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Thixoforming of A356/SiC and A356/TiB2 nanocomposites fabricated by a combination of green compact nanoparticle incorporation and ultrasonic treatment of the melted compact
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Thixoforming is a type of semi-solid processing which is based on forming metals in the semi-solid state rather than fully liquid or solid state. There have been no reports of the thixoforming of nanocomposites in the literature. The incorporation of ceramic nanoparticles into liquid metals is a challenging task for the fabrication of metal matrix nanocomposites due to their large surface-to-volume ratio and poor wettability. Previous research work by a number of workers has highlighted the challenges with the incorporation of nanoparticles into liquid aluminum alloy. In the present study, SiC and TiB2 nanoparticles with an average diameter between 20 and 30 nm were firstly incorporated into green compacts by a powder forming route, and then the compacts were melted and treated ultrasonically. The microstructural studies reveal that the engulfment and relatively effective distribution of the nanoparticles into the melt were achieved. The hardness was considerably improved with only 0.8 wt pct addition of the nanoparticles. The nanocomposites were successfully thixoformed at a solid fraction between 0.65 and 0.70. The microstructures, hardness, and tensile mechanical properties of the thixoformed nanocomposites were investigated and compared with those of the as-received A356 and thixoformed A356 alloys. The tensile properties of the thixoformed nanocomposites were significantly enhanced compared to thixoformed A356 alloy without reinforcement, indicating the strengthening effects of the nanoparticles.