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Tungsten-based composites

W-MMC metal powder

Tungsten-based metal matrix composites (W-MMC) specifically combine the special properties of tungsten with the properties of other metals. Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals and therefore also the highest application temperatures. Its very low coefficient of thermal expansion and high dimensional stability are also unique. We specifically influence and supplement these properties by combining tungsten with other metals. This results in tungsten-based metal matrix composites with special properties, including tungsten heavy metals (WHA) and tungsten-copper composites: DENSIMET®, INERMET®, DENAL®, WCu, and SPARKAL®.

Overview of our tungsten-based composites:

Organigram

    

Tungsten-based metal matrix composites provide the perfect combination of high densities and mechanical properties. A huge advantage is their good machinability.

Material strength of W-MMC materials
Material comparison: strength versus density

  

Customized solutions and R&D support

We produce our tungsten-based metal matrix composite materials using powder metallurgical processes. This technology gives us the flexibility to specifically adapt the microstructure of the materials during the manufacturing process. As a result, we can supply materials whose properties are optimized to the customer's specific applications. Additionally, a wide range of material compositions is possible, such as the production of the contact material tungsten carbide-silver (WCAg).

An experienced team of research and development experts at several locations works with our customers on customized solutions. We simulate the behavior of materials in manufacturing and application processes, research the chemical and physical processes, and test our findings in specific trials in close coordination with our customers. Our R&D center is fully integrated into our production operation and guarantees maximum flexibility and efficiency. Together we are capable of responding to our customers' individual needs. Our mission is to remain one step ahead in the development of the highest quality materials and to offer our customers real competitive advantages.

Range of materials

Overview of our W-MMC materials for standard products:

 

Material Designation Chemical composition [%] Nominal
density
ASTM-B-777/07
Class
W Remainder
Weakly ferromagnetic
DENSIMET® 170 D170 90 Ni, Fe 17.0 1
DENSIMET® 176 D176 92.5 Ni, Fe 17.6
2
DENSIMET® 180 D180 95 Ni, Fe 18.0 3
DENSIMET® 185 D185 97 Ni, Fe 18.5 4
DENSIMET® 188 D188 98.5 Ni, Fe 18.8  
DENSIMET® D2M D2M 90 Ni, Mo, Fe 17.3  
Paramagnetic
INERMET® 170 IT170 90 Ni, Cu 17.0 1
INERMET® 176 IT176 92.5 Ni, Cu 17.6 2
INERMET® 180 IT180 95 Ni, Cu 18.0 3
         
DENAL® high characteristics swaged 92 Ni, Fe, Co 17.6  
DENAL® high characteristics swaged, Co-free 91.7 Ni, Fe 17.55  
DENAL® high characteristics 91 Ni, Co 17.5  
         
WCu WCu10 90 Cu, (Ni) 17.1  
WCu WCu15 85 Cu, (Ni) 16.4  
WCu WCu20 80 Cu, (Ni) 15.5  
         
SPARKAL® SPARKAL® X 75 Cu 14.8  
SPARKAL® SPARKAL® X FIN 80
Cu, Ni 15.6  

In addition to the standard materials listed above, we offer a wide range of customized materials. Our material experts would be pleased to assist you and develop the optimal material combination for your particular requirements.

Correct material selection requires knowledge of the application. Important criteria may be:

  • Physical properties
    (e.g., density, shielding behavior against radiation, thermal conductivity, coefficient of thermal expansion, melting point, electrical conductivity, resistance to arc erosion, magnetization)
  • Mechanical properties
    (e.g., strength, fracture behavior, creep behavior, ductility)
  • Chemical properties
    (resistance to corrosion and oxidation)
  • Workability
    (machinability, formability, weldability)

With suitable material compositions and manufacturing processes, a variety of properties can be achieved based on tungsten. The result: metal matrix composites with different property profiles that are customized to the respective application.

Material Properties

   

Properties

Unique properties

Plansee has developed several different composite materials with various property profiles. Each material features a special combination of properties and is therefore unique and unlike any other material. The advantages of our most frequently used materials are:

  • Properties of DENSIMET® and INERMET®

    Plansee DENSIMET® and INERMET® composites are tungsten heavy metals with a high tungsten content (> 90%) and a NiFe- or NiCu binder phase. They are characterized by their particularly high density. Combined with their ability to absorb radiation as well as their outstanding mechanical properties and machinability, they are the ideal materials for a wide range of applications, such as in aviation and aerospace, the automotive industry, medical technology, and the construction industry.

    Advantages of DENSIMET® and INERMET®:

    • High density of 17.0 to 18.8 g/cm3 (similar to pure tungsten)
    • Better machinability compared to pure tungsten
    • Cost-efficient manufacture of complex products and components
    • High modulus of elasticity and excellent mechanical properties
    • High absorption capacity for X-rays and gamma rays
    • Safe for human health and the environment

    DENSIMET® is also characterized by its excellent strength and ductility, while another clear advantage of INERMET® lies in its non-magnetic characteristics.

    Mechanical properties – typical values:
     

      D170 IT170 D176/W IT176 D180 IT180 D185
    Modulus of elasticity E [GPa] 340 330 360 350 380 360 385
    Modulus of rigidity G [GPa] 140 125 145 135 150 140 160
  • Properties of DENAL®

    DENAL® includes tailored materials with an excellent compromise between high strength and ductility for various applications. DENAL® is used, in particular, for defense industry products such as penetrators.

    Overview of our DENAL® materials:

    Material Density
    [g/cm3]
    Yield strength
    [MPa]
    ø / min.
    Tensile strength
    [MPa]
    ø / min.
    Breaking elongation
    [%]
    ø / min.
    K (5x5)
    Charpy Test
    [J/cm2]
    ø / min.
    Denal® high characteristics swaged
    Denal®
    920 60 20
    17.6 1250 / 1180 1250 / 1180 14 / 9 100 / 60
    Denal®
    920 159 20
    17.6 1460 / 1400 1460 / 1400 11 / 8 150 / 100
    Denal®
    910 179 20
    17.5 1640 / 1600 1640 / 1600 10 / 7 100 / 60
    Denal® high characteristics swaged, Co-free
    Denal®
    917 108 XXX (1)
    17.55 1280 / 1220 1315 / 1255 12 / 8.5 170 / 105
    Denal®
    917 108 XXX (2)
    17.55 1410 / 1350 1435 / 1375 11 / 7 150 / 70
    Denal®
    917 108 XXX (3)
    17.55 1510 / 1450 1525 / 1465 8 / 5 60 / 30
    Denal®
    910 XXX 20
    17.5 1800 / 1720 1800 / 1720 4 -
    Denal® high characteristics
    Denal®
    900-120-25
    17.2 700 1000 35 300
    Denal®
    920-120-25
    17.6 720 1030 29 150
    • UTS Tensile strength (average values)

  • Properties of tungsten-copper

    Tungsten-copper combines high temperature resistance, one of the greatest advantages of tungsten, with the excellent electrical and thermal conductivity of copper.

    Advantages of WCu materials:

    • Excellent resistance to arc erosion
    • Excellent electrical conductivity
    • High strength
    • Good workability
    • Excellent thermal conductivity
    • Good thermal expansion

    Using special combinations of chemical behaviors, properties such as electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, coefficient of thermal expansion, and arc erosion rate can be optimized as required.

    Typical properties of our WCu materials at 20 °Celsius:

    Material
    [wt%]
    Density
    [g/cm³]
    CTE
    [ppm/K]
    TC
    [W/mK]
    WCu10 17.1 6.4 195
    WCu15 16.4 7.3 215
    WCu20 15.5 8.3 235
  • Properties of SPARKAL®

    The material SPARKAL® is made from a special composition of tungsten-copper. It was developed to handle the requirements of spark erosion (EDM). That is why SPARKAL® electrodes offer several advantages over regular electrode materials.

    Here you can see typical values for physical and mechanical properties depending on the geometry and dimension:

      SPARKAL® X SPARKAL® X FIN
    Chemical composition (%) W 75
    Cu 25
    W 80
    CuNi 20
    Density (g/cm3) 14.8 15.6
    Hardness (HV 5) 240 270
    Electrical conductivity (% IACS) 40 20
    Electrical resistance (µΩ cm²/cm) 4.3 8.4
    Modulus of elasticity (MPa) 250,000 280,000
Production process

How do we do it? With powder metallurgy!

Our products made from tungsten-based metal matrix composites are manufactured using powder metallurgy. All stages of production, from the powder to the finished product, satisfy Plansee's quality standards, exceeding ISO 9001 requirements.

Production process of tungsten heavy metals

In order to manufacture DENSIMET® and INERMET®, mixtures of powdered metals are pressed and liquid-phase sintered to obtain a dense and solid material. The sintered product can be supplied as a semifinished product such as plates and rods, as a near-net-shape product, or as a finished product according to the customer's drawings. If desired, our DENSIMET® and INERMET® components can undergo shaping and heat-treatment techniques to meet specific application requirements.

Plansee DENSIMET® and INERMET® materials comply with the AMS-T-21014, the AMS 7725 rev E, and the ASTM-B-777-99 (MIL-T-21014) specifications.

Schematic diagram of the DENSIMET® and INERMET® product manufacturing process:

Manufacturing process of Densimet and Inermet

DENAL® is an advanced range of tungsten heavy metals suited for kinetic energy ammunition penetrators. DENAL® is available in the form of rods in several different lengths and diameters, which directly influences the penetration properties against targets. Suitable for medium and large caliber ammunition specifications, DENAL® is also available in a Co-free version, which takes into account environmental conditions from certain customers. DENAL® mechanical properties can be adapted to customer specifications, creating the best compromise between industrial efficiency and resistance to extreme conditions in a single product.

Production process of tungsten-copper materials

Our WCu materials are also manufactured from metal powder. All stages of production from the powder all the way to the finished product are carried out in-house and all satisfy Plansee's quality standards, which exceed the provisions of ISO 9001:2000 and AS/EN/JISQ 9100.

The essential step of manufacturing WCu products, such as SPARKAL® EDM electrodes, is infiltration:

During a two-stage manufacturing process, first a porous sintered base is produced from tungsten, and then the open pores are infiltrated with the liquefied copper. After sintering, the product can be machined to individual customer requirements.

This approach leaves the properties of the individual components unchanged. An inspection under the microscope verifies that the properties of each of the components remain intact. At the macroscopic level, however, the properties of the individual components are combined. For example, the new material may have modified thermal conductivity and thermal expansion values.

Schematic diagram of the manufacturing process of WCu and SPARKAL® products:

WCu and Sparkal manufacturing process

Another production technique is back-casting:

Back-cast materials simultaneously combine the material properties of two different material components. During this process, the materials themselves are retained in their original state and are bound only at a thin junction. The metals are fused in a mold to form a bond of only a few micrometers in size. Unlike welding and soldering techniques, this method guarantees a 100% connection and ensures optimal thermal conduction.

 

Sustainability

Creating the future responsibly – since 1921

Green Technology

As early as 1921, Plansee chose to specialize in the powder metallurgical production of refractory metals – a recognized green technology.

When we produce and process our materials, we strive to minimize the impact on the environment. We are always mindful of material usage, energy consumption, and emissions. Our near-net-shape manufacturing process allows us to achieve high output. This results in lower waste and saves resources.

The standards we adhere to are summarized in our Environmental and Quality Guidelines.

Raw materials from conflict-free sources

As one of the world's leading manufacturers of refractory metals, we bear great responsibility. We are especially concerned that the raw materials we procure are sourced responsibly and exclusively from conflict-free sources. As a result, we go to great lengths to ensure that we do not source or use any raw materials from socially, ethically, or ecologically questionable sources.

Sustainability is a constant watchword in our purchasing policy and is defined in our Code of Conduct.

We only select suppliers that comply with rigorous procurement guidelines and our Supplier Policy. Suppliers not only have to demonstrate that raw materials meet our strict quality requirements. They must also unreservedly respect human rights, labor laws, and international trade law, and provide proof that their raw materials come from "conflict-free" sources and meet strict environmental requirements. We participated in a pilot study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and have implemented the "Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas."

This audit conducted as part of the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) Downstream Audit Program, a joint undertaking promoted by the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA – formerly EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), is a voluntary obligation adopted by Plansee. For us, our customers, and our suppliers, this represents independent confirmation that we are compliant with the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP).

Following a re-audit in 2018, the audit committee of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) has confirmed that Global Tungsten & Powders (GTP) in Towanda - a Plansee Group company - sources tungsten in compliance with the RMAP. For Plansee's customers, this certificate provides independent proof that the Plansee Group procures its tungsten from responsible sources.

More about the topic of sustainability

Consistent recycling throughout the entire process

Recycling Logo

Plansee attaches great importance to using resources as sparingly as possible throughout the production process. Near-net-shape production therefore plays a crucial role. Still, production waste and return materials cannot be completely avoided. These are chemically and thermomechanically processed for reuse in the company's own recycling facilities.

At the same time, the environment is not the only consideration. There are also good economic reasons for re-using these so-called "secondary raw materials":

  • Security of supply
  • Careful use of natural resources

Our in-house team of scientists is constantly fine-tuning the adopted methods and processes and ensures that only top-quality powder is obtained. In the case of tungsten, in particular, a large proportion of the material requirements is covered by recycling. The input material for the recovery process consists of sintered hard tungsten carbide scrap as well as soft scrap such as powders and grinding sludge, and other secondary raw materials with a tungsten content of 60% or more. To enable us to reprocess as much waste material as possible, we have long-term take-back agreements with many of our customers.

Product range

We offer the following standard products and dimensions from stock online:

DENSIMET® D176
Rods Ø 6 – 62 mm Length: 320 – 700 mm
SPARKAL® X
Rods Ø 8 – 90 mm Length: 230 – 350 mm
Square bars Ø 8 x 8 – 50 × 50 mm Length: 350 mm
Flat bars 3 x 75 – 25 × 75 mm
(thickness x width)
Length: 350 mm
SPARKAL® X FIN
Tubes Ø 0.5 – 6 mm Length: 175 mm
Rods Ø 0.5 – 6 mm Length: 175 mm

Please contact us if you are interested in customized dimensions or semifinished products from other W-MMC materials.

Online shop

You can order sheets, rods, ribbons, and wires as well as other products in configurable dimensions quickly and easily in our online shop.

Take a look at our products in the Plansee online shop

Downloads

Would you like to learn more about our tungsten-based metal matrix composites? Would you like more information about processing, joining technology, and surface treatment? Then take a look at our materials brochure or our safety data sheets.

Brochure: Tungsten-based metal matrix composites
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