• Intense concentrated force at the cutting edge separates the metal's individual crystals
  • Continuous flowing chip is separated from the workpiece
  • Chip moves up cutting tool face until chip's internal stresses cause a chip fracture and chip breaks away as a segmented or discontinuous chip
  • Large amount of heat is generated at cutting edge during chip separation and as chip flows along cutting tool face
  • Individual carbide grains are so very hard that they do not flow or deform under the intense forces and very high temperatures

Chip Formation
Tungsten Carbide high magnification (1000X)
Increasing % COBALT Binder
Decreasing Carbide Grain Size

  • Carbide powders are created by heating metal powders, usually tungsten, and carbon to a very high temperature - over 2800ºF
  • Resultant tungsten carbide powder grains are extremely hard and stable at elevated temperatures
  • These carbide powders are sorted by grain size and recombined in appropriate ratios to achieve specified physical properties
  • Cobalt metal powders are thoroughly mixed with the tungsten powders and forced under high pressure (30,000 psi) into multicavity molds of the desired shape and size
  • Carbide rounds are made with an extrusion process
  • Carbide blanks are low temperature pre-sintered to develop sufficient physical strength for handling
  • Finally, the carbide blank is high temperature sintered at 2500ºF to 2900ºF; a dramatic shrinkage of almost 40% volume occurs as the carbide blank internally pulls together, resulting in an extremely dense & hard material

  • Types of Carbide Powders
    • Tungsten Carbide (WC) - Primary carbide component
    • Titanium Carbide (TiC) - Added to increase resistance to abrasive wear or cratering of chip forming surface
    • Tantalum Carbide (TaC) - Added to increase resistance to cutting edge deformation at higher temperatures during heavy cuts
  • Cobalt binder is a major factor in determining the carbide's hardness and toughness (see upper right graph)
  • Toughness is the carbide's ability to withstand the mechanical shock or impact load experienced in the cutting process
  • Carbide conducts heat away from cutting edge and chip formation surface two to three times faster than high speed steel
  • Carbide surface is very hard and resists abrasive wear that results in early tool failure of high speed steel tools
  • Micrograin carbides are used in positive-rake tool designs where a free cutting edge is needed but is relatively unsupported
  • Tough shock resistant grades are softer and more prone to wear; harder wear resistant grades are less able to withstand shock loads in interrupted cuts (see lower right graph)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some solid carbide tools now utilize a cobalt enriched cutting edge zone. HANNIBAL has utilized this same principle for many years - our hardened tough alloy steel bodies have always enabled us to select the carbide grade best suited for the cutting edge without the limitation of their lower structural strength.