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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.

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.

Common uses of tungsten carbide include:

  • The roller ball of ball point pens.
  • The tip of masonry drills.
  • Spikes on winter tyres and sport equipment.

More industrial uses of tungsten carbide include:

  • 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.

If you would like more information on the material or have an application where you think IPS Ceramics’ tungsten carbide would help, please feel free to contact us at enq@ipsceramics.com or +44 (0)1782 711511 (UK) / 704-659-6515 (US).