Low-pressure MOCVD, with tris(2,4-pentanedionato)aluminum(III) as the precursor, was used in the present investigation to coat alumina on to cemented carbide cutting tools. To evaluate the MOCVD process, the efficiency in cutting operations of MOCVD-coated tools was compared with that of tools coated using the industry-standard CVD process.
Three multilayer cemented carbide cutting tool inserts, viz., TiN/TiC/WC, CVD-coated Al2O3 on TiN/TiC/WC, and MOCVD-coated Al2O3 on TiN/TiC/WC, were compared in the dry turning of mild steel. Turning tests were conducted for cutting speeds ranging from 14 to 47 m/min, for a depth of cut from 0.25 to 1 mm, at the constant feed rate of 0.2 mm/min. The axial, tangential, and radial forces were measured using a lathe tool dynamometer for different cutting parameters, and the machined work pieces were tested for surface roughness. The results indicate that, in most of the cases examined, the MOCVD-coated inserts produced a smoother surface finish, while requiring lower cutting forces, indicating that MOCVD produces the best-performing insert, followed by the CVD-coated one. The superior performance of MOCVD-alumina is attributed to the co-deposition of carbon with the oxide, due to the very nature of the precursor used, leading to enhanced mechanical properties for cutting applications in harsh environment.