The world of precision cutting tools is vast and ever-evolving, with continuous advancements in materials and technology empowering manufacturers to achieve increasingly precise and efficient machining operations. With such a diverse range of advanced cutting tool materials available, selecting the ideal material for your CNC applications can be a challenging task. However, understanding the unique properties and capabilities of each cutting tool material, such as its hardness, wear resistance, and heat tolerance, is crucial to making informed decisions and ensuring optimal results in your CNC machining processes.

At Prima Tooling, we are dedicated to providing our clients with top-quality precision cutting tools, including PCD (polycrystalline diamond), TCT (tungsten carbide-tipped), solid carbide, and HSS (high-speed steel) that cater to the needs of manufacturers across a wide spectrum of industries, such as woodworking, metalworking, composites, and foam. With our expertise and extensive knowledge in the cutting tool arena, we are uniquely positioned to guide you through the process of selecting the best cutting tool material for your specific applications, ensuring maximum efficiency and outstanding results.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of advanced cutting tool materials and provide a detailed comparison of PCD, TCT, solid carbide, and HSS, highlighting their unique properties, benefits, and potential applications. Furthermore, we will discuss critical factors to consider when determining the most suitable cutting tool material for your CNC machining processes, enabling you to maximise your return on investment and achieve the highest possible levels of precision and efficiency.

PCD (Polycrystalline Diamond)

1. Properties and Benefits

PCD is an ultra-hard material composed of synthetic diamond particles bonded together by a metal matrix, resulting in superior hardness, wear resistance, and a low coefficient of friction. These properties make PCD an ideal choice for machining non-ferrous materials, such as aluminium, copper, brass, and various composites.

– Exceptional wear resistance, leading to a longer tool life

– Low friction for reduced heat generation and improved surface finish

– Withstands high cutting speeds without compromising tool longevity

– Ideal for non-ferrous materials and abrasive composites

2. Considerations and Applications

As PCD is an extremely hard material, it can be more costly to manufacture than other cutting tool materials. However, the extended tool life, improved surface finish, and high-speed capabilities offered by PCD cutting tools can outweigh the initial investment, particularly when machining non-ferrous materials and abrasive composites.

TCT (Tungsten Carbide-Tipped)

1. Properties and Benefits

TCT cutting tools feature a tungsten carbide tip, which is firmly brazed onto a steel body. Tungsten carbide offers an excellent balance between hardness, wear resistance, and toughness, making it an ideal choice for a wide range of materials, including wood, plastic, and non-ferrous metals.

– Impressive wear resistance for extended tool life

– Suitable for high cutting speeds and increased productivity

– Resistant to shock and impact, resulting in reduced chipping and tool breakage

– Versatile material suitable for a wide range of applications

2. Considerations and Applications

TCT cutting tools are an excellent choice for manufacturers seeking a versatile, cost-effective solution that offers extended tool life and the ability to withstand high cutting speeds. The balanced properties of TCT make these tools suitable for wood, plastic, and non-ferrous metal machining applications.

Solid Carbide

1. Properties and Benefits

Solid carbide cutting tools consist entirely of carbide, offering increased hardness and wear resistance compared to HSS and TCT tools. Solid carbide tools are highly resistant to abrasion and withstand high cutting temperatures, making them ideal for machining a variety of materials, including steel, stainless steel, and cast iron.

– Superior hardness and wear resistance for long-lasting tool performance

– Withstands high cutting temperatures, ideal for machining hard metals

– High rigidity reduces tool deflection and ensures precise machining

– Suitable for a wide range of materials, including steel, stainless steel, and cast iron

2. Considerations and Applications

While solid carbide cutting tools can be more expensive than HSS and TCT alternatives, the increased longevity and performance offered by carbide tools can often justify the initial cost. Solid carbide tools are a crucial choice for manufacturers looking to machine hard metals and achieve precise, high-quality results.

HSS (High-Speed Steel)

1. Properties and Benefits

HSS is an alloy steel material that combines hardness, toughness, and heat resistance, making it suitable for a variety of cutting tool applications, particularly in the field of metalworking. Although HSS tools may have a lower wear resistance compared to PCD, TCT, and solid carbide, they still offer an economical solution for certain machining operations.

– Cost-effective alternative to more advanced cutting tool materials

– Good toughness and heat resistance for a variety of applications

– Excellent choice for general-purpose cutting tool applications

2. Considerations and Applications

HSS cutting tools may not offer the same level of wear resistance as PCD, TCT, or solid carbide, but their affordability and versatility make them a vital choice for manufacturers seeking a cost-effective solution for general machining tasks.


Selecting the ideal cutting tool material for your CNC machining operations is crucial in maximising efficiency, productivity, and overall results. Whether you opt for the exceptional wear resistance of PCD, the versatility of TCT, the superior hardness of solid carbide, or the cost-effectiveness of HSS, understanding the unique properties and capabilities of each material will enable you to make informed decisions that contribute to the success of your CNC machining processes. 

At Prima Tooling, we are here to guide you through the dynamic world of CNC cutting tool materials, ensuring that you choose the perfect solution for your specific applications and enjoy the benefits of quality, precision, and efficiency in every aspect of your operations.