Part I: Die wear and die coatings
January 9, 2010
Stampers use tests to evaluate tool materials and coatings for wear issues. The main tests are scratching tests, twist compression test, strip-reduction tests, and forming tests.
Shown here are the five tool failure mechanisms and the changes recommended to prevent them.
Advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) are used extensively in the automotive industry to help improve crash safety and reduce weight. With the increased strength of AHSS, however, come dramatically increased springback and forming load (and, therefore, contact pressure) compared to milder steel grades.
In many cases, forming pressures are increased on purpose to reduce springback, but this can contribute to increased tool wear and galling. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the use of new tool materials and surface modifications.1
Figure 1 summarizes the principal modes of tool failure related to die wear and the steps required to avoid these failures,2 defined as follows:
Four main factors have an effect on these failures:
Surface treatments and coatings help increase tool life and reduce friction. Heat treatments, nitriding, and hard chrome plating are among the most common techniques used. However, they can fail under the high contact pressure that is present when stamping AHSS.
Three coatings typically are used for dies that stamp AHSS: physical vapor deposition (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and thermal diffusion (TD).
CVD requires higher temperatures than PVD (see Figure 2) and similar temperatures as TD. The high temperature can soften the die, which then necessitates a rehardening process. It also can cause dimensional distortion.3,4
The most common coating materials for PVD and CVD are nitrides (such as TiN and CrN), carbides (such as TiC and WC/C), solid lubricant films (such as DLC and MoS2), or a combination of these. Since many PVD and CVD coatings are brittle, they are applied to stiffen substrate materials, so the tool steel typically is surface-hardened before coating. Duplex coating, which consists of nitriding and PVD coating, is a common method.5,6
Considering the high cost of coated tool steels, large forming tools are made of relatively inexpensive and soft materials, such as cast iron or low-grade tool steel. Locations subject to severe wear are replaced with inserts of high-grade tool steels with coating (see Figure 3).
1. J. Bergstrm, P. Krakhmalev, A. Grd, and F. Lindvall, "Galling in Sheet Metal Forming," in proceedings of the IDDRG 2008.
2. Uddeholm & SSAB, "Tooling Solutions for Advanced High Strength Steels, Selection Guidelines," 2008.
3. S. Hogmark, S. Jacobson, and M. Larsson, "Design and Evaluation of Tribological Coatings," Wear, 246, pp. 20-33, 2000
4. B. Janoss, "Selecting, Using Tool Coatings to Stamp AHSS," The FABRICATOR®, July 2008.
5. Hogmark et al.
7. M. Liljengren, K. Kjellsson, T. Johansson, and N. Asnafi, "Die Materials, Hardening Methods and Surface Coatings for Forming of High, Extra High & Ultra High Strength Steel Sheets (HSS/EHSS/UHSS), in proceedings of the IDDRG 2008.