Publication details

Enhancing mechanical properties and cutting performance of industrially sputtered AlCrN coatings by inducing cathodic arc glow discharge



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Surface and Coatings Technology
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Magnetron sputtering; AlCrN coating; Ion energy; Ion-deposition flux ratio; Mechanical properties; Cutting performance
Description The average ion energy per deposited atom (Ed) is defined as the product of the ion energy (Ei) and ion-deposition flux ratio (Ji/Jd) in magnetron sputtering deposition. Ed captures both the geometrical, and plasma characteristics of the deposition system and hence is regarded as a fundamental parameter for describing the energy dependency of coating structure and properties. Nevertheless, Ed is not a universal parameter since an independent variation of its components, i.e., Ei and Ji/Jd, may result in the same Ed but different coating structures and properties. While the controlling of Ji/Jd is not possible in most conventional magnetron sputtering systems, this study employed an industrially developed SCIL® (sputter coatings induced by lateral glow discharge) technology to independently control the ion flux (Ji) and investigate the dependence of structure, mechanical properties, and cutting performance of the AlCrN coatings on the Ed and its components. The results revealed that the structure of the AlCrN coatings was mainly dependent on the Ji/Jd component of Ed, where a transition from a cubic structure into a hexagonal structure took place beyond a critical level of Ji/Jd. The elastic modulus showed no Ed dependency and was only affected by coating structure. However, the hardness was strongly dependent on the Ed. Whether in Ei or Ji/Jd, an increase led to a hardness enhancement through the synergic effect of the residual stress hardening, coating densification, and grain refining mechanisms. The cutting performance of deposited tools under real working conditions was also found to be dependent on the Ed and, in particular, on Ji/Jd. Increasing Ed from ~860 to ~1170 eV/atom led to a ~55% increase in tool lifetime, reaching 90% performance of the benchmark arc-deposited coating.

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