How is tungsten used in cutting tools?

Tungsten is an important alloying element in the steel industry, which can improve the strength, hardness and corrosion resistance of steel, and is an important raw material in mechanical processing and manufacturing.

Cemented carbide cutting tools with tungsten as the main additive element has a series of excellent properties such as high strength, good toughness, high-temperature resistance, wear resistance and corrosion resistance, and the hardness basically remain high even at a temperature of 500°C or even 1000°C level. Therefore, tungsten is often used in the manufacture of drill bits, milling cutters and high-temperature resistant components, which promotes the rapid development of high-speed and high-efficiency cutting technology.


How is tungsten used in cutting tools


Uses of tungsten


About 50% of the tungsten ore mined in the world is used for the smelting of high-quality steel, about 35% is used for the production of hard steel, about 10% is used for making tungsten wire, and about 5% is used for other purposes.

Tungsten can be used to manufacture firearms, nozzles of rocket propulsion, armour-piercing projectiles, metal cutting blades, drill bits, superhard dies, wire drawing dies, etc. Tungsten has a wide range of uses, involving mining, metallurgy, machinery, construction, transportation, electronics, chemicals, Light industry, textile, military industry, aerospace, science and technology, and various industrial fields.

Tungsten is widely used in modern technology in the pure metal state and alloy state. The most important alloy state is alloy steel, hard alloy based on tungsten carbide, wear-resistant alloy and strong heat alloy. Tungsten is mainly used in the following industrial fields:


1. Steel industry


1) Tungsten is mostly used in the production of special steels.


Widely used high-speed steel contains 9%-24% tungsten, 3.8%-4.6% chromium, 1%-5% vanadium, 4%-7% cobalt, and 0.7%-1.5% carbon.

The characteristic of high-speed steel is that it can be automatically quenched at a high tempering temperature (700-800°C) in air, so it maintains high hardness and wear resistance until 600-650°C.

Tungsten steel in alloy tool steel contains 0.8%-1.2% tungsten;

Chromium tungsten silicon steel contains 2%-2.7% tungsten;

Chromium tungsten steel contains 2%-9% tungsten;

Chromium tungsten steel contains 0.5%-1.6% tungsten.

Tungsten-containing steel is used to manufacture various tools: such as drill bits, milling cutters, wire drawing dies, female and male dies, air support tools and other parts.

Tungsten magnetic steel is a permanent magnet steel containing 5.2%-6.2% tungsten, 0.68%-0.78% carbon, and 0.3%-0.5% chromium. Tungsten-cobalt magnets are hard magnetic materials containing 11.5%-14.5% tungsten, 5.5%-6.5% molybdenum, and 11.5%-12.5% cobalt. They have high magnetization and coercivity.
Tungsten carbide-based cemented carbide

Tungsten carbide has high hardness, wear resistance and refractory properties.

These alloys contain 85%-95% tungsten carbide and 5%-14% cobalt, which acts as the binder metal that gives the alloy the necessary strength. Some alloys mainly used for machining steel also contain carbides of titanium, tantalum and niobium. All of these alloys are manufactured by powder metallurgy. When heated to 1000-1100°C, it still has high hardness and wear resistance.

The cutting speed of carbide tools far exceeds that of the best tool steel tools. Cemented carbide is mainly used in cutting tools, mining tools and wire drawing dies.


2) Heat-strength and wear-resistant alloys


As the most refractory metal, tungsten is a component of many heat-strength alloys, such as alloys composed of 3%-15% tungsten, 25%-35% chromium, 45%-65% cobalt, and 0.5%-0.75% carbon. , mainly used for highly wear-resistant parts, such as valves of aero-engines, working parts of die-cutting knives, turbine impellers, excavation equipment, and surface coating of Ploughshares.

Alloys of tungsten and other refractory metals (such as tantalum, niobium, molybdenum, and rhenium) are used as thermostrength materials in aerospace and rocket technology, and in other sectors that require high thermal strength of machine parts, engines and some instruments.


3) Contact material and high specific gravity alloy


Tungsten-copper alloys (10%-40% copper) and tungsten-silver alloys manufactured by powder metallurgy have both the good electrical and thermal conductivity of copper and silver and the wear resistance of tungsten. Therefore, it becomes a very effective contact material for working parts such as knife switches, circuit breakers, and spot welding electrodes.

Composition of 90%-95% tungsten, 1%-6% nickel, 1%-4% copper high specific gravity alloy, and alloy with iron instead of copper, used to manufacture gyroscope rotors, aircraft, control rudders counterweights, radioisotope radiation shields and baskets, etc.


2. Electric vacuum lighting materials


Tungsten is used in the production of electron tubes, radio electronics and X-ray technology in the form of tungsten wire, tungsten strips and various forged components.

Tungsten is the best material for white woven filaments and coils. A high working temperature (2200-2500°C) ensures high luminous efficiency, while a small evaporation rate ensures the long life of the filament. Tungsten wire is used to manufacture direct-heated cathodes and grids of electronic oscillating tubes, cathodes of high-voltage rectifiers and side-heated cathode heaters in various electronic instruments.

Tungsten is used as the opposite cathode and cathode of X-ray tubes and gas discharge tubes, as well as contacts of radio equipment and electrodes of atomic hydrogen torches. Tungsten wires and tungsten rods are used as heaters for high-temperature furnaces (3000°C). Tungsten heaters operate in hydrogen gas, inert gas or vacuum.


3. Tungsten compounds


Sodium tungstate is used in the production of certain types of paints and pigments, and in the textile industry for fabric weighting and mixing with ammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate to make fireproof and waterproof fabrics. It is also used in the manufacture of metal tungsten, tungstic acid and tungstate, as well as dyes, pigments, inks, electroplating, etc. Also used as a catalyst, etc.

Tungstic acid is used as a mordant and dye in the textile industry and as a catalyst for the production of high-octane gasoline in the chemical industry. Tungsten disulfide is used as a solid lubricant and catalyst in organic syntheses, such as in the preparation of synthetic gasoline. Tungsten trioxide can be obtained when tungsten ore is processed, and tungsten powder can be obtained by reducing tungsten trioxide with hydrogen, which is widely used as raw material for tungsten materials and tungsten metallurgical materials.

Alloys of tungsten and other refractory metals (tantalum, niobium, molybdenum, rhenium) are used as thermostrength materials in aerospace and rocket technology, and in other sectors requiring high thermal strength of machine parts, engines and some instruments.

It is these properties of tungsten that make tungsten a key research object in the field of material research in nuclear fusion reactors, especially the retention of hydrogen and its isotopes in tungsten is at the forefront.


Tungsten used in cutting tools


The cutting tool is an indispensable tool in mechanical manufacturing and processing. Efficient cutting is an advanced processing technology that has been rapidly applied in practice since the 1990s. It is an advanced manufacturing technology that combines high efficiency, high quality and low consumption. It is used in aerospace and precision It is widely used in industries such as moulds, auto parts and precision machinery.

Statistics show that in the field of metal cutting,

(1) The price of cutting tools is reduced by 30%, and the unit cost of the final product is reduced by 1%;
(2) The tool life is increased by 50%, and the unit cost is reduced by 1%;
(3) The cutting efficiency is increased by 20%, and the unit cost can be reduced by 20%.

It can be seen that high-efficiency cutting can reduce the corresponding labour costs, energy consumption, equipment depreciation and other expenses within the product life cycle by improving processing efficiency, thereby greatly reducing product costs. Tungsten alloy cutting tools are the first choice for high-efficiency cutting tools.

Cemented carbide tools are generally called tungsten alloy tools, which play an important role in high-speed cutting practice. They are often used as turning tools, milling cutters, planers, drills, boring tools, etc., for cutting cast iron, non-ferrous metals, plastics, etc., chemical fibre, graphite, glass, stone and ordinary steel, and can also be used to cut heat-resistant steel, stainless steel, high manganese steel, tool steel and other difficult-to-process materials, with high economic benefits, long service life and high work efficiency.

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