FIB / SEM Determination of Sub-Surface Damage Caused by Micro-Tribology Scratching of WC/Co Hardmetal Samples

  • M G Gee
  • K P Mingard
  • A J Gant
  • H G Jones
Conference paper


WC/Co hardmetals are composite materials that are used in many wear resistant applications. Micro-tribology experiments were carried out on polished samples of WC/Co as model single point abrasion tests to determine the microstructural mechanisms of wear. The mechanisms of wear included plastic deformation and micro-fracture of the WC grains leading to fragmentation of the grains with re-embedment in the binder phase to form layers covering and protecting further damage to the surface.

Ion beam milling with FIB / SEM sectioning and 3D reconstruction was used to characterise the sub-surface damage that occurred beneath scratches. It was found that specific WC grains at the surface fractured, with an increasing number of fragmented grains as the severity of the test parameters was increased. This led to an increased thickness of the re-embedded layer.


FIB-SEM Micro-tribology Abrasion simulation WC/Co Hardmetals 


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Copyright information

© TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M G Gee
    • 1
  • K P Mingard
    • 1
  • A J Gant
    • 1
  • H G Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.National Physical LaboratoryTeddingtonUK

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