Refractory metals are different. As a group they provide a number of unique characteristics – such as resistance to high heat, corrosion and wear – making them useful in a multitude of applications. What are refractory metals? Refractory metals have one characteristic in common: an exceptionally high melting point. Tungsten, for example, melts at 3410oC (6170oF), which is more than double that of iron and ten times that of lead.
As a group, they are found in one section of the periodic table of elements. Although there are twelve refractory metals, we specialise in four:
The paradox of refractory metals is that, despite their wide and constantly growing list of applications, many people – sometimes even engineers, working with one of the metals – do not fully understand how and where each is mined, how it is processed, how it is formed, or even understand the full extent of the diversity of refractory metals’ applications.