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Inconel VS. Tungsten

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Inconel may be the 'super alloy', but I'm curious if Tungsten was ever considered for mailling. It's also corrosion resistant, and in pure forms easy to work with but tough enough to stand up to quite a bit of abuse, especially with carbide mixes.

Does anyone have any metallurgical knowledge to tell us whether or not Tungsten is plausible?

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Aside from being bloody expensive, it's usable.

I'd pester FerrousKnight or cshake if I were you, they've both done some tungsten (micro)maille is memory serves...

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My attempt at tungsten maille, posted in the gallery here

It is very brittle, I lost a lot of rings to the wire just snapping when I opened them. It acts like there are large grains within the metal, similar to a layered steel blade, except the grains don't stay together very well.

It is also freakin strong. I put divots in my nail clipper blades trying to cut one ring at a time from that 30-31 ish gauge wire.

All in all, you could use it, but it isn't very durable (because of the brittleness) and it is a lot of hassle to make the rings. An alloy might be usable, I know that what I used was nearly pure and had also been subjected to a huge number of heat/cool cycles in coil form, being from a lamp filament.

Chris

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My attempt at tungsten maille, posted in the gallery here

It is very brittle, I lost a lot of rings to the wire just snapping when I opened them. It acts like there are large grains within the metal, similar to a layered steel blade, except the grains don't stay together very well.

It is also freakin strong. I put divots in my nail clipper blades trying to cut one ring at a time from that 30-31 ish gauge wire.

All in all, you could use it, but it isn't very durable (because of the brittleness) and it is a lot of hassle to make the rings. An alloy might be usable, I know that what I used was nearly pure and had also been subjected to a huge number of heat/cool cycles in coil form, being from a lamp filament.

Chris

I did find info on how brittle the stuff is, but in more pure form, it's quite malleable ("In its raw form, tungsten is a steel-gray metal that is often brittle and hard to work. But, if pure, it can be worked easily." from wikipedia) maybe if we tried with more pure forms than simple bulb filaments?

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If your comparing tungsten to inconel then your probably thinking tungsten carbide, not just tungsten. Tungsten alloys are used more so in high temperature applications, like bulb filaments and TIG welding due to its high melting temperature and are, as noted, very brittle. Pure tungsten I can imagine is somewhere along the lines of pure Ti. Soft, has some of the properties that the material is noted for, but only usefully so in alloy form.

Tungsten carbide is effectivly cast into its final shape(part of the carbide forming process) and is a carbide, meaning it has a completly different chemical formula than just W or any W alloys, in addition to a different crystal structure(formula would be something like W2C3). It is extremely hard, but very brittle, as is anything that hard (...*cough*cough*diamond*cough*cough*...) meaning even if you had the time and money to cast rings they would shatter as soon as you tried to bend them.

So if its super alloy your looking for stick with something like inconel or anything in that family of alloys. Thier properties make them roughly the same strength as stainless steel only with far superior corrosion prevention, in addition to not annealing until a much higher temp making them ideal for use in highly corrosive and hot environments.(like jet exhausts....)

:beer::beer:

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**** Pure tungsten I can imagine is somewhere along the lines of pure Ti. Soft, has some of the properties that the material is noted for, but only usefully so in alloy form. ****

:beer::beer:

Actualy quite different from titanium in a number of very important ways. For one thing, it is awfully heavy. It's specific gravity of 19.2 puts it in the same range as gold (19.3) and platinum (21.5). Your 10 pound titanium hauberk would weigh about 41 pounds if it were suddenly transformed into tungsten. It is also more than 10 times as conductive of heat and electricity so mail left in the sun could cause serious burns.

While small bits sometimes behave as if they are soft, the bulk metal work hardens faster and farther than any other metal (includeing 6-4 titanium alloy) making it even harder to handle than spring hard stainless steel.

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It was to illustrate that both Ti and W are useless unless alloyed for 99% of applications. I am well aware that there is a huge difference in thier properties. ;)

:beer::beer:

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Lies. Titanium is quite nice to work with unalloyed. It's comparably soft, but utterly corossion resistant and has a nice color.

I have top of the line annealed potassium-doped 16ga tungsten wire and it's easy to wind but utterly impossible to cut without it breaking, splitting lengthwise, and fraying into razor sharp splinters. I need someone with a very powerful laser to cut a few small coils for me. It's the only way I can think of that won't destroy it. Of any tungsten wire I could conceivably buy, it's this grade of tungsten that stands the best chance of being maillable. And it's $3/foot. Cheaper grades of tungsten wire can't even be wound without snapping into those horrible splinters.

Tungsten carbide is pressed and sintered into it's final shape with a metal filler, usually cobalt or nickel to stick the tiny particles together. Tungsten metal is instead pressed and sintered as is with no filler. The ingots are then pressed and swaged while white-hot to get it as close to solid as possible.

A nice metal is Molybdenum. It's slightly picky about cutting technique (it also frays and splits, but only if you handle it badly) but the resulting maille feels nice and has a nice gray tone.

Zirconium is also nice, but it's properties lie between titanium and niobium and it's more expensive than both.

Tungsten doesn't even really come in alloys where it's more than a minor constituent because they are all completely unworkable like the parent metal. There is one with nickel and iron that is easier to machine, but the list ends there.

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I need someone with a very powerful laser to cut a few small coils for me. It's the only way I can think of that won't destroy it.

there.

wire EDM will cut it just fine (and any of the other heigh atomic number exotic metals as well) and cleaner than a laser. A sinker EDM can put holes in it without chipping or splitting. Unfortunately, nither process is fast or 'sexy'

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I looked into tungsten for engagement rings and FK is right: lasers. When they make it into just a simple ring the freaking that has to be laser cut, so I would definitely give up tungsten unless you have a laser cutter.

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I read somewhere that tungsten is highly carcinogenic, if you are cut by it or worse get a splinter of tungsten stuck in your finger or hand

no.

What that study found was that tungsten alloys can be carcinogenic if implanted. This is an issue if you are being shot at by bullets made of these alloys where you stand the chance of getting one stuck in you. There is no evidence (AFAIK) that pure tungsten is a carcinogen even if implanted, but that it may make other carcinogens more active. It is possible and likely that this only is applicable to alloys, not separate implantations, or for nonmetallic carcinogens.

The alloy used seemed to be tungsten with nickel and cobalt. Nickel is a known carcinogen, and yet your keyrings and car bumpers are plated in it. At least some of your money is probably made out of it. Nickel silver, inconel, the coils in your toaster. Almost all stainless steel contains appreciable amounts of nickel. Does everyone burst out into tumors? no.

What you read is probably a media interpretation of the actual study, which means they left out key details and wildly speculated in order to make it more interesting. It's an unfortunate effect.

Edited by FerrousKnight

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I only skimmed through the thread, and figured I'd add my 2rings worth. I use Tungsten quite a bit for my son's pinewood derby cars. These are 1st place cars at the District level that we put together :-) I also have other experiences with it as I'm a home machinist as well.

Pure Tungsten couldn't be used for Maille unless you got pre-made solid rings. It has a specific gravity of 19.2 (Gold is 19.3) which makes it one of the densest metals on the planet.

On top of that, it has a melting point of approx 6,000 degrees, so it's not easily melted, welded, etc. Wire EDM would be able to cut it, but I only know of handful of people (serious home Machinists! ) that either have or are building a home EDM cutting rig. EDM is (really basically) cutting metal with a wire that contains a high voltage going through it.

Another thing that is bad about is is that it is VERY VERY hard. You can't drill it, cant cut it, etc.

A couple good things about it is that it's so dense that it is perfect for when you have to add weight to something and have limit space (like Pinewood derby cars!). And it is pretty inert and safe to handle. No allergies, no sickness risks, etc etc. It also does not cause any harm to the environment, so it's starting to be widely used as fishing lures.

There are many alloys of it used in machining. The most common is Tungsten-Carbide that you're drill bits might be made out of, end mills are made out of it as well, other metal cutting tools are also either made out of it or tipped with tungsten-carbide. Those alloys would be way too brittle for any type of maille work. well, jewelry might work though, if there isn't much stress....

Sorry if I've repeated anything anyone else has already said. I'm just feeling chatty today :-)

Mike B

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I have top of the line annealed potassium-doped 16ga tungsten wire and it's easy to wind but utterly impossible to cut without it breaking, splitting lengthwise, and fraying into razor sharp splinters. I need someone with a very powerful laser to cut a few small coils for me. It's the only way I can think of that won't destroy it. Of any tungsten wire I could conceivably buy, it's this grade of tungsten that stands the best chance of being maillable. And it's $3/foot. Cheaper grades of tungsten wire can't even be wound without snapping into those horrible splinters.

cool, I never thought that they made 16g Tungsten wire. Interesting :-)

Great info Ferrous, knuut, and Freyr too!

Mike B

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Pure Tungsten couldn't be used for Maille unless you got pre-made solid rings. It has a specific gravity of 19.2 (Gold is 19.3) which makes it one of the densest metals on the planet.

On top of that, it has a melting point of approx 6,000 degrees, so it's not easily melted, welded, etc. Wire EDM would be able to cut it, but I only know of handful of people (serious home Machinists! ) that either have or are building a home EDM cutting rig. EDM is (really basically) cutting metal with a wire that contains a high voltage going through it.

Another thing that is bad about is is that it is VERY VERY hard. You can't drill it, cant cut it, etc.

A couple good things about it is that it's so dense that it is perfect for when you have to add weight to something and have limit space (like Pinewood derby cars!). And it is pretty inert and safe to handle. No allergies, no sickness risks, etc etc. It also does not cause any harm to the environment, so it's starting to be widely used as fishing lures.

There are many alloys of it used in machining. The most common is Tungsten-Carbide that you're drill bits might be made out of, end mills are made out of it as well, other metal cutting tools are also either made out of it or tipped with tungsten-carbide. Those alloys would be way too brittle for any type of maille work. well, jewelry might work though, if there isn't much stress....

Oh but tungsten can be wound into rings, it's just very expensive to buy the wire that you can actually coil. And then it's impossible to cut. Perhaps you meant tungsten carbide?

Tungsten carbide is a ceramic material, and not an alloy. As such, it can't be machined, but is powdered, pressed into shape and bonded with either nickel or cobalt metal.

Actual alloys usually use a large amount of tungsten and smaller amounts of metals like copper, iron, and nickel to improve machinability while maintaining a very high density. Most high speed steels include tungsten as an alloying element.

Bah, we used lead back when I was making pine wood derby cars :P

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Oh but tungsten can be wound into rings, it's just very expensive to buy the wire that you can actually coil. And then it's impossible to cut. Perhaps you meant tungsten carbide?

Tungsten carbide is a ceramic material, and not an alloy. As such, it can't be machined, but is powdered, pressed into shape and bonded with either nickel or cobalt metal.

Actual alloys usually use a large amount of tungsten and smaller amounts of metals like copper, iron, and nickel to improve machinability while maintaining a very high density. Most high speed steels include tungsten as an alloying element.

Bah, we used lead back when I was making pine wood derby cars :P

hehe, I didn't even know you coul dbuy tungsten wire until I read the rest of the thread, sounds like a good challenge to make some jewelry out of it! :)

yah, many of the scouts use Lead in thier derby cars. But the serious racers that want to move onto the district races have cars that are too thin for lead. My son's car this year was only 3/8" thick... have to cram a lot of weight into a small area in back to keep the center of gravity where it should be for optimal speeds ;-)

Mike B

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