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Boride based cerments and ceramics

Composition and processing parameters were established for making dense titanium diboride based materials with mechanical properties comparable to those of conventional hard materials, using available raw materials and processing equipment. The material has been made by sintering with an iron rich (binder) phase and the innovative aspects principally concern the control of:
the metallic nature of the binder phase by addition of (2 to 3%) titanium;
oxygen content of the starting powders by means of appropriate additions of an alloy containing a strong deoxidizing element (rare earth metal, aluminium) and for instance nickel.

In this way precise compositions for materials with the desired quasibinary microstructure have been defined which take into account the influence of the mixing, milling and granulation steps. The wetting during liquid phase sintering has been radically improved and close to theoretical densities have been achieved even in pressureless sintering. In the case of nickel, aluminium additions, there are also possibilities of varying the structure of the binder phase from ferritic to martensitic to austenitic and mixtures of these.

Some physical, mechanical and chemical properties of these materials have been determined. The envisaged industrial applications for this new type of material are in tools for the cutting, forming, and so on, of metals and other construction materials, in rock drilling and mineral tools, and in wear parts.

The research has been successful with respect to finding a material in which the inherently excellent properties of titanium diboride are fully exploited, although there are improvements to be made in particular in order to eliminate the last traces of porosity. No really interesting applications in which such a material behaves better than conventional materials have, as yet, been found. An assessment of the benefits of the project cannot be made before a more complete market testing has been made.

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