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Homogeneous and structured PCD/WC-Co materials for drilling
Dan Belnap 1, Anthony Griffo *, 2
Materials R&D, Smith International, 16740 Hardy Street, Houston, TX 77032, USA Received 26 January 2004; received in revised form 9 June 2004; accepted 15 June 2004 Available online
Abstract Traditional polycrystalline diamond (PCD) materials for the rock-boring industry have been primarily composed of diamond particulates with a small volume fraction of cobalt as a binder/catalyst. Although these materials provide a cost-effective solution in many drilling applications, the catastrophic nature of the failure modes seen with these materials is a limiting factor in the increased usage of PCD in rock drilling. Research performed at Smith International has shown that composite PCD materials incorporating WC-Co as a third constituent have marked improvement in delaying the onset of catastrophic failure. These composite materials can be separated into two classes: (a) ‘‘homogeneous’’ composites and (b) ‘‘structured’’ composites. This paper reviews microstructures, material properties, field performance, and failure modes observed with these two new types of PCD composite materials. D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Diamond; Composited; Rock drilling
1. Introduction Rock drilling has been a primary application of polycrystalline diamond (PCD) since its introduction in the 1970s. The basic manufacturing technique for PCD involves subjecting diamond powders to high pressure and high temperature (HP/HT) conditions in the presence of a solvent/ catalyst [1,2]. The HP/HT process creates a sintered material characterized by strong inter-diamond bonding [3– 5]. Most PCD drilling applications involve the in situ bonding of the sintered diamond material to a hardmetal (WC-Co) substrate during the HP/HT process. The material properties of PCD include high hardness and strength, combined with moderate toughness [6 – 11]. Tests on PCD shear cutting drilling components have demonstrated that a typical S-N type fatigue effect can be observed . The unique combination of hardness, strength, and toughness has made PCD-enhanced components an excellent solution for many rockdrilling situations [13 – 16]. PCD-enhanced inserts have been used successfully in 3-cone bits for petroleum drilling since the 1980s . A
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-2812-3359-57; fax: +1-2812-3359-00. E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (A. Griffo). 1 PhD, R&D Manager, Smith Megadiamond, Provo UT. 2 Ph.D., Materials Projects Manager, Smith Bits, Houston TX. 0925-9635/$ - see front matter D 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.diamond.2004.06.013
key enabling technology for PCD-enhanced inserts was the use of interlayers with intermediate properties between PCD and WC-Co, which effectively form a functional gradient in the PCD material . Many improvements have been made since that time, with most efforts focusing on changes in insert design combined with cutting structure optimization [18 – 21]. A significant new direction was taken with the development of structured PCD/ WC-Co composite materials by Fang et al. . In addition to the performance increase seen with structured composites, recent testing has shown benefits with a new category of PCD/WC-Co composite materials, which can be described as homogeneous composites. This paper reviews structured and homogeneous PCD/WC-Co composites on the basis of microstructure, material properties, field performance, and failure modes. Prior art on diamond-WC-Co composites have included work on slavutich and tvesals composites [23 –26]. These composites are hot pressed product using diamond grit (typically greater than 500 Am diamond) and volume fractions below 30 vol.%. These materials have been successful utilized in hard abrasive formation where grinding is the only means of progressing through the formation. The current work focuses on micrometer-sized diamond powder at higher volume percent (50% or higher) where drilling mechanism is crushing.
Because the cross-sectional width and thickness dimensions B and T were critical to the calculation and varied slightly in size across each specimen. elastic modulus. 2.5 wt.05 mm/min. the probability of failure Pf was . and 19 mm chisel products.% 10 – 20 Am WC-12 wt. the width and thickness was measured after fracture as closely as possible to the fracture surface.5-Am average diamond grain size combined with 15. 1 shows the products used in this study. However. 2. Belnap. and a is a constant = 1. Testing was performed with a three-point bend apparatus on a screw-driven universal testing machine with a displacement rate of 0. Products for comparative impact testing of PCD-B materials were 19 mm gage chisel-enhanced inserts. Care was taken in machining to ensure that EDM burrs were not in critical regions of the test specimens. Variant B used a 3. The nominal specimen size and the testing geometry are shown in Fig. polished surfaces using a Vickers indenter with a 500-g load.8544 relating the d2 term to the surface area of the impression . In accordance with applicable test standards . Microstructural examination was performed in a scanning electron microscope (Philips Model XL30) operating with secondary electron detection. Materials Two basic PCD powder variants were employed in this work. The disk specimens were used to produce specimens for flexural strength.D.% Co spray powder. The coextrusion process for PCD/WC-Co composites has been described in detail elsewhere . Products for comparative impact testing of PCD-A materials were 11 mm diameter semi-round top (SRT) enhanced inserts. 2. 1. All powders were blended using WCCo media. It should be noted that the test standard was followed where it could be practically applied. where P was the load required to fracture the specimen. the recommendations for sample size and specimen chamfering were not followed because these pose unique cost and sample preparation difficulties for PCD-based materials. The powder for the homogeneous composites essentially used PCD variant A blended with 40 vol. Also in accordance with the test standard. Products manufactured included both enhanced inserts and flat 19 mm disk specimens manufactured under identical process conditions to the enhanced inserts. the testing fixture employed a ball support in series with the loading line to allow the loading fixture to conform to slightly non-parallel specimen surfaces. Products Components of varying sizes and shapes were produced by subjecting PCD powders and WC-Co substrates to nominal HP/HT conditions of approximately 5.% proprietary additives.3.% cobalt. 11 mm SRT. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 1915 2. The hardness Hv was determined according to the formula Hv ¼ aP d2 where P is the applied load. Hardness tests were performed on the Fig.2. d is the size of the impression diagonals.% Co powders coextruded with PCD in a core/shell configuration. Variant A used 5 Am average grain size diamond and 20 wt. Hardness and microstructure Specimen preparation was performed by polishing sectioned PCD surfaces with sequentially decreasing lapping compound diamond down to approximately 1 Am diamond grit. Three-point bending test configuration. The structured composites employed 6 Am WC-14 wt. 2. Experimental procedures 2. Once the group of specimens had been tested and the flexural strengths calculated. the specimen supports were designed to allow rotation during loading to avoid overestimation of flexural strength due to frictional shear between the specimen and the supports. Nineteen-millimeter disk. resin bonded diamond wheel for final polishing. and wear tests.5 GPa and 1400 jC. This surface was then subjected to a high-speed.1. The tension surface of the specimens was lapped with 12– 22 Am diamond abrasive slurry prior to testing.% cobalt and 8 wt. A. Flexural strength testing Rectangular specimens were EDM cut from the sintered PCD and transition layer materials.4. The flexural strength rf of an individual test specimen was determined by the formula rf ¼ 3PL 2BT 2 Fig. 2. Fig.
To accomplish this. mass and density measurements were made on each specimen. . A consumable steel block was employed between the insert and the drop weight to avoid unnecessary damage to the permanent fixture components. A.7. Wear tests Specimens were made from the sintered disks by OD grinding/lapping to nominal dimensions of 19 mm diameter and 8 mm length. Belnap. The amount of abrasive material removed was determined by making measurements of the wear scar using an optical microscope and estimating the removed volume using a numerical algorithm. Impacts were delivered from a 12-lb steel drop weight. The ratio of granite material removed to abrasive material removed was recorded as the wear resistance or G-ratio of the PCD where ms was the mass of the specimen. and T1 is a geometry-dependent constant. width. which allowed for better estimation of the average thickness. f was the measured resonant flexural frequency. Impact tests Testing was performed by placing inserts in a steel fixture. The energy at which chipping was first observed was recorded as the impact failure height. According to the recommendations of the relevant testing standard .015 in.5)/n where i was the rank number and n was the total number of specimens. 2.8 mm. The PCD contacted the carbide cylinders at approximately 45j from the central axis of the inserts.6. which was released magnetically from the appropriate heights from the inside of an aligning tube. (b) Microstructure of homogeneous WC-Co composite. Testing of the specimens was performed by tapping the simply supported specimens and measuring the resonant frequency. The use of impact tests in characterizing the mechanical beha- Fig. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 determined by ranking the specimen from lowest to highest and using the ranking function Pf=(i À 0. which allowed contact with two WC-11% Co cylindrical pins. B. This contact location was selected as this is representative of the critical contact location in most enhanced insert applications. The test conditions were 0. The nominal size of the granite cylinder was 20 cm OD Â 25 cm length.5. Using the physical definition of density and assuming the specimen to be a rectangular solid allowed for the determination of the average thickness for the specimen. The Weibull modulus was then estimated using the slope of the data plotted as ln[ln[1/(1 À Pf)]] vs.1916 D. the specimen geometry was such that the ratio of length to thickness was greater than 20 so that the resonant flexural frequency was minimally affected by Poisson effects. depth of cut and 550– 650 surface ft/min under flood-cooling conditions. along with length and width measurements. and T were. L. The equation used to calculate the elastic modulus (E) was E ¼ 0:9465 ms f 2 L3 T1 BT 3 vior of PCD components has been documented by other researchers . (a) Microstructure of PCD-A monolithic material. 3. Elastic modulus testing Specimens for elastic modulus testing were EDM cut from the 19-mm sample blanks. respectively the specimen length. and thickness. Impact testing started at 24 ft lbs and increased at 6 ft lb intervals until PCD chipping was observed. the thickness was determined by indirect means. 2. The wear testing was performed by placing these specimens in a 15j backrake tool holder and machining the OD of a Barre granite cylinder on a lathe. Because of the criticality of the thickness measurement in the calculation and the inherent variation of thickness across the specimen. The finished specimens had nominal dimensions of 17 Â 6 Â 0. ln(r). 2. The amount of granite removed was determined by measuring the diameter of the granite cylinder before and after the test in multiple locations.
E. The 10. Fig. (b) Microstructure of structured composite PCD. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 1917 Fig. respectively. Slavutich type material has diamond grit on the scale of 300 Am or greater and no diamond bonding evident due to large particle size and low pressures used . 4a. 4b and c shows the individual sintered microstructures of the cell (nominal composition PCD-B) and cell boundary (nominal composition WC-14% Co) materials that form the structured composite. The surface of the PCD-A material can be observed to be comparatively featureless. Fig. A. This figure shows lowmagnification images of the as-processed surface of enhanced inserts fabricated with both the structured composite material and PCD-A. with individual PCD cells measuring 100– 150 Am. Experimental results Fig. Flexural strength data for PCD-A materials. 3. 3a and b show. In all micrographs.% WC-Co. microstructures of PCD-A (4 –8 Am diamond/20 wt. Belnap.D. material. the darkest phase is diamond and the lighter phases are cobalt and/or tungsten carbide. which is representative of the as-processed surfaces of inserts made with PCD-B and homogeneous composite material. 4d shows the Fig. 4a– c. 5. The composite nature of the material can be clearly observed in Fig.% cobalt) and PCD-A combined with 40 vol.to 20-Am WC-Co particulates can be clearly observed in Fig. Similar procedures for testing the abrasion resistance of PCD have been reported elsewhere . The structured composite material has a honeycomb-like structure. (d) Microstructure of PCD-B monolithic material.M. while the hardness values of the homogeneous composite material were determined to be 2300– 2400 kg/mm2. In comparison. images of as-processed PCD surfaces. 3b and are randomly distributed within the microstructure. 4. . The hardness values of PCD-A were determined to be 3300 – 3400 kg/mm2. The microstructures of the structured composite material are shown in Fig. (c) Microstructure of cell boundary material. (a) Low magnification S.
The composite material flexural strength was determined to be 1453 F 108 MPa.5. the first being a PCD/40 vol. The structured composite material flexural strength was determined to be 991 F 97 MPa.% WCCo material. rather than a fundamental difference in intrinsic material impact resistance.and PCD-B-based materials are given. The PCD-B monolith gave an impact resistance of 27 F 5 ft lb. 5. The values for all materials except the structured composite were the average of data from three samples. it can be seen that the elastic modulus is measurably reduced for the composite materials. Based on the tight standard deviation observed with the other samples using this technique. The PCD-B monolith material flexural strength was determined to be 1815 F 100 MPa. it was concluded that one data point was reasonably representative of the group values. The results of the testing are shown in the Weibull plot in Fig. respectively.9. The inserts tested had a PCD thickness of 500 Am. Table 1a PCD-A elastic modulus data Material PCD-A Monolith Homogeneous Composite Elastic modulus 892 F 10 GPa 799 F 9 GPa Fig. Hardness values for the PCD-B materials in the structured composite material were determined to be 3100– 3200 HV. A. the hardness measurements in the structured materials were fully confined within the PCD cells. The decreased impact resistance observed between the 11-mm product and the 19-mm products is attributed to differences in the impact load distribution on the SRT and inclined chisel insert geometries. As expected. with an estimated Weibull modulus of 16. 8. with an estimated Weibull modulus of 21. while the hardness of the PCD-B monoliths were measured slightly higher at 3200 – 3300 HV. 6.% WC-Co also of 250 Am thickness as a functional gradient layer between the PCD layer and the WC-Co substrate.1918 D. . Flexural strength data for PCD-B materials. The PCD-A monolith and the homogeneous composite materials were tested using an 11-mm SRT configuration. these interlayers served as a functional gradient layers between the PCD layer and the WC-Co substrate. 6. The results of the testing are shown in the Weibull plot in Fig. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 Table 1b PCD-B elastic modulus data Material PCD-B Monolith Structured composite a Elastic modulus 887 F 17 GPa 847 GPaa Only one sample tested Fig. with an estimated Weibull modulus of 21. with an estimated Weibull modulus of 12. Weibull plots of the flexural strengths of PCD-A-based materials are shown in Fig.0. in Tables 1a and 1b. Comparative impact resistance of PCD-A materials. The PCD-B monolith and the structured composite materials were tested using a 19 mm inclined chisel configuration. The inserts tested had a PCD thickness of 250 Am. microstructure of a monolithic material of composition PCD-B. The inserts tested also had a single interlayer of PCD/60 vol. Weibull plots of the PCD-B-based materials are shown in Fig. The PCD-A monolith material flexural strength was determined to be 1714 F 95 MPa (mean F one standard deviation).% WC-Co material and the second a PCD/60 vol. 7. while the homogeneous composite gave an impact resistance of 97 F 10 ft lb. To facilitate accurate comparisons. The elastic modulus results as determined by impulse excitation for PCD-A. Belnap. The interlayers were each of approximately 250 Am thickness. while the structured composite gave an impact resistance of 38 F 5 ft lb. As in the previous example. The inserts tested also had a two interlayers. The PCD-A monolith gave an impact resistance of 45 F 11 ft lb. 7.0. Impact tests were performed on enhanced insert products to access the relative durability of the composite materials relative to the monolithic materials.
the PCD-B structured composites employed blended WC and Co powder to form the boundary material. While this is a significant drop in hardness from the PCD monolith material. Also. With its unique combination of microstructure and hardness. Discussion of results The correlation between microstructure and hardness in the PCD-A-based materials is quite obvious. The homogeneous composite showed a reduction in strength of 15% relative to the PCD-A monolith.D. however. As a consequence. while the WC-Co in the PCD-A material was sintered previously under standard . which is about 400 HV higher than would be expected from a WC-16% Co material with this grain size . which gives a value of 0. To a large degree. The strength decrease with the structured composites showed a reduction in strength of 45% relative to the PCD-B monolith. the homogeneous composite material essentially defines a new class of material for drilling applications. As may be anticipated from the microstructures. the critical strain for the homogeneous composite material gives a value of 0. The drop in hardness of approximately 1000 HV between the monolith and the composite materials is primarily due to the reduction in diamond volume fraction. The flexural strength and Weibull modulus of the PCD-A and PCD-B monoliths were determined to be relatively high values for brittle materials. A subtle but important difference between the WC-Co used in the two composites should be emphasized here. while the PCD-A homogeneous composites employed pre-sintered WC-Co.182 F 0. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 Table 2b Comparative wear resistance of PCD-B-based materials Material PCD-B Monolith Homogeneous Composite 1919 G-ratio 1. although it was difficult to quantify this analytically with reasonable statistical significance. By a similar calculation. In addition. careful examination of the PCD microstructures from the monolith and the composite showed that there appeared to be some increase in the binder metal in the structured composite PCD. As mentioned previously. Close examination of the cell boundary material using Table 2a Comparative wear resistance of PCD-A-based materials Material PCD-A Monolith Homogeneous Composite G-ratio 1.16 Â 105 EDX analysis gave strong evidence that some cobalt migration from the boundary occurred during the sintering process. Belnap. Since the PCD-B material in the monolith and in the composite was reasonably similar.% diamond crystals in the homogeneous composite material. the values are significantly higher than for any carbide grade used in rock drilling applications. the wear resistance of the composite materials was observed to drop measurably in both the homogeneous and the structured composite materials. this is to be expected. 8. the boundary material was suspected to be microstructural feature responsible for the strength decrease.02 Â 106 5. The additional binder metal is a reasonable explanation for the slight decrease in PCD hardness between the monolith and the composite. The critical strain values for these two materials can be argued to be in agreement within the range of scatter observed in the testing. The PCD-A monolith contained approximately 90 vol. The decrease is larger than can be explained by a critical strain analysis. The results shown are the average of 4 – 5 parts per material. the EDX analysis showed that only 3– 4 wt.% remained in the boundary after HP/HT sintering.96 Â 105 Fig. The initial amount of cobalt in the boundary was 16 wt. A. a decrease in flexural strength and Weibull modulus was observed in both the homogeneous composite and the structured composite materials relative to the respective monoliths. Comparative impact resistance of PCD-B-based materials. Examination of the PCD-B materials from both the monolith and the structured composite shows that it is possible to maintain very similar microstructures in either form. However. Typical hardness values for these carbide grades range between 1200 and 1600 HV depending on cobalt content .03 Â 106 1. since the wear resistance of these materials is dependent on the volume fraction of diamond. The results of the wear resistance tests for the PCD-Aand PCD-B-based materials are shown in Tables 2a and 2b.014%. the HP/ HT conditions were responsible for the WC-Co sintering in the case of the PCD-B materials. thus the failure criterion for these PCD materials may be more related to strain than stress.192 F 0. The critical strain for the PCD-A material can be estimated by the strength divided by the modulus. A simple uniaxial strain analysis may provide some explanation for the results.011%.% diamond crystals compared to approximately 55 vol.%. microhardness measurements in the boundary material gave values of 1500– 1600 HV. 4.
to 2400-HV composite material had an impact resistance of 97 ft lb. Impact test results showed an increase in impact resistance with the composite material. important material tradeoffs occur in PCD where KC is the fracture toughness and E is the elastic modulus. This relation indicates an inverse relationship between material toughness and modulus. and permanent deformation/cracking of the contact anvils. the toughness increase with the homogeneous composite material relative to the PCD-A monolith material may be substantial. inherent residual stresses in the inserts. demonstrating that the technique gives reasonably consistent experimental results. 10. Localized chipping of structured composite. carbide conditions. and therefore possessed some degree of increased toughness. since the difference between monolith and composite impact resistance is larger for the PCD-A materials than for the PCD-B materials. 9. while the 3300. Belnap. PCD-A material failure modes. even relatively small increases in fracture toughness would have a large effect on toughness. it was impossible to ignore the fact that the composite materials were measurably more resistant to impact than the monoliths. Additional reasons pointing to the PCD-B composite boundary material as the microstructural weak link were found in subsequent analysis. despite these complications. However. decrease alone. As the above relation shows. a toughening effect of 12% would be expected in the homogeneous composite from the modulus Fig. It is possible that the HP/HT press conditions used in sintering PCD materials are not ideally suited for the sintering of WC-Co. it should be noted that similar to other material systems. and as a result. . The most dramatic impact resistance increase was in the PCD-A materials. Elastic modulus values for both the homogeneous and structured composite materials decreased relative to the respective monoliths. This combined with the reasonable agreement with theoretical predictions suggests that impulse excitation is a viable method for the determination of elastic properties of ultrahard materials. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 Fig. the toughness GC is governed by the relation GC ¼ 2 KC E Fig. increases in impact resistance were observed to be accompanied by a decrease in wear resistance. it was difficult to quantify a first-principles toughness increase in these materials because of complications such as the laminar nature of the materials. therefore. A similar conclusion was reached by previous researchers . This is to be expected from various theoretical models of the elastic modulus of two phase materials. however. Wear of homogeneous composite. as pointed out previously. For a given material. where the 2300. the material that tested highest in impact resistance also possessed the lowest hardness. The impulse excitation technique appeared to give good agreement within material samples. even assuming that the fracture toughness of the materials (not measured) remained constant. A similar but smaller toughening effect would be expected in the structured composite materials since the difference in modulus values between monolith and composite materials is smaller.1920 D. It is possible that decreased hardness in PCD materials corresponds with an increase in fracture toughness as well. Therefore. In both the PCD-A and PCD-B tests. This agrees semi-quantitatively with the impact data. However. 11.to 3400-HV monolith had an impact resistance of 45 ft lb. Further analysis found that the experimental results agreed reasonably well with the Hashin – Shtrikman elastic modulus model . a toughening effect would be expected for a lower modulus material. the inverse relation between fracture toughness and hardness is well characterized. A portion of the toughening may be explained by the measured decrease in elastic modulus. because of the squared term. Therefore. In materials such as steels. the PCDB composite materials test weaker due to poorer carbide sintering. A. Quantifying this for the PCD-A materials.
Close examination of some homogeneous composite inserts showed minor wear scars in the contact regions (Figs. 13. which was in visibly in good condition. This gives an indication that the cell boundary is considerably weaker than the cell material and therefore can provide a location for preferential fracture under certain conditions. Possible mechanism for localized chipping damage in structured composites. The photographs on the right show localized chipping on the surface of a structured composite insert. however. The edges of the locally chipped regions are frequently observed to coincide with the cell boundaries. Belnap. Examples of the mitigated chipping continue to be observed in structured composite materials.34]. multiple field tests have demonstrated that the wear resistance of the homogeneous composite material is sufficient for 3-cone bit PCD insert applications.5 times reported in some regions [22. A detailed summary of performance data is beyond the scope of this paper. as can be seen in the photograph in Fig. Confirming evidence of the cell boundary being a location of preferential fracture has been observed in sectioned analysis of field tested inserts. 5. The large decrease in flexural strength observed with the structured composite relative to the monolith material supports this observation. despite the large measured difference in wear resistance between the monolith and the homogeneous composite.D. 12. 9 shows comparative failure modes of the PCD-A-based materials used in for gage protection of a 3-cone bit. 11. for 3-cone bit applications. 9 and 10). the homogeneous composite materials were observed to survive the application essentially in new condition. 13 was sectioned from a field-tested structured composite insert. some note will be made of new types of failure modes observed with these composite materials. 12 shows a photograph impact spall in which the cell boundaries clearly coincide with the fracture. Conclusions (1) Homogeneous and structured composite PCD materials have been successfully fabricated for enhanced inserts. By comparison. Field test results with both homogeneous and structured composite materials have shown improvements over the monolithic materials. which continue to propagate until the cracks intersect resulting in material loss. The micrograph on the right in Fig. It appears that the localized chipping phenomenon is likely due to the initiation of cracks along the cell boundaries. Griffo / Diamond & Related Materials 13 (2004) 1914–1922 1921 Fig. Therefore. An increase in insert durability with structured composites relative to monolithic materials has been previously reported. It has been previously documented that some of the performance benefit from the structured composite material is at least in part due to the capability of these materials to form localized chipping as a failure mode. Impact spall from tested insert with structured composite material. it has been noted that the best performance with the homogeneous composite material is accompanied by substantially increased PCD layer thicknesses ( f 3 mm). it has been determined that the homogeneous composite material provides a substantial engineering benefit in improving the durability of enhanced inserts. . However. with bit life increases of over 2. However. materials and need to be considered in determination of appropriate grade selection for specific enhanced insert applications. Fig. Fig. Fig. as can be observed in the figure. A. The monolith materials fail in this application by chipping/spalling of the diamond layer. Examination of impact-tested structure composite material has shown that cell boundaries can significantly affect the fracture path. Fig. 13 shows a possible mechanism for creation of localized chipping.
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