Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Low cost machining of metal matrix composites

Tools are being developed for the machining of metal matrix composites (MMC). Existing coated tools, such as those coated with titanium nitride or titanium carbide which have shown advantages in the cutting of steel, show poor performance in machining MMCs. Diamond coating technology is suitable for finding an economic and environmentally friendly solution for machining these extremely abrasive high technology materials. Substrate materials more suitable for diamond coatings with good adherence have to be developed. New methods of coating such as hot filament and diamond coating (DC) plasma jet chemical vapour deposition (CVD) are being further developed. Subsequent commercial development will integrate these coating techniques with the manufacture of suitable diamond coatings on tools, an important step towards the low cost machining of MMCs.

Special cemented carbide substrates have been developed in order to ensure good adhesion between diamond coating and substrate material. Different pre-treatments of the substrates were tested and the most promising pre-treatment has been developed. Both chemical and mechanical methods have been researched. Machining experiments have been performed to assess the machinability of different MMC materials and to assess the wear behaviour and tool life of diamond coatings. Also machining parameters have been optimized. For a more fundamental understanding of the wear mechanism of the diamond coating a model has been developed to predict the cutting forces in relation with the tool wear of the diamond coated tools. Due to successful development of the diamond coating process, a scale up of the coating process has been developed to ensure economical production circumstances. Before starting the scale up activities a quality assurance method has been developed to measure the quality of the diamond coating in terms of adhesion and wear resistance.

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