A Beginner’s Guide to Carbide Recycling

Monday, January 20, 2020

As anyone who has purchased tools can tell you, tungsten carbide is an expensive material. Tungsten carbide has a hardness near that of diamond with durability and malleability of steels. Not only is tungsten carbide an excellent material for machine tools and manufactured parts, but it is also valuable for recycling.

Tungsten carbide is increasingly found in sports equipment such as ski and trekking poles, jewelry such as wedding bands, and other applications like armor-piercing ammunition. However, it is most commonly found in machine shops for cutting tools, abrasive wheels, wire drawing, and woodworking tools. Around the machine shop, inserts, reamers, drills, boring bars, round tooling and end mills, punches, and dies may be made of tungsten carbide.

Tungsten carbide fetches a premium value at recycling. The price of tungsten carbide can be volatile, but according to Trustway Metal Recycling, it can be sold for up to $14 per pound in the United States. The price depends on it is solid carbide (clean scrap) or contaminated with something like brazen allow (dirty scrap). Typically, tungsten carbide tools are clean scrap.

What makes the metal so valuable is its scarcity in the Americas. While there are significant deposits of tungsten in California and Colorado, nearly 75% of the world’s tungsten is found in China. Compared to making tools from raw material, tools made with recycled tungsten carbide require 70% less energy. Despite its value, scarcity, and recyclability, the International Tungsten Industry Association reports that 46% of tungsten is recycled globally.

Facilities looking to take advantage of recycling their tungsten carbide can begin by collecting used inserts, reamers, drills, boring bars, round tooling, and end mills. Perhaps the best way to do this is by identifying tungsten carbide tools before they are used. For shops manufacturing tungsten carbide parts, chip, and dust recovery right at the machining center is the best way to recover scrap.

Tungsten carbide tools are heavier than their steel counterparts, and they don’t rust. Due to its value, a recycler will use a metal analyzer to evaluate the composition of the scrap in case there is any confusion. While a small shop with a dozen or fewer machining centers may take weeks to collect a bucket full of tungsten carbide, the value of this this metal makes it well worth the effort.

Lowrance Machine

Lowrance Machine is a family owned company that has been in business since 1964. We are a recognized leader in manufacturing molds and machined products specially made to meet our clients’ requirements. Our state-of-the-art equipment and technologies are constantly upgrading to stay ahead of the production game in this world where new technology is growing. Contact Lowrance Machine at 281-449-6524.