The History of Tungsten

Eagle Alloys is a leading global supplier of commercially pure tungsten, as well as high density machinable tungsten alloy and copper tungsten alloys. Eagle Alloys is an ISO certified corporation and has been supplying the highest quality metals for over 35 years.


So what are some historical facts about tungsten? It’s an element that was discovered back in 1783 by two Spanish chemists. They found it in samples of a mineral called wolframite. Perhaps this is why tungsten is sometimes referred to as “wolfram.” And that’s why tungsten’s symbol on the periodic table is “W.” As for the word tungsten, it comes from the Swedish words “tung” and “sten,” which mean “heavy stone.”

Today, tungsten is still primarily extracted from wolframite. And, of all metals in pure form, tungsten has the highest melting point (6192 degrees Fahrenheit) and the lowest vapor pressure (at temperatures above 3000 degrees Fahrenheit). It also has the highest tensile strength.

Tungsten Uses

What is tungsten used in/for? Well, it’s found in many industries and products, including cutting tools, ammunition, lighting, jet turbine engines and fishing weights.

Tungsten wire is a popular product. How is tungsten wire diameter expressed? It’s done in milligrams. The formula to calculate the diameter of tungsten wire based on the weight per unit length is D = 0.71746 x square root (mg weight/200 mm length). Tungsten wire often comes doped.

What about tungsten carbide? It actually doesn’t have that much tungsten in it. Known for its wear resistance, tungsten carbide can only be cut using diamond tools. Cobalt is usually added as a binder, making it a cemented carbide. So, tungsten and tungsten carbide are not interchangeable.

Can you get liquid tungsten? With such a high melting point, it’s difficult to melt tungsten. In theory, it can be melted, but in reality, it’s just not practical. Think about this: what kind of container could even hold liquid tungsten? It would probably be melted away by its high temperature!  Therefore, tungsten is manufactured in a non-liquid state.

Check out Eagle Alloys page on tungsten products, here.