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.