As a consequence of tungsten metal’s properties, tungsten alloys are used in a wide range of applications in various industries:
- Due to its hardness and ability to withstand heat, tungsten is very suitable as a critical component of cutting tools used to drill, press, or other metals, concrete or rock (e.g. household drill bits, metal fabrication tools, dentists tools, etc..)
- These attributes also make tungsten alloys suitable for critical temperature sensitive and wear resistant machinery components (e.g. engine valves, ball-point pen tips, turbine blades, snow tyre studs)
- These wear and temperature resistant properties, in combination with tungsten’s electrical conductivity, also make tungsten ideal as a critical temperature resistant component in electronics and as a contact point in electrical circuits (e.g. LCD panels, TV tubes, laser printers, window heating wires, car horns, electrical switch gear)
- Tungsten´s high density properties also make it suitable as a weight or counterbalance in specific machinery applications (airplane flaps, mobile phone vibration systems, crankcase balancing weights, golf clubs and as an environmentally acceptable substitute for lead shot in cartridges).
The range of uses of tungsten result in a downstream industry structured to produce various categories of products:
- Approximately 55% of tungsten is used in the production of hard-metals, or cemented carbides; these are cutting, drilling and wear materials formed from tungsten carbides and cobalt, and occasionally other minor metals such as titanium, tantalum and niobium.
- Some 20% of tungsten is used to produce specialist steel alloys, such as high-speed steel, heat resistant steel and tool steels, all largely utilised in metal cutting applications and specialist engineering applications
- In the region of 17% of tungsten is used to make “mill products” comprising tungsten rod, sheet and wire, electrical contacts, etc…
- The balancing 8% of tungsten is used by the chemical industry and in other specialist applications.