New Applications for Precious Metals Keep Demand and Prices High

Precious metals have been around for a long time. Long before the Common Era (in other words, year zero on our calendar), ancient people were adorning themselves with silver and using gold to fill teeth. Even the more “modern” precious metals – metals like platinum and rhodium – are pretty old. They have been around for 150 years or more.

Photo of solar panel production, which uses sputtering targets that could contain valuable gold, platinum, silver, palladium and rhodium.

Photo of solar panel production, which uses sputtering targets that could contain valuable gold, platinum, silver, palladium and rhodium.

Given the age of precious metals, you’d think that they would be on their way out – that modern materials would have taken their place. You’d imagine that some kind of space-age ceramic would have taken the place of gold in circuit boards, or that a long-chain polymer or some other gee-whiz chemical would have replaced platinum in catalytic converters or in medical-testing devices. But that hasn’t happened. In fact, the precious metals that we refine here at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners are finding new uses all the time, and demand remains strong.

Gold Cosmetics

There are reports that ancient people – the rich ones at any rate – applied gold to their skins, both as makeup and as a remedy for various skin problems. That trend has resurfaced in recent years, with a number of companies introducing skin creams and treatments that contain gold. You can read about it in The New York Times.

Physicians insert a platinum EP catheter into a blood vessel that leads to the patient’s heart. Used EP catheters can be profitably recycled by Specialty Metals.

Physicians insert a platinum EP catheter into a blood vessel that leads to the patient’s heart. Used EP catheters can be profitably recycled by Specialty Metals.

Platinum Materials Used in Medical Testing

Patients today are undergoing more electrophysiology (EP) studies than at any time in the past. It is not uncommon for hospitals to perform hundreds or thousands of these procedures every year. The boom has triggered a surge in the manufacturing (and recycling) of platinum EP catheters, catheter tips and other supplies. Even veterinarians are conducting tests with these catheters today.

Platinum Thermocouples

The use of platinum and other noble metal-containing thermocouples is increasing on production lines and in laboratories. Wherever temperature must be measured or monitored, a precious metal is probably involved.

Gold in Cellphones and Other Electronic Devices

As you might have noticed, just about everybody is carrying a smartphone these days. Plus, all those people replace their phones every few years. All those phones contain gold on their circuit boards, so gold is always in demand. Then there are all the other electronic devices that are now part of our lives – laptops, tablets, televisions with remotes, GPS devices, and more.

Silver in Sputtering Targets and other Industrial Applications

You would think that the demand for silver would be dropping. It’s a precious metal that tarnishes easily, after all. But that’s not the case, because silver has a lot of new uses. In some sputtering targets, it is used to create a bond between the substrate and the metal above it – the one that will be used to coat other surfaces. Silver is also important in a many alloys. So the demand for silver remains strong.

Junked cars contain more precious metals than just platinum in catalytic converters, including gold in circuit boards that Specialty Metals can recycle.

Junked cars contain more precious metals than just platinum in catalytic converters, including gold in circuit boards that Specialty Metals can recycle.

Platinum in Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters have created a staggering demand for platinum – a demand that has arisen in only the last 40 years, since the use of catalytic converters became widespread. If you think this demand will go away because of electric cars and other innovations, you could be right. But that is not going to happen for another 40 or 50 years.

High Demand for Precious Metals Keeps Prices High

Those are just a few of the reasons why the precious metals you can recycle are so much in demand, and why prices are so strong. To recycle what you have and received today’s top prices, give Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners a call at 800-426-2344

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