Tantalum is one of the most unique metals used in industry. It has some very specific properties which make it highly sought after for both mass market applications, such as consumer electronics, as well as specialist uses including military and medical. Our phones are smaller and smarter than ever. We have tablets and touchscreens. The computer, printer and audio-visual technologies of today are thinner and brighter. Aircraft engines run more efficiently and for longer. They all have something in common. Tantalum.

These applications are just the tip of the iceberg. The unique properties of this special metal, discovered in the 1800’s, has completely revolutionised the world we live in. Its application in modern day electronics and communications, chemical engineering, automotive and medical industries make it the most versatile and widely used unknown metal.

  • High melting point of 2,996°C (the fourth highest of all metals)
  • High corrosion resistance to acids and sea water. Above 250°C Tantalum and its alloys are resistant to attack by atmospheric gases (oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide)
  • Highly ductile and exceptionally strong at high temperatures
  • Hard wearing, whilst remaining ductile so easy relatively easy to fabricate, draw and machine
  • Excellent thermal conductor properties giving effective heat transfer far beyond many other metals
  • Excellent electrical conducting properties giving effective efficiency, life span and cost savings
  • Immune to the effect of body liquids and a non-irritant

Over 50% of the world’s Tantalum supply goes to the electronics industry in the form of powder and wire to produce Tantalum capacitors. Almost every high-quality electronic gadget or device you can think of will include a Tantalum capacitor.

  • mobile telephones/laptops/computers/printers/ media electronics (TV/disc drives/DAB)
  • commercial and military aircraft electronics/ missile guidance systems
  • down hole oil and gas drilling
  • automotive electronics
  • medical equipment
  • microelectronic circuits

A further 35% of Tantalum stock is used in the production of super alloys. Component parts made from a Tantalum based alloy are highly heat and corrosion resistant, whilst retaining strength for high stress applications, making them ideal for use in industrial gas turbines, jet engines, ballistics and chemical processing. Maintaining its structural integrity at high temperatures and prolonging the life span due to its corrosion resistance make the use of Tantalum in re melt super alloys in the manufacture of high cost, critical components reduces the operational and maintenance costs, so making them more cost effective.

The remaining markets are some of the most varied, and technically demanding in the World

Thin-film applications include:

  • Semiconductors
  • Magnetic storage media
  • Inkjet printer heads
  • Flat panel displays

High temperature applications include:

  • Furnace construction
  • Crucibles for the manufacture of synthetic crystals (diamonds/sapphires)
  • Crucibles for high temperature reactions, fusion, thin-film deposition, distillation and the melting of special glasses
  • Boats and coils for product coating of high temperature metals
  • Resistance heaters, trays, Thermowells, thermocouple sheaths, structural parts, heat shields and containers for liquid metals and vapours
  • Glass production and protective coatings

High corrosion chemical processing applications include:

  • Condensers
  • Coils
  • Pipe spools
  • Heat exchangers
  • Components exposed to corrosive fluids
  • Oil exploration/chemical products/ pharmaceutical production and research

Other common Tantalum applications include;

  • Ballistics/missile parts
  • Advanced weaponry systems
  • Nuclear industry
  • Gas and coal power stations
  • Cemented carbides for cutting tools
  • Tantalum compounds for optical applications and sonic acoustic wave filters.
  • Jewellery (there are jewellers around the world that manufacture watches/rings /earrings from Tantalum mainly because its rarity adds to its attractiveness and price).
  • Microwave equipment