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Technical Paper

Effect of Composition, Particle Size, and Heat Treatment on the Mechanical Properties of Al-4.5 wt.% Cu Based Alumina Particulate Reinforced Composites

The quest for higher efficiency and performance of automotive vehicles requires application of materials with high strength, stiffness and lower weight in their construction. Particulate-reinforced aluminum-matrix composites are cost-competitive materials, which can meet these requirements. MMCC, Inc. has been optimizing particulate-reinforced alloy systems and developing the Advanced Pressure Infiltration Casting (APIC™) process for the manufacture of components from these materials. This paper discusses the results of a recent study in which composites reinforced with 55 vol.% alumina were cast using two sizes of alumina particulate and eight different matrix alloys based on Al-4.5 wt.% Cu with varying amounts of silicon and magnesium. Optimum heat treatments for each alloy were determined utilizing microhardness studies. The tensile strength and fracture toughness were evaluated as a function of alloy chemistry, particulate size, and heat treatment.
Technical Paper

Metallurgical and Process Variables Affecting the Resistance Spot Weldability of Galvanized Sheet Steels

Zinc coating integrity, composition, thickness, roughness, and the presence of Fe-Zn intermetallics are being investigated with regard to the mechanisms of weld nugget formation. This information is being used in conjunction with the optimization of the weld process parameters; such as upsloping, down-sloping, preheating, postheating, and double pulsing, to provide the widest range of acceptable welding conditions. Dynamic inspection monitoring of the welding current, voltage, force, and nugget displacement is being used to follow the progression of nugget formation and to assist in the evaluation of optimum process and material characteristics. It has been found that hot-dipped galvanized materials with coatings which have a very thin Fe-Zn alloy layer, have a wider range of acceptable welding conditions than the commercial galvannealed products, which have a fully alloyed Fe-Zn coating.
Technical Paper

Experimental Exploration of the Aluminum Tube Drawing Process for Producing Variable Wall Thickness Components used in Light Structural Applications

Tube drawing is a well known process involving at room temperature the reduction of diameter and wall thickness to obtain specified values. The initial tube is drawn into a die of a smaller opening and its thickness achieved by use of a mandrel. Usually, the mandrel has a land area which diameter defines by sizing the inside diameter of the final tube. Some structural components found in cars, aircrafts and other vehicles require bent or hydroformed tubes of lower weight. It is of interest to have tubes of varying axial or circumferential thickness so that to reduce overweight in low stressed areas and reinforce it otherwise. However, the production of tubes of varying thickness is more difficult in reason notably of higher metal flow stresses in the deformation zone and the need to control precisely the mandrel position during drawing.
Technical Paper

Economic Analysis of Hydro-Mechanical Sheet Metal Forming

Recent industry trends have resulted in growing interest among automakers in low to medium volume manufacturing. The expansion of automobile production into developing economies and the desire to produce specialized vehicles for niche markets have pressed the automakers to find cost effective solutions for manufacturing at low volumes, particularly with regard to sheet metal forming. Conventional high volume stamping operations rely heavily on achieving minimum scale economies which occur at about 200,000 parts per year. These scale economies are mainly dictated by the efficient use of the standard, expensive cast iron dies. These dies can cost well over one million dollars depending on the part, and in return offer tool lives over 5 million strokes. Die investment can be reduced by changing the stamping process technology. Hydro-mechanical forming has been proposed as a promising low volume alternative to conventional stamping.
Technical Paper

Novel Near-Net-Shape Tool-Less Method for Manufacturing of Cast Metal Matrix Composites: Three-Dimensional Printing (3DP) of Ceramic Preforms Combined with Investment Casting Technology

New three-dimensional printing technology (3DP) developed at MIT was tried as a manufacturing method to fabricate ceramic preforms for a discontinuously reinforced metal matrix composites. Minor modifications to the “legacy” 3DP technology allowed to produce such preforms successfully. Preforms were then infiltrated with liquid aluminum resulting in composite materials as strong as produced via conventional methods. Net shape connecting rod preforms were 3D-printed and used to produce composite connecting rods without building any molds or tooling using novel Tool-less Mold™ technology.
Technical Paper

Axiomatic Design of Automobile Suspension and Steering Systems: Proposal for a Novel Six-Bar Suspension

The existing vehicle designs exhibit a high level of coupling. For instance the coupling in the suspension and steering systems manifests itself through the change in wheel alignment parameters (WAP) due to suspension travel. This change in the WAP causes directional instability and tire-wear. The approach of the industry to solve this problem has been twofold. The first approach has been optimization of suspension link lengths to reduce the change in WAP to zero. Since this is not possible with the existing architecture, the solution used is the optimization of the spring stiffness K to get a compromise solution for comfort (which requires significant suspension travel and hence a soft spring) and directional stability (which demands least possible change in wheel alignment parameters and hence a stiff spring).
Technical Paper

The Use of Semi-Solid Rheocasting (SSR) for Aluminum Automotive Castings

Semi-solid metal (SSM) casting has long been identified as a high-volume process for producing safety-critical and structural automotive castings, but cost and complexity issues have limited its widespread commercial acceptance. Rheocasting, an SSM process that creates semi-solid slurry directly from liquid metal, eliminates the cost disadvantages of the process. However, the majority of rheocasting processes are complex and difficult to operate in the foundry environment. Recent work at MIT has led to the fundamental discovery that application of heat removal and convection as a molten alloy cools through the liquidus creates a non-dendritic, semi-solid slurry. A new process based on this understanding, S.S.R.™ (Semi-Solid Rheocasting), simplifies the rheocasting process by controlling heat removal and convection of an alloy during cooling using an external device. Solution heat treatable castings have been produced in a horizontal die casting machine with the S.S.R.™ process.