The effect of coating properties on the performance of a-C:H and ta-C films
DLC films cover a wide range of different carbon based coatings, starting from soft to extremely hard diamond-like carbon films. In this study two different types of DLC films have been studied in respect of their stress and strain characteristics and tribological performance. The coatings are hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H) coatings deposited by PECVD and tetrahedral amorphous carbon (ta-C) coating deposited by filtered arc technique. In order to evaluate the mechanical behaviour of the coatings under load, 3D FE modelling was carried out in combination with scratch testing. Also the tribological performance was evaluated with pin-on-disc tests using stepwise increasing normal load. The 3D FEM model was developed for calculating the stress and strain distributions of DLC coated systems and to evaluate how coating thickness and elastic properties affect the stress-strain state at crack initiation location. The simulation was compared to the findings to experimental observations in scratch test contact conditions, when the spherical diamond tip was moving with increased load on a coated surface. The coating performance was evaluated with scratch testing to detect the crack generation as well as the coating adhesion. When combining the simulated coating characteristics with empirical observation of coating fracture patterns the coating fracture performance and tolerance to cracking could be evaluated. A major effect of the coating elastic modulus on the stress and fracture behaviour of the coatings was observed. In the tribological testing the both coatings had a low friction performance. In the tribological testing with stepwise increasing load, the critical load for coating delamination was higher for the a-C:H coating, which is in accordance with the results of FE modelling of coating stress state.