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PROCESSING

processes while the alloy temperature is between liquidus and solidus (Flemings 1991). In both cases, that is, above liquidus temperature or between liquidus and solidus temperature, the metal-particulate slurries exhibit a non-newtonian behavior. Their viscosity decreases up to an order of magnitude as the shear rate increases (see Figure 1.6). Moreover, it has been experimentally observed that composite slurries are thixotropic, meaning that when the shear rate is abruptly changed, the viscosity of the slurry changes only progressively to reach the steady-state value of the new shear rate. Such behavior has been reported by Moon on SiC/Al-6.5 wt 940 Si (Moon et al. 1991) in both semisolid and liquid metal cases, and by Mada and Ajersch (1990) on similar systems in the semisolid state only, for a smaller range of shear rates. The mechanisms underlying the pseudoplastic behavior of composite slurries are not yet clearly understood. The existence of such behavior in slurries above the metal liquidus suggests that clustering and declustering of particles plays a major role. Interfacial chemical reaction between reinforcement and metal has also been reported to increase the slurry viscosity, apparently because the reaction products have a different density, break loose, or change the morphology of the reinforcement (Lloyd 1991). In the semisolid metal temperature range, the behavior of composite slurries is generally explained on the same basis as is their unreinforced counterparts. That is, there is a change in morphology of the solid phase under shear as a result of dendrite fragmentation, ripening and abrasion, and collision and coalescence of solid particles (Flemings 1991). Mada and Ajersch

(1990) developed an analytical model of thixotropic behavior in semisolid composite slurries, based on an analogy between rate constants for chemical reactions and the rates of dissociation and formation of solid aggregates. From their analysis and experimental results, they concluded that particle addition has little influence on the thixotropic nature of the melt, and that the primary metal solid phase is the major factor. Yet, an effect of particle addition on the pseudoplastic behavior has been observed by Moon (Moon et al. 1991); at a given shear rate, the viscosity of slurries composed of Sic particles combined with Al-6.5 wt % Si in the semisolid range was lower than that of unreinforced semisolid slurry of the same total volume fraction solid. This result is tentatively explained by the preferential location of reinforcement particles between dendrites arms, limiting contact and agglomeration of dendritic solid particles.

1.2.2.3 Particle Migration


After mixing, the semisolid composite may be at rest before complete solidification. The issue of particle migration because of gravity differences between metal and reinforcement then arises. For high volume fractions, the sedimentation is influenced by interactions between particles and by their size distribution (Lloyd 1991). When solidification takes place, particle migration caused by solidificationeffects competes with migration caused by gravity. Understanding and controlling the interaction between growing solid metal and the particles is crucial to producing homogeneously reinforced composites. Thus, when encountering a moving liquid/ solid interface, particles may be engulfed in the solid metal, or they may be pushed by the interface and consequently migrate into areas that solidified last, for example, interdendritic regions as illustrated in Figure 1.7. Work on this issue has recently been reviewed by several authors (Mortensen and Jin 1992; Rohatgi et al. 1990b; Stefanescu and Dhindaw 1988). From experimental observations, some particle/metal systems feature a critical interface velocity, V,, below which the particles are pushed and above which they are trapped. The value of V, depends on a number of factors, including particle size, shape and composition, metal composition, differences in thermal conductivity between particle and metal, and cooling rate. Several models have been developed to quantify particlepushing phenomena, but they are somewhat difficult to compare with experiments because the parameters do not all vary independently, and the castings generally do not solidify at steady-state.

Figure 1.6. Influence of shear rate on the viscosity of A-356-15volYo Sic. (Reprinted by permission from D. J. Lloyd, 1991.)