Metallurgy, from historical point of view, has essentially concentrated on the production of metals – a process which includes the extraction of metal from its ores and mixing them to make alloys. Metal can be recovered from the ores by heating the rocks in a furnace or kiln – this process is known as smelting.
Mixing different elements (at least one of which must be metal) to create alloys has a purpose to produce a material with desirable properties, which often may be quite different to those of its individual constituents. For example, two very soft and ductile metals – aluminum and copper, when alloyed together create a substance (aluminum alloy) with much greater strength.
Materials used in metallurgy are required, above all, to have good mechanical properties in high temperature environments. The temperature in vacuum furnaces reaches up to 1500°C, therefore tungsten and molybdenum alloys are a popular choice.
Heavy tungsten alloys typically find application in dies for drawing or extruding metals. Similarly to tantalum, tungsten-cuprum alloys are used to manufacture high temperature furnace elements. In metallurgy, molybdenum serves as an element for ferrous alloys, increasing their strength and corrosion resistance properties.
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