Semi-Solid Metal Casting Practices: Past, Present and Future 2004-01-1025
Semi-solid metal (SSM) casting of aluminum components is currently establishing itself as a viable process for critical applications in the automotive industry. SSM casting processes compete favorably on both cost and performance with other casting techniques including gravity permanent mold (GPM), conventional high pressure die casting (HPDC) and squeeze casting.
In this paper the various SSM casting routes in use today are reviewed. The two categories of SSM processes are thixocasting (involves the use of electro-magnetically stirred or grain-refined billets) and rheocasting (slurry produced directly from the liquid phase). The former requires a billet that needs to be reheated and processed, whereas the latter is cast directly from the liquid state.
Also described here are new approaches to slurry making. These include the Slurry on Demand (SoD) process from AEMP, the Sub Liquidus Casting (SLCR) process from THT, and Diffusion Solidification. For each of these processes evaluated, attempts have been made to provide microstructures of as-cast and/or heat treated components and mechanical properties (tensile, hardness and fatigue). Results show that non-dendritic slurries, free of entrapped eutectic, can be produced by the use of these novel processes.