Hard metal newcomer to replace tungsten carbide

 

A new hard metal developed by VTT and Finnish-based Exote Ltd can be used to replace tungsten carbide (WC), the hard metal widely used in industry today but with increasingly critical global availability. The new metal can even be used in bullet proofing.

The hard metal known as WC Co – used universally in industrial applications demanding strength and durability – contains tungsten carbide and cobalt, both defined by the EU as critical and, in the case of cobalt, dangerous to health. The critical materials list contains substances of significance to the EU economy but whose availability is at great risk, and which are mostly non-renewable. The material developed by VTT and Exote is a more ecological alternative because the new manufacturing technology enables comparable properties to be acquired from other raw materials.

Exote's material endures high temperatures and has high-level strength and durability, making it ideal for the manufacture of crusher blades, shear cutters and other exacting product tools. The metal's properties recommend its use for ballistic protection of both humans and vehicles, having proved outstanding at even the highest protection level. The growing threat of roadside bombs, grenade splinters and armour-piercing bullets can now be combated by solutions based on this new material.

VTT and Exote Ltd carried out further development on the material, in production at Exote, through the use of nano additives that enable robustness and hardness to be adjusted to the intended use.

The market potential for the metal is considerable, and great significance is being attached to a variety of uses especially within the EU area.

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