Implementation of an effective time-saving two-stage methodology for microstructural characterization of cemented carbides
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Linear intercept on scanning electron microscopy micrographs is the most commonly used measurement method to determine carbide grain size and contiguity in WC–Co cemented carbides (hardmetals). However, it involves manual time-consuming measurements and is critically dependent on the quality of the micrographs as well as on the identification and definition of grain boundaries. In this study a two-stage methodology for microstructural characterization of hardmetals is presented. First, a digital semi-automatic image analysis procedure for grain size determination of the carbide phase is presented. It involves an experimental assessment of grain size on processed images corresponding to a series of WC–Co and WC–Ni cemented carbide grades with different microstructural characteristics. Obtained results are then compared to the values obtained by means of the linear intercept technique. A good correlation between the mean grain sizes determined following both measurement techniques was attained. Based on experimental findings, a series of empirical relations were found to correlate grain size distributions obtained following both methods. Second, an empirical relation for estimating carbide contiguity in WC–Co cemented carbides is proposed. This relation considers simultaneously the influence of the binder content and the experimentally determined mean grain size on contiguity. The proposed equation for contiguity estimation is based on extensive data collection from open literature. An excellent agreement was attained between contiguity values estimated from such equation and those obtained using the linear intercept technique. This validates the two-stage procedure as an effective time-saving methodology for microstructural characterization of WC–Co cemented carbides.
CitationTarrago, J.M., Coureaux, D., Torres, Y., Wu, F., Al-Dawery, I., Llanes, L. Implementation of an effective time-saving two-stage methodology for microstructural characterization of cemented carbides. "International journal of refractory metals and hard materials", 2016, vol. 55, p. 80-86.