Even though there isn’t a W in the word, Tungsten’s chemical symbol is a W. The W comes from the element’s other name, wolfram, which comes from the mineral the element was discovered in, wolframite.
Tungsten carbide is a term used for the composite material containing hard particles encompassed by tungsten carbide, as well as a softer, metallic binder material which holds the particles in place.
Here are 10 interesting facts about tungsten carbide:
Tungsten Carbide Highest Melting Point of All Metals
Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals. It will melt when exposed to enough heat, like all metals. It takes more heat to melt tungsten than any other metal on the planet, having a melting point of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Much different than other variations, considering the melting point of aluminum is just 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s used in Light Bulbs
Tungsten serves as the filament for light bulb’s heating elements. A tungsten-based filament is often used in incandescent light bulbs. The tungsten filament heats up when activated, thereby producing light. Tungsten has highly conductive properties which make it work well in light bulb filaments.
Tungsten Carbide is used in the Military
Missiles and bullets in the military are made of tungsten used in “kinetic bombardment.” This is a type of attack which uses a very dense material to breach armor instead of explosives.
Tungsten Carbide and Tungsten Are Not Interchangeable
Tungsten carbide is well known for its wear resistance. It can actually only be cut using diamond tools. The practice of adding cobalt as a binder makes it a cemented carbide and gives tungsten carbide properties that differ significantly from those of pure tungsten, even though tungsten carbide does have much of tungsten in it.
Tungsten carbide can be pressed and sintered into tubular shapes. It’s an expensive process and unlike other metals, tungsten carbide and tungsten cannot be drawn into tubes.
Tungsten Carbide is Used in the Jewelry Industry
Wedding bands are a very popular form of tungsten jewelry and are actually composed of tungsten carbide. Since there is a high resistance to damage, a ring made of tungsten carbide offers extreme strength as well as protection against scratching.
80 Percent of the World’s Supply of Tungsten Carbide is From China
According to the BBC, 80 percent of the world’s supply is controlled by China. Other tungsten resources are found in Great Britain, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Bolivia, and in the U.S., California and Colorado. The first use of tungsten was more than 350 years ago. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, Chinese porcelain makers used a tungsten pigment that was a unique peach color.
Tungsten carbide is rare and extremely dense
The strength of tungsten carbide is the highest of any known material. It is incredibly dense and nearly impossible to melt. Pure tungsten, a silver-white metal can spontaneously ignite when made into a fine powder. Natural tungsten contains 21 unstable isotopes and five stable isotopes.
It’s used in the Tool Manufacturing Industry
About 65% of the tungsten carbide market goes into making drill bits, mining tips, and other mining and cutting tools. Because of its strength, using a diamond cutting system, it can take around10 minutes to cut just one drill bit from tungsten, according to the BBC.
Tungsten Carbide Can Mimic Gold
Tungsten is often used as a gold substitution. Having a similar tungsten, allowing it to mimic the physical properties of gold, a less expensive option becomes available. Another feature, making it a more desirable material for jewelry, tungsten is significantly harder than gold which won’t bend over time with wear. “…Tungsten has been found in counterfeit gold bricks.” says Amanda Simson, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of New Haven.
It’s Used in Alloys
Tungsten is used in the production of many alloys. A very common example would be high-speed steel. High-speed steel may contain anywhere from 10% to 20% tungsten. The remaining material consists of carbon and iron. Because of its high tensile strength, tungsten is ideal for use in alloys. When added to a softer or weaker metal, it creates a new and stronger alloy.
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If your business produces tungsten carbide scrap metal, give us a call at (623) 931-5009. We create custom recycling programs that maximizes the value of your scrap materials. We look forward to discussing your waste stream needs!
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