Titanium carbide (TiC) is a transition metal carbide with an NaCl-type cubic crystal structure. It has a relatively low density, high hardness, high Young’s modulus, excellent chemical stability and corrosion resistance. It also has good thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity. Because of these properties, TiC is used to manufacture cutting tools, tungsten carbide dies, superhard tools, and wear-resistant coatings, among other things.
The chemistry behind titanium carbide is not too complicated. The primary raw material is titanium dioxide (TiO2), which is reduced by a carbothermal reaction with carbon powder in an electric furnace. The resulting spherical TiC powder has an average particle size of 100-300 nm, which can be sintered to form cutting tools. Various other processing methods can be employed to produce the titanium carbide, including liquid-phase and gas-phase synthesis.
Besides its hardness, TiC has the added advantage of being non-toxic, making it safer to handle than many other materials. Because of its safety, TiC is a promising candidate for applications that require high temperature resistance such as bullet-proof vests and forming dies. The crystalline structure of titanium carbide is easy to grind and polish. This makes it a good choice for precision turning, especially in aerospace-grade steels that are known for their toughness and hardness.
TiC inserts should be used to take finishing and semi-finishing cuts on abrasive ferrous metals, such as plain carbon steel, alloy steel, tool steel, pearlitic malleable iron, nodular iron, certain cast irons, martensite-grade steels, and some stainless steel grades. Crater-resistant titanium carbide grades can also be used to take light cuts on less abrasive, nonferrous metals such as aluminum and brass, although they will tend to chip on softer material.