Cermets like WC/Co or Cr3C2/Ni20Cr are well-established materials for thermally sprayed wear protection coatings. However, their high price and the adverse health effects of nickel and cobalt cause the motivation for the development of novel materials with excellent wear resistance. Within the AiF/DFG research cluster “Thermal Spraying”, a multi-institutional cooperation of various German research centres, the focus is put on particle-reinforced iron-based composite alloys. High-alloyed steels serve as matrix materials into which hard CrB2 particles are incorporated by means of high-energy ball milling (HEM). By adjusting appropriate milling parameters, the microstructure of the powder and its level of amorphisation can be influenced effectively. The high-velocity oxygen fuel process (HVOF) allows a transfer of the desired nanocrystalline structure from the particles to the coatings. The deposited coatings exhibit low porosity and high microhardness values of more than 1000 HV0.3. The wear resistance of the coatings was determined by means of Miller test (ASTM G75-01) and compared with conventional wear protection materials and coatings produced with agglomerated and sintered powders. The obtained outstanding results qualify particle-reinforced iron-based materials as a promising alternative for a wide range of applications.

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