Cryogenic Processing of Carbide Tools

We may not find much use for them in our daily lives, but plenty of people use cutting tools on a daily basis to get stuff done. Any time you want to remove some material from a piece that you’re working on, you’ll need something that enables you to perform shear deformation.

This is where cutting tools come into play. Basically, any tool that enables you to perform shear deformation so that you can remove material from the piece you’re working on is a cutting tool. 

These can either be single-point or multipoint tools. The former is used for turning, and shaping through the use of a cutting edge. The best examples of multipoint tools are milling and drilling tools.

As you can expect, these tools experience a lot of wear and tear during the course of the job. Is there a way to increase the lifespan of these tools so that businesses that rely on them can achieve cost efficiencies? If you’re been wondering about this, you’ve got to look at carbide tools.

What are carbide tools?

Carbide tools utilize the material called cemented carbide which is an extremely hard material. These tools have very fine particles of carbide that’s cemented into a composite by a binder metal. 

The materials that are widely used for this purpose include tungsten carbide, titanium carbide, and tantalum carbide. 

However, carbide tends to be more expensive than conventional tool materials on a per unit basis. It’s also more brittle which makes it prone to breaking and chipping. That’s one of the reasons why the entire tool itself isn’t made out of carbide. 

The actual cutting tip of the tool is made from carbide, and that too in the form of a small insert, while the shank of the tool is made of another material like regular tool steel.


Rotary cutters that are used for the cutting of artificial fibres at a very high speed often use cemented carbide. Cutting through artificial fibres requires a lot of durability on part of the tool which is why carbide rotary cutters are utilized in this instance. 

We also see the use of carbide in the canning tools for the deep drawing of two-piece cans. Deep-drawing is a sheet metal forming process which involves a sheet metal blank being radially drawn into a forming die through the mechanical action of a punch. This helps transform the shape of the metal with material retention.

Woodworking tools also use cemented carbide for increased durability. The material can often be found in tools meant for sawing and planing purposes.

How deep cryogenic treatment works

The deep cryogenic processing method provides a lot of benefits as it helps significantly increase the wear resistance and lifespan of metal parts. The process involves first bringing the temperature of the metals down to below -300⁰F slowly. 

This is done to alter the crystalline structure of the metal in order to make it a more uniform and durable construct. The temperature of the metal is then gradually brought back up to room temperature so that these changes in the crystalline structure of the metal become permanent.

Deep cryogenic processing has proven itself to be very useful for industrial machinery and parts. Whether it’s applied to blades, gears, grinding wheels, or hobs, these components will maintain their quality much longer once they go through the process. 

This helps industries reduce the downtime for production and also drives cost efficiencies since they don’t have to change out their tools as frequently as they needed to.

Deep cryogenic processing of carbide tools

Studies have shown that deep cryogenic treatment is particularly useful for many types of carbide tools like cutting tools, end mills, and drills. That’s because this level of treatment alters the microstructure of tungsten carbide. 

This causes the beta phase particles in the material to increase in both size and quantity. A corresponding decrease is also witnessed in the eta-phase and y-phase particles. 

Since it increases the resiliency of the cobalt alloy which binds the carbide-composite tools together, a dramatic increase in the tool life and durability is achieved. In most cases, the deep cryogenic processing of carbide tools increases their hardness by 7%. 

It’s important to keep the carbide cool to maintain the wear resistance that’s developed by the treatment. So this does require that proper precautions be taken when using the tool once it has been through the deep cryogenic treatment.

Do different tools require different processes?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the cryogenic processing of carbide tools, or tools made from any material for that matter. In this particular instance, it’s vital to note that the specific tungsten carbide composition can vary by tool. It can also vary based on a lot of other factors. 

This then requires that several trials be first conducted. This is required so that the correct protocols for the deep cryogenic treatment can be ascertained before the process is begun. It’s important to do the job right the first time to avoid any potential problems that may be encountered in the future.

How effective is cryogenic processing on carbide tools?

Cryogenic processing has proven to be very effective for carbide tools. Take carbide hobs, for example. The tooth profile can change from extended use of the hob. 

Deep cryogenic treatment can provide better durability and a longer lifespan for this expensive tool. Research has shown that the treatment process can increase the lifespan of carbide hobs by up to five times. 

Similar results have also been achieved in studies that shed light on the benefits of using deep cryogenic treatment for carbide tools. The hardness of these tools is known to increase by 7% once they’re cryogenically treated. 

The added wear resistance that it provides can even be higher in some cases as it all depends on the actual composition of carbide in the tool. 

What happens if you use non-treated carbide tools?

The difference between tools that are cryogenically treated and those that are not is fairly easy to spot. In the case of carbide inserts, we found that both have completely different outcomes when it comes to wear and team over a period of time. 

When a treated and untreated carbide insert were both milled on the same cutter, it was immediately evident that the untreated insert had experienced significant wear at the area near the top. That wasn’t the case with the treated insert as it held up very well.

It’s easy to understand the problems that untreated tools can cause for businesses that rely on them for important jobs. You wouldn’t want a tool to be failing when you’re in the middle of the job. The company would also not like to keep spending money on new tools every other week.

That’s why so many companies are now turning to the deep cryogenic treatment process for their carbide tools. They understand that the investment made at this stage is going to pay dividends in the long run. They’re able to use their tools for longer, thereby extracting the best value out of the investment made in their tools. 

It also helps increase productivity on the job site since there won’t be as many breaks to replace tools should that be required.

Who can help with deep cryogenic treatment?

If you’ve been pondering over this question for a while, your search for its answer ends now. You’re at the right place. We at Controlled Thermal Processing Cryogenics are industry leaders in the field of cryogenics. We specialize in the deep cryogenic processing of cutting tools, particularly carbide tools. 

CTPCryogenics has worked on all manner of carbide tools. We have also treated gear hobs for some of the best gear makers in the industry, especially the racing industry, which has stringent durability and quality requirements for the metal parts that it uses.

Our business uses state-of-the-art equipment to enable our clients to improve the quality and increase the lifespan of everything from carbide tools to boat propellers and evening race engines. 

We have almost four decades of experience in this field and are committed to utilizing the most advanced research and technology in the field of cryogenics.

CTPCryogenics offers a variety of services to customers across the United States. This includes the thermal processing of metal parts of industrial, marine, transportation, and other sectors. 

We provide metallurgical advising to help customers improve equipment performance. Additional services include micro polishing and the sales of specialized cryogenic treatment equipment.

We have worked with companies both big and small. Some of the most prestigious clients that we have worked with include the Space Shuttle Program of NASA, the US Postal Service, Remington Firearms, Dupont, Air Liquide, and more. 

If you’d like to talk about how deep cryogenic treatment can help improve the life of your carbide tools or if you have any other query related to cryogenics, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help talk you through it all and even provide a free quote for our services.