High Strength and Toughness Tungsten Carbide (WC) with Non-Cobalt (Co) Matrices

on June 1, 2013

Cemented cobalt-tungsten carbide is a material with attractive properties, including high hardness and fracture toughness. It has found success in a wide variety of applications, ranging from drilling bits to armor piercing projectiles. However, because cobalt is classified as a strategic and hazardous material, a replacement is necessary. Although carbides represent a group of materials with inherent high hardness and strength, they are also extremely brittle. This proposal seeks to increase the fracture toughness of tungsten carbide by two parallel processes: ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top down’. Nanosized tungsten carbide will be used in the ‘bottom up’ process to produce highly dense fine-grained structures through either the refinement of commercial powder or of the sintering parameters. The ‘top-down’ approach will utilize powder production to produce fine exotic grain structures by melting. By controlling the final sintered microstructure, the fracture toughness of the binderless tungsten carbide will be increased, therefore producing a dense material with high hardness and strength.

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