Tungsten Carbide Saw Tips

Tungsten carbide saw tips are an extremely hard and durable material used on the cutting edges of saw blades. This article provides an overview of tungsten carbide tips, their composition, properties, applications, specifications, suppliers, and comparisons to other saw tip materials.

Overview of tungsten carbide saw tip

Tungsten carbide, often referred to as carbide, is made by mixing tungsten powder and carbon at high temperatures. This produces an incredibly tough composite that is harder than most steels and maintains strength at high temperatures.

These properties make carbide an ideal material for cutting tools and saw tips. Carbide-tipped saw blades last much longer between sharpenings and can cut faster and smoother than steel blades.

Carbide tips are commonly brazed or welded onto the teeth of circular, chop, and other types of saws used to cut metal, masonry, concrete, wood, plastic, and more. They improve cutting performance and blade life significantly.

Composition

Tungsten carbide used for saw tips is a composite containing between 3-25% carbon compounds and the balance tungsten metal. It may also include small amounts of other carbides like tantalum, titanium, or niobium carbide.

The exact composition depends on the grade and application requirements:

  • Higher carbon content increases hardness and wear resistance
  • Higher tungsten content improves toughness

Common grades have 6-15% cobalt added as the metal binder that holds the composite together during sintering.

Properties

The key properties that make carbide superior for saw tips are:

  • Extreme hardness – 89-93 on the Rockwell A scale, compared to 60-65 for tool steel
  • Very high strength and toughness
  • Excellent wear and abrasion resistance
  • Resists deformation at high cutting temperatures
  • Maintains a sharp cutting edge

These characteristics significantly improve cutting speed, reduce cutting forces, and increase blade life relative to other tip materials.

Carbide is also somewhat brittle however, so the blades may chip if subjected to sharp impacts. Proper use is important to maximize service life.

tungsten carbide saw tip

Applications and Uses

Tungsten carbide-tipped saw blades are used to cut virtually all types of materials including:

MaterialDetails
MetalsAll types of steel, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, copper etc. Can cut much faster than high speed steel blades.
MasonryConcrete, cinder blocks, brick, tile, stone
AsphaltFast cutting of asphalt paving
WoodManmade wood products, chipboard, plywood. Carbide tips improve cutting rate and reduce gumming relative to steel.
PlasticsFiberglass, ABS, PVC piping and sheets, nylon, plexiglass
CompositesCarbon fiber, fiberglass

The extreme hardness of carbide allows fast, smooth cutting of very abrasive materials like concrete and cinder block which quickly wear down steel blades:

Common saw types utilizing carbide teeth include:

  • Circular saws
  • Masonry / tile saws
  • Concrete cut-off saws
  • Chop saws
  • Cut-off machines
  • Hole saws
  • Band saws
  • Reciprocating saws

Specifications of tungsten carbide saw tip

Tungsten carbide saw tips are produced in several grades and configurations to suit different applications:

Sizes

  • Range from micrograin tips <0.5 mm to large teeth >25 mm
  • Based on desired feed rate, cut quality, machine power

Grades

GradeHardnessToughnessDescription
C1/K01/H10Very highLowMaximum wear life for abrasive non-ferrous materials
C2/K10/H15HighMediumFerrous materials, medium impacts
C3/P10/H25MediumHighTougher grades ability to resist breakage
C4/P20/H30LowVery highUsed in mining and construction tools

Brazing

  • Carbide tips brazed with silver solder or nickel alloys
  • Braze integrity critical for safety and performance

Connection Style

  • Tips may be brazed flat or with + shaped ridges
  • Raised inserts provide extra braze area

Tooth Geometry

  • Alternate top bevel, double bevel, triple chip grinds
  • Relief angles, rake angles, and tip shape designed for material type

Quality Standards

  • ISO 513 – Classification and application of hard cutting materials
  • ANSI B74.5 – Saw blades are classified by material, size, tooth geometry, and performance

Pricing

UnitPrice Range
Tungsten carbide saw blade$50 – $500
10 inch carbide tipped masonry blade$100 – $250
Carbide insert replacement kit$10 – $200
100 pack of carbide laser cut inserts$15 – $150

Replacement tips cost more than steel but can last 10-100x longer. Carbide blades have much higher up front cost but save significantly over lifespan.

Cost Factors:

  • Carbide grade and source material quality
  • Size of saw blade
  • Tooth count
  • Complexity of grind/braze
  • Quality control and tolerances

Ways To Save:

  • Have old blades re-tipped vs new
  • Buy blades without branding
  • Purchase segmented kits for self-assembly
  • Import direct from manufacturers

Suppliers and Manufacturers

Carbide saws and replacement inserts are sold globally. Some top producers include:

CompanyLocationNotes
Addison & Co.USABroad range, custom blades
BoschGermanyPower tools and accessories
DiagerSpainSpecialists in circular saws
Ehwa DiamondKoreaDiamond and carbide composites
Forrest ManufacturingUKChop saws and metal cutting
FreudItalyCircular saw sets for woodworking
Irwin Industrial ToolsUSAPart of Newell Brands, retail channel
KHD Humboldt WedagGermanyCement and mining equipment
LEUCOGermanyWoodworking and specialty saws
Morse Cutting ToolsUSACarbide tipped band saws
Neue HerkulesGermanyMetal industry supplier
Roberts CarbideUSAAftermarket tips and tooling
The Blade Manufacturing CompanyUKCustom masonry and asphalt saws
Vollmer of AmericaUSACNC grinders for carbide and diamond

Online retailers like Amazon and woodworking outlets carry a selection of blades for end users. Building trade stores will stock common concrete, metal, and wood cutting blades.

Buying direct from manufacturers, joining regional distribution networks, or importing in quantity from Asia can provide significant cost savings but has higher risk.

Advantages of Tungsten Carbide Tips

ParameterBenefit
HardnessCuts faster, reduces cutting forces
Abrasion resistanceLasts through many sharpenings
Maintains edgeLess downtime changing dull blades
Thermal resistanceHigher working temperatures
Smooth cutting actionFine finish cuts
Impact strengthCarbide resists fracturing
Tool lifeOutlasts other cutting materials
ProductivityHigher feed rates possible

Carbide tipped blades also produce less friction and smoother cutting action. This causes less binding, reduces gumming when cutting wood materials, and creates an overall superior cut finish.

tungsten carbide saw tip

Disadvantages and Limitations

DrawbackDiscussion
CostCarbide is significantly more expensive than steel
BrittlenessProne to chipping when dropped or overloaded
Brazing concernsCarbide tips must be expertly brazed to substrate
SafetyCarbide blades may shatter if core steel fails

The manufacturing process requires extremely high temperature furnaces, extensive grinding and machining equipment, and consistent technical expertise. These factors drive up pricing but produce a longer lasting, more effective cutting surface.

Risk Mitigations:

  • Adhere to operating guidelines
  • Inspect for cracks frequently
  • De-tension blades after use
  • Use blade wash to keep core steel from rusting

With responsible precautions and care, tungsten carbide tipped saws provide superior productivity and value comparedCopy

Carbide vs Other Saw Tip Materials

Tungsten carbide has distinct advantages over other materials used to tip saw blades:

Carbide vs Steel

ParameterCarbideSteel
HardnessTriple that of alloy steelQuickly gets dull
SpeedUp to 2-3x faster cuttingSlow feed rates required
Tool lifeHundreds of times longerGoes dull after short run times
Thermal resistanceWithstands much higher temperaturesLoses hardness when hot
BrittlenessProne to chippingFlexes before breaking
Cost4-10x higherVery economical

Carbide vs Ceramics

ParameterCarbideCeramics
ToughnessMuch less brittle due to metallic binderHard but no plasticity
Thermal shock resistanceSuperior to pure ceramicsProne to cracking when heated
Wear ratesComparableSlightly better in abrasive materials
CostModerate price rangeOften the most expensive option

Carbide vs Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN)

ParameterCarbideCBN
HardnessUp to 4500 VickersSecond only to diamond at 4700+
Temperature stabilitySoftens above roughly 1000°CBetter maintains hardness at high heat
Chemical stabilityReacts with ferrous metals at high tempsLow affinity for iron makes it more stable
CostFar less expensiveUp to 6 times the price per carat

CBN is superior for ferrous metal cutting applications where high heat is generated. Carbide strikes a better balance between cost and performance for most general purpose saw blade applications.

Carbide vs Diamond

ParameterCarbideDiamond
HardnessHighest grade carbide around 93 Rockwell ADiamond is a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale
ToughnessDuctile, relatively resistant to fractureExtremely brittle without cobalt or nickel sintering
Thermal stabilityDeteriorates slowly above 1100°CStarts oxidizing to carbon dioxide above 700°C
Wear resistanceVery low wear rateThe longest lasting superficial material
CostExpensive but affordable for mostUsually prohibitive for widespread use

Industrial diamond tips are primarily used in niche applications like geological core sample drilling and precision glass cutting where maximizing tool life is paramount.

FAQ

Q: How often do carbide tipped blades require sharpening?

A: On average every 25-50 hours of cutting time. Proper blade maintenance helps prevent unnecessary sharpening.

Q: Can I sharpen carbide blades myself?

A: Only with proper carbide grinding equipment. Most send blades out for professional sharpening or replacement tips.

Q: What causes carbide teeth to chip or break?

A: Frequently hitting nails or other embedded objects in wood or masonry materials. Dropping blades on hard surfaces. Operating saws too aggressively.

Q: Is brazing my own carbide inserts difficult?

A: It requires high temperature torches, precision fitment, and experienced technique. Most opt to have shop-brazed blades made or buy factory replacements.

Q: How thick of material can carbide-tipped blades cut?

A: Up to 16 inches for specialized concrete saws. Chop saws typically cut up to 6 inches. Metal cutting band saws 12+ inches.

Q: Can I cut wood materials with a carbide blade?

A: Yes carbide works on all types of wood. It cuts faster and smoother but is more expensive. Great for manmade boards.

know more Tungsten carbide

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