Nope, not a plated or alloyed wire. Tantalum is related to niobium so it shares the same hypoallergenic properties and its ability to be anodized, but it is a lot rarer metal. It's very pliable to start with, but it work hardens immediately so, before you bend it, you need to be sure that that is where you want the bend to be because straightening it out after will not be easy. It doesn't solder, only vacuum welding will work, but it is a very strong material, stronger than steel and it doesn't corrode/oxidize. The metals that are marketed as 'super alloys' were alloyed with tantalum. It's natural colour is a grey with purplish hues to it. Usually, it's most often used in rocket engines. It can be quite expensive though.
Yeah, I hear ya, mine failed in the same way.
I am looking into another welding system that seems to have potential, hopefully it works out well in our workshop. I don't want to get any hopes up but it looks like it could be a sub 1K machine that welds every metal from 24g-12g. If it does perform as advertised we might even start distributing them.
I would think that a pulse arc style welder, like the one sold by TRL, would get the job done if it had a gas shield. I bought a similar (if not identical) unit through Amazon and made my own electrode base using a TIG welding handle. If I'd used a copper tube instead of a simple bolt, I could have set it up to allow for gas flow. After that I'd just need a gas source, valve, and pedal to sister up with the welder's pedal.