What are Carbide dies and what are they used for? A carbide die can be used to make all sorts of things, from nails and screws to wires and pipes. They can form parts for cars, desks and just about anything else. Carbide dies are used in all kinds of shops, from small garage shops to major manufacturing giants. Carbide dies are used in a manufacturing process called cold forming or impact forming. Alternatively it can be used to extrude material, shaping the outside diameter, think of spaghetti being made.
Cold forming or impact forming is when something called slug, which is a sized piece of metal, is forced into a die. The carbide die is harder and stronger than the metal, which allows them to form solid steel. The tungsten carbide part of the die is what makes them very tough, they are strong enough to survive the repeated impact of having sold metal pounded into it. In cold forming the metal becomes liquid from force alone! The part formed for this process is stronger then a machine tooled part because the part reforms the grain of the metal opposed to cutting into the metal with a machine. Tungsten carbide is one of the hardest materials known to man, only slightly softer than diamond. Diamond wheels are used to grind carbide dies into there desired shapes. Carbide is used due to its hardness, having excellent wear properties.
Carbide dies are used for more than just forming steel. It is also used to form aluminum, copper, and just about any other kind of metal or metal alloy. Pretty much if you want to make a lot of the same thing fast cold forming with carbide dies is the way to go.
Carbide Die Tip: Do you have Steel or Carbide Dies?
The fastest and easiest way to determine that you have a carbide die is to inspect the ID of the die. A carbide die will have the carbide insert that has been pressed into it. Carbide is a little darker then the metallic sleeve. If you have a needle file, drag it a cross the insert, if it's carbide the file won't bight because the carbide is harder then the file.