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A Brief History of Tungsten Carbide

carbide-1There can be no denying that the process of recycling tungsten carbide is one that is both easy and lucrative. Whether you are in the business of processing the material in order to fashion various tools and accessories, or you have an outfit that makes use of such items after being manufactured, it is simple enough to hook up with a third party recycler like Carbide – USA who will not only take all the scrap off of your hands, but pay you handsomely for it as well. While the recycling process for tungsten carbide today is one that is both well known and widely used in many circles, it is important to know how our society first began to recognize the importance of reusing metal scraps rather than discarding them in the first place.

Mankind has been working with certain metals for thousands of years, with evidence that both Swedish and German smelters were forging objects during the Middle Ages with ore containing tungsten. However, it was not actually until 1783 that scientists from the same respective countries were credited with isolating the element tungsten. The word tungsten comes from the Swedish phrase “tung sten”, which means “heavy stone” and it can be found in a variety of different ores including wolframite and scheelite. Today, it is China that supplies roughly 85% of the world’s tungsten, even though it is also mined in countries such as Korea, Russia, and the United States.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the element was combined with cobalt, titanium, or tantalum, which caused those in the mining industry to become very interested in using the resulting alloy for forging all sorts of cutting tools, drills, mining tips, bits, end mills, inserts, and other accessories from the resulting alloy combinations. In the twenties and thirties, this process helped tungsten to be forged into cemented carbide for the purpose of cutting and milling steel and iron. It was also used by the German light bulb company Osram as a replacement for diamond drawing dies to ultimately produce tungsten wire. However, it was during World War II that the value of not just producing, but recycling tungsten carbide became well known.

Early Recycling Efforts

As the Second World War progressed, tungsten carbide became a valued resource by both sides for the production of weaponry. The armor piercing bullets that could be produced from carbide were extremely valuable and as such, just about anything made from the metal as well as scrap was collected in mass in order to be melted down and re-forged. This process wound up paving the way for the modern day carbide recycling business.

Recycling Carbide Today

As early as the eighties, carbide recycling companies began in the United States with the intention of not just re-purposing the alloy, but paying companies for their scrap in order to do so. This has been especially lucrative for domestic companies because it has helped them to be less reliant on foreign carbide. In fact, roughly a third of the carbide materials that companies and individuals in the United States purchase today come from recycled sources such as Carbide USA.

With the demand for carbide ever increasing, recyclers are willing to pay a premium in order to steer companies away from discarding their scrap and thereby wasting valuable resources. Though the market is constantly in a state of flux, most recycling outfits will pay between $7 and $11 per pound for anything from old worn down carbide drill bits to carbide sludge created as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Any business outfit can use more money in the bank and recycling carbide is a great way to turn what would otherwise be waste into found treasure.

October 13th, 2013