What exactly are refractory metals?

Special Metals Fabrication

What exactly are refractory metals?

Refractory metals are a group of special elements or alloys that happen to have very high melting points and are also resistant to the damages of corrosion, wear and deformation. They have several uses, suitable for different industries, including heat exchangers, charge carriers, capacitors, jet engines and much more.

Tungsten, Tantalum, Niobium, Molybdenum and Rhenium are some examples of refractory metals and they all have resistance to distortion- making them ideal for cutting and drilling tools. Additionally, these metals can be used as lighting tools, nuclear reactions and catalysts for chemical or electrical reactions.

But what makes refractory metals so special?

Strength at high temperatures

Refractory metals are heat resistant. Their high melting points enable them to be good conductors of heat, making them perfect for industries that are in need of metals that need to withstand extreme temperatures. As well as having temperatures which exceed 2,000°C, refractory metals can withstand high pressure and impact- so they, therefore, last longer than other metals!

Resistance to thermal shock

Do you need a metal that doesn’t expand? Refractory metals are perfect for you. These metals do not crack under high pressure or high temperature. This is because of their particularly high melting points- making them useful for things such as heating elements and medical parts. The metal Molybdenum, for example, is a refractory metal that is very hard and pure, it has a melting point of 2,620°C.  This metal has high thermal conductivity, hence why it is used for aerospace parts!

High density

Special metals such as Tungsten are good electrical and heating conductors. This stems from the fact that the metal has a high density (is found to be very heavy) and is strong enough to carry currents effectively. Tungsten has the highest melting point out of all the refractory metals- which makes it very robust and high in strength. These metals can be effective for the manufacturing of x-ray targets, which is because they are reliable and have the capability to withstand heat to a certain extent.

Resistance to deformation

Often metals have the tendency to “creep”, meaning deform, when they are put under stress and extreme temperatures. However, refractory metals are resistant to such pressure- meaning that they are less likely to change in shape once heated. The resistance to deformation makes them useful for furnace parts- maintaining their structure for longer periods of time.

Resistance to corrosion

Do all metals corrode? Although this does tend to be the case, refractory metals are different. They are made up of a number of elements, causing the addition of a protective layer – by combining these properties they have greater resistance than single elements! At high temperatures, refractory metals can easily oxidise, meaning they combine chemically with oxygen.

Special Metals Fabrication

Looking for a metal which is resistant to heat? At Special Metals Fabrication, we have the perfect solution for you. The refractory metals that we have available include Molybdenum, Zirconium and Tantalum– all of which are very hard-wearing when it comes to corrosion and conductivity!

So, whether you require a metal that is suitable for medical equipment, electronics (computers/mobile phones) or filament light bulbs, Special Metals Fabrication have exactly what you’re looking for! To contact us about our refractory metals, call us on 01268 820409 or 01268 280665. Alternatively, you can email us at sales@special-metals.co.uk.

 

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