Tungsten is a rare, naturally occurring metal with the chemical symbol W – as it is also known as Wolfram. This versatile material has a range of uses across multiple industries. So what are tungsten’s properties, and how is it usually employed?
In this article, we provide a run-down of the characteristics of tungsten metal and explain how it is most commonly used.
Why Tungsten? Properties and Uses
As a material, tungsten is highly versatile and durable. It has a melting point of 3422°C – the highest of any pure metal.
For this reason, it is regularly used in environments where extremely high temperatures are common. It is used to manufacture items such as jet engine components, light bulb filaments and crucibles.
It can also be used as part of an alloy in order to make other metals more resistant to heat – plus, it offers an extremely low level of thermal expansion, meaning it is less likely to warp or swell when hot.
It has a tensile strength of 1510 megapascals, too – the greatest of all pure metals – and this, along with its minimal thermal expansion, makes it perfect for the fabrication of high-speed tools.
Tungsten is also incredibly dense. At 19.3 g/cm3, its density is 1.7% higher than that of lead. This means that a small amount of the metal weighs much more than larger amounts of less dense material.
As a result, the metal is a great choice when it comes to ballast – particularly for racing cars and aircraft. Its density also makes it perfect for use as a radiation shield.
Tungsten’s density is similar to that of gold, so jewellery made from this less expensive metal is particularly popular.
Tungsten conducts electricity very well, making it the ideal material for the fabrication of electrical components such as electrodes, conductors and metallic films.
Finally, the metal is prized for its corrosion-resistance. Thanks to its ability to withstand saltwater without being corroded, it is often used in the shipbuilding and fishing industries. It can be easily used outdoors for extended periods of time, and is also resistant to solvents and acid.