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There are many different types of darts on the market from brass though to tungsten by far the most popular are tungsten nickel darts. Tungsten is a dense heavy weight metal ideal for darts.
Tungsten has been used for the production of darts since the early 1970's because it is twice as density (heavy) as brass and a dart made from tungsten will be half the size of a brass equivalent. This means it is easier for a dart player can achieve close grouping of darts in a smaller area and is more likely score the maximum score of 180!
Brief history about tungsten and the manufacturing of tungsten darts.
Tungsten Dart Billets
The word tungsten means "heavy stone" in Swedish. The chemical symbol for tungsten is 'W' which stands for wolfram. The name came from medieval German smelters who found that tin ores containing tungsten had a much lower yield. It was said that the tungsten devoured the tin "like a wolf". Pure tungsten metal was first isolated by two Spanish chemists, the de Elhujar brothers (Jose & Fausto) in 1783. Tungsten is a greyish-white lustrous metal, which is a solid at room temperature. Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals 3,422°C and lowest vapour pressure of all metals, and at temperatures over 1650°C has the highest tensile strength. It has excellent corrosion resistance and is attacked only slightly by most mineral acids.
As 100% tungsten is very brittle, it is necessary for the manufactures to create an alloy i.e. mixing tungsten with other metals mainly nickel and other attributes such as iron and zinc. All these ingredients are mixed together placed in a mould, compressed under many tonnes of pressure and heated in a furnace to over 3,000°C. The mould is then opened and the resulting 'billet' removed. Billets are made in different lengths and diameters, according to the final desired shape of the finished dart.
Knurling Tungsten Darts
The newly formed billet is then formed using a robotic forming machines into the desired finished dart shape, weight and grip. The finished billet is known as the dart barrel.
Most tungsten darts indicate the percentage of tungsten content; this varies from anything from 80-97% tungsten. Generally speaking the higher the tungsten content the thinner the dart for the given weight. Thin darts help with grouping and a greater chance of hitting that elusive 180! Dart weight, shape & design are all personal choice and that is why we can now see a large range of weights and designs. There are no better darts as such as each thrower will have their own preference.
High percentage tungsten darts cost more than lower content tungsten darts, the main reason for this is down to the machining of the billet. High percentage tungsten darts take longer to make and wear the cutting tools faster. The speed of the cutters has to be turned down to a slower speed so to prolong the life of the cutting tool therefore this increases the production cost of making the finished barrel.
In additional to tungsten darts the second most popular are made from brass. Most clubs and pubs will have sets of these for you to use. They are in most cases thicker than tungsten darts as the brass is not as dense as tungsten. Brass darts are a good first choice if you are just starting or play infrequently.
Here are some different styles supplied by Harrows darts technology.
Thanks to Harrows Dart Technology for use of their images