C4 Carbides was founded by the company's current Chairman, Peter Nicolson, and its Technical Director, Paul Duggan. C4 began its life back in 1981 as a company which was determined to exploit the potential of brazing technology in order to develop industrial applications for tungsten carbide grit. C4's first commercial product, devised by Paul Duggan, was the rodsaw.
Hands across the ocean
In the 1990s, C4 Carbides was heavily involved in providing gripping and clamping solutions for the telecommunications industry. At this time, the telecoms industry was in the process of adopting the new fibre optic technology. This involved laying thousands of miles of fibre optic cable under the ocean. Because these cables were subject to intense strain, C4 used tungsten carbide to develop a unique solution that exploited the strength of tungsten carbide to enable secure clamping, without damage to the cable.
In this period, C4 Carbides also worked closely with the telecommunications industry on land. Telephone boxes were frequently being robbed by criminals who were drilling open the coin boxes to steal the change. This put the call boxes out of action, forcing the telephone company to undertake expensive repairs. So C4 developed an impenetrable plate that used tungsten carbide grit to make these coin boxes strong enough to resist the criminal's drill. C4's "Drillbusta" security solution was also welcomed by banks as a way to protect their cash machines, and the "Drillbusta" has been employed to protect ticket machines at railway stations.
In the 1990s C4 Carbides also developed a protective application of tungsten carbide for rally cars, by giving a tungsten carbide coating to the steel plate that was used to protect the rally car's underside. Rally cars have to be able to withstand a great deal of punishment, since the wheels will often churn up stones and fragments that hit the underside of the car. Once the steel plates that had been formed and shaped to fit the engine profile had been coated with tungsten carbide grit, they were made strong enough to withstand the toughest driving conditions. In this way, C4 was able to give rally cars a cheaper alternative to using titanium alloy for their engine plates. Subsequently, C4 also used its coating technology to give protection to a rally car's suspension units.
21st century breakthrough
So far, the most important milestone for C4 in the 21st century dates from 2003, when Paul Duggan worked out how to use C4's brazing technology to braze diamond. The strong bond he was able to achieve between the diamond grit and the metal substrate enabled increased exposure of the actual diamonds, thereby resulting in a more effective cutting solution. With the growing fashion for porcelain tiles, the tiling industry has been one immediate beneficiary of this technology. Diamond blades are also useful for cutting through cast iron pipes, but diamond gritted blades are a technology which offers improved performance for cutting other materials such as granite and cast iron.