Commercially pure Al base short steel fiber reinforced composites were prepared by stir casting method and poured into a cast iron mould. Steel fibers were coated with copper and nickel by electroless deposition method. The density, hardness and strength of composites increased as compared to matrix alloy. The mechanical properties of these composites were measured and the results were correlated with the microstructure observation. It was found that copper-coated short steel fiber reinforced composites show considerable improvement in strength with good ductility because copper form a good interface between Al matrix and short steel fiber. Nickel-coated steel fiber reinforced composites showed improvement in strength to a lower extent possibly because of formation of intermetallic compound at the interface. The improvement in strength with uncoated fibers and nickel-coated fibers is on the lower side because of formation of brittle intermetallic compounds like Fe2Al5and FeAl3. Fracture surface of tensile specimen was examined under SEM, which revealed a ductile fracture. Copper coating on steel fiber improved the strength properties while retaining a high level of ductility due to better interface bonding. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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