Tungsten Carbide Used for Ammunition
Tungsten carbide is often used in armor-piercing ammunition, especially where depleted uranium is not available or is politically unacceptable. W2C projectiles were first used by German Luftwaffe tank-hunter squadrons in World War II. Owing to the limited German reserves of tungsten, W2C material was reserved for making machine tools and small numbers of projectiles. It is an effective penetrator due to its combination of great hardness and very high density.
Tungsten carbide ammunition can be of the sabot type (a large arrow surrounded by a discarding push cylinder) or a subcaliber ammunition, where copper or other relatively soft material is used to encase the hard penetrating core, the two parts being separated only on impact. The latter is more common in small-caliber arms, while sabots are usually reserved for artillery use.
Tungsten Carbide Used for Sports
Tungsten carbide may be used in farriery, the shoeing of horses, to improve traction on slippery surfaces such as roads or ice. Carbide-tipped hoof nails may be used to attach the shoes, or alternatively borium, tungsten carbide in a matrix of softer metal, may be welded to small areas of the underside of the shoe before fitting.
Hard carbides, especially tungsten carbide, are used by athletes, generally on poles that strike hard surfaces. Trekking poles, used by many hikers for balance and to reduce pressure on leg joints, generally use carbide tips in order to gain traction when placed on hard surfaces (like rock); carbide tips last much longer than other types of tip.
Sharpened carbide tipped spikes (known as studs) can be inserted into the drive tracks of snowmobiles. These studs enhance traction on icy surfaces. Longer v-shaped segments fit into grooved rods called wear rods under each snowmobile ski. The relatively sharp carbide edges enhance steering on harder icy surfaces. The carbide tips and segments reduce wear encountered when the snowmobile must cross roads and other abrasive surfaces.
While ski pole tips are generally not made of carbide, since they do not need to be especially hard even to break through layers of ice, rollerski tips usually are. Roller skiing emulates cross country skiing and is used by many skiers to train during warm weather months.
Tungsten Carbide Used for Jewelry
Tungsten carbide, typically in the form of a cemented carbide (carbide particles held together by a metal), has become a popular material in the bridal jewelry industry due to its extreme hardness and high resistance to scratching. This extreme hardness also means that it can be shattered under certain circumstances. Tungsten carbide is roughly 10 times harder than 18k gold (gold being the traditional material of wedding bands). In addition to its design and high polish, part of its attraction to consumers is its technical nature.
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