General Electric GEnx Aircraft Jet Engine

Refractory Metals in Aerospace & Defense

Founded on an unparalleled period of innovation, the aerospace and defense (A&D) markets are now among the largest and most lucrative industries worldwide. It is difficult to value the net worth of the global market with any accuracy, but the US aerospace and defense sectors recently logged a record yearly revenue of US $760 billion. This is largely attributed to continued digital transformation and innovation despite mounting geopolitical uncertainties and tensions. Refractory metals are central to these key growth drivers, providing the solutions for low-risk innovations in flight control systems and ballistics.

In this blog post, H.C. Starck Solutions explores the use of refractory metals in aerospace and defense.

Aerospace & Defense: Added-Value with Refractory Metals

Refractory metals are a critical class of materials in high-performance industrial and manufacturing spaces. They comprise a core group of five elements: niobium (Nb), molybdenum (Mo), rhenium (Re), tantalum (Ta), and tungsten (W). While the definition as to what qualifies as a refractory metal varies – with some areas of materials science and metallurgy considering a wider specification than others – these five elements are the definitive refractories.

What unites these materials is their exceptional resistance to extreme temperatures and unique physical and chemical properties. Of the five refractory metals, niobium has the lowest melting point (2750°C) while tantalum has the lowest Vickers hardness rating (873 MPa). These are already extraordinary properties that only improve throughout the refractory metals family, spanning up to a melting point of 3422°C and a maximum Vickers hardness of 4000 MPa.


Tungsten is the go-to refractory metal for aerospace and defense solutions, exhibiting the highest melting point of any metal known to man: 3422°C (6192°F). Combined with its high density (19.3 g/cm3) and extreme hardness, it is routinely used to fabricate critical products that assist in-flight stability or provide powerful penetration for advanced ordinance. Molybdenum and tantalum are also utilized in similarly demanding military and civil aviation applications.

For more information on the materials utilized in aerospace and defense, browse our Products by Industry.

Tantalum is essential in the generation of explosively-formed penetrators (EFP), while molybdenum heating elements and hot zones are used in a range of heat treatment processes designed to elevate the physical properties of components intended for use in aerospace and defense. Niobium is another critical refractory that is taking aerospace to new heights, providing a novel material solution for rocket nozzles and flame shielding applications.

Many financial analysts argue that defense spending and growth in commercial aviation are counter-cyclical, which means the sector often thrives despite economic downturns or recessions. Others believe that there is no such thing as a perceptible periodicity in the sector’s market value. A consistent fact, however, is that innovation in aerospace and defense is often accommodated by new material solutions. Composites were instrumental to the earliest successes of the aviation industry; now refractory metals are providing similar innovations to meet growing global demand.

Among the many innovations in aerospace has been the onset of additive manufacturing (AM) for generating high-performance components. If you would like to learn more about how AM is increasingly utilized in aerospace applications, read the article Additive Manufacturing for Space Applications.


Refractory Metals from H.C. Starck Solutions

H.C. Starck Solutions specializes in the generation of high purity refractories and alloys for challenging areas of application. We offer a broad range of tried-and-tested products for aerospace and defense, helping manufacturers meet the ongoing demand for high-performance solutions. Our product line includes:

  • WHA Balance Weights for Airplanes and Helicopters
  • Nb C-103 Sheet & Nozzles for propulsion
  • TZM forging dies for engine blade production
  • WHA shielding components for spacecraft
  • Mo, Ta and WHA missile components

If you would like any more information about using refractory metals in aerospace and defense settings, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck team today.


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H.C. Starck Solutions Expands 3D Printing Capabilities

Press release originally published on PR Newswire.

Coldwater, MI – H.C. Starck Solutions, a global leader in refractory metals, is excited to announce the addition of a powder-bed fusion printing system to its growing list of Additive Manufacturing (AM) capabilities. H.C. Starck Solutions collaborated with Renishaw, a global engineering technologies company, by acquiring one of their Laser Powder Bed Fusion AM systems to optimize the processing of their refractory alloys. Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is now being used to produce metal parts and H.C. Starck Solutions is a technology leader in applying AM to refractory metals, including tungsten, tantalum, niobium and molybdenum.

Powder-bed fusion is a revolutionary tool in enhancing the performance of many refractory metal parts for demanding applications in medical imaging, biomedical implants, space propulsion and chemical processing. The Renishaw equipment will be used to produce complex metal parts in support of H.C. Starck Solutions’ customers in the aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial markets. The powder-bed fusion printer will be located in their manufacturing facility in Coldwater, Michigan, which is the same facility that produces their AM powders.

Renishaw’s powder-bed fusion system offers the best combination of high precision and geometric flexibility of any current AM technique,” says Andreas Mader, Chief Executive Officer of H.C. Starck Solutions. “Combining our knowledge of AM technologies with our expertise in refractory metals will provide our customers with superior solutions to their business needs. The addition of the powder-bed fusion technology from Renishaw is only one of many steps H.C. Starck Solutions is taking to expand its AM portfolio in support of this growing sector.

An AM-manufactured molybdenum (Mo) pump impeller.

H.C. Starck Solutions and Renishaw continue to share their respective knowledge and expertise to process the materials efficiently and with superior metallurgical performance.

About H.C. Starck Solutions

H.C. Starck High Performance Metal Solutions (H.C. Starck Solutions), a leading global manufacturer of metal powders, complex metal parts and additively manufactured parts made from refractory metals, is an independent business unit of H.C. Starck Group with operations in the United States, Europe and Asia. H.C. Starck Solutions supplies its fabricated products to growing industries, including electronics, aerospace, medical, chemical processing, glass melting and commercial heat treating. They deliver product solutions to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), end-users and aftermarket manufacturers.

About Renishaw

UK-based Renishaw is a world-leading engineering technologies company, supplying products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. It has 5,000 employees located in the 36 countries where it has wholly-owned subsidiary operations.

Throughout its history, Renishaw has made a significant commitment to research and development, with historically between 13 and 18% of annual sales invested in R&D and engineering. The majority of this R&D and manufacturing of the company’s products is carried out in the UK.

The Company’s success has been recognized with numerous international awards, including eighteen Queen’s Awards recognizing achievements in technology, export and innovation.

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Additive Manufacturing for Space Applications

In its early days, additive manufacturing (AM) technology was geared primarily towards design and rapid prototyping applications. Recently, however, additive manufacturing is increasingly being used to produce high-performance mechanical components from technical and refractory materials. This is especially prevalent in space and aerospace engineering, where additive manufacturing’s combination of precision, speed, versatility, and affordability make it an irresistible option. It is also an attractive tool for its ability to print refractories in lightweight architectures, providing high temperature performance at a fraction of the weight of conventionally-fabricated refractory metal parts. In this article, we look at the key advantages of AM versus traditional subtractive manufacturing, and how these are being used to change the landscape of space engineering.

In 2013, NASA carried out tests on a new rocket injector design. During these tests, the subscale injectors were subjected to extreme pressures and temperatures exceeding 3,300 C, for over 46 seconds, while burning liquid oxygen and hydrogen gas. The tests were a success – one engineer overseeing the tests noted that the new components ‘operated beautifully’, withstanding the extreme conditions without any sign of failure. Even more impressively, these high-performance parts were each made in a single-step additive manufacturing process.1

The subscale injectors previously used by NASA for these tests were manufactured using traditional “subtractive” methods: milling and machining bulk material and joining parts together. The injectors had four parts and took over six months and $10,000 apiece to produce. Manufacturing the new injectors additively not only produced functionally indistinguishable components but did so in just under three weeks – and at half the cost.

NASA’s fuel injectors are just one example of several ways in which additive manufacturing technologies are being harnessed for space applications to improve the efficiency of manufacturing and performance of components.

The Advantages of Additive Manufacturing

The benefits of additive manufacturing in space engineering are numerous. Firstly, additive manufacturing enables the construction of geometrically complex components that would otherwise require highly specialized production methods. Components like NASA’s rocket injectors, which would have once required many distinct processing steps, can now be produced in one continuous AM process. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center recently designed and prototyped a reusable rocket engine, produced via AM. The new additively manufactured design reduced the number of parts from 30 to 1, reduced weight by 10%, and offered improved performance over the old design.2

Additive manufacturing also offers significant economic advantages compared to traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques. Components can effectively be produced on-demand using a single machine, virtually eliminating the need for re-tooling or revision of manufacturing procedures for new parts, meaning economy of scale is far more easily achieved. AM can provide economy of scale for small unit volumes – often as low as one – meaning manufacturers can order or produce components as and when they are required rather than having to order thousands of components to achieve economic efficiency.3 Additive manufacturing is at once an economically viable way of producing aerospace components in large quantities and producing highly customized components.

Finally, the crucial advantage of additive manufacturing for space applications is that it can be used to drastically reduce the mass of components. Whereas subtractive manufacturing almost always results in ‘solid’ components of uniform density, additive manufacturing techniques can be used to easily hollow-out components with pockets, holes and closed cells to significantly reduce the mass of components. For example, weight reductions of a staggering 70% have been demonstrated for satellite components produced using AM.4 This is not to be sniffed at: reducing the mass of satellite components drastically reduces the amount of fuel required to launch the satellite and to maneuver it once it reaches orbit. For space applications, the importance of shedding every possible gram can hardly be overstated, and AM provides a way to reduce the mass of existing components without compromising performance. This is particularly crucial when it comes to generating high-performance components from dense refractories and technical metals.

Additive Manufacturing Solutions for Space Engineering

The applications for AM in space engineering are virtually unlimited, chiefly because there are very few components used in space technologies which would not benefit from reduced mass and improved turnaround times. AM is a prime candidate for the manufacture of satellite propulsion systems and shielding, rocket, and space vehicle components (such as those used to clean up space debris).

H.C. Starck Solutions is applying its years of experience as a global leader in refractory metal solutions to redefine what is possible with AM technology and the use of refractory metals in the space sector, and striving to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly changing AM market. 5 It is taking full advantage of the light weighing capabilities provided by AM to offer refractory metal solutions where they were not being considered in the past.

Following significant investment in the development of AM expertise and methodologies on a variety of AM platforms, H.C. Starck Solutions has become a world-leader in the use of AM techniques with a broad range of refractory metals for high-performance applications in space engineering. H.C Starck Solutions now has know-how in producing precisely engineered three-dimensional components from challenging materials such as tungsten, molybdenum, niobium, tantalum, and their alloys; with additional metals available on request.

H.C. Starck Solutions also provides engineered AM feedstocks for printed part applications in space engineering: high-density spheroidized refractory metal powders with finely-tuned particle size distributions, as well as wires specifically designed for a variety of AM deposition techniques.

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H.C. Starck Solutions Team Attends Powdermet 2019

Meet H.C. Starck Solutions at POWDERMET 2019

Specializing in the commercialization of next-generation technologies for today’s industry challenges, H.C. Starck Solutions has committed significant investment and resources into innovative additive manufacturing (AM) processes for high-technology materials. To capitalize on these breakthroughs in AM processing of complex refractory powders like molybdenum (Mo), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta), tungsten (W), and their alloys, the H.C. Starck Solutions team is attending POWDERMET 2019.

POWDERMET is one of the leading conferences for the international community of experts in the field of powder metallurgy and particulate materials. Taking place in Phoenix from June 23—26th, the conference invites engineers, business and procurement managers, designers, and technicians to share their expertise in a frequently changing marketplace.

The field of powder metallurgy has dramatically expanded with the onset of commercially-effective AM processes. Of the numerous technologies that have emerged under the far-reaching bracket of 3D printing, metallurgical AM is one of the most exciting prospects currently available. It enables the generation of intricate three-dimensional structures from technology and refractory metals via the deposition of small feedstock volumes in sequential layers. Various technologies are available for binding these layers into a solid shape, including both fusion and non-fusion technologies.

POWDERMET 2019 has recognized the increasing footprint of AM powder metallurgy and has launched a brand-new metal AM tutorial on June 23rd. Gain an overview of both fusion and solid-state AM processes, with a focus on the options, uses, properties, applications, and opportunities of the technology. H.C. Starck will also be focussing on our advanced metallurgical AM capabilities at booth 420, with a focus on our latest solutions in powders, fabricated parts, and technologies.

If you would like to learn more about H.C. Starck Solutions unmatched material know-how and advanced AM capabilities, join us in Phoenix to chat with the team. Contact us today if you would like to book a time slot that best suits your itinerary, or if you have any general questions about metallurgical AM.

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Meet the H.C. Starck Group at THERMPROCESS 2019

With decades of experience addressing the everyday challenges of furnace production for various heat-treatment markets, H.C. Starck Solutions has developed a tailored range of products and services to meet the diverse needs of a growing industry. This year, the H.C. Starck Solutions team will be sharing their expertise in furnace and thermal-processing accessory manufacturing at THERMPROCESS 2019.

THERMPROCESS 2019 is one of the most important trade fairs for furnace technology and heat-treatment markets. The exhibition opens in Dusseldorf on June 25th and runs until the 27th, inviting experts from across the world to share their knowledge and innovations at the foremost symposium and conference on thermal-processing worldwide.

The H.C. Starck Solutions team will be offering insights into the various products and services available for overcoming challenges in modern heat treatment markets. With unmatched expertise in the fabrication of components from advanced refractories such as molybdenum (Mo), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta), tungsten (W), and their alloys, H.C. Starck Solutions is prepared to answer all your material queries.

We are also able to offer insights into the full portfolio of furnace products available from the H.C. Starck group, including furnace racks and assemblies, evaporation and sintering boats, heating elements, hot zones, trays, and much more. These high-performance solutions have already helped customers in various industries meet today’s processing standards.

Catch up with the team in Dusseldorf to discuss any problems with industry trends like rising energy prices, global warming challenges, or production bottlenecks. If you would like to book a slot to talk with the H.C. Starck Solutions  team, simply contact us today.

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Material processing for challenging applications often requires a novel solution. H.C. Starck Solutions highly qualified process engineers and developers have long been collaborating with customers to meet unique industry requirements with value-added resolutions. This has culminated in one of the core services on offer from H.C. Starck Solutions. Using high-purity molybdenum (Mo) as a base material, H.C. Starck Solutions routinely generates composite plates using a choice of electrodeposited metals, including:

  • Precious metals like gold (Au) and silver (Ag).
  • Transition metals like nickel (Ni), rhodium (Rh, and ruthenium (Ru).

H.C. Starck Solutions plating service exploits the exceptional thermodynamic properties of molybdenum, including its high strength and stiffness under refractory conditions. It is one of the highest performing substrate materials for plating in aerospace and defense, electronics, and industrial processing applications, benefitting from exceptional adherence with deposited metal coatings. H.C. Starck Solutions molybdenum plates can withstand extremely high temperatures without softening or expanding, enabling the functional coating to retain its desired characteristics throughout operating conditions.

The challenge of electroplating on molybdenum substrates is the material’s relatively high reactivity with other metals. This can result in the generation of undesirable oxides that inhibit adhesion between the substrate and the coating material. H.C. Starck Solutions has a wealth of experience in design and engineering with challenging refractories, including molybdenum and its alloys. These problems can subsequently be overcome with confidence, ensuring uniform functional coatings of high-performance molybdenum substrates for sectors as challenging as semiconductor and chemical processing.

If you would like any more information about H.C. Starck Solutions electroplated coatings and electroless nickel coating services, please contact a member of the team today.


Please fill in the boxes on the contact form and a member of the team will contact you directly for a quotation.

Each quotation will be unique to the customer requirements so please give as much information in the contact form as possible, this will enable us to get the most accurate price back to you.

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Hot and Cold Rolling


Material processing can often be challenging, especially when working with refractory metals. H.C. Starck’s expertise in powder metallurgy and material processing make us excellent partners for assisting you with your material processing.

H.C. Starck’s highly qualified Process Engineers and Production Developers are available to help resolve material processing issues with our hot and cold rolling technology.

These engineers are experienced in a wide spectrum of metals and alloys, and can assist with specifications for your material process and design needs.

Our toll rolling services offer the capability of converting material into varying flat material sizes of gauge, length and width. H.C. Starck has the expertise to walk with you every step of the way, from the concept phase through high volume manufacturing.

Through a tolling team approach, customers benefit from H.C. Starck’s dedicated personnel of research engineers. This collaborative effort facilitates new and improved product designs along with providing access to extensive in-house state-of-the-art laboratory facilities equipped with the latest in analytical tools, testing equipment, modeling, and simulation software for evaluating product performance in your particular application.

H.C. Starck is a premier global supplier of refractory and technology metals, advanced ceramic powders, and a recognized leader in recycling of refractory metals. H.C. Starck’s expertise includes 100 years of product development, powder metallurgical, and advanced metal and ceramic powders experience. We have a vast product portfolio – from molybdenum, tungsten, niobium, tantalum, copper, nickel pure and alloyed materials to complex, fabricated assemblies.


Please fill in the boxes on the contact form and a member of the team will contact you directly for a quotation.

Each quotation will be unique to the customer requirements so please give as much information in the contact form as possible, this will enable us to get the most accurate price back to you.

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Electron Beam Melting


A number one priority for H.C. Starck Solutions is our contribution to the environment. To advance our sustainability development, we offer customers the unique service of recycling spent or used products through our electron beam melting (EBM) furnace.

Electron beam melting technology at H.C. Starck Solutions uses recycled molybdenum, tantalum and niobium as part of its raw material input. The process employs electrons to bombard the material in the EBM furnace, so the material melts and falls into a water-cooled copper mold where it solidifies into a round ingot. The ingot is then forged and formed into the desired shape.

Electron beam melting is carried out under high vacuum in the EBM furnace. In the instance of molybdenum, the elements with melting points lower than molybdenum volatilize which leaves the molybdenum more than 99.95 % pure and 100 % dense.

H.C. Starck Solutions continues to improve its electron beam melting processes to offer customers the most efficient and cost saving alternatives.


Please fill in the boxes on the contact form and a member of the team will contact you directly for a quotation.

Each quotation will be unique to the customer requirements so please give as much information in the contact form as possible, this will enable us to get the most accurate price back to you.

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H.C. Starck Solutions offers molybdenum Pellets as a consolidated form providing a particularly effective means of making molybdenum alloy additives. The molybdenum pellets are vacuum grade pressed and sintered with a molybdenum content of 99.8 % minimum.


High Energy / Waste Containment


Industrial Processing, Aerospace & Defense, Electronics




Please fill in the boxes on the contact form and a member of the team will contact you directly for a quotation.

Each quotation will be unique to the customer requirements so please give as much information in the contact form as possible, this will enable us to get the most accurate price back to you.

Pellets are sintered in hydrogen and have extremely low gas content, which keeps degassing during vacuum melting to an absolute minimum. Pellets are pressed and sintered to withstand rigorous handling. In addition, they are sufficiently small enough to dissolve rapidly and yet dense enough to settle into the molten metal bath.

Vacuum melt 99.8 % and air melt 99 % grade pellets are available.

We produce alloy additives from molybdenum, tungsten, tantalum and niobium refractory metals which are derived from our production processes. We use high-quality materials with some of the highest purity levels.

Superalloy materials obtain many of their high temperature strength and corrosion resistance through the use of refractory metal alloying.

H.C. Starck Solutions offers all of the major refractory metals to the specialty alloy producers as alloying agents. Special low gas content is available which keeps out-gassing to a minimum. Various grades are available to meet customer requirements.

Products are offered in all forms as melt additives:

  • Chips
  • Turnings
  • Trimmings

Pure Molybdenum OMPP Pellets (99.8 %)

Pure Molybdenum OMPP Pellets are vacuum grade pressed and sintered molybdenum pellets with a molybdenum content of 99.8 % minimum

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