Additonal authors: Xiao, Zhu. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
The copper-graphite metal matrix composites were fabricated by two different production methods: directly sintering with copper and graphite (Cu-Gr composite), and in-situ sintering with cuprous copper and graphite (Cu2O-Gr composite). During the in-situ reaction sintering, a redox reaction occurs at the interface of the Cu2O particles and Gr particles, resulting in the improved physical and mechanical properties of Cu2O-Gr composites. Compared with Cu-Gr composite, Cu2O-Gr composite has a higher compression strength at any given graphite content due to the improved interface bonding and uniformly distributed fine graphite particles in the matrix. Increasing graphite content decreases the mechanical properties of the copper-graphite composites. The compression strength of Cu2O-Gr composite is 50-100 MPa higher than that of Cu-Gr composite.
Copper-graphite composites have been widely used in industry due to their low density, relatively high strength and hardness, good thermal and electrical conductivity, arc ablation resistance and self- lubrication ability (Grandin & Wiklund, 2018; Han & Xu, 1999; Huang et al., 2017). Electric sliding contact friction pair in the high-speed railway system and motor brush in electric contact components have a very high demand on electrical conductivity and self-lubrication ability of materials. The electric devices need to bear both mechanical load and high electric current. Copper-graphite composites with good mechanical, electric and self-lubrication properties are the best candidates for application in multifunctional electric sliding contact frication components. The relative sliding speed of friction pair is developing towards 100 m/s or even faster, which can withstand the electric flow of more than 800 A, and it is often accompanied with vibration and impact (Guo & Ding, 2008). Conventional wear-resistant materials can no longer meet the current requirements and this promotes the development of copper- graphite composites with excellent comprehensive properties (Ding, Chen, Zhu, Zhang, & Zhou, 2009; Yasar, Canakci, & Arslan, 2007).
There are many ways to fabricate copper-graphite composites, mainly including powder metallurgy method, liquid immersion infiltration method, rapid sintering method and electrodeposition method (Kalin & Poljanec, 2018; Kim, Lee, & Han, 2014; Liu et al., 2018; Wang et al., 2018). Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the powder metallurgy method is the most commonly used one due to its simple process, high economic benefit, and industrial production applicability. The common steps of the powder metallurgy method are as follows (Samal, Parihar, & Chaira, 2013): firstly mixing the copper (copper alloy) powders and graphite with a certain ratio, following by die-forming, and then sintering at the high temperature with or without pressure. The advantage of copper-graphite composites is that the graphite distributed in the copper matrix uniformly and it can form a carbon diaphragm preventing the wear of the composite (Fu & He, 2010). However, the bonding strength of the interface between the copper matrix and the graphite is relative low as the combination between them is mechanical interlocking but not metallurgical bonding (Ma et al., 2008). It is meaningful to develop new fabrication technology of copper-graphite composites with better interface bonding, which could provide guidance for the design of copper-graphite composites with excellent comprehensive properties.