In composite materials made from metal and ceramics, a metallic substrate material is reinforced with ceramic hardened particles. This makes it possible to combine the low weight of the metal with the resistance of ceramics.
The spectrum of applications for light-metal components is growing more and more, especially in automotive engineering. Yet at the same time these components must work under ever more punishing conditions.
The solution is to reinforce the lightweight components with advanced ceramics where they are subject to the most tribological, mechanical or thermal stress.
Parts can be reinforced using metal matrix composites (MMCs) and CeramTec has already implemented them for locally reinforcing the cylinder sleeves in the engine block of the Porsche Boxster and 911. Highly porous MMC preforms were infiltrated by the molten metal when casting light-weight engine block components. The result was a seamless transition between metal and ceramic in these components.
By locally reinforcing these cylinder sleeves in the engine block, CeramTec has not only proven the proper functioning and efficiency of MMC preforms on a series-production scale, but also created a completely new class of composites. This taps a range of applications hitherto inaccessible to ceramics – even in applications that were unable to utilize ceramic components until now.
“MMC preforms are not available 'off the shelf'; however, anything is possible.”
Like other ceramics, metal matrix composites are custom-tailored according to individual requirements. Each field of application calls for its own development work and close interaction among users, designers and ceramics experts.
But wherever light-weight metallic components need to be reinforced or optimized, the use of Metal matrix composites is a technically and economically attractive solution with enormous potential.