Tungsten vs Tungsten Carbide

Tungsten and tungsten carbide are two materials often confused due to their similar names.

However, they have distinct properties and applications.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between tungsten ansten carbide, discussing their composition,, and common uses.


What is Tungsten

Tungsten is a chemical element with the symbol W and atomic number 74. It is a rare metal found naturally on Earth almost exclusively as compounds with other elements.

Tungsten is a steel-gray to tin-white metal with a density of 19.3 times that of water, making it one of the heaviest metals. It has the highest melting point of all metals at 3,422 °C (6,192 °F).

What is Tungsten carbide

Tungsten carbide is prepared by heating powdered tungsten with carbon at very high temperatures of 1400-2000°C. Its melting point is 2870°C.

In its basic form, tungsten carbide is a fine gray powder, but it can be pressed and formed into various shapes for industrial use. To make it more malleable, the tungsten carbide powder is mixed with a binder metal like cobalt or nickel using a process called sintering. This produces a composite material known as cemented carbide.

Tungsten carbide has a hardness of 9-9.5 on the Mohs scale, almost as hard as diamond. It is approximately twice as stiff as steel, with a Young’s modulus of 530-700 GPa, and has high wear resistance. These properties make tungsten carbide ideal for use in cutting tools, abrasives, armor-piercing rounds, and wear-resistant parts and coatings.

Disadvantages of Tungsten carbide

  • Brittleness: Tungsten carbide, despite its hardness, is brittle and prone to cracking or shattering under certain impact conditions.
  • Difficulty in Machining: Its extreme hardness makes tungsten carbide challenging to machine, often requiring diamond tools for shaping and finishing.
  • High Cost: Tungsten carbide comes with a relatively high price tag due to the cost of raw materials and the complex processing required for its production, making it more expensive than many other materials.
  • Limited Flexibility: Tungsten carbide lacks the ability to flex or bend, as it lacks the ductility and malleability characteristic of some other metals and alloys.


Are all tungsten rings made of tungsten carbide

No, not all tungsten rings are made of tungsten carbide. While tungsten carbide is a popular material for tungsten rings due to its hardness and durability, some tungsten rings are made from other tungsten alloys. These alloys may include small amounts of nickel, cobalt, or other metals to improve properties such as workability or color.

Does tungsten carbide crack easily

Despite its high strength, tungsten carbide lacks ductility and can fracture when subjected to sharp impacts or sudden changes in temperature.

Why is tungsten carbide so cheap

Tungsten carbide is not actually cheap; it is more expensive than many other materials due to its unique properties and the complex manufacturing process required to produce it. raw materials needed to make tungsten carbide, such as tungsten and cobalt, are relatively rare and costly.

In Conclusion

Understanding the differences between tungsten and tungsten carbide is crucial when selecting materials for various applications.

While tungsten offers unique properties, tungsten carbide excels in hardness and wear resistance.

Consider your specific needs and consult with experts to make an informed decision.

If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

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