Titanium carbide (TiC) reinforced Titanium Matrix Composites (TMCs) have been synthesized via an in-situ reactive spark plasma sintering (SPS) process using commercial Ti-6Al-4V spherical powders pre-coated with 1 wt% carbon nanoparticles by low-energy ball milling. Graphite flakes are used as carbon source, which aids powder flow during mixing as lubricant. Graphite transforms to nano-crystallite carbon during mixing which is favourable for the rapid formation of TiC second phase in the following SPS process. The composites exhibited a novel honeycomb-like cellular microstructure with the formation of 5–6 vol% fine TiC submicron grains interconnected in the titanium α/β matrix. In addition, the reinforcement of the TiC phase with a nano-hardness of 12.4 GPa, improves the wear resistance of the parent alloy matrix (5.1 GPa), with a reduction of 26–28% in wear rate during dry reciprocating sliding tests against Si3N4 balls. During sliding, the wear debris (predominantly anatase TiO2) builds up on the raised TiC hard phase forming a barrier layer of adhered oxide that can protect the alloy matrix underneath from abrasion and oxidation, leading to a reduced wear rate.
Bai, M., Namus, R., Xu, Y., Guan, D., Rainforth, M. W., & Inkson, B. J. (2019). In-situ Ti-6Al-4V/TiC composites synthesized by reactive spark plasma sintering: processing, microstructure, and dry sliding wear behaviour. Wear, 432-433, [ 202944]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wear.2019.202944