Copper Tungsten Properties

Copper tungsten alloys are a used in a wide variety of applications including heat sinks in electrical devices, resistance welding, electrical contacts and machining where the alloy is used as an arc contact. The alloy properties are dependent on the mixture of the copper and tungsten alloy. Typically, higher levels of copper are used in jobs in which thermal and electrical conductivity is more critical and higher levels of tungsten are used when strength and hardness are needed.

1. Hardness

Hardness is defined by the Merriam-Webster website as the resistance of metal to indentation or scratching under a load. Copper is a soft metal and tungsten is considered very hard. The hardness of the copper tungsten alloy will depend on the mixture required for the application. When a harder material is required, the alloy contains a larger volume of tungsten and less copper. Softer alloys of copper tungsten will contain a higher percentage of copper.

2. Thermal Expansion

Thermal expansion is the change in size, shape or volume of a metal when exposed to heat. Copper tungsten alloys are prized to due to low thermal expansion rates. This allows the metal alloy to maintain its shape when exposed to high temperatures. Tungsten has the lowest thermal expansion rate of all the metals, according to the Engineering Toolbox. The thermal expansion rating of an alloy of copper and tungsten depends on the amount of copper present in the alloy. The more copper present, the higher the thermal expansion.

3. Electrical and Thermal Conductivity

Electrical and thermal conductivity are related because the electrons within the metal carry both the electrical charge and the thermal energy in metals, according to Fisk Alloy. Copper is one of the highest-rated metals in both electrical and thermal conductivity. In copper tungsten alloys, the higher the level of copper, the higher the electrical and thermal conductivity. These alloys are used in electrical and electronic components.

4. Wear Resistance

Copper tungsten alloys are arc- and wear-resistant, important aspects for heat sinks in electronic devices or serving as electrodes in resistance welding. The more tungsten content, the more wear-resistant the alloy.

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