Investigating the Abrasive Wear Resistance of Thermal-Sprayed WC-Based Coatings

Document Type: Original Research Article


Department of Materials Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan 84156-83111, Iran


The purpose of this research was to investigate the abrasive wear behavior of WC–NiMoCrFeCo (WC-N) and WC–FeCrAl (WC-F) coatings deposited by high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) spraying. The abrasive wear resistance was evaluated by a dry sand rubber wheel (DSRW) test rig using abrasives silica 70 and alumina 60, and the values were then compared to those of conventional WC-Co (WC-C) coatings. The abrasive wear with silica 70 indicated the “soft abrasion” regime, while alumina 60 abrasive caused a “hard abrasion” for all coatings. Moreover, the wear rate of the coatings abraded by alumina 60 was around 1.2-7.8 times greater than that of silica 70. WC-F exhibited the greatest wear resistance compared to other coatings tested by silica 70 due to its lower mean free path and higher hardness compared to other coatings. WC-C coating revealed the cobalt matrix removal followed by WC fracture and pullout using abrasive silica 70, while WC-F and WC-N coatings represented a combination of subsurface cracking, WC pullout, and fracture. Abraded by alumina 60, WC-C, WC-F, and WC-N coatings showed the evidence of grooving, pitting, and cutting. Moreover, WC-C coating had the highest wear resistance due to its high fracture toughness and low porosity, protecting WC-C coating against severe cracking and grooving, respectively. Cross-sectional images of the wear scars revealed a significant sub-surface cracking for WC-F and WC-N coatings while no significant cracking could be detected for WC-C coating.


Main Subjects

 1.      Yuan, J., Ma, C., Yang, S., Yu, Z., Li, H., “Improving the wear resistance of HVOF sprayed WC-Co coatings by adding submicron-sized WC particles at the splats' interfaces”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 285, (2016), 17-23.

2.      Trpčevská, J., Ganev, N., Żórawski, W., Jakubeczyova, D., Briančin, J., “Effect of powder particle size on the structure of HVOF WC-Co sprayed coatings”, Powder Metallurgy Progress, Vol. 9, No. 1, (2009), 42-48.

3.      Stewart, D. A., Shipway, P. H., McCartney, D. G., “Microstructural evolution in thermally sprayed WC-Co coatings: comparison between nanocomposite and conventional starting powders”, Acta Materialia, Vol. 48, No. 7, (2000), 1593-1604.

4.      Mateen, A., Saha, G. C., Khan, T. I., Khalid, F. A., “Tribological behaviour of HVOF sprayed near-nanostructured and microstructured WC-17wt.% Co coatings”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 206, No. 6, (2011), 1077-1084.

5.      Gong, T., Yao, P., Zuo, X., Zhang, Z., Xiao, Y., Zhao, L., Zhou, H., Deng, M., Wang, Q., Zhong, A., “Influence of WC carbide particle size on the microstructure and abrasive wear behavior of WC–10Co–4Cr coatings for aircraft landing gear”, Wear, Vol. 362-363, (2016), 135-145.

6.      Jafari, M., Enayati, M. H., Salehi, M., Nahvi, S. M., Park, C. G., “Microstructural and mechanical characterizations of a novel HVOF-sprayed WC-Co coating deposited from electroless Ni–P coated WC-12Co powders”, Materials Science and Engineering: A, Vol. 578, (2013), 46–53.

7.      Nahvi, S. M., Jafari, M., “Microstructural and mechanical properties of advanced HVOF-sprayed WC-based cermet coatings”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 286, (2016), 95-102.

8.      Berger, L. M., “Applications of hardmetals as thermal spray coatings”, International Journal of Refractory Metals and Hard Materials, Vol. 49, (2015), 350-364.

9.      Park, S. Y., Kim, M. C., Park, C. G., “Mechanical properties and microstructure evolution of the nano WC–Co coatings fabricated by detonation gun spraying with post heat treatment”, Materials Science and Engineering: A, Vol. 449-451, (2007), 894-897.

10.    Myalska, H., Moskal, G., Szymański, K., “Microstructure and properties of WC-Co coatings, modified by sub-microcrystalline carbides, obtained by different methods of high velocity spray processes”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 260, (2014), 303-309.

11.    Qiao, Y., Fischer, T. E., Dent, A., “The effects of fuel chemistry and feedstock powder structure on the mechanical and tribological properties of HVOF thermal-sprayed WC-Co coatings with very fine structures”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 172, No. 1, (2003), 24-41.

12.    Picas, J. A., Punset, M., Baile, M. T., Martín, E., Forn, A., “Effect of oxygen/fuel ratio on the in-flight particle parameters and properties of HVOF WC-CoCr coatings”, Surface and Coatings Technology, Vol. 205, (2011), S364-S368.

13.    Sobolev, V. V., Guilemany, J. M., Nutting, J., “High velocity oxy-fuel spraying: Theory, structure-property relationships and applications”, London: Maney Publishing, (2004).

14.    De Villiers Lovelock, H. L., “Powder/processing/structure relationships in WC-Co thermal spray coatings: A review of the published literature”, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, Vol. 7, No. 3, (1998), 357-373.

15.    Yuan, J., Zhu, Y., Zheng, X., Ruan, Q., Ji, H., “Improvement in tribological properties of atmospheric plasma-sprayed WC-Co coating followed by Cu electrochemical impregnation”, Applied Surface Science, Vol. 255, No. 18, (2009), 7959-7965.

16.    Jafari, M., Enayati, M. H., Salehi, M., Nahvi, S. M., Hosseini, S. N., Park, C. G., “Influence of nickel-coated nanostructured WC-Co powders on microstructural and tribological properties of HVOF coatings”, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, Vol. 23, No. 8, (2014), 1456-1469.

17.    Baik, K. H., Kim, J. H., Seong, B. G., “Improvements in hardness and wear resistance of thermally sprayed WC-Co nanocomposite coatings”, Materials Science and Engineering: A, Vol. 449-451, (2007), 846-849.

18.    Saha, G. C., Khan, T. I., “The corrosion and wear performance of microcrystalline WC-10Co-4Cr and near-nanocrystalline WC-17Co high velocity oxy-fuel sprayed coatings on steel substrate”, Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, Vol. 41, No. 11, (2010), 3000–3009.

19.    Aristizabal, M., Rodriguez, N., Ibarreta, F., Martinez, R., Sanchez, J. M., “Liquid phase sintering and oxidation resistance of WC–Ni–Co–Cr cemented carbides”, International Journal of Refractory Metals and HardMaterials, Vol. 28, No. 4, (2010), 516–522.

20.    Birks, N., Meier, G. H., Pettit, F. S., “Introduction to the High-Temperature Oxidation of Metals”, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press: UK, (2006).

21.    Nerz, J., Kushner, B., Rotolico, A., “Microstructural Evaluation of Tungsten Carbide-Cobalt Coatings”, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, (1992), 147-152.

22.    Stewart, D. A., Shipway, P. H., Mccartney, D. G., “Abrasive wear behaviour of conventional and nanocomposite HVOF-sprayed WC–Co coatings”, Wear, Vol. 225–229, (1999), 789–798.

23.    Dent, A. H., Depalo, S., Sampath, S., “Examination of the wear properties of HVOF sprayed nanostructured and conventional WC–Co cermets with different binder phase contents”, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, Vol. 11, No. 4, (2002), 551–558.

24.    Khan, T. I., Saha, G., Glenesk, L. B., “Nanostructured composite coatings for oil sands applications”, Surface Engineering, Vol. 26, No7, (2010), 540-545.

25.    Stevenson, A. N. J., Hutchings, I. M., “Development of the dry sand rubber wheel abrasion test”, Wear, Vol. 195, No. 1-2, (1996), 232-240.

26.    ASTM G 65-00, “Standard Test Method for Measuring Abrasion Using the Dry Sand/Rubber Wheel Apparatus”, ASTM International West Conshohocken, PA., (2000), 256-267.

27.    Hutchings, I. M., Shipway, P. H., “Tribology: friction and wear engineering materials”, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, (2017), 273.

28.    Nahvi, S. M., Shipway, P. H., McCartney, D. G., “Particle motion and modes of wear in the dry sand-rubber wheel abrasion test”, Wear, Vol. 267, No. 11, (2009), 2083-2091.

29.    Blombery, R. I., Perrot, C. M., Robinson, P. M., “Abrasive wear of tungsten carbide-cobalt composites. I. Wear mechanisms”, Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 2, (1974), 93-100.

30.    Chen, H., Xu, C., Zhou, Q., Hutchings, I. M., Shipway, P. H., Liu, J., “Micro-scale abrasive wear behaviour of HVOF sprayed and laser-remelted conventional and nanostructured WC-Co coatings”, Wear, Vol. 258, No. 1-4, (2005), 333-338.

31.    Larsen-Basse, J., “Effect of composition, microstructure, and service conditions on the wear of cemented carbides”, The Journal of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (JOM), Vol. 35, No. 11, (1983), 35-42.

32.    Kumari, K., Anand, K., Bellacci, M., Giannozzi, M., “Effect of microstructure on abrasive wear behaviour of thermally sprayed WC-10Co-4Cr coatings”, Wear, Vol. 268, No. 11-12, (2010), 1309-1319.