Controlling Die Temperature to Fill Extremely Thin Walled Semi-Solid Metal Castings 2003-01-0435
Aluminum alloys are generally used in transportation-related applications where weight saving is of paramount interest. In addition to aluminum's density advantage related to other metals, weight can also be saved by the use of thin walled components. However, there are limited ways to make complex shape, thin walled, high integrity castings at high volumes. One such way is semi-solid metal (SSM) casting.
In the past, minimum wall sections for semi-solid castings have been limited to the range of 2 to 3 mm (0.08 to 0.12-inches). Heat transfer from the semi-solid aluminum to the cooler steel of the die surfaces limits the minimum section thickness. The high heat transfer rates restrict the distance that the semi-solid slurry will flow, prior to the heat loss to the steel causing the alloy to solidify and thereby stop flowing.
This paper will describe techniques to produce semi-solid castings with much thinner sections. Castings as large as 150 mm (6-inches) in size, with wall sections of 1.1 mm produced from aluminum alloy 357 are shown. Casting parameters are discussed, showing that these thin walled castings can be produced under the types of controlled conditions that produce high integrity castings. Microstructures of the SSM cast parts are documented.
It is proposed that this technology can be used to produce high integrity castings with even thinner walls. Castings as thin as 0.5 mm (0.020-inches) could be produced using this technology. Clearly thin walled castings such as these can have applications in many industries, including automotive, electronics, aerospace, and recreational goods.