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Newsletter "SEI NEWS" 2011

Home > Company Information > SEI WORLD > Back number > Vol.411

[Newsletter "SEI NEWS" Vol.411]

IGETALLOY: Highly Reputed by Users for 80 Years.

For machine shops making automobile, aircraft, ship and various other equipment parts by cutting metal, extremely hard cutting tools are essential. A typical example of such cutting tools is "IGETALLOY", developed by Sumitomo Electric Hardmetal Corp. This issue introduces IGETALLOY, a cemented carbide tool marking the 80th anniversary of its release this year.

Dr. IGETALLOY, please answer the following questions:

*Dr. IGETALLOY is an original mascot character that appears on the following website (Japanese):

Q1: What is cemented carbide?

Cemented carbide is a particularly hard material composed of tungsten carbide and cobalt. Compared to steel it is 7 times harder, about twice as heavy and has about 2.5 times the flexural strength.
Cemented carbide was invented in 1923 by Mr. Schroter of Osramlamp Works, a German electric bulb maker.

Hardness About 1.5 times that of high-speed steel, about 7 times that of steel
Specific gravity About twice that of steel
Flexural strength About 2.5 times that of steel

Q2: Why did Sumitomo Electric begin to produce cemented carbide?

As you may know, Sumitomo Electric was originally established as an electric wire maker. In the 1920s, the company was faced with the fact that the service life of its wire-drawing dies was too short to accommodate an accelerated wire-drawing rate. To solve this problem, the company focused on cemented carbide, which had been invented in Germany, and independently began studying this material in 1927.

Q3: How are cemented carbide products manufactured?

A mixture of tungsten carbide, cobalt and other powdered components is pressurized and sintered at a temperature of about 1,400°C. A typical cemented carbide product manufacturing process is illustrated below.

Manufacturing process

Q4: What are cemented carbide products used for?

Cemented carbide products are used for various purposes, such as wire drawing, metal rolling, metal embossing and earth excavation. Among other uses, cemented carbide products are essential for machining high-accuracy parts used in automobiles and other equipment. They are also used for drilling high-accuracy holes in electronic substrates and for machining aircraft engine parts from extremely hard and difficult-to-machine metals. IGETALLOY is mainly sold in the form of cutting tools of 20,000 or more different types.

Turning tool


Milling tool


End mill


Drilling tool

Q5: IGETALLOY sounds a little strange to us. Where did this name come from?

IGETALLOY is a compound word of "igeta (#)" and "alloy." Igeta comprises two pairs of parallel wooden bars crisscrossing to form a stylized, diamond-shaped figure of the top of a well. Igeta (#) is the logotype of the Sumitomo Group of companies. Sumitomo Electric first commercialized cemented carbide tools under the trade name "#(IGETA)LLOY Hard Alloy" in 1931, now 80 years ago. In the following year, 1932, the trade name was changed to "#(IGETA)LLOY" and to the present "IGETALLOY" in 1959. Since then, this trade name has been used on all cemented carbide tools we produce. It is read like the English sentence "I get alloy." Thus, this trade name was derived from the frontier spirit of our precursors.




History of IGETALLOY

Even today, various types of new IGETALLOY cemented carbide tools and materials are still being developed and put on the market.

1927 Sumitomo Electric Wire & Cable Works (presently Sumitomo Electric) began to study cemented carbide.
1929 Succeeded in producing wire-drawing dies for in-house use.
1931 Began to market cemented carbide tools.
1941 Itami IGETALLOY Plant commenced operation.
1947 First exported IGETALLOY (dies) to U.S.A.
1956 "IGETALLOY NEWS" first published.
1957 IGETALLOY service car entered service.
1964 Established Kyushu Seimitsu Kogyo Co., Ltd. (presently Kyushu Sumiden Seimitsu Ltd.).
1972 Established Hokkaido Sumiden Precision Co., Ltd. (for mass-production of indexable inserts).
1979 Established Sumiden Carbide America Inc. (presently Sumitomo Electric Carbide, Inc.) as first overseas sales company.
1981 Launched recycling business to recover tungsten from waste cemented carbide, using zinc treatment process.
1984 Established Tokai Seimitsu Ltd. (presently Tokai Sumiden Precision Co., Ltd.)
2003 Established Sumitomo Electric Hardmetal Corp.
2010 Marked largest domestic market share of cemented carbide tools (according to Nikkei Market Share Survey conducted by Nihon Keizai Shimbun).
2011 Began recovering waste tungsten via wet chemical treatment process.

IGETALLOY service car travels throughout Japan.

New IGETALLOY manufacturing plant(1961)


Efforts toward Tungsten Recycling

"IGETALLOY" brand cemented carbide products contain tungsten as their main component. Tungsten is a scarce resource, for which we rely almost exclusively on imports. However, in Japan only about 25% of used tungsten is recycled, meaning that our country is behind in tungsten recycling, as compared with approximately 50% in the U.S.A. and approximately 40% in Europe.

Sumitomo Electric has launched a tungsten recycling business using two processes: zinc treatment and wet-chemical treatment. The aim is to domestically recycle all cemented carbide indexable inserts sold in Japan, thereby securing a stable supply of the raw material, promoting effective use of a scarce resource and protecting the global environment.

The company will continue collecting scrap cemented carbide tools through its IGETALLOY product sales network.

Efforts toward Tungsten Recycling

■For more information on IGETALLOY products, visit our website.


Be sure to visit our website “,” which introduces IGETALLOY cemented carbide tools and other products.


- IGETALLOY is a trademark or registered trademark of Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.

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