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Plating on Tungsten

Tungsten is the most used refractory metal in manufacturing. A silvery-white metal, its name derives from the Swedish words “Tung” and “Sten”, which translates to “Hard Stone.” Tungsten is incredibly dense, ductile, and has one of the highest melting points of all refractory metals.

While Tungsten can work efficiently at high temperatures without losing its strength and density, it does tend to oxidate at temperatures greater than 538 F. These oxidation layers can be detrimental to a component’s functionality. This thermal oxidation can be prevented with the proper surface finishing solution.

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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.

Common Tungsten Finishes Include:

Much like other refractory metals, Tungsten can be quite a challenge to plate. Luckily, AOTCO provides over 50 years of surface finishing expertise to help find the best finish for your tungsten components. Some of the most common Tungsten finishes include:

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of Plating on Tungsten
While refractory metals like Tungsten are incredibly physically strong, they often lack some of the anti-corrosive qualities that make them functional and high performing components. Luckily, with a successful surface finish, the incredible strength of Tungsten can be fully utilized. Depending on the material that is deposited, some of the most notable benefits of plating on Tungsten substrates are:
  • Increased Melting Point
  • Increased Thermal Resistance 
  • Increased Strength with
  • Minimal Change to Weight
  • Increased Ductility
  • Increased Electrical Conductivity
  • Aesthetically Pleasing Finish
  • Reduce Component Maintenance
  • And many more!
Common Industry Applications for Tungsten Substrates
Tungsten has one of the highest melting points of all the refractory metals, which means it has one of the highest melting points of all metals. This excellent thermal resistance makes Tungsten an appropriate substrate in industries where high temperature, corrosion, and wear resistance are all needed. Some common industry applications of Tungsten substrates include: 
  • Mining Drills
  • Saws, Knives, and other Cutting Tools 
  • Semi-Conductors 
  • Heat Sinks 
  • Electrical Contacts
  • And many more!
For more information about plating on Tungsten and available metal finishing services, Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.
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