Tungsten manufacturing is today a very important part of modern manufacturing and industry. The metal tungsten itself is a relatively new element; at least, new to human beings. It’s hard to imagine where we would be today without tungsten manufacturing and tungsten products.
What is Tungsten?
“Tungsten” is the name used in English-speaking countries and a few others for a chemical element on the periodic table. It belongs to the refractory metal in group 6 on the periodic table and was first isolated in 1783. Two Spanish chemists, Juan José and Fausto Elhuyar, derived the mineral after discovering it in samples of a mineral that was called wolframite. Consequently, many countries still refer to tungsten as “wolfram” even today, and this is why on the periodic table you will see that tungsten is referred to using the chemical symbol W. The name tungsten comes from Swedish and means “heavy stone,” which is one of the old Swedish names for a particular mineral found in Sweden which is an important source of tungsten ore.
What Good Is Tungsten?
The reason there is so much tungsten manufacturing is that tungsten is an extremely valuable metal. It’s frequently used in alloy products and in vacuum furnaces because tungsten is twice as dense as steel and has the highest melting point of any metal at 6,170°F. It also has the lowest vapor pressure and the greatest tensile strength of any metal known to humankind. It is frequently used to strengthen other metals, and tungsten manufacturing methods can produce strings extremely fine strings of the material.
What’s it Used For?
The first use people ever had for tungsten was as filaments in light bulbs. It soon became common to use it in other electronic applications that needed substances that could resist high heat. Tungsten steels are frequently used to make rockets and other materials in the aerospace industry. When combined to make tungsten carbide, tungsten is an excellent material to make drill bits. On a hardness scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the hardness level assigned to diamonds, tungsten carbide rates as 9.5.
How Do We Get Tungsten?
Tungsten does not exist as a free metal, but always in combination with a mineral such as calcium, manganese, or iron. Today, China is the leading producer of tungsten and holds about two-thirds of the world’s reserves of this important metal. The rest of the earth’s tungsten supply is mined by Canada, Bolivia, Vietnam, and Russia. Tungsten is only about half as plentiful in our Earth’s crust as uranium which helps to explain why tungsten manufacturing is so lucrative and so important.
We need tungsten to make everything from vacuum furnaces to jet engines, ammunition to lighting. Tungsten manufacturing is one of the most crucial modern industrial processes, and our uses for this valuable metal are only increasing with time.