Metal of the Month: Carbide

Carbide is a unique scrap metal that is used in particular industries and equipment. Commonly found in machine shops and drill bits, carbide scrap is a valuable commodity due to the higher than average price per pound. Every month the iScrap App Team explores a metal and everything about it, its origin, how it’s used, where it comes from, and how to scrap it. Want to learn more about other metals? You can always reference our metal guide and also read about other Metals of the Month Highlights. Want to learn even more? You can subscribe on YouTube to watch our videos, listen to podcasts, and tune in weekly for Weekly Live Reports.

What is Carbide?

To start, it is an EXCELLENT source of cash…

Carbide is any chemical compound class composed of carbon and another less electronegative element than carbon itself. Carbides can be classified into two: Metal Carbides and Non-Metal Carbides. Carbide of silicon, tungsten, and several other elements are valued for their hardness, strength, and resistance to chemical attack, even at high temperatures. As a scrapper, the carbide you may be most familiar with is called interstitial carbide, otherwise known as tungsten or tantalum carbide. These two are commonly used as high-speed cutting tools because of their extreme hardness and chemical inertness. 

The History of Carbide 

Tungsten Carbide has revolutionized the machine tool industry over the last few decades and was first discovered in 1781. Still, it wasn’t until 1931 that any industry found any use for the metal. In fact, a scientist named Dr. Samuel Leslie Hoyt, part of the General Electric Company’s Lamo Department, was the first to investigate tungsten. He later went on to develop Carboloy, an alloy of tungsten, carbide, and cobalt.

Advantages of Carbide Tools

      • It can be worked at higher speeds than high-speed steel tools, 6-8x higher speeds.
      • Young’s Modulus of Elasticity of carbide tools is 3x that of still, making it very stiff.
      • High-quality surface finish
      • Excellent resistance to abrasion
      • High-resistance to catering and therm deformations
      • High-wear resistance 
      • A higher value for money than steel counterparts
      • Chemically inert
      • Tips of carbide-tipped tools can be easily replaced for further use

Where does Carbide come from?

Sticking with the theme of tungsten carbide, it can be made through several processes: powder metallurgy, combining tungsten metal and carbon at high temperatures (1400-2000° C) to create a reaction or even creating using a lower temperature fluid bed process. Before making carbide, tungsten ore must first be mined and refined, with wolframite being the most well-known.

How easy is it to recycle Carbide?

Carbide generally has a high scrap value and should be relatively easy to recycle. Start by asking your own preferred scrap yard if they take carbide. If they don’t, your handy-dandy iScrap App will help you find a yard that does.

Another great option: if your yard doesn’t buy scrap carbide, Rockaway Recycling will! Rockaway Recycling buys carbide nationwide and will conveniently work with you to ship and receive payment promptly. 

Suggested Reading: Guide to Selling Scrap Carbide

Where are common places Carbide is found?

  • Your Workbench – Carbide is the ideal metal for drill bits and other tools, so the best place to start looking is your own workbench!
  • Machine Shops – Mechanics are bound to have carbide scrap and generally know that there is scrap value. Therefore, instead of asking for their carbide scrap for free, you would be better off proposing to buy it.
  • Aircraft Equipment – Carbide’s resistance to extreme temperatures makes it the perfect metal to be used in aircraft production. By all means, this won’t be an easy place to find carbide, but there is no harm in trying to contact your local airport and work something out for any carbide scrap they may have.

Key Trends for Carbide (2021-2026)

Tungsten carbide is anticipated to grow at a moderate compound annual growth rate of over 3.5% during the forecast period.

Cemented Carbide

Cemented carbide, a metallurgical material in a powder form, is anticipated to drive the market growth. It is considered the best material choice and often used because of its unique physical and mechanical properties – abrasion resistance, deflection resistance, tensile strength, compressive strength, and high-temperature wear resistance.

Asia-Pacific Region

Asia-Pacific region represents the largest regional market and the fastest-growing market for the global tungsten carbide market because of the growing demand for automotive, construction, and metalworking industries in countries like China, India, and Japan. 

Carbide Fun Facts

  • Tungsten is shiny and can be easily processed. Though it is quite hard, tungsten can only appear as its natural form when combined with mineral forms from calcium, iron, or manganese.
  • Tungsten carbide is harder than titanium and only diamond can scratch tungsten carbide. In Mohs scale of mineral hardness, its score is 9 and that of titanium is 6.
  • Tungsten’s boiling point is 10,030° F and its melting point, which is the highest melting point of all known metals on Earth, is 6,191° F.
  • The U.S. has a strong supply of tungsten and purchases and recycles it quite often, but many other countries are principal tungsten-producing countries. Austria, Peru, Portugal, Russia, and Bolivia remain high producers. However, Australia, Japan, France, Sweden, Brazil, and a few more countries have seen a sharp decline in their tungsten production as mines have continued to close.


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