The object of this work is to obtain a fundamentalunderstanding of the principal issues concerning the handlingof an aqueous WC-Co powder suspension.
The WO3 surface layer on the oxidised tungsten carbidepowder dissolves at pH>3 with the tungsten concentrationincreasing linearly with time. Adding cobalt powder to thetungsten carbide suspension resulted in a significant reductionof the dissolution rate at pH<10. Electrokinetic studiesindicated that the reduced dissolution rate may be related tothe formation of surface complexes; the experiments showed thatCo species in solution adsorb on the oxidised tungsten carbidepowder.
The surface forces of oxidised tungsten and cobalt surfaceswere investigated using the atomic force microscope (AFM)colloidal probe technique. The interactions at various ionicstrengths and pH values are well described by DLVO theory. Theadsorption of cobalt ions to tungsten oxide surfaces resultedin an additional non-DLVO force and a reduced absolute value ofthe surface potential. It was shown that the adsorption ofpoly(ethylene imine) (PEI) to the WO3 surfaces induces anelectrosteric repulsion.
The properties of spray-dried WC-Co granules were related tothe WC primary particle size, and the poly(ethylene glycol)(PEG) binder and PEI dispersant content in aqueous WC-Cosuspensions. The granule characterisation includes a new methodfor measuring the density of single granules. The increase inthe fracture strength of granules produced from suspensionsthat were stabilised with PEI was related to a more densepacking of the WC-Co particles.
The AFM was used to study the friction and adhesion ofsingle spray-dried WC-Co granules containing various amounts ofPEG binder. The adhesion and friction force between two singlegranules (intergranular friction) and between a granule and ahard metal substrate (die-wall friction) have been determinedas a function of relative humidity. The granule-wall frictionincreases with binder content and relative humidity, whereasthe granule-granule friction is essentially independent of therelative humidity and substantially lower than the granule-wallfriction at all PEG contents.
Key words:Hard Metal, Cemented Carbide, WC-Co, TungstenCarbide, Cobalt, Oxidation, Dissolution, Surface Complexation,XPS, AFM, Colloidal Probe, Hamaker Constant, Cauchy, WO3,CoOOH, ESCA, Zeta-Potential, Surface Potential, Poly(ethyleneimine), PEI, Suspension, van der Waals, Steric, Spray-Dried,Poly(ethylene glycol), Strength, Density, Friction, Adhesion,Granule, PEG, Pressing, FFM.