The range of applications for high-strength light metal components – primarily aluminum, but also magnesium and titanium – is constantly growing. The motivation for using light metals in the automotive industry is to reduce weight and ultimately lower fuel consumption and emissions.
However, light metal construction reaches its limits in areas where it must withstand high tribological, mechanical or thermal stresses. These weaknesses can be resolved while maintaining a low component weight through targeted and in some cases partial reinforcement of the metal with ceramic particles. It is possible to vary the type of ceramic particles, their size and volume fractions. The objectives of the technical and application-specific structure design for such ceramics include:
- Increase mechanical strength
- Influence friction and wear (tribology)
- Influence thermal expansion
- Improve thermal stability
Application examples for metal/ceramic composites (also called metal matrix composites, MMC) are cylinder sleeves in engines (tribology), piston-recess walls (tribology), brake pad backing plates (weight), bearings (thermal expansion), brake discs (tribology), sporting goods or heat-sinks in electronics.