Deposition and focused ion beam milling of anticorrosive CrC coatings on tool steel substrates
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For micro replication, the base of a die should be ductile and the surface layer that will undergo processing should have a good machining response to various tool-making processes. At the same time, the resulting working surfaces of the tooling cavities should be hard; having low roughness, low wettability and high erosion resistance. To achieve such diverse properties, nano-crystalline CrC coatings deposited onto 12% Cr tool steel were investigated in this research. To verify the properties of such coatings various metallographic techniques were applied. In particular, the corrosion resistance was studied by means of potentiodynamic anodic polarisation. A scanning transmission electron microscopy analysis of the structure was performed on samples prepared with focused ion beam (FIB) machining. The mechanical properties and grain size distribution were determined and statistically analysed. In addition, X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy were used in studying the surface properties of these coatings. To investigate the response of the CrC coatings to micro- and nano-structuring technologies with high specific energy, a series of rectangular trenches were produced by FIB milling. The effects of the ion beam current, exposure time and ion fluence on the sputtering yield and roughness of the produced micro-structures were especially investigated. Some essential parameter windows for performing FIB milling with relatively high sputtering rates, higher than 1 µm/min, and at the same time achieving the best possible surface integrity were determined during the experiments.
KeywordsCrC PVD FIB Micro-tooling AFM STEM analyses
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