Effect of wear parameters on dry abrasive wear of RZ5-TiC in situ composite

Deepak Mehra (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India)
Manas Mohan Mahapatra (School of Mechanical Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar, India)
Suraj Prakash Harsha (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India)

Industrial Lubrication and Tribology

ISSN: 0036-8792

Publication date: 12 March 2018



The purpose of this study is to increase the wear resistance of Mg alloy by adding hard ceramic particles to it. The inclusion of hard ceramic particles further strengthen the Mg alloy, resulting in higher wear resistance. Mg alloys containing Zn, rare earth and Zr exhibit high specific strength and excellent creep resistance, making them suitable for aerospace components such as aircraft gearboxes and generator housings.


In the present study, composites have been produced in situ by using RZ5 mg alloy as matrix and TiC as reinforcement by self-propagating high-temperature synthesis technique. The abrasive wear behavior of RZ5 Mg alloy matrix reinforced with TiC particulates has also been examined. The pin-on-disc apparatus has been used for the tests. The abrasive paper is used as a counter body, and the results are obtained by changing sliding distance and applied load.


A notable enhancement in the wear resistance and mechanical properties of tested composite has been observed as compared to the RZ5 Mg alloy as a matrix. There is a uniform increment in the change in weight loss of RZ5-TiC composite with increasing sliding distance and applied load, but it decreases with increasing TiC content. The coefficient of friction (µ) also decreases uniformly with an increase in the reinforcement of TiC, but it decreases with an increase in applied load and sliding distance. The investigation of the worn composite, which determines dominant wear mechanisms as abrasion and plowing grooves on tested samples, has been done using field emission scanning electron microscopy.


The current manuscript provides a detailed abrasive wear analysis of RZ5-TiC composite by using different wear parameters. Specifically, extensive experimental data have been provided for RZ5-TiC composite. The effects of parameters such as applied load, sliding distance and Wt.% of TiC on the weight loss and coefficient of friction of the composites have been analyzed and discussed thoroughly.



Mehra, D., Mahapatra, M. and Harsha, S. (2018), "Effect of wear parameters on dry abrasive wear of RZ5-TiC in situ composite", Industrial Lubrication and Tribology, Vol. 70 No. 2, pp. 256-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILT-12-2016-0306

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

1. Introduction

Magnesium and aluminum matrix composites (MMCs) have been used in some industries because of their superior mechanical properties, especially Mg matrix, which has high specific strength, low density, good electrical and thermal conductivity and damping capacity, etc., which offers in lieu to Al MCs (Rittner, 2000; Kunze and Bampton, 2001; Falcon-Franco et al., 2011). The most essential and attractive quality of Mg is low density (two-third of that of Al), because of which it has applications for structural and transport (Lim et al., 2003; Thakur and Dhindaw, 2001; Sharma et al., 2000). The tribological and mechanical behaviors of different MMCs have been studied extensively. The possible way to enhance wear of Mg alloy is to use rare earth elements, fibers and particles. According to the study, the wear properties of Mg and its alloys can be enhanced by adding hard ceramic in a particulate form to various engine parts because of their exceptional wear properties. However, because of limited wear resistance as compared to Al alloy, it has limited applications (Zhang et al., 2008; Girish et al., 2015; Yigezu et al., 2013).

Wear is observed to be severe in various industrial applications, i.e. engine parts, bearings and other moving parts, which can adversely affect the mechanical functions of the same components and lead to structural failure. Furthermore, it may destroy surface finish and reduce fine tolerances (Yao et al., 2010; Xiu et al., 2006). Mg-based MCs are presently considered for aerospace and automotive applications, i.e. engine casings of aircraft and cylinder liners, and for different wear resistant applications (Al-Rubaie et al., 1999; Kondoh et al., 2003).

It has been shown that the wear properties of Mg alloys can be improved considerably by incorporating particulate reinforcement (Spurr, 1981). There are different types of methods to transform the surface properties of materials, such as the use of hard particles incorporation in the matrix material and various types of coatings. The protective coatings used for ZE41 by different techniques such as flame spraying, oxyacetylene and thermal spraying enhanced the resistance to wear (Taltavull et al., 2013; Zhou et al., 2008; Rodrigo et al., 2009; López et al., 2013).

RZ5 Mg alloy is mostly used in the aerospace industry, which shows excellent mechanical properties over pure Mg. TiC hard ceramics are incorporated into Mg alloy as they have similar crystal lattice to that of RZ5 Mg alloy matrix and similar fine wettability to that of Mg alloy (Zhang et al., 2010). In recent times, particulate reinforced Mg alloys have been useful in the fabrication of many aerospace engine components because of improved wear properties (Yao et al., 2010). The sliding wear of AZ91 Mg alloy-TiC composite fabricated by pressure-less infiltration technique has been investigated (Falcon-Franco et al., 2011). The dominated wear mechanism was abrasion-adhesion, and wear resistance was more in the Mg AZ91 alloy than in the AZ91/TiCp composite in all cases. The wear of nanoAl2O3-reinforced Mg composites has been reported (Lim et al., 2003). The wear resistance of the nanoAl2O3-enhanced Mg composites has been observed to be better, and dominant wear mechanism was abrasion, adhesion and thermal softening, whereas delamination was not apparent. The abrasive sliding properties of Mg-SiCp (SiCp = silicon particulates) have been examined (Thakur and Dhindaw, 2001), and it has been reported that fine-dispersed SiCp gave enhanced micro-hardness, superior wear resistance and inferior coefficient of friction.

Sharma et al. (2000) found that wear rates decrease with an increase in reinforcement content. The wear transition from moderate to extreme with increasing load was imminent, but a delay occurs because of the presence of feldspar particles. Zhang et al. (2008) investigated the effect of graphite particle size on wear property. The graphite- and Al2O3-reinforced AZ91D-0.8 per cent Ce composites were produced by squeeze infiltration technique. The wear mechanism was obtained, and observed oxidation and abrasion dominated for both lower and higher load with particle size of 200 µm.

Yao et al. (2010) investigated the sliding wear behavior of AZ91/TiCp Mg matrix composites, which were produced by stirring using 5-15 Wt.% of TiC with Al-TiCp master alloy (TiCp = titanium carbide particulates). The friction coefficient and wear resistance of the AZ91/TiCp Mg matrix composites increased as TiC percentage was increased. The wear mechanism obtained plowing, adhesion and oxidation abrasion. Alahelisten et al. (1993) investigated AZ91-Al2O3-fiber-reinforced composites in abrasion, erosion and sliding experiments. They showed that sliding wear resistance did not increase with the incorporation of Al2O3 fibers constantly and which is the most favorable fiber content. However, two-body abrasion resistance increased as the amount of fiber was increased. On the contrary, fiber addition lowered the wear resistance to three-body abrasion and erosion. Venkit (2012) analyzed mechanical properties and wear behavior of Mg Alloy AZ91D added with TiC, fabricated using powder metallurgy. They reported that properties of hardness and wear resistance of the composite were improved in comparison to the AZ91D alloy.

Nguyen et al. (2015) studied wear characteristics of AZ31B Mg alloy and its composites by using disintegrated melt deposition technique. Wear rates of the composites are progressively declined over the sliding speed range for both loads. The composite wear rates were observed to be higher than those of AZ31B Mg alloy at low speed. The coefficient of friction was in the range of 0.25-0.45 and reached a minimum at 5 m/s under 10 N and 3 m/s under 30 N load for the AZ31B alloy and composites, respectively. The dominant wear mechanism in low speed, intermediate speed and higher speed has been observed as abrasive wear adhesion, thermal softening and melting, respectively. Saravanan and Surappa (2000) examined the wear resistance of Mg containing 30 Vol.% SiC particles during adhesive wear. The authors state that the wear resistance of the composite enhanced in comparison to the unreinforced Mg matrix.

The primary purpose of this study is to examine the abrasive wear behavior of the RZ5 Mg alloy and RZ5/TiCp composite. The metal matrix composites are used in the application of aerospace and defense for armor by using protective coating, in addition with electronics packaging applications (Rittner, 2000; Kunze and Bampton, 2001; Falcon-Franco et al., 2011). Till date, no comprehensive information is available concerning the wear of Mg MMC reinforced with varying amounts of TiC particles.

In this paper, RZ5-TiCp composites with different amount TiC particulates (Wt.%) have been produced through a self-propagating high-temperature method. The purpose is to examine the abrasive wear behavior of RZ5-TiCp composites. Besides, the microstructures, hardness and morphologies (wear mechanism) of worn surface of RZ5-TiCp composites have been analyzed.

2. Materials and experimental details

2.1 Materials

RZ5 Mg alloy matrix containing 6, 8 and 10 Wt.% of TiC particles composite is produced through in situ reaction by self-propagating high-temperature synthesis. For composite preparation, RZ5 (procured from H.A.L, Bangalore) is used as the matrix material, and pure Ti mesh and activation charcoal are used as reinforcements.

2.2 Preparation of composite

The base material used for this study is RZ-5 (Mg-Zn-RE-Zr) cast alloy, which is equivalent to ASTM B80 ZE41A. A cast block is produced in-house at Foundry and Forge Division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India. The block size 150 × 75 × 6 mm with perfect perpendicular edges/corners are extracted from this cast block. The melting range is 550-620°C. The reactants used are Ti mesh and graphite powder (99.9 per cent purity, average size 20 µm). Argon gas was used to prevent ignition of the Mg alloy and oxidation during melting.

In each experiment, Ti mesh in a graphite crucible is melted in a coke-fired furnace at 1,650°C. Preheated graphite powder wrapped in Al foil is then introduced into the liquid Ti melt with argon shielding. The reaction is continued at 1,850°C for 30 min. In another coke-fired furnace, RZ5 Mg alloy is melted in graphite crucible superheated at 750°C in argon shielding. A laser gun temperature reader is also used to measure the change in temperature. The Ti carbon melt is poured into the molten RZ5 Mg alloy after 30 min of holding time. After this, mechanical stirring is done for 5 min for uniform dispersion of in situ formed TiC particles. The melt then cast into a mild steel metal mold. Three different composites with 6, 8, 10 Wt.% of TiC reinforcement are prepared for the fabrication of composites.

3. Microstructural characterization

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and energy-dispersive X-ray analysis are used to identify the compositional elements and confirm the development of TiC particles and other intermetallic phases, as shown in Figure 1.

4. Mechanical property test

The hardness tester machine (Amsler Otto Wolpert) is used to measure the micro-hardness of the MMC sample at a load of 500 g for 15 s. An average of five readings is taken for all experiments. The tensile specimens from the casted samples are machined at 5.0 mm diameter and 25 mm gauge length. The tensile test is done on Tinius Olsen H75 KS materials testing machine. The average of three readings of three test samples is taken. The ultimate tensile strength (UTS) and 0.2 per cent proof stress are calculated from the stress-strain curves of the tested samples.

5. Wear tests

The abrasive wear of the samples has been performed using a pin-on-disk machine. A schematic view of the pin-on-disk device is shown in Figure 2. The experimental material is square with a size of 10 × 10 × 10 mm. During wear testing, the smooth surface of the rectangular experimental materials has been pressed with respect to a hardened steel rotating disc furnish with abrasive paper of 600 grit as the counterpart surface. The wear experiments are performed under three applied loads (10, 15 and 20 N), three sliding distances (700, 1,000 and 1,400 m), three amounts of TiC (6, 8 and 10 Wt.%) and a uniform sliding velocity of 1 m/s. The statistics of wear test as shown in Table I. In the beginning, the weight of the experimental material is measured using a digital balance with an accuracy of 10−4 g. After every test, the specimens are washed with acetone and subsequently dried and weighed. The difference in weight before and after the wear tests is considered and is considered as the weight loss. The coefficient of friction (μ) is also derived from the ratio of tangential forces (Ft) to normal force (FN). To minimize the error, the tangential force is recorded constantly at 30 s intervals, and the average is used for computations. The test has been conducted three times for every sliding distance with new specimen, and average is reported. After each sliding distance, the sliding track is changed to a fresh abrasive paper. Finally, the characteristics of the worn surfaces are examined using field emission SEM (FE-SEM).

6. Results and discussion

6.1 Microstructure examinations

The SEM micrographs of composites reinforced with of 6, 8 and 10 Wt.% are shown in Figure 3(b), 3(c) and 3(d), respectively, and Figure 3(a) shows SEM micrograph of RZ5 Mg alloy. These images indicate that secondary particles (TiC) are uniformly distributed to surround the matrix, and grain size of the particles decreased as the TiC content is increases from 6 to 10 Wt.%.

The solidification effect of RZ5 matrix alloy is altered because of TiC presence, as shown by microstructure. The majority of TiC particles were situated near the grain boundaries and few of them were present at boundaries, as shown in Figure 3(b), (c) and (d). This acts as barriers to prevent the grains from growing more. Also, it may allow the melt to have sufficient time to shape more nuclei because of the existence of TiC, subsequently producing finer grains in the cast microstructure.

The difference in grain size is evident between RZ5 matrix alloy composites. The grain sizes of RZ5 matrix alloy and its composites reinforced with different amounts of TiC are shown in Table II.

The change in grain size due to the addition of different amounts of TiC (Wt.%) results in finer grains in MMC. The grain size decreases from 250 µm for matrix alloy RZ5 to 20 µm for 10 Wt.% of TiC composite. The difference in grain size affects dislocation movement with its yield strength.

More grain boundaries are converted into vacant space to impede the dislocation propagation due decrease in grain size. Given the fact that extra energy is required for a dislocation to alter directions and move to the nearby grain, the grain size of the RZ5 Mg alloy decreases when the amount of TiC is increased, as shown in Table II.

6.2 Hardness

To study the hardness of as-cast RZ5 Mg alloy and RZ5-TiC MMC, a standard Vickers hardness testing machine with a pyramid indenter of load 500 g has been used for sample testing. The Vickers hardnesses of RZ5 Mg alloy and RZ5-TiC MMC are a function of amount of TiC particles. The load is applied for 15 s, and an average of four readings has been taken for each sample at different locations. It is observed from Table II that the Vickers hardness of RZ5-TiC MMC was 85, 95 and 105 for 6, 8 and 10 Wt.% of TiC, respectively. This increase in hardness occurred as a result of a reduction in grain size, which is due to increasing amount of TiC particles and particle strengthening effects.

7. Wear test analysis

7.1 Effect of sliding distance

The consequence of sliding distance on the coefficient of friction and the weight loss for RZ5 Mg alloy matrix and RZ5/TiC composite materials are shown in Figure 4. It may be deduced that the average coefficients of friction and weight loss are proportional to the applied load for both the RZ5 Mg alloy matrix and RZ5/TiC composite materials. The coefficient of friction and weight loss increased approximately linearly with an increase in the sliding distance and the applied load. However, the abrasive wear resistance is slightly reduced as the amount of TiC increased. It has been seen that at maximum applied load, the consequence of sliding distance became severe caused by heat, which is generated by two mating parts during wear process. The material gets soft because of intensified heat, which is generated by enhanced sliding distance. This led to a decrease in the bonding effect of TiC in RZ5 Mg alloy because of the removal of TiC particles during the abrasion process. The loads are transformed from the RZ5 matrix to the TiC ceramic particles by strong interfacial bond, which causes less wear in the tested samples.

7.2 Effect of applied load

The consequences of applied load on the coefficient of friction and weight loss for all samples are as shown in Figure 5. According to the figures, all of the samples showed a similar increasing trend in weight loss, and the average coefficient of friction as the applied load increased from 10 to 20 N. The RZ5 matrix alloy has the highest weight loss and coefficient of friction in all applied loads. When the amount of TiC reinforcement particles is increased, the effect of applied load on the abrasive wear resistance decreases. This is because RZ5 alloy contains TiC particles, which enhanced the hardness and reduced the factual area of contact and accordingly improved the wear resistance. It is evident that the TiC reinforcement works as a load-bearing element in Mg composites, resulting in increase in the wear resistance. Though the effect of applied load became more vital as the sliding distance is increased, probably, the maximum abrasion takes place at higher applied load and maximum sliding distance. This generates maximum heat in the mating parts, which softens the interfacial bond between the RZ5 matrix and TiC reinforcement. It is clear that the hard abrasive grits can easily abrade soft materials.

7.3 Effect of amount of titanium carbide

The effects of amount of TiC on the coefficient of friction and weight loss for all samples are shown in Figure 6. The incorporation of different amounts of TiC is beneficial for improving the abrasive wear resistance of the RZ5 matrix alloy. The weight loss and average coefficient of friction of the RZ5-TiC MMC decreased with increasing the TiC content. The figure shows that all samples exhibited a similar trend of increment in weight loss and coefficients of friction as the applied load increases from 10 to 20 N. This may be due to the higher hardness of the composite, which results in a lower factual area of contact. Therefore, a small number of junctions, which require less energy in comparison to the matrix alloy to become sheared during abrasion. As shown in Table II, the hardness and strength of the RZ5 Mg alloy progressively enhanced by increasing the amount of TiC.

8. Wear surface study

Figure 7 depicts the FE-SEM micrographs of the worn samples of the RZ5 matrix and RZ5-TiC composite samples. Few micrographs are presented, and explanations to the few samples hold true even for the whole samples. During the test, a little bit of wear debris in the form of fine black powder, followed by some grooves, has been formed on the worn surfaces of all experimental samples. However, the grooves in the matrix material are comparatively big. This is because of the contact surface of TiC particles in the RZ5 Mg alloy, which results in less penetration of the abrasive grits. Abrasive wear happens when reinforcement particles (TiC) or asperities penetrate a softer surface and dislodge a material in the form of elongated chips. Another reason may be the powerful bonding of MMC. The wear behavior of RZ5-TiC composite depends mainly on the kind of interfacial bonding. It plays a vital role in transferring loads from the RZ5 alloy to TiC reinforcement and ensures less wear occurs. In the case of deprived interfacial bonding, the interface makes a site for crack nucleation, which causes it to pull out the particles from the worn surface and result in more wear loss. It is also observed that the formation of grooves and cracks on the abraded surfaces decreases when the amount of TiC particle is increased. This contributed to the superior hardness of the composites with a comparatively higher amount of TiC, which decreases the real area of contact and results in less penetration by the abrasive wear and less groove formation.

9. Conclusions

RZ5-TiC composites with 6, 8 and 10 Wt.% of TiC particle additions were fabricated via in situ self-propagating high-temperature synthesis. The experimental results showed that the RZ5-TiC composites are synthesized with a moderate even distribution of TiC particles. The abrasive wear behavior of RZ5 and RZ5-TiC composites is studied using a pin-on-disk wear machine and using load conditions as 10, 15 and 20 N, TiC content of 6, 8 and 10 Wt.% and sliding distance of 700, 1,000 and 1,400 m. From the abrasive wear analysis, it has been observed that amount of TiC reinforcement, sliding distance, and applied load considerably influence the abrasive wear characteristics of the test material. The following represents the major conclusions:

  • The mechanical properties of RZ5 Mg alloy are considerably improved because of the inclusion of TiC reinforcement particles.

  • When the sliding distance and applied load are increased, the average coefficient of friction and weight loss increases.

  • Under the same applied load, both the weight loss and average coefficient of friction are decreased with increase in the amount of TiC. The SEM micrograph of abraded surfaces showed that a small amount of fine black powder wear debris accompanied by small grooves is formed in all the tested materials.

  • Abrasion and plowing groove indicate the wear behavior of the RZ5 Mg alloy and RZ5-TiC composites.


The XRD pattern of (a) RZ5-6Wt.%TiC, (b) RZ5-8Wt.%TiC and (c) RZ5-10Wt.%

Figure 1

The XRD pattern of (a) RZ5-6Wt.%TiC, (b) RZ5-8Wt.%TiC and (c) RZ5-10Wt.%

Experimental setup of abrasive wear apparatus

Figure 2

Experimental setup of abrasive wear apparatus

SEM micrographs of (a) RZ5 Mg alloy, (b) RZ5-6Wt.%TiC, (c) RZ5-8Wt.%TiC and (d) RZ5-10Wt.%TiC

Figure 3

SEM micrographs of (a) RZ5 Mg alloy, (b) RZ5-6Wt.%TiC, (c) RZ5-8Wt.%TiC and (d) RZ5-10Wt.%TiC

Effect of sliding distance on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at applied loads of (a), (b) 10 N; (c), (d) 15 N; and (e), (f) 20 N

Figure 4

Effect of sliding distance on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at applied loads of (a), (b) 10 N; (c), (d) 15 N; and (e), (f) 20 N

Effect of applied load on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at sliding distances of (a), (b) 700 m; (c), (d) 1,000 m; and (e), (f) 1,400 m

Figure 5

Effect of applied load on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at sliding distances of (a), (b) 700 m; (c), (d) 1,000 m; and (e), (f) 1,400 m

Effect of amount of reinforcement on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at sliding distances of (a), (b) 700 m; (c), (d) 1,000 m; and (e), (f) 1,400 m

Figure 6

Effect of amount of reinforcement on the weight loss and coefficients of friction at sliding distances of (a), (b) 700 m; (c), (d) 1,000 m; and (e), (f) 1,400 m

SEM micrograph of the worn surface at 1,400 m sliding distance and 20 N load

Figure 7

SEM micrograph of the worn surface at 1,400 m sliding distance and 20 N load

Statistics of wear test

Parameters Unit Levels
Low Medium High
Applied load N 10 15 20
Sliding distance M 700 1,000 1,400
Wt.% TiC Wt% 6 8 10

Comparison of mechanical properties of RZ5, RZ5-6Wt.%TiC, RZ5-8Wt.%TiC and RZ5-10Wt.%TiC

Condition UTS (MPa) Yield strength % El (25mm GL) Hardness Grain Size
RZ5 179 ± 2.64 140 ± 2.64 6.56 ± 1.0 73 ± 3.0 250 ± 8.0
RZ5-6Wt.%TiC 163 ± 3.0 97 ± 2.0 8.45 ± 1.0 85 ± 2.0 150 ± 5.0
RZ5-8Wt.%TiC 176 ± 3.60 117 ± 3.0 5.24 ± 0.5 95 ± 2.0 60 ± 4.0
RZ5-10Wt.%TiC 195 ± 3.60 121 ± 3.0 4.94 ± 0.5 105 ± 3.0 20 ± 5.0


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Corresponding author

Deepak Mehra can be contacted at: mehradeepakk@gmail.com

About the authors

Deepak Mehra received BE in Production and Industrial Engineering from the M.B.M. Engineering college, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, in 2005, and MTech in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from IIT Roorkee, India, in 2012. Presently, he is a PhD candidate in the area of mechanical and industrial engineering in IIT Roorkee.

Dr Manas Mohan Mahapatra is presently working as an Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical Sciences at IIT Bhubaneswar.

Dr Suraj Prakash Harsha is presently working as an Associate Professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at IIT Roorkee.