Performance of Ceramic-Metal Composites as Potential Tool Materials for Friction Stir Welding of Aluminium, Copper and Stainless Steel

Materials (Basel). 2020 Apr 24;13(8):1994. doi: 10.3390/ma13081994.


The aim of the research was to disclose the performance of ceramic-metal composites, in particular TiC-based cermets and WC-Co hardmetals, as tool materials for friction stir welding (FSW) of aluminium alloys, stainless steels and copper. The model tests were used to study the wear of tools during cutting of metallic workpiece materials. The primary focus was on the performance and degradation mechanism of tool materials during testing under conditions simulating the FSW process, in particular the welding process temperature. Carbide composites were produced using a common press-and-sinter powder metallurgy technique. The model tests were performed on a universal lathe at the cutting speeds enabling cutting temperatures comparable the temperatures of the FSW of aluminium alloys, stainless steels and pure copper. The wear rate of tools was evaluated as the shortening of the length of the cutting tool nose tip and reaction diffusion tests were performed for better understanding of the diffusion-controlled processes during tool degradation (wear). It was concluded that cermets, in particular TiC-NiMo with 75-80 wt.% TiC, show the highest performance in tests with counterparts from aluminium alloy and austenitic stainless steel. On the other hand, in the model tests with copper workpiece, WC-Co hardmetals, in particular composites with 90-94 wt.% WC, outperform most of TiC-based cermet, including TiC-NiMo. Tools from ceramic-metal composites wear most commonly by mechanisms based on adhesion and diffusion.

Keywords: adhesive wear; cermet; diffusion-controlled wear; friction stir welding; hardmetal.