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Tribology of HVOF- and HVAF-sprayed WC-10Co4Cr hardmetal coatings: A comparative assessment

: Bolelli, Giovanni; Berger, Lutz-Michael; Börner, Tim; Koivuluoto, Heli; Lusvarghi, Luca; Lyphout, Christophe; Markocsan, Nicolaie; Matikainen, V.; Nylén, Per E.; Sassatelli, Paolo; Trache, Richard; Vuoristo, Petri


Surface and coatings technology 265 (2015), S.125-144
ISSN: 0257-8972
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
Fraunhofer IWS ()
abrasive wear; hardmetal; high velocity air-fuel (HVAF); high velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF); sliding wear; WC-10Co4Cr

This paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the sliding and abrasive wear behaviour of WC-10Co4Cr hardmetal coatings, representative of the existing state-of-the-art. A commercial feedstock powder with two different particle size distributions was sprayed onto carbon steel substrates using two HVOF and two HVAF spray processes. Mild wear rates of <10-7mm3/(Nm) and friction coefficients of ≈0.5 were obtained for all samples in ball-on-disk sliding wear tests at room temperature against Al2O3 counterparts. WC-10Co4Cr coatings definitely outperform a reference electrolytic hard chromium coating under these test conditions. Their wear mechanisms include extrusion and removal of the binder matrix, with the formation of a wavy surface morphology, and brittle cracking. The balance of such phenomena is closely related to intra-lamellar features, and rather independent of those properties (e.g. indentation fracture toughness, elastic modulus) which mainly reflect large-scale inter-lamellar cohesion, as quantitatively confirmed by a principal component analysis. Intra-lamellar dissolution of WC into the matrix indeed increases the incidence of brittle cracking, resulting in slightly higher wear rates. At 400°C, some of the hardmetal coatings fail because of the superposition between tensile residual stresses and thermal expansion mismatch stresses (due to the difference between the thermal expansion coefficients of the steel substrate and of the hardmetal coating). Those which do not fail, on account of lower residual stresses, exhibit higher wear rates than at room temperature, due to oxidation of the WC grains.The resistance of the coatings against abrasive wear, assessed by dry sand-rubber wheel testing, is related to inter-lamellar cohesion, as proven by a principal component analysis of the collected dataset. Therefore, coatings deposited from coarse feedstock powders suffer higher wear loss than those obtained from fine powders, as brittle inter-lamellar detachment is caused by their weaker interparticle cohesion, witnessed by their systematically lower fracture toughness as well.