Over the past three years VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has been
working with Finnish-based Exote Ltd to develop a new hard metal and the
necessary manufacturing process. This material can be used to replace tungsten
carbide (WC), the hard metal widely used in industry today and whose global
availability is becoming critical. The new material also possesses excellent
bullet-proofing qualities, and ballistic tests has proved its unequalled
ability to stop armor-piercing bullets.
The hard metal known as WC Co – used commonly in industrial applications
demanding strength and durability – contains tungsten carbide and cobalt, both
of which are defined by the EU as critical and, in the case of cobalt,
dangerous to health. The EU critical materials list contains substances of
significance to the EU economy but whose availability is at great risk, and
are mostly non-renewable. Exote's material is a more ecological alternative,
the new manufacturing technology enabling comparable properties to be acquired
from other raw materials.
Exote's material withstads high temperatures and has high-level strength and
durability. The metal is ideal for the manufacture of crusher blades and shear
cutters, as well as exacting product tools. In ballistic protection it can be
used to both personal- and vehicle protection. Especially at the highest Nato
defined protection levels the material has been proved to be superior . The
growing threat of roadside bombs, grenade splinters and armor-piercing bullets
can now be reduced by solutions based on this new material.
VTT and Exote Ltd carried out further development on the material Exote has in
production through the use of nano additives, which enable changing its
toughness and hardness according to intended use.
The market potential for this new material is huge, and it will be important
in many applications especially within the EU area.