Differences in Tungsten Carbide and HSS

2022-09-15 Share

Differences in Tungsten Carbide and HSS


HSS is a kind of tool used in cutting tungsten carbide, but there are many differences between these two materials. In this article, we are going to see the differences in their material ingredient, performance, and application.


Material ingredient

For different tool materials and manufacturing processes, there are different material ingredients used to manufacture tungsten carbide and high-speed steel. 

Manufacturing tungsten carbide needs tungsten carbide powder and cobalt, nickel, or molybdenum. While manufacturing high-speed steel needs a carbon phase, tungsten phase, chloroprene rubber phase, and manganese phase.



Tungsten carbide products are made from tungsten carbide powder, which has a very high melting point, reaching around 2800℃. When workers manufacture tungsten carbide products, they will add some binders, like cobalt, nickel, and molybdenum into the tungsten carbide powder. It will be sintered under high temperatures and high pressure. After that, tungsten carbide can get great performance. Their hardness reaches Mohs of 9, only less than diamond. Its thermal stability is around 110 W/(m. K), so tungsten carbide can still work, even under very high temperatures. The cutting speed of tungsten carbide is 7 times higher than that of high-speed steel, which can help improve the efficiency. And tungsten carbide is much harder and more resistant than high-speed steel, so tungsten carbide can work longer. Relatively, with higher hardness, the tungsten carbide has higher brittleness.


High-speed steel is also tool steel, which contains high content of carbon. It has high hardness, high wear resistance, and high thermal resistance, but all less than tungsten carbide. In high-speed steel, there are iron, chromium, tungsten, and carbon in it. So high-speed steel has stable quality as well. High-speed steel can’t withstand high temperatures as tungsten carbide. When the temperature arrives at 600℃, the hardness of high-speed steel will decrease.



According to their different performance during working, they will be used for different applications. 

Tungsten carbide is used as tungsten carbide drill bits, mining tools, carbide wear parts, nozzles, and wire drawing dies because these tools are required to be wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant.

HSS is more suitable for manufacturing metal cutting tools, bearings, and molds.


Comparing tungsten carbide with high-speed steel, it is not difficult to see that tungsten carbide has better properties and a simpler manufacturing method.

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