Carbon thin films of 50–100 nm thickness were synthesized by Pulsed Laser Deposition in vacuum at different laser fluences from 2 to 6 J/cm2
. The deposited films were characterized by Raman spectroscopy for compositional assessment, scanning electron microscopy for morphology/thickness evaluations, and X-ray reflectivity for density, thickness, and roughness determinations. The films were ~100 nm thin, smooth, droplet-free, made of a-C:H type of diamond-like carbon. The mechanical properties of synthesized films were studied by nanoindentation and adhesion tests. The films that were obtained at low laser fluences (2, 3 J/cm2
) had better mechanical properties as compared to those synthesized at higher fluences. The mean values of hardness were around 20 GPa, while the friction coefficient was 0.06. The deposition conditions of carbon thin films that displayed the best mechanical properties were further used to coat commercial drills. Both uncoated and coated drills were tested on plates that were made of three types of steel: Stainless steel 304, general use AISI 572 Gr 65 steel (OL60), and AISI D3 tool steel (C120). All of the drill edges and tips were studied by optical and scanning electron microscopes. The coated samples were clearly found to be more resistant, and displayed less morphological defects than their uncoated counterparts when drilling stainless steel and OL60 plates. In the case of C120 steel, carbon coatings failed because of the high friction between drill and the metal plate resulting in tip edges blunting that occurred during processing.
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