Tungsten, or Wolfram, is known for its robustness and high melting point. In its raw state, it is a hard steel-grey metal that is often brittle and hard to work. As an alloy, tungsten retains its hardness which exceeds that of many steels and becomes malleable enough that it can be worked.


qualities

Some of tungsten’s notable characteristics include:

Feature

 Advantage

High corrosion resistance
 withstand prolonged exposure to chemicals used in the etching process without degrading integrity
High melting point 3,422°C
 suitable for applications requiring high-temperature resistance
High boiling point
 part of a group of metals called refractory metals. Uses in
arc-welding electrodes and heating elements in high-temperature furnaces. Highest boiling point of all metals
Low thermal expansion coefficient
 lowest of any pure metal. suited for applications that require very high temperatures and experiences low expansion maintaining dimensional stability in extreme fluctuating temperatures
Low vapour pressure
low volatility at temperatures above 1,650°C
Low coefficient of thermal expansion
 retains dimensional stability in fluctuating process temperatures
High density 19.3 g/cm3
 suitable for applications requiring high mass and weight
Hardness

suitable for applications where the material will endure significant   stress

Ductile

can be easily formed into various shapes without cracking or breaking

High thermal conductivity
 suitable for applications requiring excellent heat conductivity
Non-toxic
 safe for use in (eg) medical applications

applications

Tungsten’s reliable performance and durability even in the harshest conditions makes it suitable for a variety of applications – notably military, aerospace, medical, telecommunications, and electronics including:

  • surgical devices
  • intricate heating structures
  • x-ray tubes
  • radiation shielding
  • wear-resistant parts and coatings
  • field emission guns
  • semiconductors
  • microelectronics
  • electrical contacts
  • integrated circuits
  • lighting filaments

alloys

Tungsten Carbide: Half of all tungsten is used to produce Tungsten Carbide. A combination of tungsten and carbon, it is extremely hard and wear-resistant.

High-Speed Steel: Alloying as little as 7% of tungsten with steel significantly increases its toughness. This alloy can contain other elements such as chromium, vanadium, cobalt and molybdenum. It has excellent wear resistance and is commonly used in cutting tools and machining applications.

Tungsten Heavy Alloys: These alloys contain heavy metals such as nickel, iron, and copper. They have a high density, making them ideal for applications requiring high mass and weight, such as aerospace and defence.

Tungsten Copper Alloys: With high thermal and electrical conductivity, these alloys are commonly used in electrical and electronic applications, such as heat sinks and electrodes.

the role of chemical etching

Chemical etching allows for the manufacture of precise intricate designs with minimal material waste while retaining tungsten’s inherent properties. Inherently, the process ensures burr-free, stress-free parts with chemical resistance, making it ideal for complex geometries and applications where lightweight, durable components are crucial.

Chemical etching offers a scalable manufacturing solution, reduces tooling costs and offers short lead times from prototyping to mass production of tungsten parts.

Tungsten is a versatile material with unique characteristics that make it an ideal choice for chemical etching applications. Its high corrosion resistance, high melting point, and density, as well as its hardness, make it appropriate for specialist industries. Additionally, the numerous tungsten alloys available make it possible to select the most suitable alloy for specific applications.