The mixture of tungsten and carbon creates tungsten carbide and this provides an extensive range of uses. In fact, you would be surprised to learn just how many uses this durable metal has. The military and industrial uses that tungsten carbide has make an awful lot of sense but there is a huge range of household products and items that also contain tungsten carbide. This is down to the fact that this is a metal that can be relied upon. It doesnâ€™t matter if you need a metal that can be used consistently day to day or one that will be utilised under extreme conditions and circumstances, tungsten carbide is the one to choose. However, with all of the benefits from the metal, how is tungsten carbide made?
In making this metal, the compound of tungsten and carbon comes together at extreme temperatures. The temperature required to heat the tungsten, which has been pulverised, and the carbon stands at around 1,400 to 2,000Â°C which is the equivalent of 2,552 to 3,632Â°F. The most frequently used method of creating tungsten carbide arose in Germany in 1920. This method revolves around taking powdered tungsten carbide and then mixing it with cobalt. The heat is sufficient enough to be able to slightly melt the tungsten carbide and this results in it being turned into a cement style material. There are special names given to tungsten carbide that has been made in this fashion with hard metal or Carboloy being used.
This is not the only process of making tungsten carbide though. Another popular method involved using a pulveriser to turn both the tungsten and carbon elements into a powder. These powders are then collected and transferred to a crucible. Here, electricity is used to heat the powders and the two materials are welded together, creating tungsten carbide.
The making of tungsten carbide begins underground
Of course, while the above methods briefly outline the processes of creating tungsten carbide, there is a lot more to the entire process. You may not be shocked to learn that the entire process begins an awful lot earlier and to get the full story of the creation of tungsten carbide, you need to head underground.
You will find that there are a number of different tungsten ores that can be obtained from underground or even refined into what is known as tungsten, ready to be transformed into what is known as tungsten carbide. Of all of the different tungsten ores that are available, the most commonly known one would have to be wolframite. The tungsten ore is then pulverised before being heated and then mixed with an array of chemicals. Once the new material has cooled down, what has been created is known as tungsten oxide.
It is this tungsten oxide that is taken and then carburized, the process where carbon is added to the tungsten oxide at high temperatures, creating what we regard as tungsten carbide. One of the methods of doing this sees the tungsten carbide being mixed together with graphite. The combination is then heated to a great height which results in a chemical reaction taking place that manages to withdraw the oxygen that is found in the oxide. This then creates the situation where the carbon is able to merge together with the tungsten and tungsten carbide is created.
The grain size matters for tungsten carbide
One of the things that will impact on the tungsten carbon created is the size of the grain. The carbide grain will have an impact on the final mechanical properties of the compound. In turn, the grain size is impacted upon by which size the particles of the tungsten oxide are in addition to how long the heating process lasts for and at what temperature the heating process takes place at.
It should be noted that your standard particles of tungsten carbide are extremely small, coming in much smaller than a sand grain. The larger particles have a size of around 10 microns while the smaller particles have a size of around half a micron. These particles are run through sieves which will separate the different particles into collectives of similar grain sizes. This is the step when the tungsten powder is created.
Given the importance and wide spread reach of tungsten carbide, you may be forgiven for thinking that there is an extensive process involved with creating it. There are a number of steps but on the whole, making tungsten carbide is a simple process but it has hugely efficient and effective outcomes.
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