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Tailored net-shape powder composites by spark plasma sintering


This dissertation investigates the ability to produce net- shape and tailored composites in spark plasma sintering (SPS), with an analysis of how grain growth, densification, and mechanical properties are affected. Using alumina and four progressively anisotropic dies, we studied the impact of specimen shape on densification. We found specimen shape had an impact on overall densification, but no impact on localized properties. We expected areas of the specimen to densify differently, or have higher grain growth, based on current anisotropy in the specimen during sintering, and preliminary results indicated this, but further investigation showed this did not occur. Overall average grain size and porosity decreased as shape complexity increased. In Fe-V-C steel, we mechanical alloyed two rapidly solidified powders, and used spark sintering to retain the properties imparted during the rapid solidification. We noticed VC grains being produced during densification, which improved the final properties. We conducted spark plasma extrusion (SPE) of aluminum to understand the effect on microstructure. We found, through an analysis of the grain structure, that SPE did have a grain deformation potential, and grain size was severely decreased compared to conventional sintering. Dynamic recrystallization did not occur, due to the reduced temperatures we were able to extrude with SPS. Finally, we examined whether there were particular sintering conditions for SPS that reduced the complexity of the grain growth and porosity relationship to one similar to conventional sintering, of the form G = k G₀ [epsilon]⁻¹/ ². We found that although a reasonable case could be made for free sintering, as found in the literature, for hot- pressing and SPS the conditions required go against the common knowledge in grain growth and densification kinetics. We were able to fit our data very well to the model, but the correlated results do not make physical sense

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