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Metals 2019, 9(3), 328;

Interlaboratory Measurements of Contiguity in WC-Co Hardmetals

National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington TW11 0LW, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 February 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design of Cemented Carbides and Cermet)
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The contiguity of a hardmetal is a measure of the proportion of the carbide grain boundaries that are in direct contact with other carbide grain boundaries. Recent analysis of data available in the literature shows a large scatter in results and a significant difference in values measured from scanning electron microscope (SEM) images and from electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) mapping. An interlaboratory exercise has been carried out with the measurement of a range of WC-Co hardmetal grades. For each grade, SEM images were acquired from both an etched surface and an ion beam polished surface and EBSD maps with two different processing routes. These maps and images were provided to the participants for measurement to eliminate variability from sample preparation and image acquisition. It was shown that measurement of contiguity from EBSD maps is likely to lead to an overestimation of contiguity, largely because EBSD maps do not have the resolution of SEM images to identify small binder phase regions between WC grains. Ion beam polishing combined with backscattered electron imaging was found to provide the best images of the microstructure to underpin a confident measurement of contiguity. However, high resolution SEM images of etched surfaces gave values close to those from ion beam polished samples so it is recommended that, as etching is much more widely available, high-resolution imaging of a lightly etched WC surface should be promoted as the preferred method for measurement of contiguity, in combination with backscattered imaging where possible. Even with good images, variation between operators can give uncertainties of approximately ±10%. View Full-Text
Keywords: hardmetals; tungsten carbide; microstructure; contiguity hardmetals; tungsten carbide; microstructure; contiguity

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Mingard, K.P.; Roebuck, B. Interlaboratory Measurements of Contiguity in WC-Co Hardmetals. Metals 2019, 9, 328.

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