Friday, 1 April 2011

What sort of hardness can be achieved?

Tungsten Carbide has a high melting point, 2,870 °C (5,200 °F), is also extremely hard ( Vickers hardness number = 2242) and has a low electrical resistivity (~2×10−7 Ohm•m), compared to other metals (e.g. vanadium 2×10−7 Ohm•m).

Rockwell Hardness
The hardness of Tungsten Carbide grades is determined by using the Rockwell hardness tester. A pointed diamond indenter is forced into the carbide. The depth of the hole is a measure of the hardness. The Rockwell "A" scale is used for tungsten carbide. Rockwell "C" readings are only shown on the data sheet so that tooling people can compare values of carbide against tool steel. The "A" scale is used on tungsten carbide because the lower indenting force of 60 KGs is less likely to damage the diamond than the 150 KGs force used on the "C" scale.

Moh’s hardness scale
Tungsten Carbide falls between 8.5 and 9.0 on Moh's hardness scale, making it almost as hard as diamond.
In order to polish or finish tungsten carbide, a diamond covered tool must be used because any other metal or mineral would not be able to withstand its hardness. Only a diamond is hard enough to be able to scratch Tungsten Carbide.


  1. A digital, Vickers hardness testing machine. A wide range of test force (1-50kgf, 9.807-490.3N) is available for measuring various type of specimens. Link:

  2. Think the data for Vanadium's resistivity should be different to the WC! 20 × 10‑8 Ω m is quoted elsewhere :-)

    1. 20x10-8 and 2x10-7 are exactly equal. :-)

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  4. Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though. carbide tipped cutting tools