Located in Austria and part of the Sandvik group, Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten is one of the world’s largest producers of tungsten. A vital ingredient in Sandvik Coromant’s solid carbide tools, estimated reserves of the material are around seven million tonnes — or 100 years of consumption. Access to primary raw materials is the key to maintaining Wolfram’s position, but the plant also invests in tools that are already created. Here, Jill Glynn, commercial services manager at leader in metal cutting Sandvik Coromant, explains how manufacturers can make the most of their existing assets.
Why mine unnecessarily? According to Climate Works Foundation, a public charity with a mission to discover best practice solutions that help organisations reduce carbon dioxide consumption, the circular economy is “a system in which material flows, defined as consisting of biological and ‘technical’ nutrients that are designed to continue circulating at high quality, to re-enter the biosphere safely, thereby delivering value against the least amount of energy and physical resources”.
The circular economy doesn’t only offer environmental benefits. As soon as Sandvik Coromant’s tools lose their cutting edge properties, it is easy to render them unusable. However, the materials used to make those tools remain valuable.
From a green perspective, making new tools from recycled solid carbide requires 70 percent less energy than producing with virgin raw materials. Production is also more sustainable, and using recycled materials emits 40 percent less carbon dioxide compared with starting from scratch.
With the introduction of any new process, its success often boils down to its ability to satisfy the needs of the business. Circular adoption addresses both global sustainability challenges while taking care of an issue that few customers desire to manage — waste.
Overseeing the entire lifecycle of a product gives businesses greater control of their assets. This control means that a company can effectively review its costs, while also helping its customers who will benefit from selling used products, creating supplier-relationship that does not cease once the initial purchase is complete.
Ninety five (95) per cent of a used carbide insert can be recycled. Of this carbide, tungsten makes up around 75 per cent. The Wolfram site has developed an in-house recycling process, which Sandvik Coromant’s customers from around the world can benefit from.
Sandvik Coromant arranges the collection of customer’s used carbide tools, before transporting them to the site. There, recycling mangers complete an X-ray fluorescence analysis using a scanning system, which determines the make-up of the received tools. After an initial crushing, the newly powdered tools form a carbide powder.
This powder then undergoes chemical purification, which helps to retrieve materials that have the same properties as the tungsten originally found in Wolfram’s mines. Additional elements in the cemented carbide are also managed sustainably. For example, the cobalt that is retrieved from the used tools is sent to a third party for recycling.
Carbide tools from all manufacturers are accepted into Sandvik Coromant’s recycling programme, regardless of size, industry or location.
To act as responsible partners, businesses must incorporate recycling into their asset management strategy. However, offering solid drills for greater process security when machining tough materials is another environmental consideration.
Most industries where drilling plays a key role in everyday production, buy with one concern in mind. Just how long will this tool last? Many ask this question from a cost-per-use perspective, but a long-lasting tool is also important for those wanting to extend product use from an environmental standpoint.
Sandvik Coromant developed the latest addition to its product range, the CoroDrill® 860 with -GM geometry, with these considerations at the forefront. The tool is far less impervious to wear than its predecessor, the CoroDrill® R840, due to its advanced geometry and unique grade, which results in longer tool life.
Sandvik Coromant’s reconditioning service optimises tool life and performance, ensuring as new geometry for ultimate process security. For an extended life span, tools must successfully be able to undergo multiple reconditions. The CoroDrill 860-GM not only offers market leading performance, but being longer by design, maximises the available tool life. With a recommendation of three reconditions per tool, the CoroDrill 860-GM effectively provides four tools in a single solution. Following end of life, the tool can enter the Sandvik Coromant Recycling program, delivering a financial return on the customer’s initial investment.
Wolfram demonstrates that asset management doesn’t end after purchase. Producers must consider the entire lifecycle of their products, both from a sustainability and profitability standpoint. While recycling schemes can reduce carbon output and strengthen customer relationships, producers should also consider the longevity of the tools they create, which will further boost the sustainability of a business.
For more information visit: www.sandvik.coromant.com
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