Aspects of Structural Evolution in Cemented Carbide – Carbide Size, Shape and Stability

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Cemented carbide is a composite material used in applications like cutting tools and rock drilling inserts. The material commonly consists of WC grains embedded in a Co-rich binder phase and the material properties strongly depend on the WC grain size. Hence, to tailor the properties it is important to understand the fundamental mechanisms of grain coarsening. At the same time, the higher demands on material properties today also require new solutions. In the present work, some different aspects of structural evolutions in cemented carbides have been investigated.The first part of the work considers WC grain coarsening by means of size, size distribution and shape. Some efforts of the work have been to evaluate the effects of C-activity and initial WC powder size and distribution on the coarsening behavior in the material using different characterization techniques, e.g. scanning electron microscopy, and electron backscattered diffraction. Additionally, two earlier developed models are used and evaluated with the experimental data. The results indicate that the C-activity will affect size, size distribution and shape of the WC grains. It was also observed that the initial WC powder size and size distribution will have a large influence on the WC grain coarsening. The statistical shape was found to fit a spherical approximation but for individual grains both faceted and non-faceted shapes was observed. Steps and planar defects were observed supporting that the nucleation of new atomic layers is the main rate limiting mechanism for grain coarsening.The second part of this work considers the carbide phase stability in the (Ti,Zr)C system. The phase stability was investigated after synthesizing and aging a mixed (Ti,Zr)C using X-ray diffraction and different types of electron microscopy techniques. A decomposed lamellar structure was found with a composition variation of approximately 10% between the 50-75 nm thick lamellas. The experimental investigations were supported by computational work and the results were in good agreement. Additionally, two cemented carbide related systems were studied. A miscibility gap was found in the two investigated systems, (Ti,Zr,W)(C,N)-Co or Fe-graphite, and the effect of N2-gas pressure was investigated suggesting a critical N2-gas pressure below 0.1 bar.

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