Homogeneous and functionally graded LM25 aluminium (Al) composites were fabricated by incorporating silicon nitride (10 wt%, 40 µm) particles through liquid metallurgy and centrifugal casting, respectively. The performance of these composites was compared with unreinforced alloy. The microstructural behaviour of the surfaces of unreinforced alloy, homogeneous composite and functionally graded composite (outer, middle and inner surfaces) were examined through optical microscopy. These surfaces were also evaluated for mechanical properties. An abrasive wear test was conducted on all these surfaces to determine their effect on wear rate. The microstructural results revealed a particle-rich region at the outer surface of the functionally graded composite material and uniform dispersion of reinforcement particles in the homogeneous composite. The outer region of the functionally graded composite showed greater hardness and the homogeneous composite displayed higher tensile strength. The abrasive wear rate increased with an increase in load and decreased with an increase in speed, and the particle-rich outer surface showed a lower wear rate. Scanning electron microscopy analysis revealed a particle-rich outer surface of functionally graded composite with fewer scratches. Therefore, higher wear resistance was observed at the outer periphery of functionally graded composites and this property can be well-utilised in automotive tribo-components such as in cylinder liners for improved performance.
Dr. Radhika N, “Comparison of the mechanical and wear behaviour of aluminium alloy with homogeneous and functionally graded silicon nitride composites”, Science and Engineering of Composite Materials, 2016.