Production, Mechanical Properties, and Automotive Applications of a Castable Composite Material 900532
This paper describes a new ceramic particle-reinforced aluminum composite that can be cast, extruded, and forged much like unreinforced aluminum, using conventional aluminum fabrication equipment. Unlike other metal matrix composites, this material is produced economically by a simple ingot-metallurgical process. An overview of the production process is given, and of the techniques used for fabricating the material to intermediate and final product forms. The material's mechanical properties--particularly its improved stiffness, strength, wear resistance, and lower coefficient of thermal expansion--are discussed in some detail. These properties offer attractive design opportunities for a variety of automotive casting and forging applications, such as pistons, connecting rods, valves, cylinder liners, and suspension members. A survey of current progress in the development and testing of such components is given.