In this study, TiN-AlN nanomultilayer films were prepared using a new sputtering technique, which was designed and manufactured on the basis of a newly developed technology, i.e. high speed reactive plasma aided physical vapour deposition. This technique featured both an unbalanced magnetron sputtering system and a balanced magnetron sputtering system. The former was employed to deposit the AlN film, and the latter to deposit the TiN film. The aim of this study was primarily to obtain, through controlled deposition conditions, a group of TiN-AlN nanomultilayer films and then to investigate the influence of various sequences on their fundamental properties and wear behaviour. Finally, two sets of field tests, microdrilling and machining, were conducted in order to determine the feasibility of applying the multilayers in production machining situations. The results revealed that, via control of the deposition parameters, TiN-AlN nanomultilayer films ranging from 2-4 to 67-6 nm could be obtained. At a periodicity of ≤3-6 nm, the multilayers had extremely high hardness, and excellent adhesion and wear performance. Field testing confirmed that the nanomultilayers could provide very significant improvement in actual machining performance, as compared with the traditional single layer TiN films.
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