In the present work, we performed a case study of the wear resistance of 3 μm thick film systems consisting of TiCN single-layer and TiN/TiCN double-layer structures deposited by electron beam evaporation onto plasma-nitrided PH15-5 steel. We particularly focused on the wear resistance of the duplex-treated (nitriding + deposition) coatings before and after annealing at 1123 ± 3 K using a ball-on-disk tribometer. We found that the plasma-nitrided layer prepared in a dual-mode microwave-radiofrequency discharge improved the wear resistance by nearly one order of magnitude compared to untreated steel (wear volume of 0.9 ± 0.2 × 10-6mm3compared to 8.7 ± 0.2 × 10-6mm3). In addition, the experiments showed that the nitrided-layer between the steel and the hard coating acts as a diffusion barrier which maintains the wear resistance of the duplex-treated coatings composed of TiCN or TiN/TiCN layers. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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