This paper presents technological trials aimed at producing Ag-W, Ag-WC, Ag-W-C and Ag-WC-C composite contact materials and characterizing their properties. These materials were obtained using two methods, i.e. press-sinter-repress (PSR) at the refractory phase content of less than 30% by weight as well as press-sinter-infiltration (PSI) at the refractory phase content of ≥50% by weight). The results of research into both the physical and electrical properties of the outcome composites were shown. They include the analysis of the influence of the refractory phase content (W or WC) on arc erosion and contact resistance changes for the following current range: 6 kAmax in the case of composites with a low refractory phase content, 10 kAmax in the case of composites with the refractory phase content of ≥50% by weight.
Analytical transmission electron microscopy has been applied to characterize the microstructure, phase and chemical composition of the Ag–Al wear track throughout its thickness down to the atomic level. Microscopy findings have been correlated with Ag–Al film tribological properties to understand the effect of the hexagonal solid solution phase on the tribological properties of this film. Ag–25Al (at.%) films have been produced by simultaneous magnetron sputtering of components in Ar atmosphere under 1 mTorr pressure and subjected to pin-on-disc tribological tests. It has been shown that hcp phase with (001) planes aligned parallel to the film surface dominates both in as-deposited and in tribofilm areas of the Ag–Al alloy film. Possible mechanisms of reduced friction in easily oxidized Ag–Al system are discussed and the mechanism based on readily shearing basal planes of the hcp phase is considered as the most probable one.