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Vol. 8. Issue 3.
Pages 3347-3356 (May - June 2019)
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Vol. 8. Issue 3.
Pages 3347-3356 (May - June 2019)
Review Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmrt.2017.10.012
Open Access
Characterization of Al-7075 metal matrix composites: a review
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Mohammed Imran
Corresponding author
, A.R. Anwar Khan
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ghousia College of Engineering, Affiliated VTU, Ramanagaram, Karnataka, 562159, India
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Tables (4)
Table 1. Chemical composition of Al-7075 T6 [2].
Table 2. Mechanical properties of aluminum matrix composites (AMCs).
Table 3. Chemical composition of fly ash [14].
Table 4. ASTM E-9 standard dimensions for compression specimen [18].
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Abstract

Aluminum-7075 series alloys commonly used in transportation applications are aerospace, aviation, marine and automobile due to their good mechanical properties and low density and high strength-to-density ratio [1]. The present review focuses on mechanical properties, tribological properties and corrosion behavior of Al-7075 metal matrix composites (AMMCs) by the addition of desirable reinforcements. The objective is to review the literature on fabrication of the aluminum metal matrix composite materials by combining alloys and reinforcements. The reinforcements may be particulate SiC, Al2O3, Gr, TiO2, bagasse ash, etc. These particulate reinforcements are incorporated in the stir casting method. The results revealed that, there is significant improvement in mechanical properties. Superior wear and corrosion resistance, low coefficient of thermal expansion as compared to conventional base alloys.

Keywords:
Al-7075 matrix composites
Reinforcements
Mechanical and tribological properties
Full Text
1Introduction

In the past 7 decades (1943), aluminum 7075 series alloy materials used for the construction of desirable components of automobile, aerospace and marine applications are inline skating-frames, shafts for lacrosse sticks, hang glider airframes, rifles for the American military, camping knife and fork sets, fuselage, turbine casing, missile tail cone, bicycle components, automobile engine casing, etc. [1]. These materials posses high strength/weight ratio [2,3], also desirable light weight and strength. In other fields, global needs are high performance rate, low cost and better quality materials have been made by researchers which transfer from monolithic to composite materials [4].

Al-7xxx series alloy also called aluminum–zinc alloy due to maximum zinc quantity ranging between 5.1 and 6.1 percent and chemical composition shown in Table 1[2]. These series were developed first secretly by Japanese company, Sumitomo Metal, in the year 1943 eventually for production of airframe in the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Table 1.

Chemical composition of Al-7075 T6 [2].

Composition  Zn  Si  Fe  Ti  Cu  Mn  Mg  Cr  other  Balance 
Percentage  5.1–6.1  0.40  0.50  0.20  1.2–2.0  0.30  2.1–2.9  0.18–0.28  0.65  Al 

Al-7075 has wide verities of applications due to this it need further reinforcement. The aluminum alloy is used as matrix material (continues phase) and build with several properties by adding desirable single and multiple reinforcement particulates (discrete constituent non-metallic ceramics) like SiC, Al2O3, Gr, TiO2, B4C, AlN, fly ash, etc. as composites, which shows higher strength than the base alloy material. This advancement in alloy material was required for fast growing technologies in different fields of applications. The recent interests in research are the MMCs ability in altering physical properties (thermal expansion, density), mechanical properties (tensile and compressive behavior), tribological properties, etc. by changing constituent or filler material phase [5].

In case of AMMCs material system, combining or mixing process for more than two macro, micro, or nano constituents interface and separating them shows different forms of chemical composition. Also constituent materials are essentially insoluble in phase material [5]. AMMCs proved useful in different engineering areas as well as structural and functional applications because of changing or variation in mechanical behavior depending upon the percentage variation of reinforcement and composition of matrix material.

2Literature review

This review presents mechanical and tribological properties of AMMCs containing single or multiple reinforcements. Fabrication was done by using stir casting method. Addition of Al2O3 (alumina) as reinforcement to aluminum alloy gives an improvement in its mechanical and tribological properties. Graphite reinforcement improves the machinability of aluminum and acts as self-lubricating property. SiC particles show higher hardness of aluminum. Organic agricultural wastes utilized for reinforcement are fly ash, bagasse ash and coconut ash helps to improve the tensile strength, yield strength, etc. These studies were clearly discussed as follows.

2.1Stir casting method

Earlier in 5500 years ago, metals cast in carved or impressed shape of cavities are used as molds prepared by clay and soft minerals. The different naturally available metals like gold, copper and silver were melted and solidified in these cavities. Casting of weapons, tools, etc. was developed by using metallurgy technique. The complex design of production was done by preparing sand and clay mixtures molds. In 17th century, iron dies or steel dies have been introduced for the casting of alloy materials. An intensive effort was made by the researchers in first decade of the 20th century by introducing permanent iron and steel molds for the casting of aluminum. In 1820s first pressure die casting technique was used for large volumes of castings and second technique was introduced as injection molding technique. Initially injection molding technique was used for metal casting under pressure into metallic dies with mechanical action by hand crank mechanism. Presently, hydraulic and pneumatic systems were used to get mechanical action. There are several other techniques developed, later on stir casting technique was introduced for the aluminum casting which is also known as liquid metallurgical technique [6]. Stir casting technique is extensively low cost and economical process, easy procedure and gives uniform mixing of different composition of metal constituents, minimum moisture level, good adhesion and negligible elemental reactions among the particles and the base material is shown in Fig. 1[7,8].

Fig. 1.

Stir casting furnace [8].

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The stir casting technique was used for the production of AMMCs, which is most simplest and economical process for particulate reinforced metal matrix composites. Optimum properties of the hybrid composites were obtained by proper distribution of particulate reinforcement in the base material. The stirrer is used to obtain a high-quality distribution of the reinforcement material in the base material. Aluminum alloy was melted in the furnace at a temperature range of 600–800°C. A stirrer is introduced in the molten metal and rotated at 200–600rpm by electric motor for about 10–20min so that a vortex is created. Preheated particle reinforcement subsequently introduced at the region of the vortex to obtain uniform distribution of particle materials in base matrix [7,8].

2.2Microstructure

Review on optical microscope structure shows that according to the Krishna et al., reinforcement has uniformly distributed in aluminum matrix material [9,10] (Fig. 2(a)–(c)). The microstructural interface characteristics depend on reinforcements and matrix, microstructural investigation shows that the distribution of SiC particles in Al matrix is clustering and non-homogeneous in nature [11] (Fig. 2(d)–(f)). The non-homogeneous distribution of reinforcement takes place due to contact time variation among molten Al matrix and SiC during casting of composites that is poor wetting behavior and high surface tension of silicon carbide (SiC) particles in the liquid (molten) Al [12]. Also Al microstructures show porosities, during casting when reinforcement was added to molten metal [11,13,14] (Fig. 2(f)–(l)). Hence, when increasing wt% of particles reinforcement increased trapped air results in higher porosity [15].

Fig. 2.

Optical microscope images of composite: (a) Al+5% SiC/Gr [9], (b) Al+10% of SiC/Gr [9], (c) Al+15% of SiC/Gr [9], (d) Al+5% SiC [11], (e) Al+10% SiC [11], (f) Al+20% SiC [11], (g) Al (7075)+5% SiC+3% B4C [13], (h) Al (7075)+10% SiC+3% B4C [13], (i) Al (7075)+15% SiC+3% B4C [13], (j) LM25+5% Al2O3+3% fly ash [14], (k) LM25+10% Al2O3+3% fly ash [14] and (l) LM25+15% Al2O3+3% fly ash [14].

(1.7MB).
2.3Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

Morphology of Al matrix composite surfaces was seen by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The composite surface of fractured samples results shows no segregation of reinforced particles since mixture was uniform [9,16] (Fig. 3(a) and (b)).

Fig. 3.

SEM images: (a) fractured surface Al+SiC [9], (b) tensile fractured surface Al+Gr MMC [16], (c) worn surface morphology of AA7075 [17] and (d) worn surface morphology of AA7075+6wt% of Al2O3 composites [17].

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The worn out surfaces of the composites were observed intense flow and narrow grooves of material by using pin on disk setup. The worn surfaces will depend on sliding direction, degree of wear and adhesion between the pin specimen surface and the counter body. The adhesive wear mechanism helps to indicate the topographies of the worn surface of the composites due to ploughing and cutting effects by plastic deformation. Abrasion and delaminating wear mechanisms in composites indicate morphology of the worn surfaces. The results show that the worn surfaces were quite similar to that of the unreinforced base material alloys [17] (Fig. 3(c) and (d)). Worn surfaces of the MMCs were usually much rougher than that of the unreinforced base material alloys [7].

2.4Mechanical behavior2.4.1Hardness

The literature shows hardness tests were carried out as per the E-10 ASTM Standard. The most commonly used brinell hardness tester of standard 2.5mm diameter of ball indenter and a load of 10–35kg is applied for a time of 20–30s. Brinell hardness number (BHN) readings were taken at different locations of specimens, relative effects of particle segregation were observed [18].

Review on hardness is tabulated in Table 2. Al2O3, SiC, B4C and fly ash (FA) show increasing as weight percentage of reinforcement is increased in aluminum base material [14,19]. Further addition of graphite (Gr) particles reinforcement to aluminum matrix material decreases hardness [16].

Table 2.

Mechanical properties of aluminum matrix composites (AMCs).

Sl. No.  Composition  Tensile/yielding (MPa)  Elongation (%)  UTS (MPa)  Hardness (BHN)  Compression (MPa)  Refs. 
1.Al+5%SiC  132.34  –  –  –  –  [5]
Al+10%SiC  143.46  –  –  –  – 
Al+15%SiC  150.95  –  –  –  – 
Al+5%SiC+5%Gr  144.73  –  –  –  – 
Al+10%SiC+10%Gr  173.39  –  –  –  – 
Al+15%SiC+15%Gr  192.45  –  –  –  – 
2.Al+0% SiC  28.45  –  –  –  –  [11]
Al+5% SiC  59.36  –  –  –  – 
Al+10% SiC  50.17  –  –  –  – 
Al+20% SiC  77.56  –  –  –  – 
3.Al-7075        67    [13]
Al-7075+3%B4–  –  –  77  – 
Al-7075+3%B4C+5%SiC  –  –  –  82  – 
Al-7075+3%B4C+10%SiC  –  –  –  85  – 
Al-7075+3%B4C+15%SiC  –  –  –  88   
4.Al(LM25)+0 Al2O3+3%FA  –  7.1  136  57.2  –  [14]
Al(LM25)+5 Al2O3+3%FA  –  5.3  162  61.0  – 
Al(LM25)+10 Al2O3+3%FA  –  4.0  187  61.8  – 
Al(LM25)+15 Al2O3+3%FA  –  2.4  168  62.0  – 
5.Al6061  –  5.90  153.90  51.4  743.03  [16]
Al6061-1%Graphite  –  7.31  173.80  44.58  847.90 
Al6061-2%Graphite  –  8.47  181.20  40.64  946.10 
Al6061-3%Graphite  –  8.60  182.10  39.98  1028.72 
Al6061-4%Graphite    9.40  191.65  37.38  1067.21 
6.Al-7075  –    210  115  265  [19]
Al-7075+2%Al2O3  –    219  117  270 
Al-7075+4%Al2O3  –    226  121  275 
Al-7075+6%Al2O3  –    229  124  283 
Al-7075+8%Al2O3      236  134  294 
7.As-cast[20]
Al+0% SiC  80.75  –  112.93  –  – 
Al+3% SiC  88.02  –  114.70  –  – 
Al+6% SiC  93.43  –  121.40  –  – 
Al+9% SiC  111.0  –  150.74  –  – 
Al+12% SiC  120.24    158.50    – 
Age-hardened
Al+0% SiC  86.95  –  116.70  –  – 
Al+3% SiC  90.54  –  119.20  –  – 
Al+6% SiC  118.40  –  135.36  –  – 
Al+9% SiC  116.00  –  154.54  –  – 
Al+12% SiC  118.4    154.90    – 
2.4.2Tensile strength

The tensile tests were conducted at room temperature by using universal testing machine (UTM) as per the E-8M ASTM Standard. The E-8M standard dimensions of tensile specimens of gauge length (G) five times more than diameter (D) are shown in Fig. 4[18].

Fig. 4.

E-8M standard dimensions of tensile specimens [18].

(0.15MB).

Review on tensile behavior is tabulated in Table 2. Al2O3, SiC, B4C, Gr and fly ash (FA) increase in weight percentage of reinforcement in aluminum base material, tensile strength increases gradually [9,20]. It was observed that, addition of fly ash shows percentage elongation randomly decreases, on the other hand when graphite is added percentage elongation gradually increased [16]. In the case of ultimate tensile strength (UTS), gradual increase with addition of reinforcements is seen [14,19,20], except a fly ash. Effects of fly ash reinforcement show random changes in UTS (Table 3) with different wt% of reinforcements [14].

Table 3.

Chemical composition of fly ash [14].

Composition  Al2O3  SiC2  Fe2O3  TiO2  Loss of ignition 
In wt%  28.44  59.96  8.85  2.75  1.43 
2.4.3Compressive strength

The compression tests were conducted by using universal testing machine (UTM) as per the E-9 ASTM Standard. The E-9 standard dimensions of compression specimens of gauge length to diameter (D) ratio are different for the length selection like short, medium and long length shown in Table 4[8].

Table 4.

ASTM E-9 standard dimensions for compression specimen [18].

Specimens  DiameterLengthApprox L/D ratio 
  in.  mm  in.  mm   
Short1.12±0.01  30.0±0.2  1.00±0.05  25.0±1.00  0.8 
0.50±0.01  13.0±0.2  1.00±0.05  25.0±1.00  2.0 
Medium0.50±0.01  13.0±0.2  1.50±0.05  38.0±1.00  3.0 
0.80±0.01  20.0±0.2  2.38±0.12  60.0±3.00  3.0 
1.00±0.01  25.0±0.2  3.00±0.12  75.0±3.00  3.0 
1.12±0.01  30.0±0.2  3.38±0.12  85.0±3.00  3.0 
Long0.80±0.01  20.0±0.2  6.38±0.12  160.0±3.00  8.0 
1.25±0.01  32.0±0.2  12.50min  320min  10.0 

Review on compression test shows the gradual increase in compressive loads until the specimen failed and corresponding strain was measured. The effect of Al2O3 particle reinforced in Al shows increase in compressive strength compared to graphite reinforced composites (Fig. 5) [16,19].

Fig. 5.

Compression strength comparison between Gr reinforced AMMCs [19] and Al2O3 reinforced AMMCs [16].

(0.16MB).
2.5Tribological behavior2.5.1Wear behavior

The tribological investigation is the discipline of interacting surfaces under relative motion. Tribological behavior revealed that direct relation with the load gives wear rate (WR) and coefficient of friction (COF), while inverse relation with the sliding speed (SS) and sliding distance (SD) [10]. The WR and COF of AMMCs decreases compared to base alloy when wt% of graphite reinforcement was increased as shown in Fig. 6(a) and (b). Graphite reinforcement acts as self-solid lubricating element which reduces the wear rate. The hybrid reinforced composites are harder than the unreinforced aluminum alloy and this shows the base alloy is softer material, surface of base material undergoes greater plastic deformation which causes the high wear rate [8,17].

Fig. 6.

(a) Wear rate vs. experimental sets and (b) COF vs. experimental set [8].

(0.37MB).

The WR for base alloy was higher than AA7075/Al2O3 composite. The results revealed that at 6wt% of Al2O3 reinforced composite, less wear rate at different loads and 1200m sliding distance, compared to base matrix material the wear resistance of the composite was increased (Fig. 7(a) and (b)) [17]. As the load is increased, WR is increased and WR decreases with increasing in wt% of reinforcement and the sliding speed (Fig. 7(c)) [17,21,22].

Fig. 7.

Wear rate under different load conditions: (a) AA7075+Al2O3[17], (b) AA7075 reinforced with B4C and MoS4[21] and (c) Al+5% Al2O3+MoS2[22].

(0.33MB).

The COF of Al-7075 alloy compared with composites under different loading conditions found that friction increases with load increased [21]. The increasing COF depends upon adhering of the worn out surface and rupture of mating surface gives the value of COF with time [23–25]. The results revealed that graphite reinforced composite shows very less friction on surface of the composites compared to base alloy [8]. The boron carbide (B4C) powder reinforced composites show lower COF compared to base Al-7075 alloy [21]. The silicon carbide (SiC) reinforced composites show higher hardness and lesser COF compared to base alloy [26]. To reduce the effect of higher friction coefficient, TiO2 is added as solid lubricating element in aluminum composites [9]. With the addition of fine reinforced powder particles, the COF decreases significantly. The limited or small contact area plastic deformation may lead to the lack in friction coefficient. Therefore composites surface has lesser friction while they are harder and very less plastic deformation. Addition of solid lubricating reinforcement further decreases the COF and significantly increases the WR of base alloy [21,27,28]. Compared to all types of ceramics reinforcements, graphite materials have superior tribological properties.

2.6Corrosion behavior

Al-7075 matrix composites have poor properties like low formability and corrosion resistance and restricted their wider usage. However investigator/researcher has to concentrate on performance of produced AMMCs on corrosion resistance. The addition of reinforcements in base alloy may affect the protective oxide layers of metal surface which shows less corrosion resistance, because of discontinuity in the layer initiation of corroded surface of the aluminum matrix composite material [1]. The parameters that affect corrosion resistance of the AMMC's are base material composition, reinforcement, porosity, micro-cracks, residual stresses and formation of inter metallic brittle phases, etc. [2]. The common corrosion tests were conducted using electrochemical analyzer and Tafel Polarization Technique (TPT). The electrochemical analysis was done by using electrochemical analyzer (CHI604E series) with CH instrument beta software. The experimental setup for electrochemical analyzer cell use three combination of normal electrodes like saturated calomel electrode (SCE), counter electrode as platinum and working electrode made up of preferred alloy with their composites along with glass cell. The Tafel polarization method of corrosion measurement was conducted with different environment by using standard solutions such as seawater (NaCl) and industrial (NaCl+(NH4)2SO4) environment. All the corrosion experiments were conducted at room temperature [29].

In this review it was observed that corrosion increases with increase in wt% of reinforcement compared to base alloy. The corrosion analysis results revealed that pitting corrosion was seen in sea water (NaCl) environment and inter granular corrosion was seen in industrial (NaCl+(NH4)2SO4) environment [29]. The major advantage of B4C fine particle reinforcement is added to Al-alloy material, increases the corrosion resistance with increase in wt% of B4C particle. The pitting corrosion resistance was improved but there may be increased chances of segregation at the grain boundaries due to finer particle size of reinforcement [30]. The higher corrosion rate shows when the standard solution level is high, this indicates the selection of level of standard solution important for experimental conduction [31]. Peak-aged treatments were carried for 7xxx series, Al-alloys give higher strength and good hardness but it experience poor corrosion resistance because of precipitate free zones (PFZs) at the grain boundaries. Many researcher/investigators use RRA technique (Retrogression and Reaging) specially developed heat treatment for improving the corrosion resistance of Al-7075 alloys [32,33].

3Conclusion

In last several decades, many researches/investigators were concentrating how to reduce the cost of producing reinforced composite materials with higher strength. The huge amount of fly ash waste material available in nature with possible use of mixing with base material of composites, the improvement made to increase outcome compared to existing material with rapid experimentation. The above cited review for Al-7075 metal matrix composite gives the following conclusions:

  • Aluminum metal matrix composites are fabricated by using powder and liquid metallurgy routes. In this review covers the liquid metallurgy route by vortex method that is stir casting method. This casting method was used successfully to manufacture AMMCs with desired effect of different ceramic reinforcement particles on mechanical and tribological properties of aluminum alloys [6–8].

  • Appreciable improvements in mechanical properties were observed by addition of various wt% of ceramics particles reinforcing in aluminum alloys. Addition of silicon carbide, alumina, barium chloride, etc. reinforced particles in aluminum increases the tensile strength, hardness, yield strength, compressive strength, flexural strength, whereas ductility is decreased [9,11,13,14,19,20]. Addition of graphite as reinforcement in aluminum alloy improves the tensile strength, ductility and elastic modulus whereas hardness is decreased. Also tribological behavior of such AMMCs shows decreased coefficient of friction with increase in wt% of Gr particles [4,16].

  • The extensive review found that the addition of industrial waste organic reinforcement materials fly ash, rice husk ash and coconut shell ash which significantly improves the physical and mechanical properties of AMMCs. Whereas, limited amount of improvement in tribological properties of the aluminum metal matrix composite was observed [14]. This shows the gap in research work for further investigation.

  • The wear resistance review reveals that the wear rate improves significantly with incorporation of carbide particles reinforcement in AA7075 matrix alloy. The coefficient of friction (COF) variation may be initiation of wear mechanism for AA7075 alloy due to predominant under adhesion, later it converts to abrasion. The wear mechanism is predominantly adhesive in nature, have lower COF due to steel disk hard surface scratching on Al-7075 softer pin surface. This shows the amount of adhesive wear and abrasive wear in Al-7075 alloy decreased because of a relatively lower COF and higher hardness. Wear process gives relatively smooth worn out surface due to surface fracture associated with initially adhesive mechanism then converts to abrasive mechanism [21].

  • The purpose of development of aluminum material as of composites with the help of different reinforcements leads to huge amount of application in different sectors like automobile, defence, military and general engineering applications.

4Future scope

The review of literature is done to carry out my research in fabrication and characterization of Al-7075 metal matrix hybrid composite.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Acknowledgements

I acknowledge to ghousia college of engineering, journal of materials research & technology editor, reviewer and production team, sciencedirect.com and my heartfelt thanks to ABM- Brazilian Metallurgical, Materials and Mining Association for their financial support for publication.

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Mohammed Imran, research scholar, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ghousia College of Engineering.

A.R Anwar Khan, Principal and Professor, Ghousia College of Engineering, 41 journal papers has been published in national and international journals, 20 conferences attended, 4 Ph.D guided and 3 Awarded.

Copyright © 2019. The Authors
Journal of Materials Research and Technology

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