MATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION 42:93–100 (1999)© Elsevier Science Inc., 1999. All rights reserved.1044-5803/99/$–see front matter655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010PII S1044-5803(98)00048-5
haracterization of Thermal Spray Coatings
Brian S. Schorr, Kevin J. Stein, and Arnold R. Marder
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015-3195
The ability to characterize fully the microstructure of a coating is paramount for under-standing the in-service properties and eventual optimization of the coating. This article dis-cusses sample preparation and subsequent analytical techniques (LOM, SEM, XRD, WDS,and QIA) for several cermet thermal spray coatings and provides a detailed analysis of as-sprayed microstructures in addition to processing trends for several FeCrAIY-carbide coat-ings. It was found that the splats produced in these high velocity oxy-fuel (HVOF) coatingstended to exhibit a predominantly dendritic structure most likely retained from the gas at-omization process that produced the original powder. Chemical analysis showed that thecarbides tend to breakdown during spraying producing a complex mixture of oxides andvarious carbides. Finally, image analysis revealed that as the carbides in the pre-sprayedpowder were increased, more carbides and oxides with less FeCrAIY and thinner coatingswere found. These techniques allow the thorough characterization of thermal spray cermetcoatings, which in turn should further the understanding of the thermal spray processes and help provide superior coatings in the future. © Elsevier Science Inc., 1999. All rightsreserved.
Thermal spray coatings have become animportant part of modern industry, offer-ing customized surface properties for a va-riety of industrial applications ranging fromthermal barrier coatings for high tech tur- bine blades to erosion resistant coatings for boiler tubes. Although the usage of thermalspray coatings has increased dramatically,the characterization and analysis of thesecoatings has lagged behind. Characteriza-tion is critical for understanding why ther-mal spray coatings behave the way they do,and offering guidelines for improved coat-ing performance in the future.Thermal spray coatings are formed bymelting materials in particulate form orwire feed stock and accelerating the moltenor partially molten droplets toward a sub-strate. Once these molten droplets strikethe substrate they expand out in a radialfashion and form a splat. As additional par-ticles impact the specimen splats will even-tually interact with one another and form acontinuous coating. Splat-to-substrate, aswell as splat-to-splat, bonding tends to beweak, providing little resistance to pulloutduring the mechanical processing (cutting,grinding, and polishing) of the coating formetallographic preparation. In addition,multi-phase coatings, such as cermets, canhave enhanced pullout due to the differentsizes and densities of the as-sprayed pow-ders. Consequently, if care is not takenwhen preparing a thermal spray coating foranalysis, pullout can cause erroneous po-rosity, volume %, and even chemistry mea-surements.Several papers have dealt with metallo-graphic preparation and routine analysis ofthermal spray coatings, Blann [1, 2] con-ducted a thorough study of cutting, grind-ing, and polishing procedures on the poros-ity levels of various thermal spray coatings.Blann discovered that by using a low speedcut off saw, diamond lapping discs, lownap polishing clothes, and a vibratory pol-isher the erroneous porosity levels in ther-mal spray coatings, especially cermets,