Tungsten Carbide: extremely hard, highly wear-resistant compound

In this article, we don’t focus on a metal, but rather a very special compound. After diamond, this is one of the hardest materials, it is very wear-resistant. But it is also difficult to work with. We are talking about Tungsten Carbide, a combination of Tungsten (Tungsten), Carbon, and Cobalt. In this article, we discuss the properties and applications of this special compound.

Broader application of special metals

Tungsten carbide is being used more and more, which fits a trend that Metel sees across the entire market for special, high-performance metals. Metel sees an increase in the use of exotic, high-performance metals, where the unique properties of these metals play an increasingly important role. In the past, cheaper materials were chosen to avoid high costs. Now we see a shift; higher costs for durable materials are increasingly becoming the norm. This is because machine downtime is much more expensive.

What is Tungsten Carbide?

Tungsten carbide is one of the compounds that is being used in more and more applications. But what exactly is Tungsten Carbide? As mentioned, it is not a metal, but a compound. A very strong compound due to the combination of Tungsten (Tungsten), Carbon, and Cobalt. We see Tungsten in many high-tech industries, as it not only has the highest melting and boiling point of all metals but also a very high density. The combination of Tungsten and Carbon creates an incredibly strong bond. Cobalt is often added to this combination to merge both elements into one compound.

Properties and applications of Tungsten Carbide

Tungsten carbide is very strong, very hard, very wear-resistant, and has a very high density. Thanks to these properties, Tungsten Carbide is very suitable as a wear part, where continuous friction occurs. Think of parts of conveyor belts, drill bits in oil drilling, or machines that pull cables over the seabed, where sand and salt are constantly present. We see Tungsten Carbide parts in the following markets, among others:

  • Oil and energy
  • Semiconductors
  • Electronics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Tooling
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive

We know different grades of Tungsten Carbide, where the ratio of Tungsten and Carbon varies. The exact properties and suitable applications depend on this composition. You can easily get more insight into the different grades through our datasheet, but we are also happy to discuss the possibilities that best suit your application.

Opportunities and challenges of Tungsten Carbide

Tungsten carbide parts are used in various applications. Thanks to the characteristic properties, you can achieve highly wear-resistant and long-lasting parts with Tungsten Carbide. However, there are also disadvantages to Tungsten Carbide. Generally, a harder material is also a more brittle material, and Tungsten Carbide is no exception. Although it is very suitable for turning and grinding, a striking or hammering movement is out of the question as it shatters. Tungsten carbide is also difficult to work with, precisely because it is so strong. That is why we work with a certified factory to manufacture custom Tungsten Carbide parts based on a technical drawing and the supplied tolerances.

“Depending on the complexity of the design, we can deliver custom Tungsten Carbide parts within four to six weeks, which is a relatively quick turnaround time,” says Nick Kesteloo, manager at Metel.

Metel supplies special metals to companies active in demanding markets worldwide, such as the semiconductor industry, the medical sector, and petrochemicals. Through call-off contracts, our customer – suppliers and OEMs – ensures the availability and a consistent quality of the desired metals. Do you want to know more about Metel’s services? Contact us at 0416-724 800 or email info@metel.nl.