Typical data are presented for the chemical and physical characterization of commercial carbide cutting tools before and after machining tests on heat treated alloy steel AISI-4340. Particular attention is paid to the morphology of crater wear relating chemical constitution and carbide microstructure to tool/workpiece interactions. Direct observation of chemical impurity transfer is reported and a mechanism proposed for the deleterious liquid phase attack of intergranular cobalt. The influence of TiC coatings on improved cutting performance is discussed; and the characteristics of several different coatings correlated with varied machining results. Characterization techniques employed include optical and scanning electron microscopy, electron microprobe analysis and x-ray emission identification.

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