H.C. Starck Solutions Attends Glasstec Virtual 2020

H.C. Starck Solutions is proud to announce its participation at this year’s Glasstec Virtual 2020 on October 20-22. This show is the world’s leading trade fair for the glass industry. Top speakers from various areas of the glass industry will be presenting the latest trends and developments in glass production, glass processing, glass finishing, as well as glass products and applications. We are excited to attend and share our knowledge of molybdenum products used in the glass manufacturing industry.

We will be a virtual “exhibitor” at this show. Our Market Directors, Cristian Cretu and Robert Marchiando will be presenting a live panel session, “Molybdenum in Glass Melting – Products, Applications, Benefits” on October 20, 7:40AM EST (13:40 -14:10 CEST). This presentation will offer an overview of molybdenum (Mo) products used in the manufacturing of various glass types. With applications ranging from traditional glassware to advanced fiber glass and pharmaceutical vials, Mo proves to be the material of choice for glass melting electrodes (GMEs). Benefits of different types of GMEs as well as criteria for choosing the right product will be discussed.

Learn more about the show here

Register for free here

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Hands-on with Rockets, Satellites & Niobium Alloys in our Virtual Environment

The H.C. Starck Solutions virtual environment is expanding with a new exhibit dedicated to C-103 niobium alloys; a hafnium—titanium—niobium alloy system primarily used in aerospace applications. Our innovative learning environment has been live since early 2021, welcoming visitors to an interactive online space. It was designed to mimic the tradeshow circuit experience, complete with a conference floor and information booths. The latest expansion is just the first in a long line of additions to the virtual environment.

Our Refractory Metals Learning Hub

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to rethink our business strategy and were encouraged to transition to a more digitally prominent marketing focus. It became apparent early on that the tradeshow scene could not operate properly under quarantine. Many were cancelled, and those that weren’t operated at much lower capacity than in previous years, significantly impacting the returns you could expect from attendance.

Yet, the community experience of attending a tradeshow and sharing ideas with like-minded professionals is something the H.C. Starck Solutions team continued to crave throughout the pandemic. So we devised the virtual environment: a digital tradeshow with limitless scalability. Although modelled on conventional conferences, we took advantage of the lack of space constraints when putting our learning hub together. In its current format, you not only get to access interactive booths and knowledge areas, but you can interact with a full-scale jet and now also a rocket and satellites featuring highlighted sections that showcase some of our core product offerings, including niobium alloys for aerospace applications.

Why Highlight C-103 Nb?

C-103 Nb is a unique niobium alloy which comprises niobium with 10wt% hafnium and 1wt% titanium. It has proven essential to aerospace applications since the dawn of the space age, with outstanding mechanical strength and dimensional stability across a massive temperature range—from sub-zero to red-hot. This makes it ideal for rocket nozzles and satellite applications, and it was partly this ingenuity that made it the logical next exhibit for our virtual environment.

Interested in learning more about the properties and applications of C-103 Nb?

The new space section of the virtual environment offers insights into satellite communications with digital renders of satellite components, plus educational highlights about using C-103 Nb for rocket applications.

Explore our refractory metals virtual environment

We’re excited to be live with our new exhibit dedicated to Aerospace and our C-103 niobium alloy. You will not only be able to access detailed videos featuring refractory metal components for space applications but will be able to virtually access a space shuttle via a gantry and experience the interior of the cockpit first-hand. After experiencing the rocket’s launch, you will be transported to the earth’s outer orbit where you can get up close and personal with a range of satellites, before heading back down to our innovative trade show floor.

If you would like to learn more about our virtual environment, simply contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today.

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Hand Safety

H.C. Starck Solutions Celebrates Hand Safety Week

H.C. Starck Solutions has a rich manufacturing history and has always prioritized the health and safety of its employees. The work our team does in our plants can be dangerous and requires strict safety measures and awareness. Always striving for excellence, the company is continuously optimizing its production processes to ensure highest quality parts for its customers while keeping its team members safe.

The Newton site manufactures high technology products made from tantalum and niobium for customers in the electronics, chemical processing, superconductor, and defense industries to name just a few. It is a critical part of the semiconductor value chain and has been operating as an essential business throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

To produce such specialized refractory metal parts, the plant has advanced melting/refining capabilities and a suite of metalworking equipment which requires a skilled workforce as well as extra care and precaution to operate correctly and safely. Our Operations team handles sharp, hot, and/or hazardous materials daily so maintaining a safe working environment needs training and awareness. As hands are especially at risk of accidents when operating fabrication equipment, handling sharp metal parts, or working with chemical substances, the Newton site devoted an entire week to hand safety awareness.

 

The Hand Safety Week was held in the week of June 7-11 and included various trainings, activities, and giveaways with a hand safety theme. The Newton Fire Chief Captain Phil McCully and his team came to visit, providing the local employees with valuable tips and tricks to keep hands safe on the job. The H.C. Starck Solutions Health and Safety department organized Toolbox Talks with a different topic each day related to hand safety, and during the Glove Matching Challenge, participants had to apply their acquired knowledge to match a glove to the correct work station for a chance to win a prize.

But the Hand Safety Week did not focus on safety training alone. The company also wanted to recognize individuals, departments, or other employee groups that are taking extra steps to promote health and safety, and to reduce accidents, incidents, and injuries to others. Throughout the week, employees had the opportunity to nominate a team member for the Stars of Safety Awards, resulting in three winners that were awarded special prizes at the end of the week for their safety contributions. This recognition supports H.C. Starck Solutions’ mission of improving human health and wellness (through employee safety), along with the commitment to provide an environment that protects and supports its workforce.

The week was a full-on success with our local team participating in the activities, from creating our new Hand Safety Banner to challenging each other in the safety-related obstacle course. It was a fun and interactive way to not only bring the team together, but also emphasize the importance of hand safety and the many ways we can avoid accidents at work. H.C. Starck Solutions will continue its hand safety and employee appreciation activities at other sites over the summer and is looking forward to many other Safety Weeks to follow.

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The element symbol for the refractory metal tungsten

Expert Tungsten Manufacturers – from Powders to Finished Parts

Tungsten manufacturing is a challenging process. The refractory metal is one of the toughest materials known to man with a greater density than lead (19.3 g/cm3) and the highest melting point of any metal in the periodic table (3422°C). So, how do tungsten manufacturers go about refining the metal and converting it into finished parts?

Tungsten Manufacturers: What Sets H.C. Starck Solutions Apart?

H.C. Starck Solutions is one of the world’s foremost tungsten manufacturers, with decades of experience delivering high-performance tungsten alloys for customers across the full spectrum of science and industry.

Our prestige in the field of tungsten manufacturing stems back to the 1960s and the construction of a flat-rolled refractory metal plant in Euclid, Ohio, on the aptly named Tungsten Road. Since then, we have also established the Tungsten Center of Excellence in Taicang, Jiangsu Province, to meet the growing demands for tungsten heavy alloy (WHA) products in China.

We cannot speak for other tungsten manufacturers, as the process of refining tungsten powders and forming near-net shapes varies from business-to-business. What follows is a few insights into how we go about producing quality-assured powder feedstocks, precision intermediate products, and high-performance finish goods.

Tungsten Powders

Powdered metal tungsten is the primary raw material used in tungsten alloys and powder metallurgy (PM) processing of various finished goods (tungsten plate, rod, tube, wire, etc.). We source conflict-free tungsten powders from strategic partners who champion sustainable processing by deriving many raw materials from recycling. Our partners are also DFARS compliant.

Pure Tungsten Flat Product

The high melting point of tungsten makes it challenging to work and cast via conventional ingot metallurgical techniques. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we produce tungsten foil, plate, and sheet from pressed and sintered PM ingots which are hot or warm rolled to desired widths and thicknesses. Purities extend up to 99.95% for these flat products.

Our Taicang Plant has recently been furnished with large cold isostatic pressing and high-temperature sintering furnaces equipped with a tungsten susceptors. Hence our tungsten powder metallurgy capabilities are practically unmatched.

Tungsten Finished Parts

One of our core competencies as tungsten manufacturers is in custom-built finished parts for an ever-growing range of market segments. This extends from WHA balance weights for aircrafts through to pure tungsten sheet collimators for radiation management. How these are manufactured varies from part-to-part. Browse our products by material if you would like a deeper insight into the wide range of finished tungsten and tungsten alloy parts that we routinely manufacture for trusted partners.

Read More: Tungsten Metals and Alloys

Tungsten manufacturing is challenging, but the H.C. Starck Solutions team is built on a secure global supply chain and excellence across the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific region. If you want more information about our tungsten manufacturing credentials, why not contact a member of the team today.

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H.C. Starck Solutions Exhibiting at PowderMet 2021

H.C. Starck Solutions will be exhibiting in person and virtually at the upcoming PowderMet 2021 conference happening June 20-23, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Specializing in the commercialization of next-generation technologies for today’s industry challenges, our team 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, we are looking forward to sharing new developments and capabilities at PowderMet.

PowderMet – Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials

PowderMet is the leading North American technical conference on powder metallurgy and particulate materials. The show is a hub for technology transfer for professionals from every part of the industry, including buyers and specifiers of metal powders, tooling and compacting presses, sintering furnaces, furnace belts, powder handling and blending equipment, quality-control and automation equipment, particle-size, and powder-characterization equipment, consulting and research services, and much, much more. PowderMet 2021 is taking place in person in Orlando as well as virtually June 20—23rd. The conference invites engineers, business and procurement managers, designers, and technicians to share their expertise on powder metallurgy and particulate materials.

Our R&D Engineer for Additive Manufacturing, Faith Oehlerking, will be giving a technical session on Monday, June 21 from 4:10-4:35PM. The panel will be titled “Process Parameter Development and Characterization for Additive Manufacturing of Molybdenum-Based Powders via Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF).” In it, she will explain how Molybdenum (Mo) and its alloys are one of the refractory material groups which are of interest for AM production because of their application in aerospace and medical industries. The present research and development work aim to develop the proper parameter sets for pure Mo and common alloys, such as Mo-Re. An experimental scheme for parameter development was developed based on a factorial design of experiment for optimizing laser power, point distance, hatch distance, and exposure time on a Renishaw AM400 LPBF machine. After determining parameters that achieve relative densities greater than 98%, chemistry testing, mechanical testing, and microstructural characterization was conducted on the specimens, from which data was extracted for further fine tuning.

Learn more about Faith’s technical session here.

On Wednesday, June 23 from 8:25-8:50am, our R&D Engineer Guido Stiebritz will also be giving a technical session. His presentation will be titled “Dose Reduction and Performance Improvement at Different CT Application by 3D Screen Printing.” In his presentation, Guido will explain how by using parts made by metal additive technologies, computed tomography (CT) scan units for medical as well as for nondestructive testing or luggage control units can be improved a lot. For example, the higher complexity in the collimators allows an improved noise reduction and results a reduction of the dose for the patient. This path forward requires high aspect ratios at very good wall quality. The examples will illustrate the advantages of the 3D screen printing technology in that area and possibilities will be reviewed how to combine with conventional manufacturing methods.

Learn more about Guido’s technical session here.

If you would like to learn more about H.C. Starck Solutions unmatched material know-how and advanced AM capabilities, join us in Orlando and visit us at Booth #708 during the conference to chat with our knowledgeable team.

Register for PowderMet 2021 here.

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Talking Refractory Metals & Innovation—An Interview with BOSS Magazine

H.C. Starck Solutions occupies the center stage in the field of refractory metals and alloys development. Our portfolio of high-performance materials features products with versatile material properties, including corrosion resistance; high density; high-temperature strength; high thermal and electrical conductivity; and low thermal expansion. This makes our refractory metals irreplaceable in demanding electronics, aerospace, defense, medical, energy, and industrial applications.

Our Chief Market and Innovation Officer, Uli Blankenstein, discussed the complex properties of refractory metals and innovative applications in the May 2021 Edition of BOSS Magazine.

What to Expect from our Refractory Metals Interview

In his interview, Uli deep dives into how H.C. Starck Solutions has commanded center stage in the development of the most incredible refractory metals and alloys on the planet. Working with molybdenum, tungsten, tantalum, and niobium – with their incredibly pure nature, immunity to the most intense heat and relentless pressure, as well as the most corrosive chemicals, these ultramodern materials are forming humanity’s future — and H.C. Starck Solutions (HCSS) is leading the transformation.

Key Talking Point: Tantalum Sputtering Targets

One key talking point Uli touched on in the interview is how we continually occupy the epicenter of the booming semiconductor market. Our high-performance tantalum sputtering targets are an integral component in all copper-based semiconductors, which are used in logic and memory devices for phones, PCs, cars, and many other applications. Uli pointed out:

“As a global market leader, we have seen significant demand increase since last summer. We have been working very closely with our customers, and also with our raw materials and service suppliers to ramp up supply without sacrificing the high quality that HCSS is known for. With the growth of 5G, IoT and longer-term autonomous driving, we see both the demand and technology requirements continuing strong over the next years.

“To meet this, we are planning a major investment into additional equipment throughout the next 24 months to secure our long-term competitiveness. As the only major U.S. supplier of these vital semiconductor materials, we also see ourselves as an important partner with the administration’s renewed focus on securing the domestic supply chain for these crucial technologies.”

The full interview with Uli in BOSS Magazine is available online now, offering insights into cutting-edge applications of our refractory metals and alloys from sputtering targets through to fusion applications.

Interested in Refractory Metals Solutions?

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we always strive to innovate and to provide custom solutions for our close partners through strong modeling capabilities and unmatched material expertise. If you are looking for refractory metals solutions based on the highest quality blanks, powders, semi-finished, or finished parts, why not contact a member of the team today?

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Why is Molybdenum Ideal for Forging Dies?

Engineering special purpose components requires careful consideration of material class plus basic manufacturing processes. This is sometimes referred to as finding the appropriate process—material combination to yield parts with the right geometry, shape, size, and other key performance properties.

An Age-Old Process—Material Combination: Isothermal Forging

For example: High-strength near net super alloy shapes are often fabricated through isothermal forging. This closed-die hot working process provides a high level of control over the part deformation behaviour and microstructural evolution, ultimately translating to greater quality finished components. Isothermal forging is used to fabricate parts from super alloys and materials with low forgeability by maintaining the work piece at its maximum elevated temperature throughout the entire process. This can incur high equipment costs as dies are routinely heated to the temperature of the starting workpiece to eliminate cooling and maximise control of the metal’s flow characteristics.

Isothermal forging of superalloys is an ideal process—material combination for a wide range of applications, particularly for engineering parts intended for use in aerospace and defense markets. This is because forging dies offer the ability to fabricate high-strength profiles with fairly complex geometries at high throughput.

Molybdenum Forging DieWhat Causes Forging Dies to Fail?

The long-term benefits of forging dies are dependent upon the tool life expectancy. Forging dies fail for numerous reasons, including abrasion to out-of-tolerance conditions, heat checking and spalling, thermal softening, excessive grinding, catastrophic failure, and more.

Wear-out of forging dies is a common issue that can often be readily repaired. However, accelerated wearing and unpredictable failures such as heat-induced fracture can be extremely disruptive to workflows. Even if they aren’t considered catastrophic failures, these issues can cause forging lines to fall off schedule due to increase scrappage and reworking of out-of-tolerance parts.

Even with rigorous maintenance schedules and exceptional process monitoring, all high-alloy forging dies will eventually wear out and will need to be replaced. This could be easily managed, but tool life is not an easy property to accurately predict. The best solution is to choose a forging die material that is inherently impact- and wear-resistant with excellent high-temperature strength.

High-Performance Molybdenum Forging Dies

At H.C. Starck Solutions, we supply high-performance molybdenum blanks for isothermal forging applications. With over 25 years’ experience supplying forging components to industry professionals around the world, we intuitively understand the pain points of isothermal forging and have endeavoured to supply value-added solutions to engineers in the aerospace and defense sectors.

Molybdenum is our first-choice solution for isothermal forging die applications owing to its high thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, and enviable mechanical strength at high working temperatures. But these properties can be improved using select alloying additives.

Titanium-Zirconium-Molybdenum (TZM) Alloy

Our TZM alloy (0.50 Ti, 0.08 Zr, Bal Mo) benefits from increased strength and creep resistance at high temperatures, courtesy of titanium and zirconium carbides within the alloy matrix. It enhances the long-term strength of molybdenum significantly and enables longer services forging dies.

Molybdenum-Hafnium-Carbide (MHC) Alloy

Our MHC alloy is comprised of molybdenum and hafnium carbide. This is consolidated through a proprietary powder metallurgy process, yielding a finished part with high recrystallization temperatures, excellent strength, low rates of thermal expansion, and high thermal conductivity. This makes it ideal for forging die applications.

Want to learn more? Contact a member of the H.C. Starck Solutions team today for more information about our molybdendum alloys for forging dies.

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Critical Role of H.C. Starck Solutions in Semiconductor Supply Chain Highlighted During Congressman Auchincloss Visit

Press release originally published on PR Newswire.

 

April 7 – Newton MA. The essential role of H.C. Starck Solutions in the semiconductor, aerospace and defense markets was the focus of a visit by Congressman Jake Auchincloss to the global headquarters in Newton on Wednesday. The company supplies the most technically advanced tantalum sputtering targets for the semiconductor supply chain as well as refractory metal products for space and defense applications.

“We were excited to give Congressman Auchincloss the opportunity to see how H.C. Starck Solutions is an essential business, has been successfully executing Covid protocols and keeping our employees safe, while maintaining continuous production of high technology products for our customers in the semiconductor, medical and defense industries” said Jake Homiller, President & CEO of H.C. Starck Solutions.

During the Congressman‘s tour of the plant, several key areas of operations and the differentiators of H.C. Starck Solutions’ process technology were highlighted. Congressman Auchincloss addressed the workforce, emphasizing the importance of the work being done to support the strategic needs of the US and the continued importance of investing in high quality jobs in Massachusetts.

“H.C. Starck Solutions is a critical node in the semiconductor value chain and it represents Massachusetts’ advantage in advanced manufacturing. We are a state that is a world leader in the manufacturing of complex, high value goods. And right here in Newton, we have an example of an employer that is doing work that is critical for many of the products we take for granted in daily life. H.C. Starck Solutions represents not only the jobs of today and of the future, but also America’s competitive advantage,” said the Congressman.

The group discussed the plant’s capabilities, processes, and end products. “It was great to share with the Congressman how our Newton facility supports the semiconductor industry, which has been highlighted by the Biden Administration as a critical supply chain risk. We are proud of what our plant does, and it was great to see the Congressman and his team so engaged with our workforce,” said Homiller.

With the support of our elected officials, H.C. Starck Solutions looks forward to building on its legacy of refractory metal innovation and continuing its support of customers in critical end markets.

 

About H.C. Starck Solutions

H.C. Starck Solutions is a leading global manufacturer of metal powders, complex fabrications, and additively manufactured parts made from refractory metals. It is headquartered in Newton, MA, with operations in the United States, Europe, and Asia.  Its three U.S. manufacturing plants are in Newton, MA, Euclid, OH, and Coldwater, MI. The company works with four key refractory metals and their alloys, supplying its products to the semiconductor, aerospace, defense, medical, chemical processing, glass melting, and commercial heat-treating industries.

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TIPE Women in 3D Printing Webinar: Optimizing Refractory Metals for Additive Manufacturing

H.C. Starck Solutions was a recent a sponsor at the TIPE 3D Printing Virtual Conference powered by Women in 3D Printing January 27-28, 2021. Women in 3D Printing is an organization that supports and inspires women in additive manufacturing, with a mission to close the gender gap in the field. Through memberships, host events, job boards, and a dedicated magazine, they endeavour to increase the visibility of female leaders in the additive manufacturing industry and encourage newcomers to use 3D printing technologies.

About TIPE 3D Printing

With a focus on case studies, additive manufacturing user applications, visionary talks on the future, and people shaping the industry, TIPE 3D Printing curates an inspirational all-female agenda of speakers and panelists. Long-lasting connections and networking opportunities are emphasized throughout this human-centred event, which welcomes all members of the additive manufacturing community and related fields. The conference had an inspirational all-female agenda of speakers and panelists highlighting the latest work in additive manufacturing technology, the industry, the people, and the global economy.

Our very own additive manufacturing R&D Engineer, Faith Oehlerking, was a speaker in the “Material Innovations” session of the Technology Track on January 28. This presentation, “Optimizing Refractory Metals for Additive Manufacturing” highlights H.C. Starck Solutions’ materials, methods, markets, and recent research developments within the additive manufacturing space.

Faith currently works in the Coldwater, MI facility, focusing on developing the company’s refractory metal AM powders for the laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) additive manufacturing technology.  Previous to H.C. Starck Solutions, Faith was a product development engineer for Formetrix Metals, a metal 3D printing start-up developing L-PBF materials for the tool and die industry. Faith received her B.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.

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Using Tantalum in Corrosive Environments

The chemical processing industry (CPI) forms an enormous share of the global economy. Manufacturing a wide variety of commodity, intermediate, fine, and specialty chemicals the approximately USD $4 trillion segment (based on pre-pandemic estimates), also produces many chemical building blocks essential to numerous other industrial areas.

Corrosion-resistant refractory metals like tantalum (Ta) are essential to operations in various chemical processing facilities. We will explore what tantalum is used for in CPIs shortly, but first it is worth looking at some typical processing conditions in CPI.

Corrosion in CPI —An Overview

Active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), agrochemicals, detergents, pigments, petrochemicals, and myriad other consumer and industrial base chemicals are produced world-wide in gigantic quantities every single year. The intense economic requirements characteristic to the CPI are compounded by inherent processing difficulties.

Most of the CPI utilizes reagents such as hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, nitric, phosphoric, and sulfuric acids. The corrosivity of each increases with concentration, but additional factors such as temperature, vapour phases and pressure can accelerate the chemical attack of container linings and mixing components. In mixing applications, the velocity of impellers also plays a part. Careful materials selection for chemical processing equipment and vessels is vital for ensuring the long-term safety and economic viability of your workflow.

Often, metals that are susceptible to corrosion in the long-term will be chosen for a given service time with maintenance/replacement scheduled well in advance of failure. This is not a sure-fire solution, however.

Tantalum in Chemical Processing

Tantalum sets the benchmark for long-term performance in corrosive environments. It is inert in the presence of most acids (except for hydrofluoric) and its corrosion-resistance is comparable to glass in chemical reaction vessels and pipework.  Tantalum is not suitable for use in caustic environments where sodium or potassium hydroxide, for example, are present.

Although tantalum may seem like an expensive choice when compared with maintenance intensive alternatives like graphite, or silicon carbide (SiC), the total cost of ownership over the many years of virtually maintenance-free operation render tantalum the solution of choice for a broad spectrum of CPI applications. Since tantalum CPI equipment can last multiple decades, the initial investment is easily offset by decreased downtime and higher production rates. In addition, using tantalum eliminates particle generation in systems where purity is essential (i.e. pharmaceuticals). In the end, the go to solution for high purity, high performance and reliable operation is either pure tantalum of the tried-and-trusted Ta2.5W alloy.

Tantalum is an excellent candidate for additive manufacturing (AM) using either powder (for complex shapes with thin walls) or wire-based processes (for rapid manufacturing rates).  Depending on the complexity of the equipment being printed, various AM processes have demonstrated the cost-effective creation of tantalum parts and components that would otherwise be physically impossible or prohibitively expensive to manufacture using traditional subtractive techniques (e.g., machining, drilling, etc.). Components such as small high efficiency heat exchangers, micro-reactors, pump impellers, acid mixers, and many others can be manufactured using AM techniques in tantalum and tantalum alloys to suit complex applications in various CPI sub-segments.

Tantalum Alloys from H.C. Starck Solutions

At H.C. Starck Solutions, in addition to the standard Ta2.5W alloy, we offer a modified Ta2.5W that was engineered for enhanced corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement resistance. Our Ultra 76+ products are available in a wide range of formats, including unfinished bars and billets, semi-finished coils, rods, and wires, and tubing. This novel tantalum alloy offers the potential for increased productivity due to its superior corrosion and hydrogen embrittlement resistance at higher operating temperatures and acid concentrations.

Contact a member of the team today if you would like to learn more about our range of tantalum products.

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The element symbol for the refractory metal tantalum

Tantalum: Properties & Applications

Tantalum is one of the rarest elements on earth in both pure and alloy forms. At the same time, it is needed in a wide variety of applications. First discovered in 1802, it was originally thought to be a niobium allotrope which is chemically similar to tantalum. However tantalum was determined to be an element of its own, one of the most corrosion-resistant metals available, with a rarity similar to that of uranium.

Chemical Properties of Tantalum

Atomic Number 73
Atomic Mass 180.94788 u
Density 16.6 g/cm3
Melting Point 3,017 °C
Co-efficient of Thermal Expansion 10-6/K

Tantalum Properties

With its grey finish, tantalum is similar in color to platinum. It has a density of 16.6 g/cm3; double that of steel. It is highly ductile at room temperature and has the fourth highest melting point of all known metals at 3017°C (5463°F).

Tantalum is used in a wide range of alloys to increase strength, ductility, and melting point. Tantalum can be used in a range of forms suited to different industrial applications such as powder which can be used in electrical capacitors and sheet to line columns and vessels in chemical applications, and as vacuum furnace parts.  When it is drawn into a thin wire, tantalum is used as a filament for metals which evaporate such as aluminum.  In addition to these forms, tantalum can also be used as rods/wires, tubes, strips, foils,  and oxides.

Tantalum Applications

Chemical Processing

Tantalum has excellent corrosion resistance to most acids (a notable exception is hydrofluoric) in a wide range of concentrations and temperatures.  Its corrosion resistance is similar to glass in many of these acids.  Consequently, it is used in chemical processing equipment where hot, highly corrosive environments are encountered.  Heat exchangers, bayonet heaters, tank liners, valve liners, feed lances, rupture disks, and various other components are fabricated from tantalum.

Semiconductors

The semiconductor market is built on the foundation of silicon chip manufacturing technology. Integrated circuits (ICs) are produced with nanoscale feature sizes and the optimization of electron conduction between nanometer-scale features is critical. Tantalum can be used in logic chips and DRAMS to facilitate the use of copper as interconnects as, unlike copper, tantalum atoms do not diffuse into silicon at the temperatures these chips operate at.

High-purity tantalum and tantalum nitrides are grown on top of the copper chips to stop electromigration of the copper atoms, meaning the semiconductor devices remain reliable for longer. At H.C. Starck Solutions, we supply  sputter target blanks which are often used to generate barrier layers in modern ICs.

Medical Equipment

Tantalum is extremely biocompatible and does not produce toxic products or trigger adverse immunological responses when exposed to body or bodily fluids. This means that tantalum works well for medical applications that require pairing with living tissue such as medical implants and prosthetics.

Military and Aerospace

Nickel based superalloys are used extensively in gas turbine engines for commercial and military aircraft where they are exposed to extremely high temperatures and stresses.  Tantalum additions to these superalloys help improve high temperature strength. Parts and components made from these tantalum containing superalloys can operate at higher internal combustion temperatures resulting in enhanced thrust efficiencies and lower fuel consumption.

Furnace Applications

Refractory furnace trays and boats are routinely used to hold semi-finished goods during extremely high temperature processes like sintering. Tantalum is an exceptional material for furnace applications, retaining good dimensional stability at process temperatures with excellent resistance to creep deformation ensuring long service.

Nuclear Applications

Superconducting wires intended for use in nuclear applications often incorporate tantalum diffusion barriers designed to resist internal diffusion and impart enhanced mechanical properties to the superconducting element. This is useful for large-scale scientific initiatives such as nuclear fusion research.

Electronics Industry

Tantalum has exceptional storage capacities with the ability to store more charge per gram than any other comparable metals. For this reason, tantalum is well-suited to the production of electrical capacitors and resistors whilst being able to hold large amounts of charge in a small component. This has meant manufacturers have been able to make electrical parts and devices much smaller.

H.C. Starck Solutions can provide excellent assistance in the application of ready-made and proprietary parts using pure tantalum and tantalum alloys. Contact the team today, to find out more.

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