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What are engineer’s scriber tips made of?

What are engineer’s scriber tips made of?

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Four types of material are used to make engineer's scribers There are four types of material used to make engineer’s scribers tips: tungsten carbide, tool steel, hardened steel and steel with a diamond mounted tip.

Tungsten carbide

Tungsten carbide scriber Tungsten carbide is a compound made of 50% tungsten and 50% carbon.

There are several methods used to form the compound, the most common is by reacting tungsten metal with carbon at a temperature between 1400-2000°C.

When used in tools, tungsten carbide is alloyed with 3-30% of either cobalt or nickel to improve its toughness.

Tungsten carbide is equal to ruby and sapphire in hardness Generally, the lower the percentage of alloying cobalt or nickel, the harder the tungsten carbide will be. Depending on the percentage of cobalt or nickel present, then tungsten carbide can have a similar hardness to sapphire or ruby.

Tool steel

Tool steel engineer's scriber Tool steels are a group of alloy steels that possess properties that make them well suited for use as tools. They have superior hardness and abrasion resistance when compared with other steels as well as the ability to maintain a sharp cutting edge.

Hardened steel

Hardened steel engineers scriber Hardened steel is steel that has undergone heat treatment to increase its hardness.
It is often impossible to say which is better, hardened or tool steel when it comes to an engineer's scriber

Which is better?

Tool steel properties vary depending on the exact make-up and quantities of the alloying elements used to produce it.

Whilst hardened steel may be harder than tool steel, tool steel itself is often hardened and tempered for use in scriber tips and other tools. This can lead to confusion when it is referred to as hardened steel instead of hardened tool steel.

Because of this, it is difficult to say with certainty if a hardened steel scriber tip would be better or worse than a tool steel scriber tip.

Diamond mounted tip

Diamond mounted tip Diamond mounted tips are made of steel but feature a small industrial diamond mounted and fixed at the very tip.

As diamond is one of the hardest known materials, diamond mounted tips can be used to scribe lines on very hard materials such as tungsten carbide. This also enables them to stay sharp for much longer.

These tips cannot be sharpened unlike other types, so when they do wear they need to be replaced.

Wonkee Donkee says: "Did you know? Diamond is no longer the hardest material as scientist have discovered a material called lonsdaleite that is 58% harder!"

Comparison of scriber tips and their applications:

Advantages and disadvantages of different types of tips for an engineer's scriber and what materials they can be used on
Wonkee Donkee says "Diamond tipped scribers should only be used on hard materials such as steel. Softer materials such as wood can pull the diamond from the mounting in the scriber tip."

Wonkee Donkee Tools