, Florida (PressExposure) March 18, 2009 -- In one of the many materials recently used to make a wedding ring, tungsten carbide rings are among the most common. But what is a tungsten carbide? What are its uses other than making rings?
From a simple domestic and sports use to something more complicated such as those used in machinery and in military use, tungsten carbide has been an all around material for making basically any kind of tools or gadgets.
Domestically, tungsten carbide are used mainly in jewelry. When used in this application the bands appear with a lustrous dark hue often buffed to a mirror finish. The color is more similar to that of hematite than to that of platinum. The finish is highly resistant to scratches and scuffs, holding its mirror-like shine for years.
A common misconception held concerning tungsten carbide rings was that they cannot be removed in the course of emergency medical treatment, requiring the finger to be removed instead.
Emergency rooms and many full-service jewelry repair shops are equipped with jewelers' saw that can cut through gold, silver, platinum, titanium, and tungsten carbide rings without injuring the patient when the ring cannot be slipped off easily. tungsten carbide rings can also be removed in an emergency situation by cracking them into pieces with standard vice grip style locking pliers.
Many manufacturers of this emerging jewelry material state that the use of a cobalt binder may cause unwanted reactions between the cobalt and the natural oils on human skin.
Skin oils cause the cobalt to leach from the material. This is said to cause possible irritation of the skin and permanent staining of the jewelry itself. Many manufacturers now advertise that their jewelry is "cobalt free". This is achieved by replacing the cobalt with nickel as a binder.
Tungsten carbide is also often used in armor-piercing ammunition, especially where depleted uranium is not available or not politically acceptable. Carbide cutting surfaces are often useful when machining through materials such as carbon steel or stainless steel. Also in situations where other tools would wear away, such as high-quantity production runs. Most of the time, carbide will leave a better finish on the part and allow faster machining.
Hard carbides, especially tungsten carbide are used by athletes generally on poles which impact hard surfaces. Trekking poles used by many hikers for balance and to reduce pressure on leg joints, generally are made up of carbide tips in order to gain traction when placed on hard surfaces (like rock); such carbide tips last much longer than other types of tips.
There are still a lot of uses for tungsten carbide. And through time, tungsten carbide will also be used other than these purposes.