Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



Fabrication of microscale Ta mold inserts by micro-electrical-discharge-machining (ìEDM) is reported. Morphology, chemistry, and structure of the near-surface region of as-machined Ta blanks have been characterized by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy. A TaC surface layer forms on as-machined Ta surfaces. This altered surface layer was removed by electro-chemical-polishing. Further modification of Ta insert surfaces was accomplished by deposition of a conformal Ti-containing hydrogenated carbon coating. We demonstrate successful replication of high-aspect-ratio microscale structures (HARMS) in Al and Cu by compression molding with such surface-engineered Ta mold inserts. In addition, a hybrid microfabrication technique, combining micropattern definition with LIGA (Lithographie, Galvanoformung, Abformung) fabricated Ni microstructures with parallel micropattern generation with µEDM, was used to fabricate micropattern with some geometrical complexity on elemental Ta and 304 stainless steel. Also, the results of instrumented micromolding of Al are studied. Measured molding response was rationalized with companion high-temperature tensile testing of Al using a simple mechanics model of the micromolding process. The present results suggest that stresses on the mold insert during micromolding are determined primarily by the flow stress of the molded metal at the molding temperature and the frictional traction on the sides of the insert. The influence of strain rate was also considered. In addition, the elasto-plastic response of an Al block indented by a periodic array of long smooth strip punches made of a relatively rigid material is studied through finite element analysis (FEA). First, elastic test problems, for which analytical solution exist, are carried out to calibrate the FEA mesh. Results demonstrate that satisfactory accuracy is achieved for key, peak, contact stresses near the edge-of-contact region and interior stresses. Second, indentation response is tracked with FEA into the elasto-plastic regime. Results show that the yield region within the indented material approaches a self-similar state as indentation progresses. Finally, Al molded by Si inserts at room temperature is studied through experiment and FEA.



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Committee Chair

Glenn Sinclair