A material used in a variety of products, tungsten carbide is commonly associated with high strength. It can be found in tools, jewelry, and even ballpoint pens.
Generally speaking, tungsten carbide is a composite material containing hard particles encompassed by a softer, metallic binder material. Most commonly it is made by sintering tungsten carbide into a tough nickel or cobalt alloy.
When mixed with other metals, tungsten carbide can be created into various alloys that can have the desired properties for a particular application. These alloys are commonly used to create electrical components, industrial gears, and even aeronautical equipment.
The main properties of tungsten carbide are a hardness that is close to diamond, extremely high wear resistance and a very high shear modulus (see Table 1 below). This makes it an excellent choice for drill bits, milling tools, and even surgical instruments.
Tungsten carbide is also used in a number of other products, including armor piercing bullets and studs to increase traction on tires. It is also an important component in surgical instruments as it offers better performance than stainless steel.
Alloys of tungsten carbide are also available that contain other elements like copper and nickel to add additional strength and abrasion resistance to the final product. They are especially common for construction materials and tools.
There are a few different types of tungsten carbide available and it is important to understand the specific properties of each type before choosing one. These include the hardness, flexural strength, compressive strength, abrasion resistance, and other factors.