Tungsten carbide (WC) is a remarkable metal with unique properties that make it highly valuable across a wide range of industries. It is exceptionally hard, which makes it ideal for use in machining and cutting tools; its low thermal expansion rate offers stability when exposed to extreme temperatures; and specific grades can achieve corrosion-wear resistance that rivals noble metals.
These unique properties, along with other factors such as grain size and binder metal content, can affect the physical and metallurgical characteristics of different cemented carbide alloys. As a result, it is important to understand when each type of material should be used and which one has the best fit for an application.
For example, tungsten carbide is more than twice as rigid as steel and up to four times as rigid as cast iron and brass. It also has superior compressive strength, which far exceeds any other melted, cast or forged metal.
In addition to the industrial uses mentioned above, tungsten carbide has found its way into numerous everyday items such as drill bits and mining tips, surgical instruments, abrasive grinding wheels, jewelry, rotary tools, and even rotating balls for ball point pens. Because of its abrasion resistance and exceptional toughness, WC is often preferred over stainless steel in heavy duty applications such as drilling and milling. Typically, the majority of tungsten carbide is made into hard alloys known as cemented carbide, which are used in construction and industrial tools for their incredible wear resistance.