Home access2knowledge.org Tungsten Vs. Titanium: How To Tell These Metals Apart

Unless you're a chemistry buff, you likely don't know a whole lot about tungsten and titanium. They're both metals, but you probably think there isn't much of a distinction between them. However, there is actually quite a bit to learn about tungsten vs. titanium.

titanium and tungsten

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And, if you're looking into this outside of a science classroom, chances are that you're shopping for rings.

In fact, these are two very common materials that are used to make men's rings. Because of the differences between them, you'll get very different products depending on your choice between tungsten and titanium.

If you're interested in learning about the topic of tungsten vs. titanium, you might be in for a couple surprises. This topic is actually quite a bit more involved and interesting than you might think at first glance.

What Are Tungsten And Titanium?

Tungsten and titanium are both metals. In fact, they are both elements that are on the periodic table you used in chemistry class. Let's cover a few of the basics about both, first, so you can have the best information while making an important choice!

Tungsten

tungsten

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Let's start with tungsten. The chemical symbol for tungsten in the periodic table is W, and its atomic number is 74. Boring, we know, but not for long.


Now, on to the fun stuff! There's actually a reason why tungsten has the seemingly irrelevant W as its chemical symbol. It was originally named "wolfram" by medieval German smelters. Here's why:


The smelters found that tin ores that contained tungsten would have a much lower yield.

This was due to the tungsten's tendency to devour the tin. So, the "wolfish" nature they saw in the metal is quite understandable.

In terms of properties, tungsten is lustrous and grayish white in color. However, there's a lot more to it than that.


Interestingly, tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal element in the periodic table, at temperatures over 3000 degrees (1650 degrees Celsius). It also has the highest tensile strength of any metal. It's strongly resistant to corrosion, as most mineral acids will cause only slight damage to tungsten.

Titanium

titanium

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Discovered in 1791, titanium is named for the Titans, who were the sons of the Earth goddess of Greek mythology. It is hard and strong, as well as shiny in appearance.


The interesting thing is, that strength is despite its lack of density, giving it the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal in the periodic table.


Titanium is almost always a part of igneous rocks, as in those from volcanoes and magma, as well as the sediments that come from them. It is also a part of minerals, such as sphene, rutile, and ilmenite. This is really interesting information if you are a miner or a rockhound, but likely, you will want to know what's coming next.


Shockingly, titanium is actually just as strong as steel. However, as we already said, it's not very dense, so most often, people don't use it in pure titanium form but as titanium oxide.

Why Are Tungsten And Titanium Important?

wedding bands

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If you're wondering right now why the topic of tungsten vs. titanium matters, there are plenty of reasons. First and foremost, what's probably most relevant to most human beings is the fact that tungsten and titanium are the two most common choices for men's wedding bands.


So, making a choice in wedding bands is where most people would actually have an interest in the topic of tungsten vs. titanium.


However, people use these metals for much more than just wedding bands. People originally found both of these metals in some form in natural settings on the Earth, and they have used them accordingly based on the properties of each metal.


The topic of tungsten vs titanium would become very important when it comes to many of these uses because they would definitely not be interchangeable.

Uses For tungsten

tungsten

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For example, tungsten is a very important part of tools that cut through very hard substances, such as rock, concrete, and other metals. It's an excellent choice for these tools because it is extremely hard and can withstand a very high level of heat.


Tungsten alloys (an alloy is a mixture of two metals) are also a great choice for other items that are resistant to wear and tear, such as the tips of ballpoint pens, turbine blades, and engine valves. It is also used as a temperature resistant component in electronic devices and circuits, making it important in the construction of laser printers, LCD panels, electrical switch gear, TV tubes, and more.


Because tungsten has high density, it's also very suitable for use as a weight or counterbalance in different types of machinery. Examples include mobile phone vibration systems, airplane flaps, and crankcase balancing weights.

Uses For titanium

air plane frame

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There are many fascinating uses for titanium as well. Because it's both strong and lightweight at the same time, it can be a valuable part of different types of aircraft that generate enough friction to destroy almost any other metal.


In fact, about two-thirds of all titanium metal that is produced is used to create aircraft frames and engines.


Titanium is also highly bio-compatible, meaning the human body can handle it in large doses. Because of this, titanium is ideal for use in different sorts of surgical implants, such as heart stents, dental implants, and joint replacements. Not to mention body jewelry, worn constantly, unlike your daily wear earrings.


People have also chosen titanium to construct different sporting products, such as bicycles and climbing tracks. It has also contributed to the creation of important architecture, such as the Guggenheim Museum.


You may also be surprised to know that titanium dioxides are present in ink, paint, and even food products. If you have an Apple PowerBook, titanium is part of its body and part of why your computer is so light.

Tungsten Vs. Titanium: Comparing A Wolf and A Titan

hands with rings

Image via flickr

By now, you know that both tungsten and titanium are very strong metals. It makes sense that they would be popular choices for men's wedding bands because of their properties. Typically, manufacturers will use tungsten carbide instead of tungsten, but people generally refer to these rings as tungsten rings anyway.

You should keep in mind that because both tungsten and titanium are so strong, you're probably out of luck if you want to have them resized at any point.


Price


Here, tungsten vs. titanium isn't extremely significant. Both tungsten carbide and titanium are fairly affordable, as far as wedding rings go. These rings are pretty similar in price, and they are good alternatives to expensive precious metals, such as gold and silver.

However, you should definitely keep in mind that the prices can vary for both tungsten and titanium. It depends a lot on style and manufacturer, as well as the quality of the metal that actually composes the ring. Generally, however, any tungsten or titanium ring will still be cheaper than a precious metal alternative.


Aesthetics


Both tungsten and titanium have a color that many people find attractive in rings. They are a light gray and shiny, which offers a "classic" look that many people enjoy.


Weight


This is one area where tungsten vs. titanium is quite significant. If you care about how your ring feels on your finger, these two are basically opposites.

Titanium rings are very lightweight, so they're great for people who don't really want to feel the ring on their finger. In contrast, tungsten carbide rings are heavy and are pretty weighty on the finger, for people who would prefer that sensation.


Hypoallergenic Properties


Tungsten vs. titanium is an important topic for those who are interested in jewelry and have skin allergies. The majority of titanium rings are hypoallergenic and a good choice for people who have skin allergies. However, tungsten carbide rings contain cobalt, which is a fairly common allergen for some skin types.

So, if your significant other has sensitive skin, you may want to go with titanium over tungsten.


Damage Resistance


Both of these metals are very resistant to damage. However, it is interesting to note that there are some differences when it comes to tungsten and titanium and the types of damage to which they are resistant.

Tungsten carbide is more scratch-resistant than titanium. In fact, other than a diamond, there is basically nothing that can put a scratch on tungsten. Tungsten is very unique in that an item composed of this metal can maintain its polished appearance for decades.

However, just because tungsten is extremely hard to scratch doesn't mean it's harder to crack than titanium. Titanium is actually more resistant to cracking then the naturally brittle tungsten carbide. If you hit a tungsten ring with enough force against a hard surface, it can crack or shatter.

Overall, tungsten and titanium are on very similar levels when it comes to toughness and strength. However, many jewelers will endorse tungsten as the hardest and most durable metal that is available. They'll agree that tungsten might have a little bit of an edge over titanium in this area.

With These Metals Ringing In Your Ears...

rings

Image via flickr

You probably see that tungsten vs. titanium is a much more interesting topic than you had initially thought. There's actually quite a bit to learn about both of these metals.


In real life, the choice between tungsten and titanium is most applicable when picking out a wedding band for men. However, as you have seen, these metals have many more important uses than constructing wedding bands. They are an integral part of different types of aircraft, different computers, and even the food you eat.


Tungsten vs. titanium may seem like a topic that would only interest someone who loves chemistry. However, given the roles that these two metals play in people's lives, it would definitely be beneficial to know about each one. This way, you cannot only pick out a wedding ring more quickly but also have a better understanding of devices that play an important role in your life.


What do you have to say about everything you've just learned about tungsten and titanium? Share your opinion in the comments section!

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Nilani Thiyagarajah

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