Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Materials & Chemicals
Materials Chemicals
Semi-Solid Forming of Metal-Matrix Nanocomposites
WARF: P05344US

Inventors: Xiaochun Li, Lih-Sheng Turng, Michael DeCicco

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method of incorporating nanoparticles into a semi-solid casting process.
Semi-solid casting (SSC) is a high-integrity die casting technique, wherein metal is injected into a mold cavity in a semi-liquid/solid state with a “slushy” consistency. Semi-solid metal has lower energy demands and less porosity, is more easily handled and requires less post-molding machining than metal cast using high-pressure die casting; however, it is difficult to generate the globular microstructure (globular solid particles suspended in the remaining liquid phase) needed for SCC.
The Invention
UW-Madison researchers have developed a method of incorporating nanoparticles into a semi-solid casting process, so the resulting metal-matrix nanocomposite has the appropriate globular microstructure and improved mechanical properties. The metal-matrix nanocomposite is formed by heating a metal until it reaches a liquid state and then adding nanoparticles to the liquid metal. To uniformly distribute the nanoparticles throughout the metal, the metal/nanoparticle mixture is agitated by inserting a probe that vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies into the mixture. The mixture can then be cooled, and the vibrating probe removed. When the mixture reaches a semi-solid state, it can be injected into a mold cavity for SSC.
  • Formation of aluminum, magnesium or titanium parts to replace heavier steel parts in the automotive industry
Key Benefits
  • Machine parts and other articles formed by this process have improved properties.
  • Metal/nanoparticle mixture retains the globular microstructure needed for SSC after solidification begins
  • Maintains all the advantages and efficiencies of SCC
  • Use of ultrasonic vibration simplifies the preparation of material for SSC, saves significant time and energy and widens the SSC process window
For current licensing status, please contact Michael Carey at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9867