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There has been a rapid increase in interest in columbium and tantalum for use in nuclear energy, chemical corrosion, and high-temperature applications because of their high melting points, high strengths at elevated temperatures, excellent corrosion resistance, and ease of fabrication. Until a few years ago these metals were laboratory curiosities or were produced only in small quantities for very specialized applications. Their utilization was impeded by the lack of ore reserves and the extreme difficulty in winning the metal from the ore. Today, however, both of these problems appear to have been overcome. Although the metals are still costly, the price for mill products is continuously decreasing as the demand increases. However, since the known potential ore reserves of tantalum are estimated to be one tenth that of columbium it is expected that more columbium will be utilized than tantalum if only for economic reasons. Inasmuch as the fabrication procedures for columbium and tantalum are dependent to a large extent upon the raw material and method of consolidation, a review of these processes is in order before proceeding with fabrication discussions.
McCullough, H. M.
Assistant to the General Manager, Universal-Cyclops Steel Corp., Bridgeville, Pa.