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CVD diamond coatings on geometrically complex cutting tools

E. Uhlmann (1)*, J. Koenig

Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management, Chair of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Technology, Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
1. CVD diamond thin lms on cutting tools
CVD diamond thin lms offer an approach to combine diamond
hardness and wear resistance with arbitrary tool geometry. State of
the art in diamond tooling is the generation of diamond thin lm
systems on cemented carbide distinguished by crystallite size for
indexable inserts and shaft tools (Fig. 1). Cemented carbide grades
feasible for CVDdiamond deposition are limited to a cobalt content
of 10 wt.% [1,2,3].
The manufacturing chain of CVD diamond coated cemented
carbide tools commences with the identication of a suitable
substrate as well as the substrate pre-treatment to remove cobalt
from the surface layer and to structure the tungsten carbide with
undercuts. This is necessary to prevent a catalytic reaction of cobalt
with diamond and to provide a mechanical bond between
substrate and diamond lm. These manufacturing steps are
followed by cleaning and diamond seeding measures before
CVD diamond deposition is carried out [1].
The current state of research of diamond thin lm technology
on cutting tool substrates comprises diamond lm deposition
adapted substrate development and treatment, CVD diamond lm
post-treatment and increased diamond lmadhesion by analysing
strength and residual stress behaviour. Fine grain cemented
carbides and partly silicon based ceramics are mainly employed as
tool substrates. The residual stress prole of the diamond lm and
substrate interface depends on substrate type and pre-treatment
as well as CVDconditions and CVDdiamond lmproperties [510].
2. Analysis of the CVD diamond coated tool manufacturing
2.1. Research setup
In this research manufacturing of diamond coated tools by
varying substrate, pre-treatment and diamond lmwas focused on
(Table 1). The design of experiment comprises the use of one ultra
ne grain carbide (substrate A) and two ne grain carbides
(substrates B and C) with various cobalt contents from6 to 10 wt.%.
The inuence of polished and ground substrate surface roughness
as well as three different substrate pre-treatments (pt) for
preparing the diamond deposition on the tool wear behaviour
was analysed. The pre-treatments vary with respect to cobalt
reduction depth in the surface layer and mechanical surface
structuring. The deposited diamond lms are characterised by a
variation of morphology (nanocrystalline and multilayer) and
medium lm thickness (d = 8 mm and d = 12 mm).
Initially, characteristics of cemented carbides after each step of
manufacturing were researched in cutting tool material analysis
and tribological tests. Test samples with diameter d = 3.3 mm and
length l = 38.0 mm were used. After measuring surface and cutting
edge roughness according to DIN EN ISO 4287 surface formation
and cutting edge radius were determined.
Transverse rupture strength according to DIN EN ISO 3327 was
evaluated in three point bending tests. The tribological tests
consisted of oscillating sliding wear tests of the cutting tool
material in dry contact with AlSi17Cu4Mg and particle jet blasting
tests of the diamond coated cemented carbides. The latter was
carried out in a rotating setup.
The cutting research was carried out with a two ute thread
milling drill for manufacturing metric threads of 8 mm diameter
(M8). The thread milling drill is a geometrically complex shaft tool
applied for a combination cutting process of core hole drilling and
countersinking for the thread entrance chamfer and a nal thread
CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 6568
CVD diamond coating
Wear analysis
The manufacturing of chemical vapour deposition (CVD) diamond coated shaft type cutting tools is
demanding due to the complex design of the cutting edges and the cobalt content of the cemented
carbide. The inuencing parameters of substrate, pre-treatment and diamond lm on the tool cutting
performance are discussed. The optimised manufacturing route of CVD diamond coated thread milling
drills is identied with the use of material and tribological tests. Following the optimised production of
the tools, the thread milling drills are then applied in the machining of AlSi17Cu4Mg, whereby the tool
performance is characterised with respect to their wear behaviour, the process forces and temperatures
as well as the workpiece quality.
2009 CIRP.
* Corresponding author.
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milling process. It can be used for the manufacturing of various
thread geometries. The signicant challenges posed by this process
are the tool geometry design as well as the diamond coating
manufacturing steps.
2.2. Properties of cutting tool material and thread milling drills
All three cemented carbide surfaces exhibited similar surface
roughness values following the same manufacturing step. The
measured surface prole for substrate A in Fig. 2 showed the
lowest roughness for the nontreated cemented carbide and an
almost constant high roughness for the pre-treated and diamond
coated samples. The high surface roughness of the diamond
coating is caused by the substrate pre-treatment. In the case of pre-
treatment 3 (pt3) a signicantly lower value of total height of the
prole Rt was obtained whereas no change of arithmetical mean
deviation Ra can be observed.
Even the ground substrate B with the highest surface roughness
in the uncoated and nontreated state showed a similar surface
roughness to the polished substrates after pre-treatment. It can
therefore be seen that the surface roughness differences of
polished and ground samples were almost eliminated by the
pre-treatment process. So, the characteristics of the diamond
coated cemented carbide are almost independent of the initial
treatment and roughness state but mainly a function of the
mechanical and chemical coating preparation. Thus, tool body
grinding has low inuence on diamond deposition and diamond
lm adhesion. Fig. 3 depicts the surface formation of substrate B in
uncoated and untreated as well as in a pre-treated state (pt1). It
can be seen that the grinding traces on the polished (Fig. 3a) and
rough (Fig. 3b) samples were levelled after pre-treatment (Figs. 3c
and d).
These results were completed with measurements of the drill
main cutting edge of the thread milling drills. The cutting edge
roughness, also as known as shardness, increased on average by
one fourth from Rt = 2.8 mm to Rt = 3.7 mm after diamond coating.
The cutting edge roundness of CVD diamond coated tools doubled
from r
= 10 mm in the uncoated state to r
= 21 mm, which
correlates with previous research [5,6]
The strength of samples representing the manufacturing steps
of uncoated and untreated, pre-treated and diamond coated
cemented carbide was analysed and compared with samples that
had undergone only an annealing process. The transverse rupture
strength, analysed in a three point bending test setup, is decreased
by one third after pre-treatment, while the CVD diamond coating
leads to a 70% strength increase. The samples which had been
annealed only exhibited a similar strength to the untreated
samples. The lowered Weibull module after each step of
manufacturing compared to the initial Weibull module of the
uncoated samples displays a higher distribution of the strength
values (Fig. 4). It represents a diminished reliability of the diamond
coated cemented carbide and a higher risk of shaft type cutting tool
An inuence of cemented carbide cobalt content was evaluated.
The lower the cobalt content, the lower the strength after pre-
treatment but the higher the strength after diamond coating.
Reason for this is that the cobalt content exhibits a higher
toughness which supports the strength even if the surface layer is
weakened by cobalt etching. After diamond coating the residual
stress in the interface of substrate and diamond lmis determined
by the amount of cobalt which causes thermally induced stress due
to its high thermal expansion in contradiction to tungsten carbide
and diamond.
2.3. Tribological behaviour of cutting tool material
Fig. 5 demonstrates the inuence of roughness Rt against the
friction coefcient m
after t = 600 s friction time of the tool
substrates to AlSi17Cu4Mg in oscillating sliding tests. The
uncoated and untreated as well as the pre-treated cemented
carbides showed the highest friction coefcient, independent of
their surface roughness. The inuencing factor is the thermo-
chemical afnity of cobalt in the case of the untreated cemented
carbide, which leads to micro-weldings between the cobalt and
workpiece material. The pre-treated cemented carbide causes
micro-chipping of the aluminium alloy due to its surface
topography of tungsten carbide particle edges. The inuence of
surface roughness of the pre-treated cemented carbides and pre-
treatment type on friction coefcient is observed to be less
The CVD diamond lms have a broad range of surface
roughness. Almost independent of their roughness state, their
Table 1
Researched cemented carbides and variation of process steps.
Grade Carbide grain size (mm) Co content (wt.%) Surface roughness Pre-treatment Diamond morphology Diamond lm thickness (mm)
A 0.20.5 9 Polished pt1, pt2, pt3 Nanocrystalline, multilayer 8, 12
B 0.50.8 6 Polished, ground pt1, pt2, pt3 Nanocrystalline, multilayer 8, 12
C 0.50.8 10 Polished pt1, pt2, Multilayer 8
Fig. 1. Types of CVD diamond thin lm modications [4].
pt3 pt2 pt1 pt2 unc.




Manufacturing state of substrate A
8 m multilayer diamond



Fig. 2. Surface roughness of substrate A after each step of manufacturing.
Fig. 3. Surface formation of (a) polished and untreated, (b) rough and untreated, (c)
polished and pre-treated pt1 as well as (d) rough and pre-treated pt1 substrate B.
E. Uhlmann, J. Koenig / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 6568 66
friction coefcient was found to be approximately half that of the
uncoated cemented carbide. Reasons are the low chemical afnity
of diamond to aluminium silicon and its high hardness which
suppresses mechanical interactions with the counter body. Pre-
treatment pt3 is superior for supporting the tribological behaviour
of the diamond lm.
A rotating setup for particle jet blasting test was used to model
the load on varied diamond coatings on cemented carbides at
changing load angle, simulating respectively the load direction
during drilling and milling. The poorest performance was obtained
by substrate C and partly substrate A, both with high cobalt
content. Best results could be detected in the case of the lowcobalt
content containing substrate B with high diamond lm thickness.
These tests were aborted following 3000 s blasting time (Fig. 6). In
the xed setup, multilayer lms with 12 mmon substrate B had the
highest wear resistance.
2.4. Application of CVD diamond coated thread milling drills
During cutting tests with AlSi17Cu4Mg, diamond coated thread
milling drills based on substrate A showed the same ability to
reach the tool life criteria of N
= 400 threads with diameter M8
as uncoated tools. This result was independent of whether the
entire cutting tool or only the drill edges were diamond coated.
Thread milling drills of substrate B could outperformthe respective
uncoated tools when the drill edges were coated. The diamond
coating of the entire cutting tool led to total tool fracture however.
The pre-treatment was shown to be the strongest inuencing
factor on tool life quantity of the diamond coated tools. Total tool
fracture could only be completely avoided by pre-treatment pt3
(Fig. 7). The other pre-treatment types induced surface layer
damage at the fracture relevant zone between milling part and
countersink, thus leading to early fracture of the tool.
Temperature as well as axial feed force and cutting torque were
measured during the cutting process. The theoretical process
temperature was detected by indirect thermographic measure-
ments of core hole drilling and subsequent analysis of the
thermodynamic behaviour of the workpiece material. The max-
imum temperature at the cutting edge was estimated to be
T = 240 8C and therefore lies far from a temperature which could
induce wear of the diamond [1].
Cutting torque M
was measured for the rst and last thread to
be cut with uncoated as well as pt3 pre-treated and diamond
coated thread milling drills (Fig. 8). Despite higher surface
roughness and cutting edge radius of the diamond coated cutting
tool compared to the uncoated thread milling drills, the mechan-
ical process loads are often lower or in the same range. During
drilling no difference of cutting torque values were observed due to
the modication of the thread milling drill. During countersinking,
maximum cutting torque occurs due to the combined drilling
when four cutting edges are engaged. The CVD diamond coated
tools often showed similar or lower cutting torque than the
uncoated tools. Similar results were obtained for thread milling.
Usually, cutting torque while using diamond coated tools is
increased due to their higher cutting edge radius and surface
roughness [7,8]. Reason for the observed behaviour is only partly
Fig. 5. Friction coefcient as function of total height of the prole for the cemented
carbides after each step of manufacturing.
Fig. 6. Average jet blasting time in rotating setup for selected CVD diamond coated
cemented carbides.
Fig. 7. Tool life quantity of uncoated and variedly diamond coated thread milling
drills M8 based on substrate A and B.
Fig. 4. Transverse rupture strength of substrate A after each step of manufacturing.
E. Uhlmann, J. Koenig / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 6568 67
the minimised roughness of the pt3 pre-treated and diamond
coated tools. The core reason is the pre-treatment dependent
suppressed tool fracture which leads to an articial wear
development of the diamond coating.
Small lm volumes from diamond coating delaminate directly
at the drill and thread mill cutting edges. Due to the good lm
adhesion of the diamond lm, cutting edge displacement occurs
but the load resisting diamond lm further protects the cutting
edge. It appears in combination with a highly sharp structure of the
diamond fracture at the cutting edge even in a worn state.
The geometry of cutting edges is altered by mechanical wear,
especially at the drill minor cutting edges, which also work as
milling teeth during thread milling (Fig. 9a). The diamond lm at
the thread milling teeth is also mostly delaminated. Remaining
diamond lm parts resist further cutting edge deviation (Fig. 9b).
Partly cohesive lm delamination in the thin lm itself was
observed for multilayer diamond coatings on substrate A (Fig. 9c)
as well as on substrate B. This wear behaviour was also seen on the
nanocrystalline diamond lms on substrate B (Fig. 9d). Nanocrys-
talline diamond deposited on substrate A delaminated directly
from the substrate and could be classied as adhesive thin lm
After evaluating the cutting tool wear and process behaviour
the thread quality was determined using a thread gauge. Without
milling path compensation the threads machined with cutting
tools of substrate B exhibited the longest lasting accuracy to gauge,
with a mean of 280 threads. The uncoated thread milling drills
exhibited only limited accuracy to thread gauge (Fig. 10). This is
probably due to higher tool deection induced by increased
mechanical loads and stronger elastic workpiece material defor-
mation caused by increased friction related temperatures at the
interface of the workpiece and the uncoated thread milling drill.
3. Summary
The deposition of CVD diamond thin lms on geometrically
complex cutting tools is possible even on ultrane tungsten carbide
grain size cemented carbide substrates with higher cobalt content.
The strength of CVD diamond coated tools is mainly inuenced by
the initial strength and substrate pre-treatment. The cobalt content
of the substrate determines the strength behaviour of the CVD
diamond coated tool. Diamond thin lms with lowroughness value
Rt, which is mainly a function of substrate pre-treatment,
demonstrated the best performance in sliding wear tests. The
substrate cobalt content and diamond lm thickness signicantly
inuences fatiguewear resistance. Lower tungstencarbidegrainsize
supports the extension of this target parameter. At the cutting edge
of the diamond coated tool lm delamination occurs during
machining. Due to high lm adhesion the diamond lm serves as
a tribological partner with highly sharp cutting edges.
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Fig. 8. Cutting torque of rst and last thread to be machined with uncoated and CVD
diamond coated thread milling drills over tool life quantity.
Fig. 9. Worn cutting edges of pt3 pre-treated and d = 12 mm CVD diamond coated
thread milling drills: (ac) multilayer lm on substrate A, (d) nanocrystalline lm
on substrate B.
Fig. 10. Accuracy to thread gauge of manufactured threads M8.
E. Uhlmann, J. Koenig / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 58 (2009) 6568 68