If you have a number of used gold sputtering targets left over from plating operations you should toss them, right? “Used” means that they no longer contain gold, correct? So what is the point of sending them to a qualified precious metals refiner for recycling?
Don’t Be Too Quick to Toss Your Used Gold Sputtering Targets
As the diagram below illustrates, there is more to a gold sputtering target than just the target material – in the case of a gold sputtering target, that is gold. Even when most of the target material has been removed after the target has been used repeatedly, you still have quantities of other metals in the two surfaces below . . .
- The bonding material (shown on the diagram as “solder”) – Depending on how your sputtering targets were manufactured, a number of valuable metals could still be found in this layer – even after your targets have outlived their production life. This thin layer most commonly contains silver – as a silver solder, as a component in silver-bearing epoxy, or in some other form. Granted, silver is not the most precious of precious metals, but if you have a lot of used sputtering targets, you could be sitting on a large quantity of the metal that could be well worth reclaiming.
- The backing plate – They most often contain aluminum, copper, stainless steel, or even molybdenum. But in some cases, they can contain precious metals too, like palladium or cadmium. It is also possible that during the sputtering process, the exposed areas of backing plates might have become plated with small amounts of gold – and you certainly don’t want to toss that away.
How Can You Know the Value?
One thing for certain is that you cannot estimate the value of your used sputtering targets just by looking. They have to be tested with modern equipment by qualified technicians in a specialized lab. So if you have a batch of used gold sputtering targets and would like to know what they are worth, your next step is to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.
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