Processing techniques for particulate-reinforced metal aluminium matrix composites
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The critical need for high strength, lightweight and high stiffness materials has, in recent years, resurrected much interest in discontinuously reinforced powder metallurgy metal matrix composites. These hybrid materials have combined both standard wrought alloys of aluminium and a wide variety of discontinuous reinforcements such as particulates and whiskers of ceramic materials. Renewed interest in these materials as attractive candidates for use in the aerospace and transportation industry has resulted from an attractive and unique combination of physical and mechanical properties, and an ability to offer near isotropic properties coupled with the low cost of these materials when compared with existing monolithic materials. In this paper, the primary processing categories for discontinuously-reinforced metal-matrix composites are highlighted and the salient features of the various techniques in each category are discussed. The variables involved in each processing technique are examined, and the influence of alloy chemistry highlighted. Novel processing techniques for these materials such as the variable co-deposition method is presented as a means to process these novel engineering materials in order to improve their overall mechanical performance.
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