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tungsten nickel copper alloy, also known as W-Ni-Cu or WNiCu, is an important group of tungsten heavy alloys. It is a non-magnetic alloy that has excellent mechanical properties such as high strength and ductility. It has good corrosion resistance and is an ideal material for components that need to withstand extreme temperatures and vibrations. It is often used in nuclear technology and medical equipment because of its ability to shield radiation. It can be machined very easily and has very high electrical conductivity.
The composition of tungsten nickel copper alloys varies from 85-98% tungsten and 4-60% copper with minor additions of other elements like Ni, Co, Fe, Mo and other metals. It is produced by powder metallurgy where the oxide powders of tungsten, nickel and copper are mixed together and moulded into green bodies before being sintered to obtain the desired alloy.
Unlike the tungsten nickel iron alloys, the tungsten nickel copper alloys have lower tensile strength but higher ductility and are much easier to machine. They are also more stable at higher temperatures and have better corrosive resistance than tungsten iron. They are also a better choice for applications where the presence of magnetic field might disrupt the operation of equipment.
The microstructure of tungsten nickel copper alloys is a metal matrix composite rather than a true metallic alloy since the particles of each element are not mutually soluble. This results in a highly dense material with high thermal and electrical conductivity. The tungsten-copper composites are mainly composed of whiskerettes (long, narrow, irregular and needle-like shaped crystals) that appear as a grayish lustrous film when observed under scanning electron microscopy. When analyzed by low-resolution transmission electron microscopy, the center of a representative whiskerette shows a brighter spot, indicating that it is hollow (see Fig. 2).