament) and short fibers
or, rather, whisker composite materials as shown in figure. 1.3.

A. Non-Metallic in Metallic Composites


The most common example in this case is concrete. Flakes of non-metallic
materials such as mica or glass can form an effective composite material when
suspended in a glass or plastic respectively. Mica in glass composite is used in
electrical application because of good insulating and machining qualities.

`
Figure 3.3 Schematic Presentation of Three Shapes of Metal Matrix Composite

Materials

B. Metallic in Non-Metallic Composites


The most common example is rocket propellants, which consists of inorganic particles such as Al
powder and per chlorate oxidizer in a flexible organic binder such as polyurethane or Polysulphide rubber. Metal flakes in a suspension are also common. Aluminium paint is actually
Aluminum flakes suspended in paint. Upon application the flakes orient themselves parallel to
the surface giving good coverage. Similarly, similar flakes can be applied to give good electrical
conductivity. Cold solder is metal powder suspended in thermosetting resin. The composite is
strong, hard and conducts heat and electricity. Inclusion of copper in an epoxy resin increases
the conductivity immensely.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

C. Non-Metallic in Metallic Composites


Non-metallic particles such as ceramic can be suspended in metallic matrix.
The resulting component is called cermets. Two common classes of cermets
are; oxide based and carbide based composites.
1. Oxide Based Cermets can be either oxide particles in a metal matrix or
vice- versa. These basically used in tool and high temperature application
where erosion resistance is required.
2. Carbide Cement has particles of carbide of tungsten, chromium, and titanium in
metal matrix, generally cobalt matrix. These are used in dies, valves, turbine parts.

3. Cermets are also used as nuclear reactor fuel element and control rods.

3.3.3.2 Fibrous Composites


A fiber is defined with respect to its length to diameter ratio and its near crystal
diameter. A whisker has essentially the same near crystal size diameter as a
fiber, but generally very short and stubby, although the length to diameter ratio
can be in hundreds. Fibers and whiskers are of little use unless they are
bounded together to take the form of a structural element, which can take loads.

3.3.3.3 Laminated Composites


Laminated composites consist of layers of at least two different materials that
are bonded together. They are of following types:
Bimetals
Clad metals
Laminated glass
These are hybrid class of composite involving both fibrous composite and laminate
technique. A more common is laminated fiber reinforced composite. Here layers of
fiber-reinforced materials are built up with the fiber direction of each layer typically
oriented in different direction to give stiffness and strength to fiber.

3.4 Applications of Composites


a. Aerospace and Space-craft applications.
b. Automotive
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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


c. Defense
d. Space hardware
e. Marine application
f.

Electrical and electronic devices

3.5 Fabrication techniques of MMCs


There are several fabrication techniques available to manufacture the MMC
materials: there is no unique route in this respect. Due to the choice of material
and reinforcement and of the types of reinforcement, the fabrication techniques
can vary considerably. The processing methods used to manufacture particulate
reinforced MMCs can be grouped as follows.
1. Solid-phase fabrication methods: diffusion bonding, hot rolling, extrusion,
drawing, explosive welding, PM route, pneumatic impaction, etc.
2. Liquid-phase fabrication methods: liquid-metal infiltration, squeeze casting,
compo casting, pressure casting, spray co deposition, stir casting etc.

3. Two phase (solid/liquid) processes: Which include Rheocasting and


Spray atomization.
Normally the liquid-phase fabrication method is more efficient than the solid-phase
fabrication method because solid-phase processing requires a longer time. The
matrix metal is used in various forms in different fabrication methods. Generally
powder is used in pneumatic impaction and the powder metallurgy technique, and a
liquid matrix is used in liquid-metal infiltration, plasma spray, spray casting,
squeeze casting, pressure casting, gravity casting, stir casting, investment casting,
etc. A molecular form of the matrix is used in electroforming; vapor deposition and
metal foils are used in diffusion bonding, rolling, extrusion, etc.
There are certain main manufacturing processes which are used presently in
laboratories as well as in industries are diffusion bonding, the powder metallurgy
route, liquid-metal infiltration, squeeze casting, spray co-deposition, stir casting and
compo casting. Brief Description of these processes is given below.

3.5.1 Solid Phase Fabrication Method


There are several ways to fabricate MMC using solid-phase materials but among
them diffusion bonding and the powder metallurgy route are used widely.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

3.5.2 Diffusion Bonding


This method is normally used to manufacture fiber reinforced MMC with sheets
or foils of matrix material.
Here primarily the metal or metal alloys in the form of sheets and the reinforcement
material in the form of fiber are chemically surface treated for the effectiveness of
interdiffusion. Then fibers are placed on the metal foil in pre-determined orientation and
bonding takes place by press forming directly, as shown by the dotted line. However
sometimes the fibers are coated by plasma spraying or ion plating for enhancing the
bonding strength before diffusion bonding, the solid line shows this. After bonding,
secondary machining work is carried out. The applied pressure and temperature as well
as their durations for diffusion bonding to develop, vary with the composite systems.
However, this is the most expensive method of fabricating MMC materials.

3.5.3 Powder Metallurgy Technique


The PM technique is the most commonly used method for the preparation of
discontinuous reinforced MMCs. This technique is used to manufacture MMCs using
either particulates or whiskers as the reinforcement materials. In general process the
powders of matrix materials and reinforcement are first blended and fed into a mould of
the desired shape. Pressure is then applied to further compact the powder (cold
pressing). In order to facilitate the bonding between the powder particles, the compact
is then heated to a temperature that is below the melting point but sufficiently high to
develop significant solid-state diffusion (sintering). The consolidated product is then
used as a MMC material after some secondary operation.

This method is popular because it is reliable compared with other alternative


methods, but it has also some demerits. The blending step is a time consuming,
expensive and potentially dangerous operation. In addition, it is difficult to achieve
an even distribution of particulate throughout the product and the use of powders
requires a high level of cleanliness, otherwise inclusions will be incorporated into
the product with a deleterious effect on fracture toughness, fatigue life, etc.

3.5.4 Liquid Phase Fabrication Techniques


Most of the MMCs are produced by this technique. In this technique, the ceramic particles are
incorporated into liquid metal using various processes. The liquid composite

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


slurry is subsequently cast into various shapes by conventional casting techniques
or cast into ingots for secondary processing. The process has major advantage that
the production costs of MMCs are very low. The major difficulty in such processes
is the non-wettability of the particles by liquid aluminium and the consequent
rejection of the particles from the melt, non-uniform distribution of particles due to
their preferential segregation and extensive interfacial reaction.

3.5.5 Liquid Metal Infiltration


This process can also be called fiber-tow infiltration. Fibers tows can be infiltrated
by passing through a bath of molten metal. Usually the fibers must be coated in line
to promote wetting. Once the infiltrated wires are produced, they must be
assembled into a preform and given a secondary consolidation process to produce
a component. Secondary consolidation is generally accomplished through diffusion
bonding or hot molding in the two-phase liquid and solid region.
In this technique, as the first step, FP yarn is made into a handle able FP tape with a
fugitive organic binder in a manner similar to producing a resin matrix composite
preparation. Fibre FP tapes are then laid-up in the desired orientation, fiber volume
loading, and shape, and are then inserted into a casting mold of steel or other suitable
material. The fugitive organic binder is burned away, and the mold is infiltrated with
molten metal and allowed to solidify. Metals such as Aluminium, magnesium, silver and
copper have been used as the matrix materials in this liquid infiltration process because
of their relatively lower melting points. This method is desirable in producing relatively
small-size composite specimens having unidirectional properties.

3.5.6 Squeeze Casting


Squeeze casting is a one-step metal forming process in which a metered quantity
of liquid metal in a reusable die is subjected to a rapid solidification under high
pressures (50 to 100 MPa) to produce close-tolerance, high-integrity finished
shapes. The fabrication process of MMC by squeeze casting, the preform of the
ceramic fiber is pre-heated to several hundred degrees centigrade below the
melting temperature of the matrix and then set into a metal die. The Al or Mg alloy
is heated to just above its melting temperature and is then squeezed into the fiber
preform by a hydraulic press to form a mixture of fiber and molten metal.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


This process can be used for large scale manufacturing but it requires careful control of the
process variables, including the fiber and liquid metal preheat temperature, the metal alloying
elements, external cooling, the melt quality, the tooling temperature, the time lag between die
closure and pressurization, the pressure levels and duration and the plunger speed. Imperfect
control of these process variables results in various defects, including freeze chocking, preform
deformation, fiber degradation, oxide inclusions and other common casting defects. However, in
practical use, squeeze casting is the most effective method of constructing a machine parts with
a complex shape in a short time.

3.5.7 Spray Co-deposition Method


Spray co-deposition method is an economical method of producing a particulate
composite. The alloy to be sprayed is melted in a crucible by induction heating. The
crucible is pressurized and the metal is ejected through a nozzle into an atomizer
where, at the same time, particles (reinforcement) are injected into the atomized
metal and deposited on a preheated substrate placed in the line of flight. A solid
deposit is built up on the collector. The deposited strip, when cold, is moved from
the substrate for subsequent rolling. The shape of the final product depends on the
atomizing condition and the shape and the motion of the collector.

3.5.8 Stir Casting


This approach involves mechanical mixing of the reinforcement particulate into
a molten metal bath and transferred the mixture directly to a shaped mould prior
to complete solidification. In this process, the crucial thing is to create good
wetting between the particulate reinforcement and the molten metal.
Micro structural in homogeneties can cause notably particle agglomeration and
sedimentation

in

the

melt

and

subsequently

during

solidification.

In

homogeneity in reinforcement distribution in these cast composites could also


be a problem as a result of interaction between suspended ceramic particles
and moving solid-liquid interface during solidification. This process has major
advantage that the production costs of MMCs are very low.

3.5.9 Compo Casting


Other than PM, thermal spraying, diffusion bonding and high-pressure squeeze casting,
this is the most economical method of fabricating a composite with discontinuous fibers

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


(chopped fiber, whisker and particulate). This process is the improved process
of slush- or stir-casting.
The apparatus consists of an induction power supply (50 kW, 3000 Hz), a
water-cooled vacuum chamber with its associated mechanical and diffusion
pumps and a crucible and mixing assembly for agitation of the composites.
First, a metal alloy is placed in the system with the blade assembly in place. Then the
chamber is evacuated and the alloy is superheated above its melting temperature and
stirring is initiated by the DC motor to homogenize the temperature. The induction
power is lowered gradually until the alloy is 40 to 50% solid, at which point the
nonmetallic particles are added to the slurry, However, the temperature is raised during
adding in such a way that the total amount of solid, which consists of fibers and solid
globules of the slurry, does not exceed 50%. Stirring is continued until interface
interactions between the particulates and the matrix promote wetting.
The melt is then superheated to above its liquid temperature and bottom poured into
the graphite mould by raising the blade assembly. The melt containing the nonmetallic
particles is then transferred into the lower die-half of the press and the top die is
brought down to shape and solidify the Composite by applying the pressure. This is
using to make the composite of the highest values of volume fractions of reinforcement.
Literature in general, suggests that MMCs will be less forgiving in terms of processing
practice than unreinforced alloys, but if the appropriate practice is employed, useful
combinations of mechanical and physical properties can be obtained

3.6 Metal matrix composites


Metal matrix composites are materials with metals as the base and distinct, typically
ceramic

phases

added

as

reinforcements

to

improve

the

properties.

The

reinforcements can be in the form of fibers, whiskers and particulates. Properties of the
metal matrix composites can be tailored by varying the nature of constituents and their
volume fraction. They offer superior combination of properties in such a manner that
today no existing monolithic material can rival and hence are increasingly being used in
the aerospace and automobile industries. The principal advantage MMCs enjoy over
other materials lies in the improved strength and hardness on a unit weight basis.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


The family of materials classified as metal-matrix composites (MMCs) comprises a
very broad range of advanced composites of great importance to both automobile,
aerospace & defense applications. However, the development and use of MMCs
are still in their infancy when compared to monolithic materials or even polymer
resin-matrix composite systems. The family of metal-matrix composites is made up
of many varieties of materials, which can be categorized based on their matrix
composition, fabrication process, or reinforcement type.
Metal matrix composites have a metal matrix usually of lighter metal such as (Al, Mg or
Ti) or a super alloy (Ni based or Co based super alloy). The reinforcement materials
include Boron, Silicon carbide, carbon, graphite, alumina, Boron carbide, Boron nitride
or metallic system like tungsten, beryllium or steel. The form of reinforcement material
can be either fiber or whisker or particulate. Metals are reinforced either to increase
certain properties like elastic modulus and tensile strength or decrease certain
properties like coefficient of thermal expansion and thermal conductivities.
In recent years, the development of metal matrix composite (MMCs) has been receiving
worldwide attention on account of their superior strength and stiffness in addition to
high wear resistance and creep resistance comparison to their corresponding wrought
alloys. The ductile matrix permits the blunting of cracks and stress concentrations by
plastic deformation and provides a material with improved fracture toughness.
Aluminium matrix composite (AMCs) have shown high mechanical properties such as
high strength, high stiffness, wear resistance and good elevated temperature properties
when compared to the unreinforced matrix alloy, which has lead to the use of
aluminium matrix composite in the following; electronic heat sinks, automotive drive
shaft, ground vehicles brake rotors, jet fighters, air craft firms, electronic instrument
racks, satellite struts, crankshafts, gear parts brake drum cylinder block and suspension
arms. New researches on metal matrix composite have focus on particle reinforcement
due to low cost of the ceramic reinforcement and less complex fabrication technique.
Stirring casting route has been used successfully to synthesis metal matrix composite.
It has been proved that particle reinforced aluminum matrix composites can improve
considerably the strength and hardness of aluminum and its alloys. However, at the
same time, the plasticity and ductility can substantially reduced. This will severely affect
the safety and reliability of components fabricated from Al matrix composites (AMCs).

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


In aluminum matrix composites system (AMCs), one of the constituent is
aluminum/ aluminum alloy, which forms percolating network and is termed as
matrix phase. The other constituent is embedded in this aluminum/ aluminum
alloy matrix and serves as reinforcement, which is usually non-metallic and
commonly ceramic such as SiC and Al2O3. Properties of AMCs can be tailored
by varying the nature of constituents and their volume fraction.
Aluminum matrix composites system (AMCs) offer superior combination of
properties in such manner that today no existing monolithic material can rival.
Over the years, AMCs have been tried and used in numerous structural, nonstructural and functional applications in different engineering sectors. Driving
force for the utilization of AMCs in these sectors include performance, economic
and environmental benefits. The key benefits of AMCs in transportation sectors
are lower fuel consumption, less noise and lower airborne emissions.
AMCs can be classified into four types depending on the type of reinforcement
1. Particle reinforced AMCs (PRAMCs)
2. Whiskers or short fiber reinforced AMCs (SFAMCs)
3. Continuous fiber reinforced AMCs (CFAMCs)
4. Mono filament-reinforced AMCs (MFAMCs)
New and high performance particle reinforced AMCs (PRAMCs) are expected to satisfy many
requirements for a wide range of performance-driven, and price sensitive, applications in
aerospace, automobiles, bicycles, golf clubs, and in other structural applications. A PRAMCs
consists of a uniform distribution of strengthening ceramic particles embedded within aluminum
matrix. In general, these materials exhibit higher strength and stiffness, in addition to isotropic
behavior at a lower density, when compared to the unreinforced aluminum matrix. PRAMCs
benefits from the ceramic's ability to withstand high velocity impacts, and the high toughness of
the metal matrix, which helps in preventing total shattering. This contribution leads to an
excellent balance between cost and mechanical properties, which are appealing for much
application; the main drawback of these materials is their low ductility, which is caused by the
nucleation, growth, and coalescence of voids created by the ceramic reinforcement.

The main contribution to the strengthening of PRAMCs is particle addition, which affects most of
the mechanical properties of PRAMCs. Several particle parameters, which are

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


critical in determining the mechanical properties of PRAMCs, include the volume
fraction (vf), size, shape, and distribution of reinforced particles within the metal matrix.

3.7 Examples
Continuous carbon fiber reinforced Al alloy likewise has been used in most
structures (vertical support structures) in the Hubble telescope.
SiC continuous fiber reinforced Al alloy has been used vertical section of
advanced fighter aircrafts.
SiC continuous fiber reinforced Ti alloy has been used for hypersonic aircraft.
Precision components of missile guidance system demand very high dimensional
stability i.e. geometries should not change with temperature excursions during use.
Al alloy with 20% SiC continuous fiber satisfy this requirement.
Discontinuous SiC fibers 1 to 3mm in diameter and 50 to 200mm long are mixed
with Al powders consolidated by hot pressing and then extruded or forged to the
desired shape. With 20% SiC whiskers, the tensile strength increased from 310Mpa
to 480Mpa and the tensile modulus can be increased from 69 to 115 Gpa.
Hybrid composites of 12% by volume fraction of alumina particles (for high strength)
and 9% volume fraction of graphite fibers (for self lubrication) in alloys have been
developed by Honda for Engine blocks, connecting rods, piston rods etc., for
automobiles, which helps in reducing weight of automobile and enhanced engine
life. SiC coated on inter-metallic compound Ti3Al fibers in Ti alloy matrix have been
found to be very effective for high temperatures resistance. These composites find

applications in compressor discs and blades in aero-engines.


A relatively new technique called rapid solidification rate processing has
been developed to obtain metallic glass ribbons which can be effective
reinforcing material in MMCs.

3.7.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of MMCs


Advantages
Very high specific strength and specific modulus. Low
thermal coefficient of thermal expansion. Retention of
properties at higher temperatures.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Higher operating temperatures.
Insensitivity to moisture.

Non-flammability.
Better capability to withstand compression and shear loading.

Disadvantages
Higher densities as compared to PMCs.
MMCs demand higher processing temperatures.
Processing methods are expensive.

MMCs are expensive as compared to PMCs.

3.8 Scope of Present Investigation


Due to the advancement in the material technology to produce desired
materials from various industrial applications and fast changing scenario in the
production of lighter and stronger materials, composite materials are gaining
wide acceptance due to their unusual characteristics of behavior with their high
strength to weight ratios. The most widely used material in these industries is
aluminum and their alloys because of their light weight property.
To make these alloys of aluminum further versatile and flexible for varieties of
application, during which these materials is expected to behave as expected and
provide a long life under different environments, the composites have emerged as
the single most material, which can provide a better service and better quality.

Therefore in the present investigation, a study had been conducted to evaluate


the various mechanical properties such as tensile, hardness, compression,
microstructure and Fracture Toughness of Al356 with Silicon Carbide (SiC) and
Zirconium silicate (ZrSio4) composite castings.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 4
SELECTION OF MATERIALS
Cast Al356 is one of the most widely used commercial Al-Si-Mg alloys in the aircraft
and automotive industries due to its good castability and the fact that it can be
strengthened by artificial aging. However, the mechanical properties of Al356 are
significantly affected by micro structural features such as microporosity, intermetallics,
eutectic silicon particles and heat treatments. Aluminium Metal matrix composites
(AMMC), where hard ceramic particles are distributed in a relatively ductile matrix, have
widespread applications in aerospace, automobiles and other engineering industries
because of their excellent physical, mechanical and tribological properties.

4.1 Matrix Material: Al 356

Fig 4.1 Ingot Structure of Al 356

4.1.1 Chemical Composition and Mechanical Properties of Matrix


Material Al356
Chemical composition and mechanical properties of matrix material Al356 is as
shown in Table 4.1 and 4.2.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

Element
Wt%

Si

Fe

Cu

Mn

Mg

Ni

Zn

Ti

Pb

Aluminium

7.5% 0.2% 0.25% 0.35% 0.45% 0.1% 0.35% 0.2% 0.1%

Rem

Table 4.1 Chemical composition of Al356

Density(*1000 Kg/m3 )

2.685

Poissons ratio

0.33

Tensile Strength, Ultimate (MPa)

228

Tensile Strength, Yield (MPa)

165

Elongation (%)

3.5%

Shear Strength (MPa)

180

Thermal Conductivity (W/m-K)

151

Melting Temperature

5550C

Fatigue Strength(MPa)

60

Table 4.2 Mechanical properties of matrix material Al356

4.2 Reinforcement Material (silicon carbide)


Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum, is a compound of silicon and
carbon with chemical formula SiC. It occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral
moissanite. Grains of silicon carbide can be bonded together by sintering to form
very hard ceramics which are widely used in applications requiring high endurance,
such as car brakes and ceramic plates in bulletproof vests.
Silicon carbide, is a high-temperature structural material, offering many advantages
such as high melting temperatures, low density, high elastic modulus and strength, and
good resistance to creep, oxidation and wear. These properties make SiC suitable for
use in applications such as gas turbines, piston engines and heat exchangers, and
o

where load-bearing components are required to operate at temperatures up to 1500 C.


Silicon carbide does not melt at any known pressure. It is also highly inert chemically.
Silicon Carbide is the only chemical compound of carbon and silicon. It was originally
produced by a high temperature electro-chemical reaction of sand and carbon. Silicon

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


carbide is an excellent abrasive and has been produced and made into grinding
wheels and other abrasive products for over one hundred years. Today the
material has been developed into a high quality technical grade ceramic with
very good mechanical properties. It is used in abrasives, refractories, ceramics,
and numerous high-performance applications. The material can also be made
an electrical conductor and has applications in resistance heating, flame igniters
and electronic components. Structural and wear applications are constantly
developing. The reinforcement material (SiC) is as shown in figure. 4.2.

Fig 4.2 Reinforcement Material (SiC)

4.2.1 Physical Properties of Sic


Low

density

High strength

Low thermal expansion


High thermal conductivity
High hardness

High elastic modulus


Excellent thermal shock resistance
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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Superior chemical resistance.

4.2.2 Application of SiC


Fixed

and

moving

turbine

components Suction box covers


Seals, bearings
Ball valve parts

Hot gas flow liners


Heat exchanger

Semiconductor process equipment.

4.3 Reinforcement Material (Zirconium Silicate)


Zircon silicate is naturally occurring sand. Zirconium silicate contains mainly
zirconium oxide and silicon oxide with a minor amount of potassium, gold and
calcium oxide. It possesses properties such as high temperatures up to 2400C,
High density, Low thermal conductivity (20% that of alumina), Chemical
inertness, Resistance to molten metals, Ionic electrical conduction, Wear
resistance, High fracture toughness and High hardness. This has made it a
good reinforce for the production of MMCs for engineering applications.

Fig 4.3 Reinforcement material (ZrSiO4)


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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

4.3.1 Properties of Zirconium Silicate


Good strength
Corrosion resistant
Low thermal conductivity
Good thermal shock resistance
Excellent Thermal resistance
High flexural strength

High hardness

4.3.2 Applications of ZrSiO4


Nuclear reactors.
Zirconium with Aluminium, iron and titanium are used in vacuum
tubes. Zirconium is used in satellites as reflective surface agent.
Super conductive magnets.
Zirconium is used in optical glasses and for glass
toughening. Foundry/investment casting
Properties

Zircon Sand

M.P. (0C)

2500

Limit of application (0C)

1870

Hardness

7.5

Density (g/cm3)

4.5-4.70
0

Linear coefficient of expansion (m/m C)

4.5

Fracture toughness (MPa-m1/2)

Crystal structure

Tetragonal

Table 4.3 Properties of Zircon sand

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 5
FABRICATION OF COMPOSITES
Flow chart of composite fabrication is as shown in figure 5.1
Aluminium
matirx (Al356)
Metal matrix composite

Al356-Sic-ZrSio4
Reinforcement
(Silicon Carbide+
Zirconium Silicate)

Matrix

Furnace

Degassing+
Scum powder
Stir

Reinforce

Pouring

Casting
Fig 5.1 Flow chart of fabrication of Composite

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

5.1 Stir Casting


The large ingots of matrix material were cut into small pieces for accommodating into
the crucible. Composites were produced by Stir casting process. Melting was carried
out in a cast iron crucible in a resistance furnace. Degassing was carried out with hexachloroethane tablets and Scum powder . Cut pieces of alloy A356 were heated at 840
C for 3 to 4 hours before melting, and before mixing the SiC and ZrSio 4 particles were
preheated for 1 to 3 hours to make their surfaces oxidized. Furnace temperature was
first raised above the liquidus to melt the alloy scraps completely and was then cooled
down just below the liquidus to keep the slurry in a semi-solid state. At this stage the
preheated SiC and ZrSio4 particles were added and mixed manually according to the
required proportions. Due to difficulties of mixing in semi solid state, initially manual
mixing was used for the synthesis of A356 and SiC and ZrSio 4. After this, the composite
slurry was re-heated to a fully liquid state and then automatic mechanical mixing was
carried out for about 5 minutes at an average stirring rate of 300 rpm. In the final mixing
processes, the furnace temperature was controlled to be within 84010 C.

To ensure the homogeneity of the added reinforcement particles through molten


aluminum, electrical stirrer was inserted into the crucible. Molten aluminum was
stirred at (300 r.p.m.) to get suitable vortex. Later reinforcement particles were
added to molten metal. This process was followed to modify reinforcement
particles distribution through the molten aluminum.
Due to the vortex effect, reinforcement particles were pulled inside the molten metal
and uniformly distributed. Molten aluminum was stirred for (1- 5 min.) until the molten
aluminum becomes slurry. Later molten aluminum was poured into suitable cast iron
mould, which is preheated at 350C to prevent sudden cooling for molten aluminum.
The pouring temperature was controlled to be around 820 C. A preheated permanent
cast iron mould with diameters in the range of 10 mm to 25 mm was used to prepare
cast bars. Finally the super heated melt was poured into the cast iron mould. The
preheating temperature 350 C for Cast Iron moulds was maintained for slower cooling.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

5.2 Pre-heating of Mould Box


A mould is an assembly of two or more metal blocks. The mould cavity holds the
liquid material and essential acts as a negative of the desired product. A permanent
mould box which is prepared according to required dimensions of the casting is
used. Permanent split type mould box is used for casting the composites in the
present study as shown in the figure 5.2. Pre heating of the mould box is shown in
figure 5.3. The mould box is tightened with the help of screws and is checked for
any gaps in the mould box. The mould is then heated to a temperature of about
300-3500c to prevent the sudden cooling of the molten aluminium.

Fig 5.2 Split type mould box

Fig 5.3 Pre heating the mould box


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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

5.2 Steps Involved in Stir Casting Method


Aluminum (Al356) 3kg was melted in the furnace to a temperature of 850
degree centigrade as shown in figure 5.4.
Addition of scum powder.
Formation of slag.

Slag removal.
After 10 mins titanium dioxide was added to remove the entrapped gases
(degasification) and Stirrer was introduced.
Stirrer was rotated at a speed of 0 to 300 rpm to create a vortex in the liquid metal.
Reinforcement material Sic and ZrSiO4 powder was added according to the

required proportions to molten metal in steps while stirring.


After 15 mins molten metal is poured to the pre-heated mould and left for
solidification.
The mould box is opened and cast components are obtained.

Fig 5.4 Electric furnace

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

Fig 5.5 Molten Metal in Furnace

Fig 5.6 Formation of Vortex

Fig 5.7 Pre heating of reinforcement Fig 5.8 Poured molten metal in mould box

Fig 5.9 Cast Aluminium Composites

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

5.3 Composition of matrix and reinforcement

Samples
1

Al356 (kg)
3

Sic (%)
-

ZrSio4 (%)
8

Table 5.1 Different wt% ratios of matrix metal and reinforcement

The composition of the matrix metal and the reinforcement in different wt%
ratios is shown in the above table. The casting samples with different wt%
reinforcements were prepared respectively as shown below.
Casting 1: Al356+0%SiC+8%ZrSiO4
Casting 2: Al356+6%SiC+2%ZrSiO4
Casting 3: Al356+2%SiC+6%ZrSiO4
Casting 4: Al356+4%SiC+4%ZrSiO4
Casting 5: Al356+8%SiC+0%ZrSiO4

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 6
EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS
6.1 Fracture Toughness
The measurement of valid plane strain fracture toughness, (KIC) values for
particulate reinforced metal matrix composites is an important step in the
process of developing useful products from these materials and increasing
confidence in their properties and performance.
Fracture toughness is a material property that characterizes the materials resistance to
crack propagation when under load or stress. In more precise terms, it refers to the
resistance of a preexisting crack to extend either under unstable (i.e., brittle fracture) or
by stable tearing means (i.e., ductile fracture). Experimental methods for characterizing
fracture toughness play a critical role in applying fracture mechanics to integrity
assessment, fitness-for-service evaluation, and limit state analyses for a wide variety of
engineering structures. Fracture toughness properties are frequently used as a basis
for material selection, material qualification programs, and quality assurance for critical
structures such as high-pressure gas and liquid transmission pipelines, pressure
vessels, nuclear reactor components, petrochemical processing vessels, and aircraft.
Fracture toughness is a quantitative way of expressing a material's resistance to brittle
fracture when a crack is present. If a material has much fracture toughness it will
probably undergo ductile fracture. Brittle fracture is very characteristic of materials with
less fracture toughness. Fracture mechanics, which leads to the concept of fracture
toughness, was broadly based on the work of A. A. Griffith who, among other things,
studied the behavior of cracks in brittle materials.
The measurement procedure of fracture toughness is based on the principle of linearelastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) and contains three main steps: generation of cracks
in the test specimen, measurement of the load at failure stress respectively, and crack
depth. In the case of ideally brittle materials, the fracture toughness is independent of
the crack extension. The crack growth resistance increases with the increasing crack
extension. Some structural ceramics show an increase of fracture resistance with crack
extension under stable crack growth. The Single-Edge-Notched Beam (SENB) method
was developed as a simple and inexpensive alternative, but the results can be
influenced by the tip radius of the sawed notch.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.2 Specimen dimensions as per ASTM standards


The samples were cut to the dimensions as per ASTM standards ASTM C39362 for Testing; ASTM standards are given in Table.
Sl. No

ASTM Code

Mechanical Test Sample


Dimensions

Span length
(mm)

(mm)
1

ASTM-D790

Flexural

127 x 13 x 6

65

Table 6.1 ASTM codes for mechanical test and sample dimensions

6.3 Test for Fracture toughness


The Fracture toughness of the specimens were determined as per ASTM-D790.
The specimens (127 X 13 X 6 mm) were tested with a span length of 65mm
using three point bend setup with 10 ton capacity high precision computer
controlled UTM. The rate of loading was maintained at 1mm/min. The tests
were performed with a load resolution of 0.5 N at a loading rate of 1 mm/min.
The total span (length) of the specimens was 65 mm. The single edge notch
bend (SENB) specimens were used to determine the fracture behaviour by K IC,
as shown in Fig 6.1, which satisfied the requirements of ASTM D5045-99.

Fig 6.1 SENB specimen

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


The following equation is used to calculate the fracture toughness, KIC, of MMC:

--------------- (1)
Where

--------------- (2)
The KIC parameter denotes mode I fracture in which crack formation occurs in
tensile mode due to bending.

Fig 6.2 Fracture toughness specimens

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.4 Tensile test


Uniaxial tensile test is known as a basic and universal engineering test
to achieve material parameters such as ultimate strength, yield strength,
% elongation, % area of reduction and Young's modulus. These
important parameters obtained from the standard tensile testing are
useful for the selection of engineering materials for any applications
required. The tensile testing is carried out by applying longitudinal or
axial load at a specific extension rate to a standard tensile specimen
with known dimensions (gauge length and cross sectional area
perpendicular to the load direction) till failure. The applied tensile load
and extension are recorded during the test for the calculation of stress
and strain. The results from the test are commonly used to select a
material for an application, for quality control, and to predict how a
material will react under other types of forces. Properties that are
directly measured via a tensile test are ultimate tensile strength,
maximum elongation and reduction in area.

Fig 6.3 Dimension of Tensile Specimen


The ultimate tensile strength was measured using 10 ton capacity
servo hydraulic universal testing machine as shown in Fig. 6.3. The
test specimen is in a direction parallel to the applied load. In a
stress- strain graph the initial portion of the curve is a straight line
and represents the proportionality of stress to strain according to
Hooke's law. As the load is increased beyond which the stress is no
longer proportional to strain. Elastic limit is the maximum stress that
can be applied to the material without producing a permanent plastic
deformation when the load is removed. Yield point is the maximum
stress at which the specimen is deformed without a noticeable

increase in load. UTS is the maximum stress that a test specimen


can bear before fracture and is based on original area.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

Yield stress
By considering the stress-strain curve beyond the elastic portion, if the tensile loading
continues, yielding occurs at the beginning of plastic deformation. The yield stress, can be
obtained by dividing the load at yielding (Py) by the original cross-sectional area of the

specimen (Ao) as shown in

equation below.

Ultimate Tensile Strength


Beyond yielding, continuous loading leads to an increase in the stress required to
permanently deform the specimen. At this stage, the specimen is strain hardened
or work hardened. The degree of strain hardening depends on the nature of the
deformed materials, crystal structure and chemical composition, which affects the
dislocation motion. If the load is continuously applied, the stress-strain curve will
reach the maximum point, which is the ultimate tensile strength (UTS). At this point,
the specimen can withstand the highest stress before necking takes place. This can
be observed by a local reduction in the cross sectional area of the specimen
generally observed in the centre of the gauge length.

Ductility
Ductility can be expressed either in terms of percent elongation or percent
reduction in area as expressed in the equations below

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

All tests were conducted in accordance with ASTM standards. Tensile


tests were conducted at room temperature using UTM in accordance
with ASTM E8-82. The tensile specimens of diameter 8.9 mm and
gauge length 76 mm were machined from the cast composites with the
gauge length of the specimen parallel to the longitudinal axis of the
castings. Five specimens were tested and the average values of the
ultimate tensile strength (UTS) and ductility (in terms of percentage
elongation) were measured.

Fig 6.4 Specimens for Tensile test

Fig 6.5 Universal

Testing Machine

The procedure is as follows:


1.

The average cross section of the specimen was determined using the
micrometer.

2. Firmly grip the upper end of the specimen in the fixed head
of universal testing machine using fixing shackles.
3. The computer controlled testing machine was adjusted to
read zero.
4. Strain rate was selected as per standard 2mm/ min.
5. Applied load until the specimen was broken.
6. Remove the broken specimen from testing machine and
observe for the failure characteristics. The dimension of
smallest section was measured, the parts were held
together and measure gauge length and length between
the shoulders, and diameters.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.5 Hardness test


Hardness is the property of a material that enables it to resist plastic deformation,
usually by penetration. However, the term hardness may also refer to resistance to
bending, scratching, abrasion or cutting. As engineers, we find hardness tests useful for
estimating the tensile strength of materials. The Brinell and Rockwell Tests are the most
common experiments to determine the hardness of metals. Both Tests measure the
resistance to indentation of a metal under a static load. This test uses the depth of
indentation to determine the hardness number. A minor load is applied to hold the
sample in place then a major load is applied to indent the sample.
The Brinell scale characterizes the indentation hardness of materials through the scale of
penetration of an indenter, loaded on a material test-piece. It is one of several definitions of
hardness in materials science. Brinell hardness test is also known as indentation hardness test
where indentation hardness is defined as the resistant to permanent or plastic deformation under
static or dynamic loads. The static indentation test was the type of test used in the present study
to examine the hardness of the specimens in which a ball indenter was forced into the
specimens being tested. The relationship of the total test force to the area or depth of indentation
provides the measure of hardness.

Brinell hardness number (BHN) is expressed as the ratio of applied load to surface
area of the spherical indentation mode. In this process of hardness determination
when the metal is indented by a spherical tip. The tip first overcomes the resistance
of the metal to elastic deformation and then a small amount of plastic deformation
upon deeper indentation of the tip. It overcomes large deformation.
For the Brinell hardness test, the surface of the specimen on which the impression is to
be made, should be smooth, clear, dry and free from oxides and scales to permit
accurate measurement. For ferrous metals the load ranges P = 30 d should be used,
2

for non-ferrous metals like brass and aluminium load range P= 5 D , should be used.

BHN= Load/ Spherical area of indentation


= P/ (3.14 X D)/2 (D- (D2 - d2)
The hardness of the specimens was measured using a standard Brinell hardness testing
machine (shown in Fig. 5.6). The hardness tests were conducted in accordance with the ASTM
E10 standards as shown in Fig. 5.5. A ball indenter of diameter 5 mm was used and a load of
250 Kgs was applied over the specimens of diameter 20 mm and thickness 6

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


mm for a period of 30 seconds. In order to minimize the error due to segregation effect
of the particles, six readings were taken two each at the periphery, middle and centre.

The procedure for measuring hardness is described below:


1. The fine polished specimen was placed on platform and 5mm diameter
ball indenter was fixed.
2. Platform was raised till it was focused on the screen.
3. Select the load by selector button for various metals and for non-ferrous metals.
4.

Wait till handle on left side comes to rest and allow the load to act for 30 seconds.

5.

Handle was pressed to release the load and to bring objective back in to position.

6.

The diameter of indentation was measured by built in microscope of the machine.

7. For each composition 6 indentation diameters are noted and average


BHN is calculated.

Fig 6.6 Hardness test specimens

Fig 6.7 Brinell hardness testing machine

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.6 Compression test


Compression test was carried out using a standard 10-ton capacity universal testing machine.
The Universal testing machine used for the compression test is shown in Fig. 5.3. Compression
tests were conducted on specimens of 20.21 mm diameter and 40 mm length machined from the
cast composites, by gradually applied loads and corresponding strains were measured until
failure of the specimen. The compression test specimens are shown in fig 6.5. The tests were
conducted according to ASTM E9 at room temperature.

Fig 6.8 Compression test specimens

6.7 Microstructure
The optical metallurgical microscope (model: NIKON Epiphot 200) was used for
microstructure characterization of the Al356 matrix alloy reinforced with SiC and
ZrSio4 to study the effect of reinforcement on the matrix.
The specimens for optical microscopy were prepared according to ASTM E3 standards. The
samples were first subjected to grinding and polishing followed by etching. Grinding and
polishing after usual grinding and machining, the specimens were rough polished using 100,
200, 400, 600, 800 and 1200 grit silicon carbide papers. These papers are less susceptible to
loading than emery papers. The specimens were held firmly in hand and rubbed smoothly
against the SiC papers, exercising sufficient care to avoid any deep scratches since the Al alloys
are comparatively soft. Excessive heat formation during polishing was avoided as Al alloys
contain many metastable phases. Fine polishing was performed using magnesium oxide paste
followed by diamond paste using polishing machine shown in Fig. 4.4. The platform was covered
with billiard cloth. Separate platforms were used for magnesium oxide and diamond polishing.
During fine polishing

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


with magnesium oxide paste, hands as well as the specimens were washed
with water in between to prevent carryover of coarser grit from previous steps.
After polishing with magnesium oxide, the specimens were finally polished with
1 m thin diamond paste after changing the platform. The specimens were then
cleaned with alcohol and dried in air.

Fig 6.9 Polishing machine

6.8 Etching
The most useful etchant for microscopic examination of Al and Al alloys is the aqueous solutions
of chromic acid to which sodium sulphate has been added. Etchant composition is as follows:
200gm chromic acid, 15gm sodium sulphate and 1000 ml water.
The specimen surface was first cleaned in alcohol, then in running water and etched while wet.
To avoid staining after etching, it was immediately rinsed in a solution of 200 gm chromic acid in
1000 ml of water. Etching duration was 4 to 5 sec, followed by rinsing in water. The samples
were dipped in alcohol and dried in a stream of clean warm air.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.9 Optical Metallurgical Microscope


The optical microscope, often referred to as the "light microscope", is a type of
microscope which uses visible light and a system of lenses to magnify images of small
samples. Basic optical microscopes can be very simple, although there are many
complex designs which aim to improve resolution and sample contrast. When using a
camera to capture a micrograph the effective magnification of the image must take into
account the size of the image. This is independent of whether it is on a print from a film
negative or displayed digitally on a computer screen. In the case of photographic film
cameras the calculation is simple; the final magnification is the product of: the objective
lens magnification, the camera optics magnification and the enlargement factor of the
film print relative to the negative. A typical value of the enlargement factor is around 5
(for the case of 35mm film and a 15x10 cm (64 inch) print). In the case of digital
cameras the size of the pixels in the CMOS or CCD detector and the size of the pixels
on the screen have to be known. The enlargement factor from the detector to the pixels
on screen can then be calculated. As with a film camera the final magnification is the
product of: the objective lens magnification, the camera optics magnification and the
enlargement factor.

Fig 6.10 Optical metallurgical microscope

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

6.10 Finite element analysis


The study is performed on common specimen with nominal dimensions equal to
127136 mm with and span S = 65 mm. In the mid span of the specimen a notch
is created with length 6mm and width 1mm. The geometry of the SENB specimen
was modeled in catia and is shown in figure 6.11. In this study the three point
bending test is performed experimentally and then repeated with FE technique.

Fig 6.11 SENB specimen model

Fig 6.12 FE mesh model

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

Fig 6.13 Stress distribution from finite element


simulations
The above figure shows the results from finite element simulations. The
stress value obtained from FEA is shown in the figure 6.13. The values
of the maximum load at which the specimen breaks are taken by the
experimental results. Eq. (1) is used to calculate the fracture toughness
of the specimen. The stress in Eq. (1) is determined using FE technique,
by analyzing the SENB specimen under different loading conditions. The
geometric factor of the specimen is calculated using Eq. (2) by the
known dimensions of the specimen. By putting the stress values
obtained by the FEA technique in Eq. (1) gives us the Fracture
Toughness for all the composition of the composite. The values of
fracture toughness calculated in this study are near to the general range
of fracture toughness values obtained experimentally.

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Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 7
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
7.1 Fracture toughness results

Peak load

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

0%Sic+

6%Sic+

2%Sic+

4%Sic+

8%Sic+

8%Zrsio4

2%Zrsio4

6%Zrsio4

4%Zrsio4

0%Zrsio4

660

720

780

780

660

15.27

16.67

18.05

18.05

15.27

(N)
Fracture
toughness
(MPa m1/2)

Table7.1 Variation of Fracture toughness with different wt% reinforcements


The values of the fracture toughness for the different composition of the reinforcement
and the matrix are shown in the above table. The fracture toughness (which is a
measure of the resistance to crack propagation) was observed to improve significantly
with the increase in the addition of the reinforcement particles. The improvement might
be due to the presence and distribution of fine SiC and ZrSiO 4 particles in the Al matrix.
There is a considerable increase in the fracture toughness for the combination of 6%
SiC+2% ZrSiO4 and 4% SiC+4% ZrSiO4. The deformation and fracture behavior of the
composite reveals the importance of particle size. It is well established that large
particles are detrimental to fracture toughness due to their tendency towards fracture. A
reduction in particle size is observed to increase the proportional limit, yield stress and
the ultimate tensile stress.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 53

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Variation of the fracture toughness with varying weight percentage of the
reinforcements is shown in Fig
18.5

Fracture toughness (MPa m1/2)

18
17.5
17
16.5
16
15.5
15
14.5
14
13.5
1

Reinforcement in wt%

Fig7.1 Variation of Fracture toughness with different wt%


reinforcement

1. Al356+0%Sic+8%ZrSio4
2. Al356+6%Sic+2%ZrSio4
3. Al356+2%Sic+6%ZrSio4
4. Al356+4%Sic+4%ZrSio4
5. Al356+8%Sic+0%ZrSio4

7.2 Comparison of the Experimental and FEA results

Fracture
toughness
(experimental)
Fracture
toughness
(FEA)

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

0%Sic+

0%Sic+

0%Sic+

0%Sic+

0%Sic+

8%Zrsio4
15.27

8%Zrsio4
16.67

8%Zrsio4
18.05

8%Zrsio4
18.05

8%Zrsio4
15.27

14.13

15.28

16.89

16.89

14.13

Table 7.2 Comparison of experimental and FEA results


M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 54

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

7.3 Tensile test results


Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

0%Sic+

6%Sic+

2%Sic+

4%Sic+

8%Sic+

8%Zrsio4

2%Zrsio4

6%Zrsio4

4%Zrsio4

0%Zrsio4

Peak load (KN) 14.60

18.30

17.70

17.80

17

Displacement at 10

13

12.6

12.2

13.1

12

15.50

14.90

15.70

14.50

97.93

126.49

125.18

127.92

119.28

149.34

148.70

145.03

139.85

4.60

5.78

4.40

3.32

peak (mm)
Load at yield
(KN)
Yield Stress
N/mm2)
Tensile strength 119.15
2

(N/mm )
% Elongation

2.90

Table 7.3 Tensile properties of the MMC


The average values of the ultimate tensile strength, yield strength, and % elongation
obtained from the tensile test are summarized in table 7.2. It is observed that the tensile
strength and yield strength are increased with an increase weight percent of both SiC
and ZrSiO4. The increase was more significant for the Al cast with 6%SiC+2%ZrSiO 4
and 2%SiC+6%ZrSiO4. The increase in tensile strength is due to the presence of the
hard and higher modulus SiC and ZrSiO 4 particles embedded in the Al (356) matrix,
which act as a barrier to resist plastic flow when the composite is subjected to strain
from an applied load. Also, the decreased interparticle spacing, due to the increasing
weight percent of SiC and ZrSiO 4 reinforcement, creates increased resistance to
dislocation motion, which contributes to the enhanced strength of the composites.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 55

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Variations of ultimate tensile strength and yield strength with the varying weight

Strength (N/mm2)

percentage of the reinforcement particles is shown in Fig

160
140
120
100
80

UT
S

60

YS

40
20
0
1

Reinforcement ratios

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

7.4 Hardness test results


The hardness values of composite specimen for different weight percentage of
reinforcements is shown in table 7.3.
Aluminium composition

Hardness (BHN)

Al356+0%SiC+8%ZrSiO4

52

Al356+6%SiC+2%ZrSiO4

52.6

Al356+2%SiC+6%ZrSiO4

56.6

Al356+4%SiC+4%ZrSiO4

56.6

Al356+8%SiC+0%ZrSiO4

55.6

Table 7.3 Variation of hardness with different wt% reinforcement


The values in above table show that, hardness is increasing with increase in
reinforcement weight fractions. This is due to the high hardness values of silicon
carbide particles and the good bonding between the reinforcement particles and matrix
phases. The presence of reinforcement particles in the matrix could impede the
movement of dislocations since these particles are stronger than the matrix in which
they are embedded. From the above table it can be observed that the hardness values
are high for the matrix with weight percent reinforcement of 2%SiC+6%ZrSiO 4 and
4%SiC+4%ZrSiO4. This is also due to high proportion of the hard and brittle phase of
the zircon sand in the alloy. The zircon sand addition to the matrix alloy results to
elastic and plastic incompatibility due to differences in the coefficient of thermal
expansion in the hard reinforcing and soft matrix alloy, which causes high dislocation
density. The high dislocation density also contributed to high hardness value.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 57

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC


Variations of hardness with the varying weight percentage of the reinforcement
particles is shown in Fig
57
56

Hardness (BHN)

55
54
53
52
51
50
49
1

Reinforcement in wt%

Fig 7.3 Hardness value for different wt% reinforcement


1. Al356+0%Sic+8%ZrSio4
2. Al356+6%Sic+2%ZrSio4
3. Al356+2%Sic+6%ZrSio4
4. Al356+4%Sic+4%ZrSio4
5. Al356+8%Sic+0%ZrSio4

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 58

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

7.5 Compression test results


The compression test results are shown in table below.

Peak load (Kg)

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

Al356+

0%Sic+

6%Sic+

2%Sic+

4%Sic+

8%Sic+

8%Zrsio4

2%Zrsio4

6%Zrsio4

4%Zrsio4

0%Zrsio4

22093.17 22656.05

22019.75

22313.43 20306.63

14

16.5

12.8

13.6

56.23

56.43

56.12

54.91

Displacement at 11.5
Peak (mm)
Compression

56.97
2

Strength(Kg/mm )
Table 7.4 Variation of compression strength with different wt% reinforcement

The compression strength of the matrix alloy reinforced with SiC and ZrSiO 4 is
shown in Fig 7.4. It can be observed from the fig below that the composition
with 0%SiC+8%ZrSiO4 and 2%SiC+6%ZrSiO4 have high compression strength.
57.5

Compression strength (Kg/mm2)

57
56.5
56
55.5
55
54.5
54
53.5
1

Reinforcement in wt%
Fig7.4 Compression strength for different wt% reinforcement

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 59

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

7.6 Microstructure
The optical metallurgical microscope (model: NIKON Epiphot 200) was
used for analyzing the distribution of the reinforcement in the matrix alloy.

100X

500X
Fig7.5 Microstructure of Al356+0%SiC+8%ZrSiO 4

100X

500X
Fig7.6 Microstructure of Al356+6%SiC+2%ZrSiO 4

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 60

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

100X

500X
Fig 7.7 Microstructure of Al356+2%SiC+6%ZrSiO 4

100X

500X
Fig 7.8 Microstructure of Al356+6%SiC+2%ZrSiO 4

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 61

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

100X

500X
Fig 7.9 Microstructure of Al356+8%SiC+0%ZrSiO 4

The specimens for microscopic observations were prepared by the standard technique
of grinding with SiC abrasive papers and polishing with a diamond suspension solution.
In the microstructure of the composite, agglomerates of the reinforcement particles are
clearly visible as shown in figures above. From the above figures it can be observed
that there is a reasonably homogenous distribution of the reinforcement particles in the
cast composite. It was found that the particles showed a strong tendency to accumulate
in the colonies which froze in the last stage of solidification. During the distributive
mixing, the rotation of the stirrer generates a vortex through which the reinforcement
particles are drawn into the melt. Once the particles are transferred into the liquid, the
distribution is strongly affected by certain flow transitions. The axial flow causes lifting
of particles due to momentum transfer and radial flow prevents particle settling.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 62

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 8
CONCLUSION
Aluminum based metal matrix composites are the most promising materials for
the future automotive, aerospace and other applications. Al 356 alloy matrix
hybrid composites reinforced with Zirconium Silicate and Silicon Carbide
particles has been successfully synthesized by the stir casting method.
1. The results from the study reveal that there is considerable increase in the fracture

toughness in the presence of both silicon carbide and zirconium silicate


reinforcement in the matrix alloy. The matrix alloy with 2%SiC and 6%ZrSiO 4
reinforcement has shown high toughness for fracture.
2. The result shows the increasing hardness with the increase in the
reinforcement weight fractions. The presence of hard reinforcement particles
in the matrix could impede the movement of dislocations since these
particles are stronger than the matrix in which they are embedded.
3. The ultimate tensile strength and the yield strength of the composite are
more in presence of both the reinforcement than compared to the alloy in
presence of single reinforcement. The increase in the strength can be
attributed to homogenity of the reinforcement particles in the matrix alloy.
4. Microstructure reveals a reasonably homogeneous distribution of SiC and ZrSiO 4
particles in the cast composite. It was found that the particles showed a strong
tendency to accumulate in the colonies which froze in the last stage of solidification.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 63

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

CHAPTER 9
SCOPE FOR FUTURE WORK
1. The amount of reinforcement in metal matrix composite used in the present
study is limited to 8 weight percentage. Further studies can be carried out
by varying the weight percentage of the reinforcement.
2. Single Edge Notch Bend specimen is used in the present study to evaluate
the Fracture Toughness. Similar studies can be carried out using the
compact tension specimen.
3. In the present study mechanical properties have been evaluated. Further
tribological properties like friction, corrosion and wear test can be evaluated.
4. The microstructure was analyzed by metallurgical microscope. To analyze
the microstructure SEM and EDAX can be used.
5. The mechanical properties can also be evaluated after the heat treatment of
the composite.

M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 64

Experimental Determination and Analysis of Fracture Toughness of MMC

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M-Tech, MDE, Dept of Mech Engg., DBIT, Bangalore

Page 67