Carbide Tip: What is it?

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Carbide drills have a specialized metal alloy tip made of tungsten carbide, which is harder than steel but more brittle. Tungsten carbide is created by mixing tungsten and carbon powder and compressing it into shape. To increase its strength, it is often combined with cobalt to create cemented carbide. Carbide tips are used for high tolerance or accuracy requirements and in high heat situations where steel would melt.

A carbide drill is a type of tool holder made from a specialized metal alloy. Carbide is properly called tungsten carbide and is a specific combination of these two materials. The actual definition of a tool tip varies slightly, but it is always the specific part of a tool that contacts the material being machined. A carbide tip is much harder than steel, but is also more brittle. As a result, many larger bits are made from cemented carbide or steel with a brazed carbide tip.

Tungsten carbide is an equal mixture of tungsten and carbon. When the alloy is created, it is typically produced as a fine gray powder. This powder is compressed into the desired shape using a modified die casting process. After hardening into its new form, this material is extremely hard and can withstand heat that would melt other metals.

In its common form, tungsten carbide is very brittle. Although the metal itself is very hard, a hard metal plate can break even with light impacts. To compensate for this problem, tungsten carbide is often combined with cobalt metal to create cemented carbide. During the formation process, cobalt liquefies at a much lower temperature than tungsten carbide. This allows the liquid metal to “absorb” into the carbide, greatly increasing its strength.

The actual definition of a tool piece is a matter of debate. In some circles, a bit is a non-rotating cutting tool such as the blade of a lathe or the head of a shaping machine. In other places, it is any removable or interchangeable piece of tool, such as the drill part of a portable drill. Both definitions have one thing in common: the tip is the part that interacts directly with the material being machined, and any modification to the material is done only by the tip.

Manufacturers use a carbide tip when the material or manufacturing process requires high tolerances or accuracy. These bits are often used when a material is hard enough to prevent a typical bit from working properly, such as with hardened or carbon steel. Since this is what a joint piece is made of, it’s not hard enough to work the material. The interaction between two pieces of the same material usually results in the ruin of both parts.

Another common reason for a carbide tip is when the material being worked on needs exposure to very high temperatures before or during the process. Because a carbide tip can withstand higher temperatures than steel, it is often used in high heat situations. This is also true when the friction created by the machining process would create enough heat to melt a steel bit, such as in high-speed grinding.

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