When it comes to power tools, tungsten carbide is a widely-used material. Though often referred to as carbides, there are actually various compounds that fall into this category. So, what exactly is tungsten carbide? To shed light on this, we sat down with a manufacturer to gain deeper insights into this material’s potential for enhancing tool accessories.
Table of Contents
- What is tungsten carbide material?
- What makes tungsten carbide so popular in power tool accessories?
- Inexpensive and High-Quality Carbide
- Tungsten Carbide Drill Cost vs. Life (Durability)
- The Bottom Line
What is Tungsten Carbide Material?
The term “carbide” simply refers to a compound consisting of carbon and a less electronegative element. Tungsten carbide, specifically, contains equal amounts of carbon and tungsten, and it starts out as a powder. This powder undergoes a sintering process and is used in various products, including drill bits and saw blade teeth. Known for its toughness, tungsten carbide can withstand challenging applications like drilling. In fact, I personally chose it for my wedding ring instead of gold because of its durability.
Most tool fittings aren’t made entirely of carbide. For example, circular and reciprocating saw blades typically have only one tooth made of carbide, while the rest of the fitting is usually steel. Concrete bits also have carbide in the cutting edge, with steel grooves in the shaft for material removal. This allows for a familiar feel when using carbide drills, without requiring any changes to your usual work techniques.
Carbide plays a larger role in CNC machine tools and metal cutting. These bits often feature solid carbide for the majority of the cutting surfaces.
What Makes Tungsten Carbide Popular in Power Tool Accessories?
It is widely believed that tool fittings made with tungsten carbide outperform non-carbide ones. And for the most part, this belief holds true. Carbide inserts last longer and perform better in almost all applications when compared to steel or bi-metal alternatives. This makes carbide the go-to choice for top-quality miter saw blades, hammer drills, reciprocating saw blades, and oscillating tool blades.
However, there are specific tasks where standardized steel blades have an advantage in terms of raw speed. Steel reciprocating blades, for example, cut certain materials faster. With optimized tooth geometry and narrower kerf sizes, steel blades are great for cutting wood and PVC. Moreover, they come at a more affordable price point.
Inexpensive and High-Quality Carbide
The quality of cemented carbide largely depends on the raw materials and the manufacturing process involved. Cheaper carbides tend to be more brittle and prone to chipping, and the attachment process may not be as reliable. This can lead to complete detachment of the carbide. However, it’s important not to blame the entire material. Opting for reputable manufacturers like Bosch, Milwaukee Tool, Freud/Diablo, and Lenox Tools ensures you’ll find great products.
Tungsten Carbide Drill Cost vs. Life (Durability)
In any workplace, labor costs are significant, and downtime is a major concern. Tools need to be reliable and parts should be replaced efficiently to minimize downtime. This is where tungsten carbide fittings shine. They help keep everyone working longer and increase productivity thanks to their ultra-fast cutting speed. With less fatigue, workers can deliver higher-quality work.
Carbide inserts make impressive claims when it comes to longevity. Some claim to last 10, 50, or even 75 times longer than standard alternatives. While carbide drills may require a higher upfront investment, the cost per cut or per hole makes them a cost-effective solution in the long run.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to durability, tungsten carbide fittings are worth every penny. They can withstand high temperatures, resist breakage, and can handle tough materials without wearing down. By choosing carbide drills made with high-quality materials and manufacturing processes, you can expect superior performance and durability compared to standard drills.