Friction stir welding (FSW) of steel is often performed with an insert made of polycrystalline cubic boron nitride (PCBN). Specifically, MS80 is a grade of PCBN made by Smith MegaDiamond that has been optimized for the FSW process. The PCBN insert is attached to a tungsten carbide (WC) shank by a compression fitting. However, FSW tools manufactured by this method inevitably fail by fracture in the PCBN. Permanently bonding PCBN to WC would likely solve the fracturing problem and increase the life of PCBN FSW tools to be economically viable. Partial transient liquid phase (PTLP) bonding, a process used to join ceramics with thin metallic interlayers, was proposed as a method to permanently bond PCBN to WC. PTLP bonding is often performed using three layers of pure elements. On heating, the two thin outer interlayers melt and bond to the ceramics. Concurrently, these liquid layers diffuse into the thicker refractory core until solidification has occurred isothermally. A procedure was developed to reduce the number of possible three-layer PTLP bonding setups to a small set of ideal setups using logical filters. Steps in this filtering method include a database of all existing binary systems, sessile drop testing of 20 elements, and a routine that calculates maximum interlayer thicknesses. Results of sessile drop testing showed that the PCBN grade required for this research could only be bonded with an alloy of Ti, Cu, Mg, and Sb. Two PTLP bond setups were tested using this special coating on the PCBN, but a successful bond could not be achieved. However, a PTLP bond of WC to WC was successful and proved the usefulness of the filtering procedure for determining PTLP bond setups. This filtering procedure is then set forth in generalized terms that can be used to PTLP bond any material. Also, recommendations for future research to bond this grade of PCBN, or some other grade, to WC are presented.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





polycrystalline cubic boron nitride, PCBN, tungsten carbide, WC, partial transient liquid phase bonding, PTLP, transient liquid phase bonding, TLP, friction stir welding, FSW, element framework, wetting, sessile drop, critical thickness, maximum thickness, shear test, partition coefficient, diffusion, bonding kinetics, filtering procedure, bond selection