Boiled at high temperature. Tougher than steel and over twice as dense. The:
- Nozzle for submarine ballistic missiles
- Shrapnel for grenades
- Filaments in light bulbs
- Ballast in race cars for NASCAR and Formula One
What is this metal? It’s called Tungsten and here’s why it’s important.
Tungsten was discovered 236 years ago in 1781. Spain was the site of the Tungsten’s isolation. Brothers Jose and Fausto Elhuyar boiled down an acid with Tungsten properties using charcoal and came up with the new metal. It wouldn’t be used in industry for another 150 years.
- Has the highest melting point of all metal in its purest form
- Is more than twice as dense of steel
- Has a tensile strength of 1,510 megapascals.
- Falls between 8.5 and 9 on Moh’s hardness scale, behind diamonds, which rate a 10.
Tungsten has value. It has an incredibly high melting point–which makes it useful for high temperature machines, such as the nozzle for submarine ballistic missiles. It is used in carbide cutting tools–high speed drills, saws–for use in production industries where temperature rises higher and higher.
Armor piercing ammunition. Top hammer rock drill bits. Neutron reflectors. Blade handles for open surgery.
A few countries control its production. China. Russia. Canada. Sweden. These countries contain the most Tungsten mines. The Democratic Republic of Congo has another. The workers are treated brutally there. Tungsten has become a conflict material.
Then there is the vacuum furnace.
It goes by its name. A vacuum furnace is a furnace that, when heated up, is surrounded by a vacuum. This goes to prevent oxidation, heat loss from the product from convection, and removes a source of contamination. They:
- Heat materials up to 3,000 degrees Celsius
- Anneal, braze, and sinter materials
- Quench (quick cool) to shorten cycle times
Vacuum furnaces require Tungsten metal parts, if the temperature rises above what other alloys can handle. This includes Tungsten crucibles, vacuum furnace parts, furnace electrodes, and custom vacuum furnace products.
Vacuum furnaces harden steel. As Tungsten has a greater density than steel and a higher melting point, it is wise then to use Tungsten in a vacuum furnace used to harden steel.
Custom vacuum furnace products often call for Tungsten. Molybdenum rails, for instance, may be placed around graphite wheels that use Tungsten axles. Molybdenum is another of high burning metals. It has a melting point of nearly 4,800 degrees Fahrenheit. It was discovered, like Tungsten, in the late 1700s and has been for the past 200 years.
Custom vacuum furnace products depend on the metal needed. Evaporation boats are made from both molybdenum and tungsten, as are crucibles. This depends on the needs of the furnace, with close understanding of the tungsten manufacturing process and the molybdenum manufacturing process.
Both Tungsten and Molybdenum have roles to play. Tungsten and Molybdenum both have high melting points. They withstand great deals of heat. Furnaces employ them to toughen steel, heat particles to break and reform, withstand scorching heat to get the job done.
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