Tungsten carbide or Widia is a ceramic substance, which arises from tungsten and carbon and is a mixing crystal. This relatively cheap material is known for its high hardness, and is therefore used in cutting equipment. The carbon atoms go into the openings of the tungsten lattice. It is made by reducing tungstic oxide and carbon with the help of hydrogen.

It was first made in 1914. In 1926, the German company Krupp (now known as Kennametal) hardened tungsten carbide and in 1962 Krupp succeeded in coating cutting plates with the hardened tungsten carbide.

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Tungsten carbide can be made very hard by sintering it. During sintering, grains of material are heated to a temperature at which they do not melt. In this way, the contact points between the grains grow, which can result in a very hard material. Usually, 6 to 10% cobalt is also added as a binding agent.

Sintered tungsten carbide is known under the brand name Widia, which is derived from the German for Who Diamond (translation: “like diamond”).

Applications
It is a very hard material that can be used to replace the more expensive diamond in, for example, (dental) drills and in cutting heads of a tunnel drill. It is also used for the blades of cutting machines. It even occurs as part of a ballpoint pen (the “ball” from “ballpoint pen”). Widia drills are drills of which the tip is covered with hardened tungsten carbide. In this case, a plate of tungsten carbide is brazed into the carrier material (usually steel) by brazing, a method that is also used for certain types of stone cutters. These drills and chisels can be used in concrete, hard stones and tile walls.

Due to the high density and hardness, tungsten carbide is also used in armour-piercing ammunition, see rod penetrator. Tungsten carbide is most commonly used in the machining metal industry as a cutting material.

The tips of walking sticks are also made of tungsten carbide, to have a good grip on hard rocks and because of the wear resistance.

Crystal (also called crystal glass) is a material that consists of glass with a percentage of lead (II) oxide.

Clear lead crystal glass was first produced on an industrial scale in 1676 by the English glassmaker George Ravenscroft.

Glass consists of a mixture of silicon dioxide, the main component of quartz sand and metal oxides. By heating it, it melts into a thick substance that is easy to form and hardens by cooling.

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From a scientific point of view, crystal glass is not a crystal. As with ordinary glass, the molecules are not arranged in an orderly manner in a crystal structure, but form an amorphous solid.

According to an EU directive from 1969, crystalline glass is the general description for glassware containing metallic oxide, but there are several categories within that description. Only the more luxurious versions must contain lead: 24% for lead crystal and 30% for full lead crystal. For the lower categories of crystalline glass and sonorous glass, 10 per cent metal is sufficient. This does not have to be lead, zinc oxide, barium oxide or potassium oxide is also good. If it contains more than 30 percent lead, it is lead crystal, like Swarovski (about 32 percent lead). The higher the lead content, the higher the refractive index. A material with a high refractive index shows more brilliance and has a richer colour spectrum.

Glass with a high lead content is used in the nuclear industry, because it has better X-ray and gamma radiation retention than normal glass.

A mineral is a compound or single substance, which occurs as a solids in the wild and is formed by geological processes. The science that studies minerals is called mineralogy; mineralogy has interfaces with chemistry: both scientific disciplines investigate the composition of minerals.

Minerals are often recognised in the field by their crystalline form, their colour, their stripe colour (the colour they give off when scratched), their hardness, their melting behaviour, their association with other minerals, and so on. This classic macroscopic form of recognition requires a lot of experience and is not always reliable.

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In geology, therefore, more and more reliance has been placed on retrospective analysis of optical properties other than colour, especially through polarisation microscopy (light microscopy with polarised light), X-ray powder diffraction, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, electron beam microanalysis (electron microprobe) and atomic absorption spectrometry. In some cases, infrared analysis is applied.

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