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Plating on Thermkon
(Copper Tungsten)

Thermkon as a Base Material

Copper-Tungsten alloys use two materials with already incredible thermal resistance, strength, ductility, and electrical conductivity to create an incredibly strong alloy known as Thermkon. Thermkon is hard, electrically conductive (depending on the percentage of copper) and has an even greater level of thermal resistance than pure Tungsten. 

This extra thermal resistance comes from the copper within the alloy. When exceeding temperatures greater than 3000 C, the copper within Thermkon melts and disperses throughout the material acting as a cooling agent. This melting “failsafe” increases thermal resistance and longevity of components manufactured with Thermkon.

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Copper-Tungsten | Plating on Refractory Metals

Refractory metals are a sub-group of metallic elements on the periodic table. These elements are grouped together due to their alike physical and chemical qualities. All refractory metals have melting points beyond 2000 °C and are chemically inert. On top of this, these metals are some of the strongest on the entire periodic table.

These qualities make refractory metals like Tungsten, a useful substrate in a variety of industries. However, unlike light and common metals such as aluminum, copper, and nickel, refractory metals present a more unique challenge during their plating processes.

The biggest difference between plating onto refractory metals versus plating onto common metals is that the aqueous solution (chemical bath) used in the typical electroplating process is ineffective when trying to adhere ions to the surface of a refractory substrate. Due to this, electroless nickel is the most common finish for refractory substrates, acting as a base layer for the application of other metals. 

aluminum finishes

Common Thermkon Finishes Include:

Much like pure Tungsten, there are a few challenges when it comes to plating Thermkon. Luckily, AOTCO provides over 50 years of surface finishing expertise to help find the best finish for your Tungsten-Copper components. Some of the most common Thermkon surface finishes include:

  • Electroless Nickel
  • Electrolytic Nickel
  • Gold 
  • Silver 
  • Copper
  • And more!

Benefits of Plating on Thermkon

Thermkon combines the conductive and ductile capabilities of pure copper with the strength and high melting point of pure tungsten. While the material is certainly durable, it is not impervious to corrosion and oxidation. This is where a proper surface finish can improve Thermkon’s functionality. The most notable benefits of plating on Thermkon are: 

  • Increased Ductility
  • Increased/Adjustable Electrical Conductivity
  • Aesthetically Pleasing Finish
  • Reduce Component Maintenance
  • Increased Metling Point
  • Increased Thermal Resistance 
  • Increased Strength with Minimal Change to Weight

Common Industry Applications for Plated Thermkon:

Thermkon is a unique metal material that has found a variety of uses across a plethora of manufacturing industries. Due to its combination of copper’s flexibility with Tungsten’s strength, the material has more versatility of use than pure Tungsten and is often easier to work with. Some common industry uses of plated Thermkon include:

  • Semi-Conductor Components
  • Heating Elements
  • Electrical Contacts
  • Aerospace Components
  • Circuit Breakers
  • And many more!

For more information about plating on Thermkon (Copper Tungsten) and other metal finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.


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