The powder, called NanoCNB, is the second hardest known material after diamond and has better microhardness, durability, and heat resistance than its nearest competitors, according to the company. The instruments are suitable for roughing and finishing cuts for heavy industry, including mechanical engineering, automobile construction, aviation, and mining.

CNB, cubic nitride boron, is one of the class of superhard materials, and is around 20% to 40% less hard than diamond. The composites are nonreactive to carbon, making it possible to tool the iron and steel that make up 90% of the material mechanical engineering uses. Instruments made of nanoCNB can cut cobalt and tungsten carbide alloys.

Microbor Nanotech, which is supported by the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO), will be selling the instruments in markets on four continents – in CIS countries, Europe, China, and the United States. The company forecasts that it will earn a 30% share in Russia’s cubic nitride boron instrument market and export up to three million dollars in instruments per year by 2011. During the next stage of its work, the company plans to commission a second production line in Vladimir, Russia. With the Vladimir plant, Microbor Nanotech plans to increase production capacity tenfold, gain long-term leadership in the CIS market for CNB instruments, and increase exports to US$15 million to $20 million per year by 2014.

“We are commissioning the most modern instrument production in Russia,” said Microbor Nanotech director Alexander Timofeev. “We are confident that we will be able to compete effectively in the international market.”

“Modern mechanical engineering companies are showing considerable demand for materials that are difficult to process with traditional instruments,” said RUSNANO managing director Alexander Kondrashov. “The unique instruments that Microbor Nanotech has created will effectively tool extremely strong, heat-resistant metals.”