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Pure tungsten (sometimes known as wolfram) is a shiny white metal and, in combination with small amounts of carbon and oxygen, is extremely hard and brittle.

Tungsten is the heaviest engineering material (with a density of 19.25 g/cm3) and has the highest melting point of all metals, at 3,410 degrees centigrade. It has excellent high temperature strength and is very corrosion resistant, characteristics which make it an ideal material for use in cutting tools when combined chemically with carbon in a matrix with other metals (commonly cobalt) as a cemented carbide.

Sixty per cent of tungsten production worldwide goes into the manufacture of cemented carbides for use in wear-resistant parts and cutting tools in the mining, oil and gas and manufacturing industries.

Tungsten occurs in the natural state only in the form of chemical compounds with other elements, the two most important commercially being wolframite and scheelite.

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