This paper describes the results of a preliminary investigation of a novel non-contact surface cleaning method for the reclamation of coated cemented carbide cutting tools. Conventional cleaning processes used for cleaning of cutting tools rely either on aqueous methods which are often not very effective, mechanical methods such as grit blasting which can damage the tool cutting edges, or high-temperature chemical stripping methods which significantly reduce the strength and fracture toughness of the tools. In the present work, cobalt-bonded cemented carbide cutting tool inserts coated with titanium carbonitride (TiCN) and alumina (Al2O3) by CVD process were treated by an excimer laser-based technique to effectively remove partially delaminated or poorly bonded coating layers. The goal was to investigate the feasibility of applying a non-contact technique which is environmentally friendly, and is capable of large-scale application and automation. It is postulated that the process works by explosive and thermal shock which essentially delaminate the coating.

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