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A tantalum plate is a hard, ductile, blue-gray and lustrous transition metal with high corrosion resistance. It is a member of the refractory metal group, along with tungsten, rhenium, vanadium and niobium. Tantalum is found naturally in the ore minerals columbite and tantalite. Its unique chemical properties, including a very high melting point and a natural ferrominescence, are harnessed in the creation of high-melting-point alloys used in demanding applications such as jet engines and nuclear engineering and missile production.
Tantalum has excellent electrical, optical and thermal properties. Its low coefficient of expansion and high density make it an ideal material for cladding on larger pressure vessels. Tantalum is also used in valves that control the flow of process chemicals and in dip probes to sparge vessel contents. Tantalum screws, bolts and fixtures provide nearly unlimited service life in these applications.
Tantalum and its alloys are used in medical devices because they are biocompatible. Their oxide coating is inert to bodily fluids, and their density helps surgeons visualize tantalum stents using X-ray imaging during implantation. In addition, the porous structure of tantalum plates makes them a good choice for fixing bone fractures and allowing new bone to grow into damaged areas. They are also used in hip and knee implants, skull plates, suture clips and bone repair mesh.