Tungsten carbide-cobalt coatings are extensively used to protect surfaces from wear in many types of applications, such as compressor piston rods, pump plungers, shaft sleeves on centrifugal pumps and fans, and midspans of compressor blades in gas turbines. The wear behavior in any application is strongly influenced by the basic physical and mechanical properties of such coatings. Fracture toughness as a mechanical property indicates the resistance to fracture in the presence of a sharp crack, and thus provides a measure of the intrinsic strength of the cemented carbides coatings. In this study, Vickers indentation tests have been used to quantify the in-plane fracture behavior of various WC-based coatings deposited by the High Velocity Oxy-Fuel (HVOF) spray process. The indentation cracks are analyzed in terms of standardized relations that utilize radial-median crack geometries. It is shown that the fracture properties of HVOF WC-Co coatings are anisotropic, and depend strongly on the microstructure and composition of the coatings. The crack propagation is determined by the porosity, binder mean free path, and the shape, size, and distribution of the reinforcing carbide particles. The erosion resistances of the coatings have also been discussed as a function of the fracture properties and mechanisms. It is shown, in this study, that the Vickers indentation method is a useful and convenient technique for determining the in-plane fracture toughness of HVOF sprayed WC-based coatings.

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