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Among the cemented carbides, the tungsten carbide/cobalt (WC-Co) alloys are the most studied. Four parameters are used to characterize their microstructures: the binder volume fraction, binder mean free path, carbide grain size, and carbide contiguity. Some success has been achieved in relating these variables empirically and theoretically to mechanical properties relevant to performance, such as hardness and toughness. Current research is directed towards the possibly significant effects of the fine substructures—specifically, those of solutes, precipitates, stacking faults, and other defects in the binder—and those of the binder metal concentration and dislocation arrays at the grain boundaries of the tungsten carbide.
This review briefly describes the use of microscopy in quality evaluation, microstructural characterization, and alloy development.
quantitative metallography, cemented carbides, tungsten carbide/cobalt alloy, stereology, quantitative microscopy, quality evaluation
Professor of engineering, Division of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, R.I.