Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Materials Science and Engineering


Mears, Michael L

Committee Member

Kennedy , Marian S

Committee Member

Blouin , Vincent Y

Committee Member

Skaar , Eric C


The objective of this research work is to create a comprehensive microstructural wear mechanism-based predictive model of tool wear in the tungsten carbide / Ti-6Al-4V machining tribosystem, and to develop a new topology characterization method for worn cutting tools in order to validate the model predictions. This is accomplished by blending first principle wear mechanism models using a weighting scheme derived from scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) analysis of tools worn under different operational conditions. In addition, the topology of worn tools is characterized through scanning by white light interferometry (WLI), and then application of an algorithm to stitch and solidify data sets to calculate the volume of the tool worn away.
The motivation for this work is two-fold. First, the evolving dominance of different wear mechanisms with time, as well as with significant tool and process factors has been characterized only in a limited fashion for this tribosystem. Traditional modeling of tool wear treats wear mechanisms individually. Hence, quantifying the mechanism-dominance at different operational conditions through a comprehensive approach of combining and weighting wear mechanisms is essential for understanding wear. Second is the critical need for better quantifying the wear itself. Wear is a 3D phenomenon. However, machining tool wear has historically been measured only in 1D which is inadequate to capture the true tool wear status, even with standardization.
The methodology was to first combine and weight dominant microstructural wear mechanism models, to be able to effectively predict the tool volume worn away. Then, by developing a new metrology method for accurately quantifying the bulk-3D wear, the model-predicted wear was validated against worn tool volumes obtained from corresponding machining experiments.
The changing dominance of different microstructural wear mechanisms was captured by formulating mechanism-weighting-factors from SEM imaging and EDS analysis. These were formulated for each of the three speed-regimes, which then fed into a multi-mechanistic volumetric wear rate model. On comparing this model-predicted wear to the actual tool volume worn away, prediction on the order of the observed wear was achieved, with better prediction at low and medium surface speeds - this was quantified by sum-of-squares computations.
On analyzing worn crater faces using SEM/EDS, adhesion was found dominant at lower surface speeds, while dissolution wear dominated with increasing speeds - this is in conformance with the lower relative surface speed requirement for micro welds to form and rupture, essentially defining the mechanical load limit of the tool material. It also conforms to the known dominance of high temperature-controlled wear mechanisms with increasing surface speed, which is known to exponentially increase temperatures especially when machining Ti-6Al-4V due to its low thermal conductivity. Thus, straight tungsten carbide wear when machining Ti-6Al-4V is mechanically-driven at low surface speeds and thermally-driven at high surface speeds.
Further, at high surface speeds, craters were formed due to carbon diffusing to the tool surface and being carried away by the rubbing action of the chips - this left behind a smooth crater surface predominantly of tungsten and cobalt as observed from EDS analysis. Also, at high surface speeds, carbon from the tool was found diffused into the adhered titanium layer to form a titanium carbide (TiC) boundary layer - this was observed as instances of TiC build-up on the tool edge from EDS analysis. A complex wear mechanism interaction was thus observed, i.e., titanium adhered on top of an earlier worn out crater trough, additional carbon diffused into this adhered titanium layer to create a more stable boundary layer (which could limit diffusion-rates on saturation), and then all were further worn away by dissolution wear as temperatures increased. At low and medium feeds, notch discoloration was observed - this was detected to be carbon from EDS analysis, suggesting that it was deposited from the edges of the passing chips. Mapping the dominant wear mechanisms showed the increasing dominance of dissolution wear relative to adhesion, with increasing grain size - this is because a 13% larger sub-micron grain results in a larger surface area of cobalt exposed to chemical action.
On the macro-scale, wear quantification through topology characterization elevated wear from a 1D to 3D concept. From investigation, a second order dependence of volumetric tool wear (VTW) and VTW rate with the material removal rate (MRR) emerged, suggesting that MRR is a more consistent wear-controlling factor instead of the traditionally used cutting speed. A predictive model for VTW was developed which showed its exponential dependence with workpiece stock volume removed. Also, both VTW and VTW rate were found to be dependent on the accumulated cumulative wear on the tool. Further, a ratio metric of stock material removed to tool volume lost is now possible as a tool efficiency quantifier and energy-based productivity parameter, which was found to inversely depend on MRR - this led to a more comprehensive tool wear definition based on cutting tool efficiency.