Short-Crack Toughness and Abrasive Machining of Silicon Nitride

H. H. Xu, S. Jahanmir, and L. K. Ives, “Short-Crack Toughness and Abrasive Machining of Silicon Nitride,” J. Am. Ceram. Soc, 79(1996) 3055-3064.

Hardness and toughness are often used to analyze the abrasive machining behavior of ceramic materials. However, toughness values of silicon nitride ceramics with microstructures containing elongated grains increase with crack extension. The present study investigates the effect of toughness on the process of abrasive machining to determine which value of toughness should be used in the analysis. The toughness curves (i.e., toughness as a function of crack length) of ten different silicon nitride materials are characterized by an indentation-strength technique and an indentation technique. The forces in surface grinding are measured as a function of the depth of cut. Examination of ground surfaces by scanning electron microscopy indicates that the material-removal processes in grinding follows the formation of short cracks (i.e., microcracks) and grain-scale material dislodgement. An indentation fracture model for material removal in abrasive machining is used to correlate the grinding forces with toughness and hardness of the materials. An agreement is obtained between the experimental results and the indentation model only when the toughness associated with short cracks is used. This study shows the importance of using appropriate toughness values corresponding to the microfracture processes in analyzing abrasive machining results for materials possessing rising toughness curves.

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