POWDER METALLURGICAL PROCESSING OF TITANIUM AND ITS ALLOYS
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Titanium is well known for its excellent properties, such as high strength-to-weight ratio and outstanding corrosion resistance. However the high cost of this metal has confined its applications to those mostly within the aerospace and military industries. The high purchase price of titanium is primarily driven by the need for intricate metal extraction processes, as well as the sensitivity towards conventional metal working operations. Among the potential solutions, powder metallurgy (P/M) technology provides an economical approach to bring down the price of finished titanium products. However, there are still many problems, such as the residual porosity in the sintered body, that need to be overcome. In this thesis, a fundamental study was carried out focusing on the P/M press-and-sinter technique, using commercially pure titanium (CP Ti) as well as two binary titanium alloys, namely Ti-Ni and Ti-Sn. The influence of several processing parameters including compaction pressure, lubricant type/concentration, sintering time/temperature were performed on both the CP and binary systems. The principal tools utilized for mechanical characterization were hardness and tensile testing, whereas optical microscopy, x-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning electron microscopy were employed to identify the microstructural features present. Press-and-sinter P/M strategies were successfully developed for all of the blends studied. For CP-Ti, a maximum tensile strength >750MPa and near full theoretical density (~99%) were achieved. Transitions in the size and the size distribution of pores and ?-Ti grains were also observed and quantified. It was found these transitions, as well as the powder impurities present (i.e. oxygen and carbon), greatly influenced the final mechanical properties. In the case of the binary alloys, it was shown that liquid phase sintering (LPS) significantly improved the sintered density for the Ti-10%Ni composition, when sintered at l100°C. A eutectic microstructure (CP-Ti + Ti2Ni), coupled with grains of CP-Ti, were identified as the principal phases present. On the other hand, the Ti-Sn alloys only showed a modest increase in sintered density compared to the CP-Ti, owing to the high solubility of Sn in Ti. In terms of crystal structure, XRD highlighted that the Sn containing samples were fully CP-Ti.