Tungsten carbide, also known as cemented carbide, is a relatively precious material which is critical to many manufacturing processes. Most metal machining processes use tungsten carbide inserts as tool tips, as cemented carbide has excellent hardness and heat resistance properties ideal for drilling, boring, shaping and forming metal workpieces. Most modern face mills, lathe tools and endmills use these cutting tools.
In 2005, the International Tungsten Industry Association estimated that at the current rate of global consumption, all tungsten reserves will be used up within 140 years. Tungsten carbide inserts are typically treated as disposable materials, even though only the cutting edges of the inserts are worn when they're disposed.
Rather than disposing of inserts, many manufacturers are turning to recycling companies which purchase used tools.
Why Recycle Carbide Inserts?
Because carbide inserts contain heavy metals, disposing of them in traditional ways can be quite harmful to the environment. Heavy metals may leech into the soil over time, contaminating ground water. By recycling these, these harmful effects can be largely avoided and global tungsten reserves can be preserved for future generations.