Tungsten Carbide and Metal Machining

by | May 12, 2017 | Machine


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Most machine shops today need to keep costs to a minimum. In fact, you might refrain from buying expensive cutting tools to keep your costs down. However, when you use carbide inserts and cutting tools for metal machining, you can get better performance and save money in the long run. Here is why.

What is Tungsten Carbide?

Tungsten carbide (sometimes called carbide) consists of carbon and tungsten. Tungsten is a rare metal that is extremely hard. In fact, it’s harder than steel and steel alloys like high-speed steel (HSS). Although some cutting tools are solid carbide, it’s cost-effective to coat tools with a layer of carbide. This gives you the benefits of a hard cutting surface for a cheaper price. These tools are known as carbide tipped tools.

Carbide sees use in the welding industry also. For example, a practice called hard surfacing coats equipment like buckets and blades, for heavy machinery. It protects them from excessive wear and makes them more effective for digging and moving materials.

Tungsten carbide is an environmentally friendly choice because it’s easily recycled. In fact, some tool manufacturers buy scrap carbide from shops to use for their inserts and other tools.


You’ll pay more for metal machining tools tipped with carbide. However, these tools give you better shop performance and last longer than materials like high-speed steel, and carbide is recyclable This makes carbide a good business investment
Working with Soft Metals

If your shop does a lot of aluminum work, you need the sharpest and hardest cutting tools possible for this kind of metal machining. If not, you’ll have problems like chip buildup and need to use more cutting fluids than normal. Tungsten carbide tipped, and solid carbide cutting tools are the best choices for working with difficult to machine metals.

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