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Ceramics vs. Carbide: How Ceramic Inserts Can Save You Time and Money

Aug 19, 2021 | Ceramic Inserts


Ceramic inserts have gained increased traction as a viable alternative to carbide inserts in machining applications. Ceramic inserts are best used for turning materials such as carbon, alloy steels, and cast iron. Though they have a shorter lifespan once in use, proper regrinding methods ensure ceramic inserts offer more bang for your buck than other carbide options in the long run. Below is an analysis of the purpose of ceramics and their benefits.

Heat Resistance

Ceramic inserts most notably offer a much higher heat resistance than their carbide counterparts. While there are a handful of variations within the ceramic insert category, generally speaking, they offer solutions for machining metals that are extremely hard. The heat-resistant nature of ceramic inserts allows for reduced production time because ceramics can handle constant cutting at higher speeds. This cuts back on both time and costs.


Because ceramics are naturally more brittle than carbide alternatives, precautions must be taken to avoid excessive vibration in machines to protect and maintain the integrity of the ceramic material. To combat this brittle tendency, additional components are added to the ceramic compound to increase longevity.  

In the instance of whiskered ceramics, small crystals of silicon carbide are added to the ceramic compound while it is being formed. These crystals resemble microscopic whiskers, giving whiskered ceramics its name. These whiskers allow for increased resilience to vibrations and shock a machine might produce.

This combination of heat resistance accompanied by improved resilience to vibration and speed makes ceramics an incredible material for cutting hard metals such as cast iron. This increase in the ceramic strength also aids in preventing cracks in the material from being cut. 

With the improvements made to increase the integrity of the material, ceramics can be a viable alternative to carbide solutions, increasing their lifespan to nearly the same.

Best Ceramic Applications

Ceramic inserts shine in instances of turning and milling. Ceramics in general do exceptionally well in instances of turning because of the heat they are capable of generating. Alternatively, ceramic options such as silicon nitrides can perform very efficiently in milling applications because of their enhanced shock tolerance and fracture toughness. 

Different types of ceramic inserts possess different makeups that aid in their resilience to abrasive materials, high vibration processes, and high temperatures. Because increased speed is required to generate the temperatures needed to cut through certain, more difficult metals, ceramic inserts possess the perfect makeup to combat these factors. 

In total, ceramic inserts offer a cost-efficient, durable alternative to carbide inserts.