Thermo-mechanical properties prediction of Ni-reinforced Al2O3 composites using micro-mechanics based representative volume elements

Abstract: For effective cutting tool inserts that absorb thermal shock at varying temperature gradients, improved thermal conductivity and toughness are required. In addition, parameters such as the coefficient of thermal expansion must be kept within a reasonable range. This work presents a novel material design framework based on a multi-scale modeling approach that proposes nickel (Ni)-reinforced alumina (Al2O3) composites to tailor the mechanical and thermal properties required for ceramic cutting tools by considering numerous composite parameters. The representative volume elements (RVEs) are generated using the DREAM.3D software program and the output is imported into a commercial finite element software ABAQUS. The RVEs which contain multiple Ni particles with varying porosity and volume fractions are used to predict the effective thermal and mechanical properties using the computational homogenization methods under appropriate boundary conditions (BCs). The RVE framework is validated by the sintering of Al2O3-Ni composites in various compositions. The predicted numerical results agree well with the measured thermal and structural properties. The properties predicted by the numerical model are comparable with those obtained using the rules of mixtures and SwiftComp, as well as the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) based computational homogenization method. The results show that the ABAQUS, SwiftComp and FFT results are fairly close to each other. The effects of porosity and Ni volume fraction on the mechanical and thermal properties are also investigated. It is observed that the mechanical properties and thermal conductivities decrease with the porosity, while the thermal expansion remains unaffected. The proposed integrated modeling and empirical approach could facilitate the development of unique Al2O3-metal composites with the desired thermal and mechanical properties for ceramic cutting inserts.

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