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Strategic investment in tungsten powder

By acquiring Buffalo Tungsten, Sandvik strengthens its strategic presence in North America and increases production of tungsten powder using renewable energy.

Tungsten is one of the hardest materials on Earth with an extremely high melting point and density, making it a critical metal in mining and manufacturing tools, as well as consumer goods like car breaks, golf clubs, mobile phones and ballpoint pens. “Not a day goes by when you don’t use an object containing tungsten or a product made by a tungsten tool,” says Alex Nieuwpoort, President of Wolfram Bergbau- und Hütten in Austria, tungsten powder producer and a part of Sandvik.

Tungsten literally provides the cutting edge of tooling inserts and drill bits for machining and mining applications. To secure the supply of such a strategic material for both Sandvik and its customers across different industries, Sandvik acquired Buffalo Tungsten Inc. (BTI), based in New York state, in December 2023.

Sustainable production advances

“Having a North American footprint is important to us and our customers as it reduces logistical challenges and enables shorter lead times. With the acquisition of BTI Sandvik also gains access to the technology of producing high-quality tungsten powder using electricity,” says Nieuwpoort.

BTI uses electricity produced by hydropower at the nearby Niagara Falls power station. This is also used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, which adds to the sustainability of BTI’s operations.

The BTI acquisition also reduces the environmental impact since Sandvik can serve both customers and its own units in North America without the need for long-distance shipping. “This minimizes the risk of disruptions in our supply chain and ensures a steady, reliable supply to the US market, which is very important to Sandvik,” says Nieuwpoort.

Enhancing product diversity

BTI specializes in tungsten powder in larger grain sizes, while Wolfram specializes in finer grains. This means the two companies complement each other well, by offering different grain sizes to address diverse applications and industries.

“Drilling into rock requires different material properties compared to drilling into steel. Larger-sized grains are best suited for tools used in rock drilling, as that requires hot hardness combined with shock resistance and toughness,” Nieuwpoort explains. “High-speed machining applications on the other hand, require submicron and uniform grain sizes to avoid cracking due to high stress and high temperatures during drilling.”

The road ahead for Tungsten production

The acquisition of BTI, and the ways in which the companies complement each other, holds a lot of potential. “Sharing our experiences and expertise, and learning from one another will greatly increase our capabilities, paving the way for new production methods and an extended powder portfolio. I for one, am very excited to see what the future holds.”

Facts: This is BTI

Buffalo Tungsten Inc. (BTI) began in 1986 in Depew, New York and a vision to become a leading producer of tungsten-based materials. The company uses the latest furnace and powder classification technologies. The furnaces change intermediate tungsten materials into pure tungsten powders of up to 99.999 percent purity. With over 30 years of experience and a sole focus on tungsten powder products, BTI produces high quality materials optimized for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications.

BTI customizes powders to meet specifications for both physical and chemical properties including particle size, particle size distribution, and density. Critical characteristics are accurately measured at several steps in the manufacturing process to assure the consistent quality of finished tungsten powders.

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