Enhanced machinability of SiC-reinforced metal-matrix composite with hybrid turning

Particle-reinforced metal-matrix composites are promising engineering materials thanks to their superior mechanical and thermal properties. However, their poor machinability is a deterrent for use in wider applications, due to the presence of hard ceramic particles, which results in rapid tool wear during machining. Ultrasonically assisted turning (UAT) is a hybrid machining technique, in which the cutting tool is made to vibrate at high frequencies and low amplitudes. In this study, the machinability and tool wear of machining SiCp/Al metal matrix-composite was compared for dry UAT and conventional turning with the use of a cemented carbide (WC) and a polycrystalline diamond (PCD) tool. With the use of ultrasonic assistance, a significant reduction in cutting forces was achieved with a slight increase in cutting temperature. Continuous and semi-continuous chips were obtained in UAT, with better surface topography. A chip-formation mechanism in UAT show increased ductility of the workpiece material when subjected to a repeated high-frequency microchipping process. Abrasive and adhesive wear occurred on the WC tool in both conventional turning and UAT. However, the machined surface obtained in UAT with a WC tool was comparable and sometimes even better than that achieved with the PCD tool