Tungsten Carbide Coating: 5 Important Characteristics Every Maintenance Engineer Needs To Know

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Tungsten carbide coating applied by the thermal spray process has been increasingly used in industrial maintenance to solve wear problems. This alloy can bring great results for those who choose to invest in this coating. However, the results can also be quite disastrous if some points are not taken into account. Click to know about tungsten carbide scrap prices

So, there are no mistakes; we selected five indispensable items to get the best result when choosing the tungsten carbide coating to increase the durability of parts:

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1 – Alloys: When talking about tungsten carbide, we are referring to a family of alloys. In the thermal spray process, there are several tungsten carbides alloys available. Examples: WC 12Co, WC 10Co 4Cr, WC 10 Ni, WC 17Co, among others. This means that, for each environment, there is more suitable tungsten carbide. Some alloys work in corrosive environments; others cannot even withstand corrosion in tap water.

2 – Working Temperature: All tungsten carbide coatings have high resistance to wear by abrasion and erosion, but this does not mean that they work in all environments with these characteristics. These alloys are applicable at temperatures up to 400˚C. Above that temperature, they lose their parts and are no longer resistant to wear.

3 – Impact Resistance: Tungsten carbide coatings applied by the thermal spray process do not have impact resistance. The anchoring of the layer is mechanical and, when subjected to impact, peels off the surface.

4 – Applicable Layer: In very aggressive environments, it is customary to opt for higher layers. But a very high layer is not synonymous with excellent performance. The tungsten carbide coating works with top layers of up to 0.5 mm. Above this threshold, the risk of peeling increases due to the residual stress levels present in the applied coating. Furthermore, the application cost is higher.

5 – Abrasion Resistance: The tungsten carbide coating, regardless of the alloy, is one of the best alternatives for harsh environments in terms of abrasive wear. It features 400% better performance than hard chrome, for example.

Attention to these five items can increase parts durability by over 500%, with significant cost savings.

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Hard Chrome Or Tungsten Carbide – Discover Differences 

Numerous product engineering and maintenance engineering professionals come to me daily asking for the price of applying coatings to parts. In many cases, they want to replace the hard chrome applied by the tungsten carbide coating.

Yes, the tungsten carbide coating provides many benefits. Still, the professional must know the main differences between the two materials to be sure they are making the best choice for their application.

Differences Between Tungsten Carbide And Hard Chrome

We identified two differences that I consider essential for every product and maintenance engineer to know about:

1 – Resistance To Abrasion Wear: Tungsten carbide has a slightly higher hardness than hard chrome. However, the presence of carbides in its composition provides much better resistance to wear by abrasion. This premise is evident when performing an abrasion wear test. The volume loss of hard chrome plating in this type of wear is 400% greater than that of tungsten carbide.

2 – Corrosion Resistance: The microstructure of tungsten carbide coatings is of the lamellar type, with very low porosity (less than 1%). On the other hand, hard chrome has a structure in the form of microcracks, which allows the passage of corrosive agents through these cracks, which can cause corrosion in the base metal.

This structural difference is evident when performing a salt mist chamber’s corrosion test (ASTM B117). The tungsten carbide coating has far superior strength. In the best-evaluated situation, hard chromium withstood 400 hours, while tungsten carbide had a resistance of 4000 hours.

Based on the cost and performance relationship, it is up to the maintenance designer or manager to analyze the choice that, in the process as a whole, will generate the best return for the organization. Search for tungsten carbide scrap prices