The carbide decomposition and the dissolution of carbide into the binder accompanying with thermal spraying of cermets can be eliminated during cold spray deposition of WC-Co. However, the limited deformation of hard impacting cermet particles and impacted coating makes it difficult for conventional thermal spray powders to continuously build up on impact in cold spraying. The porous structure of WC-Co powders provides the powder particles with certain deformability on high velocity impact, which benefits the continuous building-up of coating. In this study, three nano-structured WC-12Co powders with different porous structures and apparent hardness were employed to deposit WC-Co coatings on stainless steel substrate by cold spraying. The deposition characteristics of three powders of different porosity levels of 44%, 30% and 5% were investigated. It was found that WC-Co coating is easily built-up using the porous powders with WC particles bonded loosely and a low hardness. The microhardness of WC-12Co coatings varied from Hv400 to Hv1790 with powders and spray conditions, which depends on the densification effects by impacting particles. With porous WC-Co powders, the fracture of particles on impact may occur and low deposition efficiency during cold spraying. The successful coating building up at high deposition efficiency depends on the design of powder porous structure.

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