A new hard metal recently developed 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, developed over the past three years by Finnish-based Exote Ltd and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, also possesses excellent bullet-proofing qualities.  Ballistic tests have show it has an un-equalled ability to stop armor-piercing bullets.

The hard metal is known as WC Co contains tungsten carbide (WC) and  cobalt (co), both of which are defined by the EU as critical and, in the case of cobalt, dangerous to health.  Tungsten carbide is commonly used in industrial applications demanding strength and durability. The EU critical materials list contains those 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 and the new manufacturing technology enables comparable properties to be acquired from other raw materials.

Exote's material withstands 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. 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, they note.

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.