[Illinois] Advanced Materials Characterization Workshop 2012: Nano-Impact For Investigation Of Low Cycle Fatigue For Optimization Of Cutting Tool Coating At Ambient and Elevated Temperatures

By Mike Davies

Applications Engineer, Micro Materials Ltd.

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Recent improvements in nanomechanical test techniques to encompass a greater range of test temperatures (to 750 deg C) and strain rates (up to 10^-3 - 10^-4 s^-1) have opened up the exciting possibility of obtaining design rules for coating properties to provide improved durability under the tribologically extreme conditions of dry machining of hard-to-cut materials at high speed.Nano-impact testing is an advanced nanomechanical test technique which can simulate the interrupted contact (and cyclic loading) conditions occurring in severe contact applications and evaluate the fatigue fracture resistance of materials such as coated components.

Nano-impact enables fast repetitive nanoindentation and has been developed to test coating properties at high strain rates and to investigate surface fatigue and fracture due to repetitive contact with the aim of using results to optimise materials properties for improved durability.

In contrast to conventional impact testing at the macro-scale, nano-impact testing offers distinct potential advantages for testing thin coatings, in throughput, automation, surface sensitivity.

In this case study, the nanomechanical properties relevant to the contact/wear situation, such as
(1) hot hardness, (2) H/E at temperature (3) fatigue fracture resistance are evaluated for different
coatings and their relative importance in different contact situations has been determined
Excellent correlationsare observed with actual performance testing. The rapid, automated,
laboratory nano-impact tests correlate well with the longer, more laborious and expensive tests of
(1) cutting tool life,ranking coating performance in terms of tool life in end milling
and simulatingthe evolution of the tool wear (2) coating wear in high performance engine applications
[1-4]. The principles and applications of the nano-impact technique are reviewed in this presentation.


Mike completed a degree in Physics at the University of Nottingham, and went on to complete a PhD in high temperature nanoindentation focusing on the characterisation of the mechnical properties and creep behaviour of power station structural materials at their operating temperatures.

Sponsored by


  1. Advanced nanomechanical testing for high-speed machining of hard-to-cut aerospace alloys, BD Beake and GS Fox-Rabinovich, Int Heat Treat Surf Eng 5 (2011) 17
  2. Design and performance of AlTiN and TiAlCrN PVD coatings for machining of hard to cut materials, GS Fox-Rabinovich et al, Surf Coat Technol 204 (2009) 489.
  3. Coating optimisation for high-speed machining with advanced nanomechanical testmethods, BD Beake et al, Surf Coat Technol 203 (2009) 1919.
  4. Investigating the correlation between nano-impact fracture resistance and hardness/modulus ratio from nanoindentation at 25-500°C and the fracture resistance and lifetime of cutting tools with Ti1-xAlx N (x=0.5 and 0.67) PVD coatings in milling operations, BD Beake et al, Surf Coat Technol 201 (2007) 4585.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Mike Davies (2012), "[Illinois] Advanced Materials Characterization Workshop 2012: Nano-Impact For Investigation Of Low Cycle Fatigue For Optimization Of Cutting Tool Coating At Ambient and Elevated Temperatures," http://nanohub.org/resources/14466.

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