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                Top 4 metals for high-tech nuts and bolts

                Fasteners such as nuts, bolts and washers are among the most familiar construction items used around the world, whether as part of everyday furniture construction or in more complex activities such as automotive engineering.

                While common in millions of uses in day-to-day life, fasteners become more critical when used in high-tech applications. For example, in high-temperature applications or in harsh environments, standard steel fasteners won’t always provide the necessary performance characteristics. This is where refractory metals are generally used, because they offer a melting point above 2400 ˚C, high hardness at room temperature, are relatively chemically inert, have high density and are stable against creep deformation at very high temperatures.

                Here, we take a look at refractory metals and the benefits they provide for complex or highly technical applications.

                1. Molybdenum

                This particular metal maintains its hardness and a low rate of expansion at very high temperatures, making Molybdenum fasteners ideal for applications where both high temperature and stiffness are needed. These fasteners are used in the semiconductor industry, the manufacture of armour and aircraft parts, as well as in industrial motors, sputtering equipment and high-temperature furnaces.

                2. Tantalum

                With corrosion resistance similar to glass but with the mechanical properties of a metal, Tantalum is an excellent choice for extremely corrosive environments. Fasteners made from this material can be found in the chemical processing, mining, energy, pharmaceutical and metal processing industries. Tantalum is also radiopaque, making Tantalum fasteners useful in x-ray applications.

                3. Niobium

                Niobium finds application in atomic reactors because of its corrosion resistance and low capture cross-section for thermal neutrons. Fasteners made from Niobium (or from Nickel-, Cobalt-, and Iron-based superalloys containing Niobium) are found in jet engine parts, gas turbines, rocket subassemblies, advanced airframe systems, and heat-resisting and combustion equipment.

                4. Tungsten

                This material has the highest melting point of all metals (3410 ˚C) and is well known for its high density. Because of these unique characteristics, Tungsten fasteners are often used in high-temperature vacuum furnaces and for balancing rotating parts, respectively. Tungsten’s high mass also makes the fasteners radiopaque, blocking radiation even better than Lead. Thus, fasteners made from Tungsten and its alloys can be used in radiation-shielding applications, military applications (e.g., armour), or even in medical applications, as they are characterised by low magnetic properties as well.

                For more information on fasteners or material uses for high-tech applications, please contact the Goodfellow team.

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