Microwave Heating, Isothermal Sintering, and Mechanical Properties of Powder Metallurgy Titanium and Titanium Alloys
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This article presents a detailed assessment of microwave (MW) heating, isothermal sintering, and the resulting tensile properties of commercially pure Ti (CP-Ti), Ti-6Al-4V, and Ti-10V-2Fe-3Al (wt pct), by comparison with those fabricated by conventional vacuum sintering. The potential of MW sintering for titanium fabrication is evaluated accordingly. Pure MW radiation is capable of heating titanium powder to ≥1573 K (1300 °C), but the heating response is erratic and difficult to reproduce. In contrast, the use of SiC MW susceptors ensures rapid, consistent, and controllable MW heating of titanium powder. MW sintering can consolidate CP-Ti and Ti alloys compacted from −100 mesh hydride-dehydride (HDH) Ti powder to ~95.0 pct theoretical density (TD) at 1573 K (1300 °C), but no accelerated isothermal sintering has been observed over conventional practice. Significant interstitial contamination occurred from the Al2O3-SiC insulation–susceptor package, despite the high vacuum used (≤4.0 × 10−3 Pa). This leads to erratic mechanical properties including poor tensile ductility. The use of Ti sponge as impurity (O, N, C, and Si) absorbers can effectively eliminate this problem and ensure good-to-excellent tensile properties for MW-sintered CP-Ti, Ti-10V-2Fe-3Al, and Ti-6Al-4V. The mechanisms behind various observations are discussed. The prime benefit of MW sintering of Ti powder is rapid heating. MW sintering of Ti powder is suitable for the fabrication of small titanium parts or titanium preforms for subsequent thermomechanical processing.