What Are Carbide Cutting Tools?

Posted on Dec 11, 2020

Carbide Cutting Tool

Carbide cutting tools are industrial machining tools made with carbide materials, which provide better physical properties and performance to the tools.

Carbide Cutting Tool

Cutting tools (sometimes referred to as cutters) are tiny shanks with sharp cutting edges. Unlike the regular cutting tools we know in our daily life that dissect materials, such as knives, these cutters are specifically made to remove stock from materials in an industrial cutting or machining process. Since the workpieces the cutting tools cut are mostly hard and stiff, the cutting tool needs to be rigid enough to carry out the machining tasks.

The cutting tools used in the modern machining and engineering industry are available in specifications, designs, and made from multiple materials. Carbide cutting tools are one of the most commonly used tools today. Instead of making the entire cutter with carbide, carbide cutting tools are the cutters made from a carbide material, the metallic cutter coated with a carbide layer, or a cutter tipped with carbide cutting edge, which strengthens the tool and enables better cutting performance.

Carbide cutting tools are prevalent among the modern manufacturing and engineering industry for several reasons. The carbide coating or carbide cutting tip renders better physical properties to the cutting tools, which makes the tools more capable of taking on the tasks they are assigned. Carbide allows the cutting tools to withstand higher operating temperatures while preserving the cutting ability at the same time. Carbide brings about more advantages to the tooling granted by its physical properties.

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Carbonized Metallic Material

Carbide is a material used widely in the making of cutting tools. It is essentially a chemical compound that is constructed with carbon and other elements (metallic elements in this case). The typical metallic materials combined with carbon to make industrial cutting tools are titanium, tantalum, and tungsten. The carbonized metallic materials are valued because of their physical strength, rigidness and resistance to wear, pressure and heat. Carbide cutting tools are known as solid carbide tools as well.

Tungsten Carbide

When it comes to carbide cutting tools, tungsten carbide is probably the first carbide material that runs across people’s minds. In fact, it is tungsten carbide cutters that people refer to when the term carbide cutting tool is brought about. The advent of tungsten carbide cutters can be dated back to the early 1900s. Since then, tungsten carbide has been applied in the construction of cutting tools and inserts for it provides higher cutting speeds, higher feed rate, and longer tool life.

Tungsten carbide contains the same amount of carbon and tungsten. The construction endows such material with excellent stiffness; it is two times stiffer and denser than steel. In addition to the stiffness, tungsten carbide also has outstanding hardness; it is ranked 9 on the Mohs scale. As a result, tungsten carbide is ideal for making cutting tools, machining tools and abrasives. Besides tungsten, there are other types of solid carbide used for making cutting tools.

Titanium Carbide

Titanium carbide is another common carbide material used to make machining tools. Just like tungsten carbide, titanium carbide is also ranked 9 on the Mohs scale. The machining tools made with titanium carbide can provide high cutting speeds, smooth finishes and precision. Titanium carbide machining tools are used mostly when machining steel-based materials. Sometimes it is added to tungsten carbide to increase the wear and corrosion resistance. The combination of titanium carbide and tungsten carbide makes a tool with longer life and better machining capability.

Tantalum Carbide

Unlike tungsten carbide and titanium carbide, tantalum carbide is less hard and stiff. It is used more often as the coating layer of tools. It can also be an additive to tungsten carbide to enhance the corrosion resistance of the material. The key feature of tantalum carbide is its superconductivity. The superconductivity allows tantalum carbide to be used as the electrode material. Tantalum carbide electrode serves as the cutting tool in EDM wire cutting processes. In a wire cutting process, materials are cut by the sparks instead of a conventional cutting tool. It is ideal for cutting complex shapes on workpieces.

Advantages of Carbide Cutting Tools

The solid carbide cutting tools, regardless of the elements involved in the construction, are widely implemented in the metalworking processes because of the physical properties they share. They can give better results than other types of cutting tools do. Also, the use of carbide cutting tools is rather cost-effective. They are one of the most inexpensive choices among other tooling options on the market. Based on these two reasons, carbide cutting tools are preferable.

Better Physical Properties

Carbide cutting tools have several properties that are advantageous to the cutting tasks. Heat resistance is one of its key merits. During a cutting process, the generation of heat is inevitable. Some cutting tools are susceptible to heat; they tend to wear faster and prone to fatigue during an operation with heat presented. However, carbide cutters can resist the heat while maintaining its hardness. Therefore, they are suitable for heavy-duty cutting processes or dealing with highly abrasive materials.

Lower Cost

Economy is the other advantage of using carbide cutting tools. The cost-effectiveness comes from its durability and high-speed machining capability so to speak. Because the carbide cutting tools are wear-resistant and have a longer tool life, the manufacturers do not have to change the cutting tools frequently and the cost decreases as a result. Moreover, the carbide materials allow higher cutting speeds and feed rates to the cutting tools. With this trait, the time it takes to complete a work cycle shortens. The reduced tool change and work cycle subsequently lead to decreased cost and increased productivity, which is a primary reason why carbide cutting tools are preferable to other types of cutters.

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