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Orchidians working in tungsten


#1

Hello Orchidland,

I have a young couple with ideas for their wedding band designs.
They want the bands made in tungsten - not my thing. I don’t even
know if it is possible to work with tungsten and create their
designs. If anyone currently works in tungsten, please email me off
line - I will refer these young people to you. James Binnion, I
suspect you have the knowledge to discuss the feasibility of their
designs, so I hope you will respond.

Judy in Kansas, where the weather is absobloominitly gorgeous!!! Now
if I can eliminate the squash bugs.


#2

First it is highly likely what they want is tungsten carbide (a
ceramic) not tungsten metal. There is a huge amount of tungsten
carbide jewelry being sold right now. Tungsten carbide is a powdered
ceramic that is sintered with a binder of with cobalt and possibly
nickel. This material is very hard and is ground with CNC diamond
machining centers to shape it to its final form. I do not know of
anyone who is working it with it as a studio material, it is all as
far as I know industrial production.

Tungsten metal is a dull looking metal that has a rather fibrous
structure. It is also produced by sintering, you cannot melt it to
make an ingot or cast it due to its very high melting point 6192 F
(the highest of any pure metal). It is not at all ductile at room
temperature, it must be heated to at least a high red heat to form
it with out it breaking.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#3

Run away now…

Tungsten is probably the most difficult metal to work with for
several reasons so making a wedding band will be extremely difficult
unless you have access to an isostatic press or buy a rod and turn
it down/bore it out and that will be costly and wasteful. If you look
at tungsten wire under a microscope you will see that it is porous
because it is not drawn from a cast billet but from a chemically
derived sponge. its melting point makes it impossible to solder in
the conventional way and it is very difficult to work as when you do
manipulate it, it work hardens and is nigh on impossible to anneal
satisfactorily in air. Tungsten is not that attractive so perhaps
you could try and offer a more suitable alternative.

Nick Royall


#4
its melting point makes it impossible to solder in the conventional
way

Hi Nick I totally agree with you except on the soldering bit, I find
that this is one of the problems with solder pics made from
tungsten. With paste flux solder will easily wet tungsen. I just
managed to silver solder a bit of work to my tungsten tipped
tweezers yesterday.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#5

Thanks Nick. You and James have given me the inside story and
verified the problems. I’ll be sharing this with the couple.

Judy in Kansas


#6

Thanks, James. You have answered my question and verified what I
suspected about the bands being of industrial production. It’s so
gratifying to have your expert input.

Many thanks from Judy in Kansas, where the jalepeno peppers are
ready to harvest and use in “poppers!” Yum!


#7

Hi all, just a quick thought, in my day job Im a engine
reconditioner and we work with tungsten tool. The old way of
attaching a tungsten tip to a tool was to braze it on to the steel,
its pretty easy ! Or silver solder it .

Philip in Nelson