CURRENT EDTION NUMBERS: 16-25
Special Edition Notes: I've decided to use a "rolling" numbering system for all "SE" tops. For example, the first Tungsten edtion was 1-15 (15 pcs) but the next edition is 16-25 (10 pcs). I'll keep a historical record of the editions over on the sidebar to the right ----->
Tungsten is 30x more expensive than brass and ridiculously dense (heavy). It has the same density as gold at 19.3 g/cm3. Just for reference: Brass is 8.5, Copper is 8.96, and Lead is 11.3. You want to get more dense than tungsten? You'll have to look into making a top from Iridium, Neptunium, Osmium, Platinum, or Plutonium. I can't particularly recommend the latter.
Seriously, it's heavy. My personal best Lambda Brass spin is 12:37. This time represents how my finger strength and technique translates into spin speed or RPM. More RPM + good technique = longer spin. The tungsten is SO much heavier it is quite a bit harder to get spinning at maximum velocity. On my first tungsten spin I got about 14:30, but I think powerful spinners could get a lot more. If you are not a powerful spinner, you won't be able to take full advantage of the physics of this top...but if you don't care about that then just have fun with it :)
There is a video on YouTube of a small tungsten top spinning for 18:23 (LINK). The first person to break this record (and post it on YouTube) gets a free Alpha Ready Made flashlight with Apprentice package. I'll also post your photo (if you want to send me one) and video on this page for posterity :)
The tungsten rings are vibratory tumbled (stone washed) in a ceramic media for about 4 hours. This is primarily done to enhance the "hand feel" and creates a very smooth satin finish.
Special editions are assembled-to-order and you can choose between instrument ruby, stainless steel, Aluminum Oxide (white), or Silicon Carbide (dark gray). Aluminum Oxide and Silicon Carbide are considered "ceramic" ball bearings.
I don't think you'll see a noticeable difference in performance, but I thought some people might enjoy the difference in appearance and science behind the materials.
Instrument Ruby is a crystalline form of Aluminum Oxide and called Corundum. Corundum is a naturally occurring mineral, but instrument rubies are synthetic. This material has the distinction of being the very first gem mineral artificially created in a laboratory. A small amount of impurity (Chromium) gives ruby the distinct red color.
Stainless Steel Bearings come in a variety of grades and materials. The steel balls used in the Lambda tops are 440C Passivated Stainless Steel. This material is hardened and highly corrosion resistant. 440C is the most common material used in high-quality bearings. It's superior to chrome steel, but not the most exotic steel bearing material.
Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) balls are classified as a "ceramic" because they are sintered from a powder base. Chemically, this is the exact same material as ruby or sapphire, but it is not a crystalline structure. Al2O3 is most commonly used as an abrasive in the manufacture of sand paper. It is also the coating that grows on aluminum when it is anodized. These ceramic balls are typically used in bearings that see extreme temperatures.
Silicon Carbide (SiC) balls are also "ceramic" and used in even more extreme bearing applications. SiC is heat tolerant up to a staggering 1800*C. It's commonly used in the manufacture of ceramic brake discs, ballistic plates in bullet proof vests, and LEDs. I recommend SiC for the extremely heavy tungsten top because it is the most durable of the three exotic contact point materials.
Durability: Contact points cannot be repaired or replaced. They are permanently press-fit into the spindle to achieve the desired degree of balance and accuracy.
The stainless bearing is the most durable option across the board. Clumsy? Steel. Got kids? Steel. Will you cry if the contact point breaks? Steel.
So why all the fuss about exotic contact points? The difference is the ruby and ceramics are MUCH harder than steel, and will spin more efficiently. It's like the difference between ice skating and snow skiing...both water...both fairly "solid" but which one is more efficient for sliding on?
A ruby is a ruby, and if you abuse it...it can chip. It's like a wine glass; works fine until you drop it. The ceramics can also shatter if subjected to enough force, but are generally tougher than the ruby. Silicon Carbide is the most durable exotic material.