Nowadays, tungsten carbide is a fairly popular and important metal in many different industries and due to its use in certain jewellery products, it can have a sentimental place in the hearts of many people. You probably don’t spend too much time pondering the history of tungsten carbide and its evolution over the years but it is an interesting story and it may date back a lot farther than you would initially think. There is a great story to tungsten carbide and the history of this metal is one that is well worth knowing if you have regular cause to use the benefits provided by this very resilient metal.
Tungsten can be found in many different ores but it is accepted that the story of tungsten can be traced all the way back to 1781 with Carl Willhelm Scheele at the heart of it all. Scheel was responsible for discovering a new style of acid that could be created from tungstenite, an ore which would later be referred to as Scheelite. Two years, later, Fausto and Jose Elhuyar were able to isolate the tungsten and this allowed them to extract it from the ore. While this was an important breakthrough, one which laid the foundations for the future use of tungsten, the real benefits of tungsten and its capabilities didn’t come to the fore until the initial period of the twentieth century. This was when the use of the material increased greatly, being used in many different products, including drill bits, x-ray tubes and the filaments of light bulbs.
The 20th Century moved tungsten up in terms of importance
One of the main users of tungsten carbide in the 1920s and 30s was a company called Osram, who were based in Germany. Osram utilised tungsten instead of drawing dies that were made of diamond. The reliability and cutting ability of tungsten carbide was an important factor in its popularity and wide spread use. This carbide soon became used around the world for the cutting of steel and iron. While tungsten carbide was recognised as being extremely strong, the evolution of it saw become even stronger when it was mixed with a number of different materials. The addition of materials such as tantalum, cobalt or even titanium saw the material become even more resolute and reliable which ensures that it became a top choice for milling and mining practices. When it came to cutting, there are few other products that provide the consistency and reliability that was on offer from tungsten.
Tungsten Carbide was vital in the Second World War
It was therefore no surprise that tungsten carbide would go on to a play a huge role in the Second World War. It was used by both sides of the war, being a key component of the production of weapons. World War II saw the number of soldiers and the level of artillery and machines being used rise to great heights and there was a need to churn out weapons at a great rate. Production in many other industries virtually halted to ensure that demand for weapons could be kept up with. Rationing and a focusing of energies and raw materials ensured that while certain materials were in short supply, the demand for the benefits and effectiveness of tungsten were in major supply. One country which found itself in huge demand during the Second World War was Portugal. This was down to the fact that they were able to supply huge quantities of wolframite ore, which is recognised as being a huge source of tungsten.
After the war was concluded, the effectiveness of tungsten carbide was recognised by everyone and it remained in huge demand. In fact the demand for tungsten grew and grew with a new twist being offered by the jewellery industry. In an attempt to find material that provide durable yet stylish rings and necklaces, it was found that tungsten carbide could play an effective role in providing products that can be relied upon. When it comes to providing style and value for money, the impact of tungsten on the jewellery industry has been as big as the impact as tungsten had on the war effort.
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