Niobium (often also called columbium) is the chemical element with the symbol Nb and the atomic number 41. A rare, soft, grey, ductile transition metal, niobium is found in the minerals pyrochlore, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite.

Niobium has physical and chemical properties similar to those of the element tantalum, and the two are therefore difficult to distinguish.

Niobium is produced at SpecMetallMaster Company as an unalloyed metal with a guaranteed purity of min. 99.8 %. Pure Niobium has a melting point of 2470 °C and is a ductile metal despite of its body-centered cubic lattice.

Niobium shows elongations > 20 % at room temperatures at tensile strength of > 200 N/mm2 in recrystallized condition.

The average content of niobium in the Earth's crust amounts to 20 g/tonne.

The history of niobium is tightly connected with that of tantalum. Both metals share very similar chemical characteristics and are always found together in nature.

The English chemist Charles Hatchett reported a new element similar to tantalum in 1801, and named it columbium. In 1809, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston wrongly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. The German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that tantalum ores contain a second element, which he named niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific findings clarified that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a century both names were used interchangeably. The name of the element was officially adopted as niobium in 1949.

Semifinished products made of niobium and niobium alloys (e.g. Nb1Zr) are manufactured by means of sintering as well as melting.

As a specialist for high performance materials, SpecMetallMaster Company has a long-standing experience in the production of components made of niobium and its alloys.

Advantages of Niobium

  • good corrosion resistance;
  • excellent biocompatibility.


  • extremely sensitive against C, N, O, H.

Typical Areas of Application

  • lamp components for special lighting applications;
  • sputtering targets for the coating technology.

The use of niobium

  • welding;
  • nuclear industries;
  • electronics, optics;
  • chemical engineering and high-temperature furnace construction;
  • superconductor technology;
  • lighting industry;
  • medical technology;
  • thin-fi lm technology;
  • numismatics and jewelry;
  • aerospace and many other industries.