Why We Take Producing Quality Tungsten Alloy So Seriously
Our tungsten alloy materials are used in demanding applications
One of the primary applications for tungsten alloy materials is in the aerospace industry. These materials are utilized as weight and balancing components in many commercial aircraft. The aviation industry demands materials of the highest integrity.
In October of 2016, the engine of an American Airlines aircraft caught on fire during takeoff at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.
No matter where you live, or what you do for a living, chances are you have been on multiple flights this year. Every time you fly, you place your trust in the airline, pilots, maintenance crew and the manufacturers that supplied components to building the aircraft.
Aircraft malfunctions and travel disasters are everyone’s nightmare.
Rightfully so. Thankfully, all on board American Airlines flight 383 made it off the plane safely. The plane stopped before taking off. Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire swiftly.
An engine component, showing premature fatigue cracking, failed and caused the fire.
According to investigators, pieces of the failed engine parts were thrown 3,000 ft across the airport. The National Transportation Safety Board found that the plane had been on 11,000 flights, below its limit of 15,000 flights.
Aircraft components have an extremely high cost of failure.
The tungsten alloy, aircraft components that we make at Mi-Tech Tungsten Metals are not as critical as an engine component. We must still meet stringent quality procedures. Before a part ends up on an aircraft, extreme measures ensure anyone can trust that it will not cause an issue.
The Aerospace industry is not the only industry that demands high-quality tungsten alloys.
The density of tungsten is very high. Almost twice the density of lead. This high density means that tungsten components can be half the size of lead components and still have the same mass.
The high-density properties of tungsten make it the optimal material for shielding radiation.
A significant industry that we serve is Medical Equipment manufacturers that use tungsten alloys to shield radiation in Radiation Therapy equipment. It this application, tungsten is used to store radiation and guide the radiation to the correct location. Shielding patients and medical staff from radiation is vital. Tungsten alloy parts are designed to guide radiation to only the area that needs to be affected.
Porosity in the tungsten metal components can cause radiation leakage.
Radiation leakage from porosity, internal voids or material that is not entirely sintered is dangerous. If the integrity of the content is compromised in any way, the components will fail to do the job they were designed to do.
Due to various factors, tungsten metals are susceptible to porosity.
The high melting point of tungsten makes traditional melt and cast metals manufacturing processes prohibitive. Tungsten must be produced via the powdered metals process where tungsten powder is compacted, and then furnace sintered to reach the required density.
During sintering, there is a significant amount of dimensional shrinkage to the components.
The sintering process is what causes tungsten material to become sufficiently dense. The material goes from pressed powder to a solid metal via liquid phase sintering, eliminating internal voids and passages. Poor control over this process can be very detrimental.
Stringent quality procedures allow us to minimize the occurrence of porosity.
Our Quality System starts at the beginning of the manufacturing process where we purchase and inspect tungsten powders according to our specifications. After blending our tungsten alloys, we inspect the material chemically to ensure the composition is within specification. At this stage, we also press and sinter tensile bars to evaluate the physical properties if the material.
We release the powder lot to production after chemical and physical testing.
We measure pressed metal bars and rods dimensionally before and after sintering. Once sintered, we measure for density by weighing the material in water and calculating the density using Archimedes’ principle.
During the machining phase, our parts measured to meet each requirement specified on the customer drawing. Coordinate Measurement Machines (CMM) handle the final inspection of finished components.
All of our products are subject to our stringent quality procedures.
Regardless of whether your tungsten alloy components end up in an aircraft or a piece of medical equipment, all of our materials to strict quality procedures. Honestly, we do it for our benefit also. Tungsten raw material is very expensive. We follow set quality procedures and good housekeeping to keep our internal scrap rate low. High quality is not just good for your business; it is good for business in general.
Our Indianapolis, IN facility is audited annually and maintains both ISO 9001 and AS 9100 Certification.
In addition to our regular quality check, our customer’s internal quality teams routinely audit us. Often, they are quite intense, but we have always passed with excellence.
Our Quality team will work very closely with your Quality folks.
We welcome you to our Indianapolis facility to host you for a plant tour. We can show you firsthand how we make tungsten alloy. It is fascinating!