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Tungsten Carbide (WC)

Tungsten carbide is a non-oxide engineering ceramic. It has the highest density among non-oxide engineering ceramics. In addition, it has the highest fracture toughness and the lowest heat capacity. The graph bars on the material properties cards below compare tungsten carbide to other non-oxide engineering ceramics (top) and the entire database (bottom). A full bar means this is the highest value in the relevant set. A half-full bar means it's 50% of the highest, and so on.

Mechanical Properties

Compressive (Crushing) Strength

4780 MPa 690 x 103 psi

Elastic (Young's, Tensile) Modulus

630 GPa 92 x 106 psi

Flexural Strength

1830 MPa 270 x 103 psi

Fracture Toughness

12 MPa-m1/2 11 x 103 psi-in1/2

Knoop Hardness


Poisson's Ratio


Tensile Strength: Ultimate (UTS)

350 MPa 50 x 103 psi

Thermal Properties

Maximum Temperature: Mechanical

1000 °C 1830 °F

Specific Heat Capacity

280 J/kg-K 0.066 BTU/lb-°F

Thermal Conductivity

85 W/m-K 49 BTU/h-ft-°F

Thermal Expansion

5.4 µm/m-K

Other Material Properties


15 g/cm3 910 lb/ft3

Electrical Resistivity Order of Magnitude

0.75 10x Ω-m

Common Calculations

Stiffness to Weight: Axial

24 points

Stiffness to Weight: Bending

20 points

Strength to Weight: Axial

6.6 points

Strength to Weight: Bending

7.5 points

Thermal Diffusivity

21 mm2/s

Thermal Shock Resistance

7.2 points

Followup Questions

Further Reading

Handbook of Refractory Carbides and Nitrides: Properties, Characteristics, Processing and Applications, Hugh O. Pierson, 1996

Springer Handbook of Condensed Matter and Materials Data, W. Martienssen and H. Warlimont (editors), 2005

CRC Materials Science and Engineering Handbook, 4th ed., James F. Shackelford et al. (editors), 2015