Tungsten Carbide Prices
The Tungsten Carbide Mess
China owns most of the world’s supply of tungsten ore. Decades ago they sold the ore at a very low price so the mines in the rest of the world shut down. Then China started raising the price. After years of price increases the US protested so China restricted the supply and the US government backed down.
In the meantime China also went from selling just the raw ore to selling finished tools.
Raw material from China went from $50 / ton to $460 / ton and is now down to $420 per ton. This is much the same as the price of silver which went from $5/ troy oz to $50 and is now down to $30.
There has been a lot of consolidation in the carbide industry. The current Ceratizit and Kennametal companies are both result of a great number of acquisitions and mergers. With fewer companies there is less competitive pressure on price.
Tungsten carbide parts, especially those such as saw tips and router inserts for wood working, have always been a less profitable market for the carbide companies. Coated inserts seem to be the highest profit items. For uncoated applications it seems as though metal machining, especially steel, and mining are more profitable than woodworking. So the carbide companies are less worried about how competitive they are in the woodworking area.
It is possible to buy less expensive carbide from overseas but the quality and delivery can vary greatly even from the same supplier. When you wait 4 to 6 weeks and then get a partial shipment of products you cannot use for quality reasons the desire to reorder from a low price, overseas supplier diminishes.
Carbide Processors sells carbide, braze alloy and flux. We buy a great deal of carbide so we get great prices. We add a small mark-up and resell. We are a primary supplier for smaller shops and a secondary supplier for medium sized shops. We use over 26 different suppliers to keep prices low and quality high. Our minimum order is 100 parts.
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