Electrical Contacts: Little Nuggets of High Value

If you have ever been present when airplanes are being manufactured or recycled, you know how many wires they contain. It’s staggering to look at them all. In the cockpit alone, there are thousands of wires connected to gauges, displays, switches and controls.

Photo of scrap silver cadmium electrical contacts that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling and refining.

Photo of scrap silver cadmium electrical contacts that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling and refining.

Even though the sheer number of wires is so great, you will notice something else. Each of those wires ends in a specialized contact of some kind. There are little collar contacts that slide over blade-like contacts on gauges and switches. There are also round contacts that attach to other components with screws. In a plane that has tens of thousands of wires, there are twice that many contacts. (Every wire has two ends, correct?)

And airplanes are only one place where you will find hundreds and thousands of wires and contacts. You will also find them in appliances, manufacturing equipment, automobiles, televisions, stereos, radios, telecommunications equipment, and the list goes on and on.

Why Are Electrical Contacts Used?

The first answer to that question is that contacts allow wires to be connected securely and reliably to electronic devices. The second answer is that contacts are neat, and therefore reduce the possibility that wires will accidentally establish contact with other wires and cause equipment to malfunction. The third answer is that contacts assure a strong electrical connection between a wire and the device to which it is attached. Those are some of the reasons why contacts can be found just about anywhere in any piece of modern electronic equipment.

What Are Electrical Contacts Made Of?

The answer to that question is, it depends on the application. Copper, although it is a soft metal that oxidizes easily, is widely used because of its high conductivity and low cost. Gold, a soft metal that does not generally corrode, has excellent conductivity but high cost. Silver, silver cadmium alloy, platinum, and palladium  can also be used, depending on the application and the level of conductivity desired. They resist corrosion, making them an excellent choice for contacts that will be installed in hot or hostile environments.

Getting The Value From Scrap Electrical Contacts . . .

You can find quantities of contacts in many places, since most industries we serve use some form of electrical device. You might be lucky enough to buy a business where quantities of unused contacts are stored. You might also have obtained a large quantity of wires with contacts that you can snip and recycle. Or you might be in the business of scrapping old vehicles, machines, appliances, or medical equipment that contains a lot of contacts.

In any case, there could be valuable precious metal in the contacts that you own. To learn what they could be worth, call Specialty Metals at 800-426-2344. We are here to help you find out and profit.

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