IIT-M: turning metal waste into resource

Published - March 19, 2016 05:52 pm IST

Researchers at IIT Madras have successfully turned Ti6Al4V alloy waste — shavings that are produced when a metal is machined — into resource using low-cost means. Shavings produced in aerospace machining operations are usually disposed as low-volume scrap. But researchers at IIT Madras have tuned the shaving into foils (3 mm width and 1 mm thickness) that are 1.5 times harder than the parent material.

Researchers in the past have produced shavings with hardness up to three times that of the bulk material using the machining approach. Shavings produced when a bulk material is machined under controlled laboratory are extensively strain deformed. As a result, the coarse grain structure of the bulk material becomes ultrafine grained in the shavings. It is already known that nanostructured materials composed of sub-micrometer scale grains have properties that are much different from conventional materials.

In this case, the fine grain structure of the shavings endows them with increased hardness and greater strength; malleability and ductility get reduced but not significantly, said H.S.N. Murthy, Professor at the Aerospace Engineering Department.

“To take advantage of the enhanced physical properties of the shavings, we attached a die extrusion to the cutting tool so that the shaving gets extruded in the form of foils,” said Prof. Balkrishna C. Rao from the Department of Engineering Design.

“We have produced and characterised the material. We are looking at 2-3 applications. One would be to use smaller particles as reinforcement in composite,” said Prof. Murthy. Using the foils as wear padding is another possible application.

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