The Practical Applications Of Tungsten Metals

Posted on: 25 May 2018


Tungsten is a chemical compound and (as it is more well known as) a relatively rare metal. It is noted for its toughness and extremely high melting point, both of which contribute to its many applications in industrial ventures. Historically, it has also had useful applications in the arms industry.

The industrial utilizations of tungsten are many and varied. Chief among these are its alloy properties, hard materials, electronics, chemical applications, and certain unique uses.

Tungsten alloys (especially tungsten-tantalum alloys) are remarkable for their durability. Since tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal, combining it with other metals gives it more versatile applications. These alloys are known as "heavy metal alloys". One example of this is an alloy of steel and tungsten, known as "high-speed steel". This metal is noted for its application in radiation shielding, aerospace ventures, and in the automotive industry. 

Perhaps the most important uses of tungsten stem from the potential of tungsten carbide. A carbide is a compound composed of carbon and another element; tungsten carbide is especially useful in the construction of hard metal tools for industrial purposes. Examples of tools made from tungsten carbide include industrial cutting tools such as saws, metalworking tools such as those used in milling, and drills. About 60% of tungsten uses come from tungsten carbides consumption. 

Uses of tungsten in electronics are many and quite diverse. Because of its extremely high melting point, it has seen use in electronic equipment such as light bulbs, heating devices, and rocket engine nozzles. It is also used in medical devices such as electrodes and x-ray targeting, and electron microscopes. It can also be utilized in electronics as an interconnecting material in integrated circuits. 

There are many niche uses for tungsten. Most of these stem from tungsten's relatively heavy weight. These include (but are not limited to) ballasts for ships, weights or counterweights, riveting, and many other uses. One particularly interesting usage was its application as "cruise balance mass devices" on the Mars Science Laboratory. 

There are many tungsten suppliers worldwide. Federal Carbide (USA) focuses on manufacturing of tungsten carbide products such as those noted in the second paragraph of this article. Cronimet Ferroleg GMBH (Germany) focuses on recycling services for tungsten. As its name might suggest, Epiroc Drilling Tools AB (Sweden) targets manufacturing drilling tools from tungsten carbide. Japan New Metals Co Ltd (Japan) produces tungstates, oxides, acids, and refined tungsten carbide.

The uses of tungsten in industrial applications are many. From alloys to heavy metals, from niche uses to electronic applications, the world of tungsten is exciting and varied.