Our Powders. Your Products.
Visitors who come to our factory who have been exposed to many different manufacturing facilities often comment on how clean it is. Insurance auditors, bankers, consultants and customers alike take notice. It has become a source of pride for our company. It takes effort from everyone to maintain a clean factory environment.
Tungsten is Dirty
Tungsten metal powder is a dark gray, while tungsten carbide powder is black. The larger sizes appear more like grains of sand or salt. The smaller sizes are very fine and look like flour. The tungsten dust can spread throughout the factory in the air if it is not contained. If fine tungsten powder gets on your hands or clothing it is hard to get off. It takes multiple washings to get them clean again.
It would be quite easy to say that it is just not realistic to keep our factory clean. After all, it is a few hundred thousand square feet. Instead, we make efforts every day in order to keep up with the challenge. Filtration systems, exhaust fans, floor sweepers and shop-vacs are all employed to keep the tungsten powder at bay.
It isn't perfect, and it is still a factory. I can't say that I would eat off of the floors, but I'm not afraid to take people on a tour. I must admit that it always feels good when people ask how we keep things so clean. When a vistor says that they have been in many industrial environments and they don't see many as clean as ours I like to pass along that compliment to those who do the most to keep it that way.
Customers do not visit our factory frequently, so we do not keep it clean because we need to impress anyone. Not only is it an OSHA requirement, it creates a better work environment for those who work here on a daily basis. It shows that we care about doing things the right way.
Attention to Detail
At Buffalo Tungsten the same diligent, consistent effort that it takes to maintain a clean factory goes into making our products. We give the same level of attention to the quality of our products and packaging. We recognize that these are often the only things that our customers see. They know our company by what they see getting off of a truck at their dock, not by how our floors look. They know the material they put into their process and whether or not the results are what they expect.
The consistent, high quality products that they see all stems from the same attention to detail that we put into keeping the floors clean.
Although tungsten is a strategic mineral, it is also a minor metal. The demand for tungsten is low relative to base metals like nickel, zinc or lead. As a result, commodity exchanges do not trade tungsten ores and concentrates. Trading occurs on a negotiated basis between the parties involved.
Tungsten ore is mainly in the form of wolframite ((Fe,Mn)WO4) or scheelite (CaWO4). Mines are typically underground hard rock mines. Up to 80% of the world's tungsten ore today comes from China. There are active mines throughout the world in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
Tungsten ores and concentrates sell on the basis of their tungsten oxide (WO3) content. The ore undergoes gravity separation to concentrate it at the mine. A chemical flotation process can remove additional impurities to increase the concentration before shipping. The industry standard for first grade tungsten concentrates is a minimum of 65% WO3.
The trade in tungsten concentrates has decreased since many of the companies controlling the mine output have vertically integrated to produce tungsten intermediates. The most common of the intermediates are ammonium paratungstate (APT) and tungsten oxides such as yellow tungsten oxide (YTO) and blue tungsten oxide (BTO).
Price references for tungsten are based on private transactions. Companies such as Argus Media and Metal Bulletin have regular contact with industry sources to ask for current offer prices in the market and report a range with a high and low price. The price of APT is the most common reference material. Many long term contracts will be based on one of these published references.
In international markets the unit of measurement for tungsten concentrates is the metric ton unit, or mtu. An mtu is 1% of a metric ton. Both tungsten concentrates and intermediates such as APT, BTO and YTO use the mtu as the standard measure.
One Metric Ton (MT) = 1000 kg
One Metric Ton Unit (mtu) = 10 kg
Praxair installed a new liquid hydrogen tank at Buffalo Tungsten to replace one that was 30 years old this week. They are a first class supplier and have done an excellent job of maintaining our hydrogen supply for the past three decades. They brought a trailer based hydrogen sled to supply our needs during the transition. The shiny new tank looks great!
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Praxair for doing an outstanding job with the efficient replacement of our hydrogen tank. Clark Rigging got everything in place without any issues.
Although there are other ways to reduce tungsten oxide, the use of hydrogen gas in tungsten production is the most common. The basic chemical equation is
WO3 + 3 H2 -> W + 3 H2O
Tungsten oxide (WO3) travels through our reduction furnaces in a hydrogen gas (H2) atmosphere. The chemical reaction takes place at temperatures that are commonly between 700C (1300F) and 1000C (1800F). The result is water vapor and pure tungsten powder.
Buffalo Tungsten creates hydrogen gas through the electrolysis of water in a hydrogen generator. The basic chemical equation for this is
2 H2O -> 2 H2 + O2
We use the hydrogen gas in the reduction of tungsten oxide. We use the oxygen in the recycling of scrap materials. By making our own hydrogen gas on site we are able to have a secure a supply of this critical process gas for our tungsten powder production. It also reduces the final cost of our tungsten powder for our customers. The hydrogen that we purchase from Praxair supplements the output of our hydrogen generator at times of high demand.
We also have a bulk tank from Praxair to supply liguid nitrogen. We use nitrogen primarily as a purge gas that is less volatile than hydrogen in the presence of the oxygen contained in the air. Praxair again receives high marks as our nitrogen supplier.
Water vapor is a byproduct of the hydrogen reduction process. In order to reuse some of the hydrogen gas that exits our furnaces the moisture content must be reduced. We dry our hydrogen gas in a specially designed sled to allow it to be recycled back into our furnaces.
This recycling of this critical process gas decreases our operating costs. It is yet another way that Buffalo Tungsten is able to provide better value to our customers.
With the importance of hydrogen gas in tungsten powder production we will always need to maintian a ready supply of it. We hope that the new tank from Praxair will last another 30 years as Buffalo Tungsten continues to supply your need for tungsten metal powder products!
According to the US Geological Survey tungsten is a strategic mineral that is "essential to the economic and national security of the United States." The text of the report can be found here. Forbes magazine's story on the topic found here might be easier to read.
Many industries use tungsten as a critical material. Some examples are
Energy - Oil and gas exploration and production use tungsten. Diamond drill bits often contain tungsten carbide. Different forms of tungsten are catalysts in chemical reactions for petroleum. Hydraulic fracking in gas wells use tungsten in shaped charges. The production of nuclear powder uses tungsten for radiation shielding.
Defense - Armor piercing munitions use tungsten. It is a critical material that is essential to our national defense.
Tungsten Carbide Thermal Spray Coatings - Turbines, shafts and propellers use thermal spray powder coatings to extend their service life. These materials also rebuild parts back to their original specifications. Tungsten carbide based powders have a high hardness and extend the wear life.
Telecommunications and electronics also rely upon tungsten. Cellular telephones use tungsten as a counterweight to help it vibrate. Heat sinks and contacts also utilize tungsten.
Diversify Supply of Critical Materials
Tungsten is a critical material to make products in many industries. China currently produces 75 - 80% of the tungsten used in the world. Buffalo Tungsten has good relationships with Chinese suppliers. We have also cultivated a diversity in our supply chain. This limits our dependence on any one area of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of a diverse supply.
Buffalo Tungsten manufactures tungsten powder materials in the United States. Our materials serve the needs of manufacturers in many industries. Buffalo Tungsten has remained open during the COVID-19 outbreak because tungsten is a strategic mineral. In order to supply the needs of manufacturers of many essential products we have continued operations with social distancing and sanitizing practices in place.
Tungsten hexafluoride (WF6) has one of the highest densities of any gas. To produce tungsten hexafluoride gas, pure tungsten metal powder (W) reacts with fluorine gas (F2) between 650F (343C) and 750F (399C). These elements combine to create a gas that has a density of 12.9 g/l. The air we breathe has a density of about 1.28 g/l, making WF6 ten times heavier!
Tungsten hexafluoride ships as a liquefied gas that is toxic, odorless and corrosive with a pale yellow color. It is used in a sealed chamber and must be handled carefully to avoid exposure. Proper ventilation is important and monitoring of the air quality is essential when tungsten hexafluoride is in use.
Tungsten hexafluoride gas is a specialty gas primarily for use in the semiconductor industry. It creates a thin layer of tungsten on semiconductor wafers through a chemical vapor deposition process. A chemical reaction causes the tungsten metal to adhere to silicon wafers. Tungsten is conductive, so it forms electrical connections between the various components on the wafers.
To satisfy the performance requirements in the semiconductor industry the purity of the gas must be greater than 99.999%. In order to achieve this the tungsten powder used in making it must be of a very high purity. This typical tungsten hexafluoride product data sheet from Linde shows the properties of the gas.
Tungsten Powder Manufacturer
Buffalo Tungsten produces tungsten powder used to manufacture WF6 gas. We do not produce the gases ourselves, but our stringent quality standards allow us to meet the demanding chemical specifications required to produce extremely high purity tungsten hexafluoride.
Some of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers rely on the gases made by Buffalo Tungsten's customers. If your company is looking for an American producer of tungsten powder for WF6 production, you can contact Buffalo Tungsten to meet your supply requirements.
Material Properties of Tungsten
Tungsten metal powder is used to make ordnance for the military. Tungsten has a high density (19.25g/cm3) and high hardness. The melting point of tungsten is also very high at 3,422°C (6,191°F), making it a good choice for high temperatures as well.
The BBC's article titled "Tungsten: The perfect metal for bullets and missiles" explains why tungsten powder is a great choice for ordnance (in a round about way).
Dives Versus Belly Flops
Bunker busting ordnance made from tungsten powder penetrates underground shelters. This ordnance needs to be very heavy but it helps to have a small surface area. With tungsten you can have the same weight in a smaller package. Think of the difference between a belly flop and a dive to get into the water. The tungsten allows the bomb to dive into the ground and penetrate further. Less dense materials belly flop and don't go as deep.
Armor piercing rounds typically use a tungsten core. The Firearm Blog describes armor piercing rounds made for the US military. The rounds need to have the same size to fit the barrel of the weapon. The tungsten core provides a more stable center that improves its effectiveness.
Tungsten Heavy Metal in Ordnance
Tungsten heavy metal powders are often used to make ordnance. This type of tungsten powder contains binder materials such as nickel or iron. These alloys make it more machinable. Without these alloys tungsten is brittle and difficult to work with. Grinding shapes the solid heavy alloy parts into finished projectiles.
A less conventional form of ordnance using tungsten powder that has been studied is kinetic bombardment with large tungsten rods. Business Insider discussed the potential of dropping tungsten rods dropped from space. These kinetic energy penetrators would destroy everything in their path. They would not release radiation that would harm nearby areas.
Tungsten Powder Supplier
Buffalo Tungsten provides tungsten powder for ordnance applications. All of our material is made in America. We are a small business for United States federal contracting purposes. Our co-reduced powders are an engineered powder. They contain nickel, iron, copper or other alloys. This makes heavy metal easier to process. Ordinance of different types use other types of powder. If you use tungsten powders to produce ordnance Buffalo Tungsten can supply your needs.
Sporting goods products use tungsten because it has a very high density. With a density of 19.3 g/cc, tungsten products are a great choice for many athletes and outdoorsmen. Those who compete at the highest levels of sport need any edge they can get. Tungsten is able to provide that edge in many cases.
Fishing sinkers of the same weight made from tungsten are smaller than ones made of lead or other materials. Darts made with tungsten tips are slimmer. Fishing tackle and line made with tungsten sinks faster. Golf clubs made with tungsten weights can balance the swing. Golf balls using tungsten can focus the mass and generate spin. The strategic use of tungsten in sporting goods allows athletes to perform at a higher level.
Tungsten is an eco-friendly element. Many studies show it is not toxic. One study of hunting products concluded that "the use of tungsten in lead-free shot is not associated with environmental toxicity..." (Thomas, V.G., et al., Assessment of the environmental toxicity and carcinogenicity of tungsten-based shot, Ecotoxicol. Environ. Saf. (2009),doi:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2009.01.001) The US National Parks Service displays the full text of the study.
Because of this, tungsten is a good material for hunting and fishing products. Any sporting goods products remaining in soil or water after use can safely be made from tungsten.
Tungsten carbide is very hard. This allows it to provide traction and grip on surfaces like asphalt and rock. It has excellent wear resistance. The high wear resistance allows equipment to last longer and need less frequent replacement.
Take a look at Carbide USA's post on the topic. They point out several products designed for sports and recreation that are made from tungsten carbide.
Tungsten Powder for Sporting Goods
Buffalo Tungsten sells tungsten powder and tungsten carbide powder for use in many sporting goods products. If you think the properties of these materials can help you develop an edge over the competition, we can work with you on developing products that can be used to put you over the top.
What is Tungsten Carbide?
The carburization of pure tungsten powder creates the alloy tungsten carbide. The International Tungsten Industry Association provides an outline of the conventional carburization process that produces it. WC is the chemical formula for the resulting powder, so it is also referred to as WC powder.
Tungsten carbide is a very hard material. In a pure form it is too brittle to be used in many applications. Cemented carbide parts are are made by pressing and sintering to overcome this. The parts made by this process are often called hardmetal parts.
Making Hardmetal Parts
Tungsten carbide powder is combined with binder materials such as cobalt or nickel powder to create hardmetal. The binder materials make finished parts that have better durability and toughness. The powders are pressed into a shape in a mold at a very high pressure. The resulting piece is then sintered in an oven at a very high temperature to melt the binder materials and bond the part together. The individual WC particles are suspended in the melted binder materials.
A common product made from WC powders is cutting tools. Hardness is an important property in this application. Tungsten carbide tools are more expensive than steel. They cut several times more material before they wear out. Efficiency improves because the tooling does not need to be replaced as frequently. In your local home improvement store you see labels like "carbide tipped" on may of the drill bits and saw blades. This indicates that they have a hardness that will allow them to last longer.
Hardmetal parts that are made with tungsten carbide are often referred to simply as carbide. Other forms of carbide are produced through a similar process.
If you are looking for a carbide material with the greatest hardness make sure that you have tungsten carbide and not titanium or tantalum carbide. The other carbide materials are used in applications where the toughness or other properties take priority over the hardness.
Tungsten Carbide Powder Supplier
Buffalo Tungsten produces tungsten carbide powder in a wide range of particle sizes. We produce standard powders from 0.8 microns to 50 microns and use special carburization techniques to make larger particle sizes. The carbon content is carefully monitored and the level of free carbon is reported on our standard certificate of analysis. We also use tungsten carbide powder in our engineered powders that are used for infiltration applications.
What is thermal spraying?
Tungsten carbide thermal spray powder is a leading surface coating material. Thermal spraying is a process that applies a powder as a surface coating to improve or repair the surface of a material. The powder is used to make your parts last longer or build up a part that has worn down. Thermal spray powder is fired onto a metal substrate in thin layers to cover the surface. It is applied with a spray gun at a high velocity to form a strong mechanical bond. The velocity comes from heating gas to build up pressure that goes through a nozzle. A basic overview of the thermal spray process is found here from the ASM Thermal Spray Society. They also describe various types of thermal spray coating applications. Thermal spray powders are frequently used instead of plating or heat treating processes that are less effective or more expensive.
Why is Tungsten Carbide a Good Thermal Spray Material?
The chemical symbol for tungsten carbide is WC. Tungsten carbide is an extremely hard metal, as decribed in this article by AZoM. It is an excellent choice as a thermal spray powder to use on parts that need high wear resistance. The thin coating of tungsten carbide material allows the part to last longer before requiring repair or replacement.
A common tungsten carbide powder is known as 88-12, or WC 12Co. This refers to the composition of the powder, which is 88% tungsten carbide (WC) and 12% cobalt (Co). The cobalt is used as a binder material. Other binders such as Nickel or Chromium are used to achieve different properties. Other binders are better for oxidation or corrosion resistance. There are several different combinations of binder materials to choose from to achieve the properties that you desire.
Thermal Spray Powder Manufacturer
Buffalo Tungsten produces high quality tungsten carbide thermal spray powder. We make agglomerated, sintered materials. These powders provide dense, hard surface coatings with excellent wear properties at low temperatures (<500 C). Buffalo Tungsten's thermal spray powders are used in a wide range of industries. They have application on things like pump casings and various shafts. There are several standard powders to choose from. Custom powders are made based on customer needs.
Radiation can serve useful purposes in fields such as medical diagnostics and treatments or power generation. Radiation can also be harmful to our bodies if we are exposed to it in high concentrations. It is associated with cancer and causing damage to our cells. In order to be kept safe from the damaging effects of radiation when it is used we need to be properly shielded from it. Tungsten is an excellent material for radiation shielding because it has an extremely high density. At 19.3 g/cm3 tungsten is among the most dense of all the metals. This property helps it to act as a barrier to damaging x-rays, gamma rays and other types of radiation.
Buffalo Tungsten is a manufacturer of the high density tungsten powders that are used in radiation shielding for various industries. The tungsten powder is typically compounded with rubber or plastic in order to mold it into different shapes. A commonly known medical application is the aprons and vests worn when you have an X-ray taken at a doctor or dentist's office. Our tungsten powders are also used in radiation shielding for power generation applications such as nuclear reactors. Tungsten will help shield the pipes that run to and from the reactor. These products have been traditionally made of lead, but the toxicity of lead has made the safe disposal of it expensive. With a higher density, thinner and less bulky shielding products can be produced from tungsten.
When tungsten is used it is often referred to as lead free shielding, which has formed an increasing segment of the market. Some examples of lead free radiation shielding are manufactured by companies such as Lancs Industries. If you manufacture any type of lead free radiation shielding products Buffalo Tungsten can supply the tungsten powder materials that you need.