Surface Modification of EDMed Surface with Powder Mixed Fluid

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1 Surface Modification of EDMed Surface with Powder Mixed Fluid Y. Uno 1, A.Okada 1 and S.Cetin 1 1 Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan Abstract The EDMed surface with metal powder mixed fluid has smaller surface roughness and higher resistance to corrosion because of the diffusion of electrode and/or powder materials into the machined surface. In this study, a new surface modification technique is proposed to obtain high surface wear resistance using EDM with powder mixed fluid. Firstly, a coating application of nickel layer on aluminum bronze for plastic molds and shell mold cores is discussed. Secondly, formation of a hard titanium carbide layer on alloy tool steel is explained using carbon powder mixed fluid with titanium electrodes. Keywords: EDM, Surface modification, High wear resistance 1 INTRODUCTION This paper deals with the surface modification of EDMed surface with powder mixed fluid. EDM has widely been employed in die making field. Recently, it is reported that the EDMed surface with metal powder mixed fluid has smaller surface roughness without cracks and pores, because of the smaller impact forces acting on the machined surface due to a larger gap distance and also because of the more randomly dispersed electrical discharges in the gap [1] [2]. Moreover, it has a higher resistance to corrosion because of the diffusion of electrode and/or powder material into the machined surface [3] [4]. From the above mentioned viewpoint, the layer with the desired composition might be obtained by using powder and electrode materials containing the components of that desired layer [5] [6]. In this study, a new surface modification technique using EDM with powder mixed fluid is proposed. At first, the coating application of nickel layer on aluminum bronze by using nickel powder mixed fluid for plastic molds and shell mold cores is discussed. Afterwards, the experiment to form a hard titanium carbide layer on alloy tool steel by EDM using carbon powder mixed fluid with titanium electrode is explained. the wear resistance of the formed nickel layer is evaluated. 2.2 Experimental procedure Figure 1 shows a schematic diagram of experimental apparatus. Experiments are carried out using the NC electrical discharge machine with transistor switching circuit. It is also equipped with a single pulse discharge device. The tool electrode is a copper cylinder of 15mm in diameter. As machining fluids, kerosene and nickel powder mixed fluid (NPMF) were used. The latter was made by mixing nickel powder into the former. The size of the nickel powder particles in kerosene was less than 5µm in diameter. Also the resistivity of these fluids were 1.23x10 6? cm and 1.43x10 2? cm (for nickel powder concentration Cn=40g/l), respectively. In the experiments with NPMF, a stirrer was used in order to prevent the Table 1: Chemical composition of AlBC3 2 NICKEL COATING BY EDM 2.1 Aluminum bronze Aluminum bronze has partially taken the place of steel used for plastic molds and shell mold cores due to its high corrosion resistance, high strength and easy castability. In this experiment, Aluminum bronze, AlBC3 (in JIS specification), was used as the workpiece material. Table 1 shows the chemical composition of AlBC3. Conventionally, nickel plating has been applied to shell molds because of its high strength and high resistance to corrosion. However, the nickel layer plated on the surface of molds tends to come off by shell sand because of its week bond to the base metal. In this section, a new nickel coating technique for aluminum bronze by EDM with nickel powder mixed fluid is dis cussed. Later, also Figure 1: Schematic diagram of experimental apparatus

2 Figure 2: Micrographs of crater generated by a single pulse discharge Figure 3: Pile-up height and crater depth Figure 5: Variations of gap distance with nickel powder concentration in machining fluid Table 2: Machining conditions Figure 4: Sections of crater precipitation of nickel powder. 2.3 Single pulse discharge experiment At first, a single pulse discharge experiment was carried out, and the effect of mixing nickel powder with the machining fluid on the crater shape was observed. Figure 2 shows micrographs of craters generated by a single pulse discharge on AlBC3. As shown in the figure, the center part of the crater seems to be depressed deeply in the case of pure kerosene (Cn=0g/l). On the other hand, in the case of high nickel powder concentration, a second circular pile-up was observed inside the outer pile-up circle. Figure 3 shows the undulation of crater H1+H2, and the ratio of undulation to crater diameter (H1+H2)/D. Here, H1, H2 and D are pile-up height, crater depth and crater diameter, respectively. H1 and H2 decrease with the increase of nickel powder concentration, and the value at Cn=40g/l is about one third compared with that at Cn=0g/l. Consequently, (H1+H2)/D decreases with the increase of nickel powder concentration, since D is almost constant for any concentrations. Figure 4 shows micrographs of the cross section of craters. The dark parts seen in the upper part of the workpieces are the resolidified layers. In the case of kerosene type fluid, the melted metal inside a crater is blown away by the impact forces of the electrical discharge, whereas with NPMF, it is not blown away and it remains mostly on the surface. Therefore, the undulation of the crater becomes smaller. Judging from these results, it is supposed that the impact forces acting on the workpiece for both cases are different because of the differences in the gap distance. Hence, the different gap distance values were measured in order to ascertain this supposition. Figure 5 gives the variation of gap distance with nickel powder concentration in machining fluid. The gap distance rapidly increases with the increase of nickel powder concentration until about 15g/l, and then it continues to increase gradually. The value of gap distance at 40g/l is about 180µm, which is about twelve times larger than that at 0g/l. This is due to the difference in the resistivity of the machining fluid and the influence of powder movement in the gap [7]. Therefore, it is guessed that the impact forces acting on the workpiece become smaller with the increase of nickel powder concentration [2], which leads to smaller undulation of the craters as mentioned above. 2.4 Improvement of surface roughness The effect of nickel powder on the surface roughness is discussed here. In the experiment, the finishing

3 Figure 8: Relationship between nickel content in resolidified layer and nickel powder concentration Figure 6: Micrographs and profiles of EDMed surface Figure 9: Vickers hardness of surface layers Figure 7: Section of EDMed surface for various nickel powder concentrations machining conditions given in Table 2 were used. Also a circular oscillation motion in X-Y plane was given to the electrode in order to make the circulation of machining fluid in the gap smoother. Figure 6 shows micrographs and profiles of machined surfaces. As can be seen from these figures, the machined surface with NPMF (Cn=40g/l) is very smooth and glossy. Considering that the surface roughness depends on the undulation of the crater, the variation seen in Figure 6 also matches well with Figure Nickel layer on EDMed surface Micrographs shown in Figure 7 are cross sections of machined surfaces. Etching was done in order to make the aspect clear. White parts are the resolidified layers, and dark parts are the thermal affected layers. In the case of kerosene type fluid (Cn=0g/l), the thickness of the resolidified layer is very thin, and the thermal affected layer is about 10µm in thickness below it. However, as the nickel powder concentration increases, the resolidified layer becomes thicker and more uniform. In addition, the machined surface with NPMF becomes crack free. Figure 8 shows the relationship between the nickel content in the resolidified layer and the nickel powder concentration in the machining fluid. The nickel content was measured by glow discharge spectroscopy (GDS). As can be seen from the figure, the nickel content in the resolidified layer increases with the increase of nickel powder concentration in the machining fluid. 2.6 Wear resistance of modified surface Figure9 shows the Vickers hardness values of the base material, the thermal affected layer and the resolidified layer. The hardness of the resolidified layer for Cn=40g/l is larger compared to that of the thermal affected layer for Cn=0g/l which is also harder than the base material. From this result, it was made clear that the resolidified layer containing nickel could be generated on EDMed surfaces by using NPMF, which leads to harder surfaces. During the preparation of shell mold cores, the shell mold might be worn out by the rapid filling of the shell sand. Hence, the wear resistance to sand abrasion of the modified layer produced by EDM is evaluated here. Figure 10 is a schematic diagram of sand abrasion test apparatus. Two workpieces are arranged as shown in the figure, and the gap distance is set to 5mm. The EDMed surface has an inclination of 30 degrees toward the blowing direction and the shell sand is blown to the surface at a pressure of 1.96x10 5 Pa for 60 seconds. This condition corresponds to about thirty thousand cycles of actual filling of shell sand. Figure 11 shows the result of the sand abrasion test. As seen from the figure, the wear depth of the thermal affected layer for Cn=0g/l is smaller than that of the base material. Furthermore, the wear depth of the resolidified layer for Cn=40g/l is about 70% of that of the base material. Therefore it can be said that, EDMed surface with NPMF has a higher resistance to

4 Figure 12: Generation mechanism of TiC layer Figure 10: Schematic diagram of sand abrasion test apparatus Table 3: Machining conditions Table 4: Chemical composition of SKD61 Figure 11: Results of sand abrasion test sand abrasion. 3 FORMING OF HARD TITANIUM CARBIDE LAYER 3.1 Generation mechanism of titanium carbide Figure 12 shows the supposed generation mechanism of TiC layer by EDM with carbon powder mixed fluid (CPMF) using a titanium electrode. As shown in the figure, carbon from the powder and/or resolved carbon from the kerosene combine with the titanium of the electrode during the discharge phenomenon, and so a TiC layer is formed on the EDMed surface [4] [6]. In this setup, the polarity of the electrode is set to negative in order to make the wear of titanium electrode higher. In this new method, the generation of a thick TiC layer with smaller surface roughness is highly expected because the surface roughness significantly becomes smaller by using conductive powder mixed fluid [2]. Also, a reduction on the surface cracks is expected because of the random dispersion of the electrical discharges [1]. 3.2 Experimental procedure Machining conditions were set as shown in Table 3. As the workpiece material, alloy tool steel SKD61 (in JIS specification) was used, since it has widely been applied to metal molds such as plastic molds and die casting molds. The chemical composition of SKD61 is shown in Table 4. CPMF was used as the dielectric fluid, prepared by mixing carbon powder with kerosene at a concentration rate of 0-15g/l. The size of the powder particles was less than 30µm in diameter. Also a stirrer was used in order to prevent the precipitation of carbon powder in the dielectric fluid. 3.3 Composition of coated layer Here, the possibility of forming TiC layer by EDM with CPMF is discussed. Figure 13 shows the micrograph of the section of EDMed surface and the component images analyzed by EPMA. As can be seen from the Figure 13: Ti, C and Fe component images of machined surface analyzed by EPMA

5 micrograph, a resolidified layer (white layer) is generated on the surface. It is also confirmed from the component images that, components Ti and C exist in this layer, while component Fe is less than that in the base material. Judging from this result, it can be said that TiC has been formed on the EDMed surface. Afterwards, the composition of the layer was analyzed using XRD (X-Ray Diffraction) as shown in Figure 14. According to this figure, besides the components of the base material such as Fe, Fe3C (cementite) and Fe,C (network cementite), the component TiC also exists on the EDMed surface. This makes clear that the TiC coated layer could be formed with this method on EDMed surfaces using CPMF and titanium electrodes. 3.4 Surface roughness and thickness Figure 15 represents the change of thickness of TiC coated layer with machining time. The thickness was measured by observing the cross section at each time. As shown in the figure, the thickness rapidly increases with machining time until about 30min, and then it becomes nearly constant. That is, it is about 30µm even if the machining time becomes longer. Also in other experiments with different discharge current and pulse duration values, almost the similar behavior was observed. The generation speed of the layer in this method was about 1µm/min, which is not less than that in CVD or PVD process used conventionally. Next, the effects of carbon powder concentration and discharge duration on the surface roughness and the coated layer thickness were investigated. Figure 16 shows the relationships between the surface roughness and carbon powder concentration. In both cases, namely for the discharge duration 2µs and 200µs, the surface roughness decreases with the increase of the carbon powder concentration. In the case of 2µs, the surface roughness value is 1.3µm at 15g/l, while it is about 2µm at 0g/l. Also in the case of 200µs, the surface roughness decreases from 15µm at 0g/l to about 10µm at 15g/l. However, as the concentration becomes more than 15g/l, the machining becomes unstable due to the precipitation of carbon powder, which leads to large surface roughness values contrarily. Figure 17 shows the relationships between the thickness of coated layer and carbon powder concentration. As can be seen from the figure, the thickness is nearly constant under both discharge durations, regardless of the carbon powder concentration. The coated layer thickness is about 6µm and 30µm in the cases of the discharge duration 2µs and 200µs, respectively. Figure 18 shows the variations of the surface roughness and the thickness with the discharge duration. The surface roughness and the thickness of the layer increase with the increase of the discharge duration. It was found that the coated layer, with a thickness of about 6µm and surface roughness about 1.3µm can be obtained with a powder concentration of Cc=15g/l. Also, the thickness and the surface roughness can be controlled by the carbon powder concentration in the kerosene dielectric. Micrographs shown in Figure 19 are the cross sections of machined surfaces. The white parts seen on the micrographs are the coated layers, and the average thickness of these coated layers are nearly constant, regardless of the carbon powder concentration as shown also previously in Figure 17. From Figure 19, it can be Figure 14: Diffraction pattern of coated layer Figure 16: Relationships between s urface roughness and carbon powder concentrations Figure 15: Variation of thickness of coated layer with machining time Figure 17: Relationships between thickness of coated layer and carbon powder concentrations

6 Figure 18: Variations of surface roughness and thickness of layer with discharge duration also understood that, in low carbon powder concentration machining, the undulation of the layer is large and the thickness is not uniform. Besides, the layer contains large cracks and pores. On the other hand, in high carbon powder concentration machining, the undulation is very small and the thickness is approximately uniform. Also, the layer does not contain cracks and pores. This is supposed to be the effect of the more appropriately dispersed electrical discharges. 3.5 Hardness and wear resistance Figure 20 shows the variations of the Vickers hardness values of the machined surfaces with discharge duration and carbon powder concentration. From the figure, it can be seen that, the hardness of the TiC coated EDMed surface is much higher than that of base material (SKD61), which indicates that this method is a successful surface modification method. The hardness increases with the increase of both discharge duration and carbon powder concentration. For example, in the case of Cc=15g/l, the Vickers hardness value exceeds 2000Hv. Figure 21 shows the variation of hardness values in the cross section of the coated layer. The hatched area in the figure represents the coated layer. In the coated layer, the hardness gradually decreases as the depth from the surface increases. It is supposed that the content of TiC is higher near the machined surface. Next, the wear resistance of the coated layer was evaluated. Figure 22 is the schematic diagram of wear test. The test was carried out by measuring the wear depth and the coefficient of friction while a ball was sliding on the testpiece under a constant load. The test conditions are shown in Table 5. Figure 23 shows the wear depth of the test. It is confirmed that the wear depth of EDMed surfaces machined with CPMF and titanium electrodes are much smaller than that of the base material surface, and it decreases with the increase of carbon powder concentration in the fluid, which agrees well with the previously shown Figure 20. Figure 19: Cross sections of machined surface Figure 20: Variations of hardness Figure 21: Variation of hardness in cross section of coated layer

7 Figure 22: Schematic diagram of wear test Table 5: Wear test conditions Figure 23: Wear depth after test 4 CONCLUSIONS In this study, a new surface modification technique for high wear resistance using EDM with powder mixed fluid is proposed. Main conclusions obtained in this study are as follows: 1. The EDMed surface with NPMF has a smaller surface roughness than that in EDM with kerosene type fluid. 2. The resolidified layer containing nickel can be generated on EDMed surface and the thickness of the layer becomes larger and more uniform with the increase of nickel powder concentration in the machining fluid. 3. The EDMed surface with NPMF becomes harder than that with pure kerosine type fluid and it also shows high resistance to sand abrasion. 4. A hard layer containing TiC can be formed on the machined surface by EDM with CPMF using titanium electrodes. 5. By mixing carbon powder with the dielectric kerosene, thick hard layers with small surface roughness values can be obtained. 6. The hardness of the layer containing TiC is much higher than that of the base material, which leads to higher surface wear resistance. 5 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors would like to express their thanks to Sodick Co., Ltd., Ibiden Co., Ltd. and MITAX Corp. for their help through this research. 6 REFERENCES [1] Narumiya, H., et al., 1989, EDM by Powder Suspended Working Fluid, Proc. of ISEM-IX, 5-8. [2] Uno, Y., et al., 1997, Surface Generation Mechanism in Electrical Discharge Machining with Silicon Powder Mixed Fluid, IJEM, 2, [3] Kruth, J.-P., et al., 1998, In-process Alloying of the White Layer of a Workpiece Machined by Die-sinking EDM, IJEM, 3, [4] Masui, K., et al., 1995, Surface Modification of Tool Steels by Alloying Method using EDM Process, Proc. of ISEM-XI, [5] Tsukahara, H., et al., 1998, Surface Modification of Titanium using EDM Process. Proc.of ISEM-12, [6] Goto, A., et al., 1998, Formation of Hard Layer on Metallic Material by EDM. Proc.of ISEM-12, [7] Kunieda, M., et al., 1997, Study on Debris Movement in EDM Gap, IJEM, 2,

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