IPS Ceramics - Tungsten Carbide

Tungsten Carbide: Metals and Ceramics, Working as One

Posted by Tom Evans on March 31, 2021

Strong and dense, you’d be forgiven for thinking that tungsten carbide is a metal. In reality, it’s a metal/ceramic hybrid, combining the properties of metals and ceramics into a material suitable for the toughest applications. This material uses 10% tungsten metal in order to hold it together.

Tungsten carbide is a chemical compound made by reacting tungsten metal with carbon. Pure tungsten metal has excellent heat and corrosion resistance but is soft enough to be cut with a hacksaw. By introducing carbon, you greatly increase the hardness until it’s almost as hard as a diamond. The result is pure tungsten carbide, a powerhouse material with extreme hardness, immense strength, and excellent corrosion resistance.

In practice, most tungsten carbide products are made by taking ultra-fine grains of pure tungsten carbide and cementing them together with a small amount of a second metal – generally cobalt. The exact proportions of material to tungsten carbide vary greatly depending on the product and what it will be used for. That said, it is usually valued for its abrasion resistance, its strength, and its durability. Using this material prevents costly downtime, as the machine it’s used for doesn’t need to be switched off and back on again in order for repairs to be carried out.

Common Uses of Tungsten Carbide

There are many uses of tungsten carbide that we use in everyday life, you may not have considered some of these before:

  • The roller ball of ballpoint pens.
  • The tip of masonry drills.
  • Spikes on winter tyres and sports equipment.
  • Surgical tools.
  • Jewellery.

Industrial Uses of Tungsten Carbide

There are some other uses for tungsten carbide that can be found in a more industrial setting:

  • Cutting tool inserts.
  • Wear parts for the oil and mining industries.
  • Jaw plates for mills and crushers.
  • Press moulds for power compaction.
  • Punch inserts for sheet metal equipment.

IPS Ceramics’ Tungsten carbide

If you would like more information on this material or have an application where you think IPS Ceramics’ tungsten carbide would help, contact us today at or +44 (0)1782 711511 (UK) / 704-659-6515 (US)