It is widely known that during high velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF) spraying of tungsten carbide – cobalt (WC-Co) coatings, decomposition occurs resulting in the formation of W2C and a relatively brittle amorphous binder phase (along with other carbides and even metallic tungsten). Decomposition has generally been seen to be deleterious to the wear resistance of these coatings and, as such, there have been moves to reduce it. Since decomposition during spraying initiates with WC dissolution into the molten binder phase, strategies for its minimization have been based on reduction of particle temperatures and exposure times during spraying. Moves in spraying from gas-fuelled systems to liquid-fuelled systems have contributed towards these goals. This paper examines microstructural features and wear behaviour of WC-Co coatings deposited with both a liquid-fuelled and a gas-fuelled system. Contrary to expectation, it was found that the wear rate of the liquid-fuel sprayed coating was five to ten times higher than that of the gas-fuel sprayed coating. It was shown that whilst the degree of decomposition was limited during spraying with a liquid-fuelled system, the solid core of WC-Co suffers significant mechanical damage on impact as it is deposited, resulting in carbide fracture and size reduction and thus to the low observed wear resistance.

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