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Jon Daniels

Making chainmail from Tungsten

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I had a request to make some 16G tungsten rod into rings. I've never worked with tunsgten except as welding elcrodes but I figured what the heck.

I tried cold working as I would normally hand make a coil and while I made one ring I had the wire snap 3 times while I made it - springback was massive and I was using a 1/2" mandrel. So I did a bit of research on working with Tungsten... Today I tried hot working - I set up a torch to heat the wire as it formed. Technical papers indicated I should stay under 1500F to avoid recystalization which would make the wire a bit more brittle - I figured for this low temp a straight propane torch was plenty hot. With a torch keeping the wire hot the coil formed easily with little springback.

Next step cutting. I cut one ring with a Cobolt cutter - the cobolt had no trouble but it was a pretty ugly cut as the wire basically shattered under the cutter. Next I tried a silicon carbide cutoff wheel in a foredom while holding the coil in my hand - worked fine but pretty labor intensive.

Finally - working with the rings. Cold bending the ring did not feel promising - The harder I pushed the more the ring pushed back. Really - this 16G 1/2" ring made our spring temper stainless feel soft. I'm quite sure if I would have used enough force to close the ring the ring would have shattered. The torch was still handy though and with a bit of heat the ring closed easily, When the ring cooled it was back to feeling like spring temper. In the interest of science I thought I'd close a ring cold... worked just fine.

So in conclusion its possible to make tungsten chainmail. Not easy but all things considered not all that hard either. I think the thinner the wire the less likely it would break when bending. Using 0.3mm wire to make 1mm ID filiment is typically done cold at high speed.

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My question is how brittle are the rings after you have them? Would the rings shatter if you hit it with a hammer/sword or fell down wearing it?

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Jon could you edit your post... It seams you went to a much smaller sized font half way through.... I'm a little curious as to the use of tungsten chainmail. Rings or coils I can see a number of industrial uses for but production costs point to other materials for most applications.

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I've been really badly wanting to try tungsten for a number of reasons. Tbh this looks not as promissing as I would hope for the future of working with it. Out of curiousity what was the purity? Was it alloyed with other metals? I've heard of tungsten alloys with much more mailler friendly characteristics. I'm still intrigued so I would love to know a smidge more :)

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Could we have any quantitative strenght comparison with spring stainless, or a good idea of the disparity between thos two metals?

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Tungsten is only brittle because of residual trace elements in the crystal interfaces, the purer the metal the less brittle it will be. Also, the more the wire is cold drawn the less brittle it gets because the crystals are stretched into a more fibrous shape. It has to be very thin before you can coil it cold.

In any case it's much too heavy for practical purposes, the strength to weight ratio is really poor compared to steel, titanium or even aluminum.

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I think its plenty strong for jewelry and the best application for Tungsten is a "cool metal" jewelry piece. I'm in the market for some 20 to 18G to make myself a braclet. I like cool metal jewelry. I wear a titanium bracelet, welded titanium necklace, platinum pinky ring and niobium pinky ring on the other hand. I made all except the platinum ring.

I'm not sure what the tungsten purity is - David - feel free to chime in and tell us what exactly you sent me.

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Yeah, it should definitely be strong enough for decorative use. How do the abrasive wheel cuts look compared to saw cut rings?

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Jon,

Thanks again for trying to work the Tungsten, I know it was a pain to work. I actually ordered the 15-16ga from Amazon, from a website called smallparts.com. They do have other sizes of tungsten wire, but the prices are quite varied. The wire I sent you is .060in diameter, and it was sold in a pack of ten 60" strightened lengths for $28. The advertised purity is 99.95%.

However, loooking at the website this morning, the .060 is not available in a set of ten, and a set of five wires is now over $50. An example of a pricing anomaly:

.050 set of ten 60" lengths: $58.42

.051 set of ten 60" lengths: $126.71

Link to the smallparts site: http://www.smallparts.com/small-parts-tungsten-wire-straightened/dp/B003R5029Y/ref=sr_1_1?sr=1-1&qid=1328539101

I did see that they do not ship the wire to Canada, so Jon, if you want some, let me know and I can send you some. i will be ordering more in smaller diameters for future projects.

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Hey folks, the tungsten samples from TRL are in and I have included some pics. The Lord himself did this first set of work, and did explain that the springback was massive and he had to hot roll the Tungsten to get the test coil pictured. There is a close-up of a fractured end of the Tungsten, which is due to the extreme pressure needed to cold work the metal; trying to cut using a pair of snips also results in fracture. I did cut off a single ring using a Dremel cut-off wheel, but it did leave a wde kerf. I ordered some .005in cut-off wheels (separating disks) and will try those out once I return from a trip. More to follow.

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Hi.

lorenzo pointed me to this direction from maile artisans.

I have bought some tungsten wire 1 or 1.2 mm. My contact with tungsten before was when i learner to weld with a TIG and those rods were not to play with :)

Anyway.

As a comparison.

I have bought TRL titanium Gr5 rings and they are WAAAY harder to work with compared to tungsten. (Some tips on closing the kerf ? :) )

I cannot swear on how pure the alloy is but since i could bend it between three fingers (yes it was painful but the lady working there was looking good so i endured) it must be as lorenzo described.

As for the initial topic. I would never make a chainmaille item larger than a neck item. It is heavy. I'm a big fan of heavy but foremost id like to try all the materials available.

Next in line is Hafnium and rhenium.

I will post some pictures on this thread on my experiments with mandrels ... my first wind was on a 9/32 TRL advanced armorers kit mandrel and it worked. I will try to go down to 2 mm and see when it breaks.

BR

/C

.

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If you mean the tungsten rods i mentioned they are used in TIG welding. Im sure that only lots of heat can make them bend.

Quite expensive. Seen them from 2-5 mm diameter. Copper/wolfram is going up to 8 mm but also expensive since they are used as elektrodes.

Br

C

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As a word of warning, I have 5kg of W/Cu electrodes and they're totally useless. Don't bother trying to use it for rings, it's really brittle, almost more like ceramic than metal.

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i'll try to get the exact alloy specs in case you can get it in th USA which i doubt you could not.

otherwise i can talk to my supplier to see if he can deliver overseas.

BR

/C

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Laser cutters don't give good cuts, they leave a draft angle, slag and a heat affected zone. It's also incredibly expensive.

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I wonder how the tool steel of my jeweler's saws would do. Probably terribly? Next option is probably high-speed abrasive cutoff wheels.

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