Master Thesis: Effect of WC grain size distribution on microstructure and mechanical properties of cemented carbides

Division Rock Tools, part of the business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, offers a thesis project in the area of cemented carbide materials for rock drilling tools. The position is placed at the division's R&D department in Stockholm, Sweden.

Business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a leading supplier in equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries. Application areas include, for example, rock drilling, rock cutting, rock crushing, loading and hauling, and materials handling.

The focus lies on bringing value to customers through high-performing products that increase productivity and safety as well as to provide services and flexible maintenance programs that extend uptime and cut costs.

Background and purpose

Cemented carbides inserts are used in applications like rock drilling tools. Cemented carbides are a composite material consisting of WC grains embedded in a Co-rich binder phase, produced through liquid-phase sintering. During sintering the microstructure evolves and sets the material properties. It is known that the average WC grain size presents one way to tailor the properties, however, in cemented carbides the WC grains will have a certain size distribution. This project will address the topic if cemented carbide properties can be influenced by changing the WC grain size distribution. From an industry point of view this is an important topic to investigate to be able to optimize the properties for future cemented carbide materials.

Work description

The aim of this Master thesis is to investigate the microstructural evolution in cemented carbide materials after sintering. The thesis will comprise material manufacturing, characterization, and mechanical testing. Scanning electron microscopy and electron backscatter diffraction will be essential analysis tools in this work. The focus of the analysis work will be on scanning electron microscopy as well as electron backscatter diffraction analysis.

The work will be performed in close collaboration with the R&D team and the production unit. The thesis offers possibilities to develop practical and analytical skills within physical metallurgy of cemented carbides, material characterization as well as material science engineering in general. The thesis is focused on the microstructure evaluation and characterization work and will comprise of activities as for example:

  • Literature study
  • Planning production of materials
  • Sample preparation techniques
  • Microstructure characterization using different analysis methods
  • Mechanical and component testing
  • Oral and written presentation in English


The master thesis lasts 20 weeks full-time. The time plan is flexible, but we would prefer to start the work in the third quarter of 2021.

The work is to be performed at Sandvik in Västberga, Stockholm. Please note we have no possibility to help with accommodation.

Student background

Appropriate schooling is a Master of Science in Engineering, or equivalent, preferably specializing in material science. As an individual you should be curious, self-going and a team player, with good capabilities of expressing yourself orally and in writing.

We actively work to create a workplace that is characterized by diversity and inclusion.

Contact person

For more information regarding this position, please contact:
Ida Borgh,
Mirjam Lilja,


Please send your application to Ida Borgh,

Please send in your application as soon as possible, but no later than May 9, 2021, as the selection is done continuously.

Read more about business area Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions

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