The Driller's Choice

Our History


Mincon Carbide has a long and proud history within the highly competitive tungsten carbide industry.

History 01 History 02 History 03 History 04

Based in Sheffield, England, Mincon Carbide is situated in an area of the UK that is renowned for its industrial heritage. We have been based in our office and factory complex for over 70 years during in which time we have continued to expand and re-invest in our production facilities and develop a highly experienced and motivated workforce.

Along with retaining traditional engineering skills we also encourage and promote the latest technology and best engineering practices throughout our workforce.

These skills have allowed us to forge close relationships with both our suppliers and clients and enable us to produce products of the highest quality that minimise cost and allow our customers to excel in global markets.



Company History

Mincon Carbide Ltd originated in the name of Marshalls Hard Metals Ltd that was formed in January 1985 by Marshalls Halifax Plc merging Higher Speed Metals Ltd with FBT Hard Metals Ltd in August 1984.

Marshalls Halifax PLC’s engineering division already included Higher Speed Metals Ltd, which was a hardmetal manufacturer based in Sheffield. In 1985 the employees, plant and equipment of Higher Speed Metals were subsequently transferred to Windsor Street, the site of FBT Hard Metals.


Our History:
Higher Speed Metals

Higher Speed Metals Ltd was an old established Sheffield company founded in 1926 that produced wire drawing dies before in 1948 beginning to manufacture tools for coal mining. In the early 1960’s the company also began to produce hardmetal brazed cutting tools.

In 1967, the company was taken over by the Tempered Spring Company of Sheffield (latterly the Tempered Group of Companies) and continued to trade in cutting tools and dies until 1978 when Higher Speed Metals was again taken over, this time by Marshalls Halifax PLC.

Marshall Halifax PLC acquired High Speed Metals to provide an in-company manufacturing facility for the inserts used in down the hole (DTH) button bits for rock drilling which were manufactured within the Marshalls Group by Halifax Tool Company under the trade name HALCO. Within this period, the hardmetal company also became more involved in the supply of special carbide tipped form tools particularly for use in the Aerospace Industry in the UK, as well as maintaining its position in the die making business.

To compliment the acquisition of High Speed Steels, Marshalls Halifax PLC also owned H.I.P. Chesterfield, a Hot Isostatic Pressing sub contract facility which was used for the post sinter hot isostatic pressing of all the hardmetal button inserts made by Higher Speed Metals for Halifax Tool Company and subsequently by the merged hardmetal facility.

FBT Hard Metals

Hardmetal manufacture in the current location of Windsor Street actually commenced in 1936 probably in buildings across the road from the current site, with technology acquired from Firth Sterling in Pittsburgh. At that time, the factory was part of the old established, Thos. Firth and John Brown steelmakers.

The Company made a variety of Engineers Cutting Tools including circular saws of all sizes, drills, reamers and files and wished to expand the range to include hardmetal tipped lathe tools which were much more efficient in cutting steels and cast iron.

FBT Hard Metals - Old Industrial Posters

Firth Sterling was also a subsidiary of Thos Firth and John Brown at the time and they had licensed the hardmetal production technology from Krupp in Germany.

During the Second World War, the factory was heavily involved in the manufacture of munitions with an emphasis on hardmetal anti tank shells.

In 1947, steelmaking became a nationalised industry, with a number of steelmakers including Thos Firth and John Brown being placed in public ownership.

At this time the hardmetal facility was transferred to a new company, Firth Brown Tools Ltd.

In 1963, the current premises were built and the hardmetal plant was transferred en bloc.

At that time, the facility included hydrogen reduction furnaces to convert ammonium paratungstate (APT) to tungsten metal powder and hydrogen carburising furnaces to produce tungsten carbide from the metal powder mixed with carbon black.

FBT Metals - Old Factory Shot

The APT was manufactured in a factory on the other side of Windsor Street, which was designed to convert Wolframite ores.

At its peak in the 1970’s, the APT plant was supplying c.400 tonnes per year, most of which was supplied under contract to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

FBT Metals - Old Factory Shot

At the time of the takeover by Marshalls Halifax PLC, the APT facility was sold to Murex and continued to operate for some time recovering tungsten from powdered scrap and sludges until the demise of Murex in the 1993.

Marshalls Hard Metals

The introduction of Marshalls Hard Metals Ltd by Marshalls Halifax PLC in 1985 was predominantly to produce Tungsten Carbide Inserts used in DTH Bits manufactured by another Marshalls Halifax PLC group company Halifax Tool Company Ltd.

In October 1987, Marshalls Hard Metals was one of the first companies in the UK to be assessed to the 1987 updated version of the Quality Systems Standard BS5750 Part 2, later to become BS EN ISO 9001, and has held that accreditation ever since.

In 1994, The company installed a fully integrated management software system called Infoflo from a company called Interactive (later to become Epicor) which covered inventory control, manufacturing control through operation routings and bills of materials and product costing, purchasing, sales order processing and invoicing, and accounting.

Marshalls Hard Metals - Computer Screen

In April 1996, Marshalls Hard Metals Ltd left Marshalls Plc when Halco Group Ltd was formed with institutional funding from NatWest Ventures, a subsidiary of National Westminster Bank Plc. The Halco Group consisted of Halco Drilling International (formerly Halifax Tool Company) Halco America Inc. (formerly Marshalls Drilling Inc.) and Marshalls Hard Metals Ltd.

Halco Group - Sales Poster

Installation of the company’s first Sinter Hip furnace took place in April 1999  removing the need to sub contract the hot isostatic pressing of down the hole rock drilling buttons. Due to the success of this furnace in October 2006 MHM’s second Sinter Hip Vacuum Sintering furnace was commissioned.

In December 2004 MHM received our first CNC cylindrical grinder capable of grinding external threads on hardmetal.

The introduction of this machine allowed MHM to produce and supply our first nozzle products with a ground external thread and a hexagon bore.

In January 2006 two further  CNC cylindrical grinders were added to the factory followed by an additional two grinders in October 2007 bringing the total fleet to five machines.

To compliment the CNC grinders and improve the production of Tungsten Carbide substrates used in Oil & Gas PDC drill bits two touch screen controlled surface grinders were installed in the factory.

In June 2010 the company purchased new Electrical Discharge Machine (EDM) technology with the introduction of a spark eroding die sinking machine and its first EDM wire machine from Sodick. These were added to our Tooling Department to further improve our toolmaking, refurbishing and repair facilities.