The effects of ceramic coatings (TiN, CrN and TiAlN films) on the fatigue behaviour of 2024 aluminium alloy (AA2024) and medium carbon steel (MCS) specimens under cyclic loading have been investigated in this study. These ceramic thin films of about 2 μm thickness were deposited on the substrates using radio frequency reactive magnetron sputtering, with metallic Ti, Cr and Al targets in an Ar/N2 gas environment. The (111), (200) and (220) and (311) peaks of a face centre cubic (fcc) structure in CrN films, and the (111), (200) and (220) peaks in TiN/TiAlN films were observed using X-ray diffraction method, respectively. Fatigue tests were performed using rotational bending conditions at a speed of 3000 rpm with five stress levels (115, 173, 231, 288 and 346 MPa for AA2024; 288, 346, 404, 462 and 519 MPa for MCS) in air. Scanning electron microscopy was used for the analysis of surface morphologies and initial failure stage. The results show that the fatigue life of coated specimens is significantly increased under lower cyclic loading, for example, from 42% at 288 MPa, to 98% at 230 MPa and up to 434% at 173 MPa, for AA2024 with TiN coatings. The improvements of mean fatigue life for MCS coated with TiN films are 88% at 519 MPa, 197% at 462 MPa and up to 597% at 404 MPa, respectively. The experimental results also depict that the coated specimens with higher surface hardness (TiAlN) tended to increase in fatigue strength and fatigue life over uncoated and TiN/CrN specimens.
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