Carbide Tools: Solid Like a Rock

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Retired machinists reading this might reminisce over the hand-sharpened bits of Carboloy 883 carbide lying dusty and begrunged in the backs of their toolboxes. Compared to the high-speed steel tool bits these one-time Cincinnati Milacron and Davenport operators cut their teeth on, tungsten carbide’s widespread adoption back in the day meant faster feeds and speeds, longer tool life, higher part quality and a bigger pile of parts on the bench at the end of each shift. Times have changed, as has carbide, more properly known as tungsten carbide or sometimes cemented carbide. We won’t explore its long history here except to say that this most important of all cutting tool materials’ 100th birthday is approaching, and as with all centenarians, it behooves us to evaluate whether it’s time to turn this machine shop veteran out to pasture.

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