This is a metal that is also known as wolfram which has atomic number 74 on period table of elements. The name is derived from an old Swedish word that means “heavy stone.” It doesn’t occur in nature as stand-alone metal but as an element in various compounds (wolframite and scheelite).
Tungsten as an independent metal
It’s quite a rare metal, and thus it wasn’t considered as useful until the middle of the 19th century. The idea to use this element in the creation of new alloys came due to the discovery that it can withstand extreme temperatures. Its melting point is the highest out of all other parts, and its robustness is also something that makes it so valuable in the construction and other industries.
Tungsten has its alloys, and they are widely used but not in construction and other heavy industries. The pure tungsten is a hard and brittle material, and it’s tough to work with it. It can be cut with a normal saw, and thus it doesn’t have any uses in heavy industries. Its alloys, on the other hand, are used in making light bulb cores due to its heat resistance. It’s also used in making projectiles because it has high density.
Tungsten real value comes in it being just one part of a larger alloy. Its ability to bring in benefits into alloys makes it a correct choice when it comes to the creation of new alloys. Its resistances against wear, heat, and corrosion are things that every new metal has, and thus this metal is all around us as a part of steel and other alloys.
Tungsten as a part of an alloy
Tungsten comes to shine when it becomes a part of some bigger alloy. This is why it’s used in a wide variety of industries. Its production has been on a steady increase in the last century as new technologies find numerous uses for tungsten and alloys that contain it.
The production of this metal is limited, and China is a leading manufacturer, and it produces more than 85 percent of tungsten. Tungsten Alloy has a big role in making electric circuits and complex electric systems which is a well developed business in China so it is not strange that China has the biggest percentage of tungsten production.
The limits that tungsten has
The supply of this metal is limited, and thus countries around the world seek new sources on a constant basis. A small amount of total tungsten is manufactured through recycling, but the amount in question is small. China is also keeping a significant portion of the tungsten from the rest of the world.
The amount of available tungsten and the demand for the same metal are not proportional. The demand is high, and the metal is scarce. This is why the price is extremely high. This disparity allows small countries that can produce a bit of tungsten to cash in on it. Countries like Rwanda rely on their ability to produce and sell this precious metal as it brings a lot of money to their government.
Tungsten is a material that is slowly changing the world. As its quantity increases so will the world move forward as more and more industries will be able to experience benefits that this metal brings.
If there is a need to describe this alloy in as few words as possible, then it would be that it’s durable, sturdy and it doesn’t deteriorate. This short explanation is of course, not enough to convey all of the aspects of the tungsten. This metal is more than just another alloy that brings small benefits to the industry. On the contrary, Tungsten is a metal that is used in many alloys due to its potent properties.
What tungsten brings to alloys?
Tungsten is highly resistant to corrosion and to wear, and it contains elements that make composites stronger. These are the elements that are desired in various alloys, including steel which is used in the construction business. Indeed, modern steel alloys contain a fair amount of tungsten because it makes steel more resilient against wear and corrosion. This means that the tungsten is all around us even though its properties make it as valuable as the most expensive metals. Tungsten Alloy, for example, is frequently used for making electrodes and electric contacts.
To top this off, it is important to note that tungsten is used in other alloys that are made for different work as well. A good example of this is the high-speed steels that are used for making saw blades as well as other tools for high-speed cutting. Tungsten makes around 18% of those metals due to its resistance to wear. The same application is also present in machinery used for bearing as well as pistons as they require materials that aren’t susceptible to wear.
Another feature of tungsten is its resistance to the heat. This is why it is used in metals that make rocket engine nozzles. This metal is also used in other alloys that are used for making machinery that has to withstand high heat.
How tungsten makes alloys better?
This metal is used in a lot of alloys because it can cover for downsides of other metals. The materials utilized in the industry have to be perfect and without any disadvantages. Tungsten is an excellent choice because it has advantages that many others lack.
This is partially due to its high-density and ability to replace some toxic elements in metal compounds. It is used instead of uranium and lead, both of which cause harm to people. It’s a perfect metal that increases the performance and reduces the risk of the alloys in which it is used. It replaces uranium because the metal in question is unstable and it’s hard to work with such radioactive element. Lead has a lower density than the tungsten, and it may cause health issues that come from lead exposure. Tungsten is better than the lead in all aspects, and thus it wasn’t hard to choose it over other compounds.
Tungsten – Metal of the future
Many people consider tungsten to be a metal of the future and they aren’t wrong. Its benefits over other metals make it a viable choice when it comes to the creation of better, stronger and more durable alloys that can support bigger buildings. This metal is a material that is and will push the boundaries of the industry into the future.
Fun fact if you didn’t already know that Tungsten is used by the military to produce bullets. Not just any kind of bullets, with Tungsten the military is producing armor penetrating bullets and also fragmentation ones that have a devastating effect on the target because in the moment of impact it will shred the target. Tungsten metal is used in a lot of areas from bullets, grenades to even rockets. The combination of tungsten and carbon the Tungsten Carbide is also used because it has, even more, strength and it is more durable than the pure tungsten. This metal is just perfect for making penetration bullets and shrapnels.
Companies that are producing bullets for the military all around the world are started to use tungsten for the production of ammunition. The reason behind it is very simple, it has been proven that this metal is friendly to the environment. Especially when they compared it to the lead, which has very damaging power to the environment. A lot of research has shown and proven that even the combination of tungsten and carbon is clean material that has no bad effects on the environment and it is the perfect choice for the production of ammunition and other products.
Another very common use of this metal is in military vehicles, usually, helicopters and aircraft but sometimes even for armored vehicles. They use tungsten in helicopters to even out the weight of the rotors, skids or the nose. They use it quite often because this metal has a great size to weight ratio. That means that a small piece is weighing a lot. Sometimes it is also used for protection of some vehicles because of its strength.
Strategic Significance for the Military
The key to new and modern equipment are new materials that are more destructive, stronger and environment-friendly. However, to find such a material can be very hard. Some countries are giving very high priorities to the development and maybe the discovery of new and better materials. It was very hard for them to find a material that is better that tungsten, the one candidate that was somewhat better was the Depleted Uranium that had more destructive power but it had a huge disadvantage and that was the non-environment friendly side of it.
In Kuwait, after the war, they found out that the depleted uranium that was used left a deadly dust. After that discovery, the use of the depleted uranium was significantly dropped. Nowadays because of that, the use of tungsten bullets is very high. However, it is not easy to get a hold of a lot of raw tungsten because more than 80% of the world supply is from China.
The first and the most important step you need to do when you want to use a TIG welder is to select 1 out of the 6 most regularly used tungsten electrodes for yourself. Furthermore, the preparation of the tip is crucial. Here is the list of those 6 types of electrodes from which you need to choose one.
This metal element is quite rare, and it is used for making electrodes for gas tungsten arc welding. This welding process mostly relies on the hardness and the strength of the tungsten. It needs to be resistant to extremely high temperatures in order to carry current all the way to the arc. The melting point of this metal is the thing that makes it so great for manufacturing electrodes for TIG welding. The Tungsten metal is the metal that as the highest melting point of any other metal.
You can find these electrodes in various sizes (length). They are made out of either raw tungsten or they are mixed with some other elements. When you are choosing the type of the electrode that you will use, you need to look out for many different things such as the type of the material that you want to weld, the thickness of that material and the type of the current (AC or DC). If you don’t choose the right one for the job, you might have to do it all over again or you can even risk the contamination of the environment. Every type of the tungsten electrode is marked by a different color, to avoid any confusion of the type. You can see the color on the tip of the actual electrode.
If you want to find an electrode that is made out of pure Tungsten, then you need to look for a green tip on the electrode that will indicate that it is made out of pure Tungsten. This type has the highest consumption rate.
The tip of this type of electrodes is colored red. Nowadays most people use this type of electrodes because they are last longer and they are very simple to use.
These electrodes are colored orange. This type has shown that it will perform best in DC welding under low current. However, it can be also used with AC. These electrodes are used for welding delicate pieces.
The Lanthanated electrodes have their tip colored gold for easier recognition. They are good because they start the arc quite easily and their burnoff rate is very low.
Their tip is colored brown. It is shown that this type can produce a very stable arc that can be very useful. This electrode is only usable for AC welding.
If you want to find a rare-earth electrode look for a tip that is colored gray. This is made out of combining Tungsten with some oxides.
Tungsten is a metal gained from mineral mining (wolframite and scheelite) and through recycling of the same metal. This metal on its own has some very high-profile uses, and as an element in an alloy, it becomes part of items that are widely utilized in all spheres of economy.
The typical Tungsten metal uses
Tungsten has been around us for more than 100 years, and it is still a widespread element as its powder is the central component of a light bulb. The powder is heated at high temperatures with some other components to create a wire filament which produces light with the help of electricity.
This metal is dense and fire-resistant, and thus it has many uses like being utilized in the manufacture of lamps, microwave ovens and other heating elements due to its ability to keep the shape even under extreme temperatures. Due to its density, tungsten is used for weights, darts, fishing sinkers and similar stuff.
Tungsten Carbide – a robust and durable alloy
The process of production of this metal is long as it has to be turned into a powder and then mixed with carbon, either (1:1 or 2:1 ratio) and heated up to 2900 Fahrenheit with hydrogen gas. It’s just slightly less hard than the diamond, and thus they sinter it to create the metal that can be used for the production of various elements and tools. You will find that the majority of drill bits and milling cutters, among many other things) are made out of this alloy due to its hardness and availability (compared to diamond).
Combine Tungsten Carbine and Cobalt powder, and you will get Cemented Carbine which is perfect for manufacturing of tools that are highly resistant to wear. The majority of large-scale machines and tools in mining industry use this alloy.
Standard alloys in which you can find Tungsten
Mix Tungsten, Chromium and Cobalt and you will get Stellite, a durable and wear-resistant alloy that is widely used in the production of pistons and bearings.
Sinter the Tungsten alloy and create powder out of it and you get Hevimet, which is extensively utilized in the creation of ammunition (armor-piercing).
Eighteen percent of sturdy Steel alloy is the Tungsten, and it provides resistance to corrosion and wears to it. You can find this fusion in tools that are used for high-speed cutting (high-duty saw blades).
Tungsten – A metal that changed the world
This might not be obvious, but this metal and its alloys changed the world, and it is still changing it. IT has been in light bulbs from the moment we learned how to create them. It also replaced diamond for drilling which reduced the cost of mining and improved the overall state of the industry.
Since the day it was first discovered, tungsten metal was named the metal of future. It can be used as a pure metal or in combination with other elements in order to produce a Tungsten Alloy. It has unbelievable properties and that made it suitable for almost every industry in the world. The name derived from the Swedish words tung sten which basically means heavy stone. Its color is a unique mix of gray and silver and it is highly resistant to corrosion, acid, heat and bases.
It is compared to diamond because it is extremely hard and durable, more durable than any other known element we know today in the periodic system. This durability indicates that tungsten can uphold an immense amount of pressure.
This wonderous element found numerous uses in the industries of today. That is why it is present the most in heavy industry. Among all other metals, tungsten has the highest melting point which makes it number one on the list of high demands. One of the greatest properties this metal has is the ability to bond with other elements and pass its own benefits to those elements making them better and stronger and more resilient.
If it is mixed with chromium and cobalt, you get the highest quality compound named stellites, an extremely durable and highly resistant material. There is simply so much to do when it comes to the hardest metal on earth. It is perfect for mixing with steel to get extraordinary performances. It is also perfect for various innovations and new discoveries. On top of all this, tungsten is also completely non toxic and it could be playing an important role in the following years and the fight against global warming. It is sure that it’s on demand.