Cavitation erosion of WC-Co

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

An investigation involving the vibratory cavitation erosion of WC-Co alloys was undertaken in order to determine the mechanisms of material removal. Nineteen grades of WC-Co alloys were studied. These alloys had been previously characterised according to microstructural and mechanical properties. Further characterisation by way of Young's modulus and density of the materials was undertaken. An investigation of the i nfluence of various parameters on cavitation erosion established a binder content dependence on erosion. For two grain sizes, erosion was found to increase to a maximum at 12 vo1-% binder content (1.8 μm grain size) and 23 vol-% binder (2.8 μm grain size). The main mode of material removal was found to be cobalt removal followed by WC grain pull-out. In high binder content alloys, cobalt removal was predominant with little loss of WC grains. X-ray diffraction showed that the allotropic phase transformation of the binder under cavitational attack was beneficial to the erosion resistance of these alloys. The erosion of low binder content alloys was controlled by the contiguity of the WC skeleton. Maximum erosion occurred at binder contents which corresponded to the combination of a fragile WC skeleton and a small volume of available cobalt for strain induced transformation.

Bibliography: pages 68-70.