What Today’s Most Popular Crimes Tell Us about the Value of Precious Metals

What Today’s Most Popular Crimes Tell Us about the Value of Precious Metals

Crooks aren’t nice people, they hurt people, and we don’t like to write about them. But the fact remains that if we look at crime trends around the country, they can teach us some lessons about the value of precious metals. Also, because crooks make money by selling what they have stolen, their crimes tell us there is a market for the metals they are selling.

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Palladium Recycling: 2019 Is a Great Time to Think about Investing in this Rare Metal

Palladium Recycling: 2019 Is a Great Time to Think about Investing in this Rare Metal

It has been a few months since we wrote about palladium on this blog. And it is time to write about it again. Why? Because palladium trading prices are rising steadily. That’s another way of saying that if you acquired some palladium scrap or bullion a few years ago and simply held onto it, you would be making a nice profit on it today.

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Make 2019 Your Year to Cash in on Palladium Scrap

Make 2019 Your Year to Cash in on Palladium Scrap

People confuse palladium and platinum. Both metals are white, lustrous, tarnish-resistant . . . and rare. But if you compare the prices of palladium and platinum jewelry, you will notice immediately that a piece of palladium jewelry sells for about one-third more than a similar piece of platinum jewelry, even though both items weigh about the same.

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Why Letting Us Test Powdered Chemicals Can Offer You a Large Return and Ensure Your Safety

Why Letting Us Test Powdered Chemicals Can Offer You a Large Return and Ensure Your Safety

So, what are palladium salts? They are compounds of palladium and other chemicals that are most often used in the production and testing of stainless and other steels. Some palladium salts are also used as catalysts in the production of other chemicals. Here are some common forms of palladium salts that are used in industry, and that you might come to own if you acquire a chemical business or an old industrial site . . .

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What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

What Are the Platinum Group Metals?

Chances are that you only find small quantities of the valuable secondary platinum group metals (palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium) hiding in recyclable items that you think are made only of platinum. How can you tell if these rarer metals are present?

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How to Get a Fast and Profitable Return from Palladium Bullion and Coins

Have you inherited palladium bullion or coins or bought them as an investment? If you have been thinking about cashing them in, here is some information you should know from Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Photo of palladium, which Specialty Metals refines and recycles from palladium coins and bullion, scrap catalytic converters, lab and dental equipment, electronics and jewelry.

The Market for All Precious Metals Could Be Stronger Soon

Yes, prices have been soft in the last year. But it is wise to stay cued into fluctuations in market pricing so that you will be ready to sell your palladium at the right time. Be sure to monitor current metal prices, updated daily on our home page.

Palladium Bullion and Coins Do Not Require Complex Refining or Processing

Unlike alloys that contain precious metals, they do not need to be refined before they return their dollar value. They are pure palladium and can either be sold as they are or melted into new bars or ingots.

Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners Will Buy the Following Items

We will consider buying your palladium bullion coins, bars, and commercially made ingots that include Canadian Maples, Australian Koalas and Emus, Chinese Pandas, and Russian Ballerinas. In addition, we will purchase palladium bullion manufactured by Credit Suisse, Degussa, Engelhard, Heraeus, Johnson Matthey, and others.

We Refine and Recycle other forms of Palladium Too

In addition to palladium coins, bars and ingots, we are also interested in palladium alloys, palladium catalyst, palladium jewelry, palladium-plated items of all kinds, palladium resins, palladium sponges, and palladium wire. We are leading precious metals recyclers, so call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Why Precious Gold Can Still Be Recovered from Used Gold Sputtering Targets

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 . . .

Diagram of gold sputtering targets, showing where other precious metals like silver or palladium may also be present and can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • 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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Plating Primer: How Do Sputtering Targets Work?

Is it Worth Recycling Smartphones?

How much precious metal is contained in smartphones? Is it worth sending them to us for recycling?

These recent statistics, reported by Megan Anderle in The Guardian on May 1, 2014, document the fact that smartphones contain quantities of precious metals. For every million smartphones that are recycled, these quantities of metals can be reclaimed:

Photo of old smartphones that contain gold, silver and palladium that can be recycled profitably in large quantities by Specialty Metals.

When you use those statistics as a guideline against current prices per troy ounce, you find that every smartphone contains about $1.40 worth of gold, about $.58 worth of palladium, and about $.20 worth of silver. (Of course, it costs money to reclaim those metals from smartphones and other electronics scrap too.)

How Many Smartphones Can You Collect and Recycle?

That’s not very much metal per phone. Yet Anderle also cites these statistics:

  • 89% of mobile devices are not recycled by their users, just tossed
  • In 2012, Sprint customers recycled 44% of their phones, Verizon customers recycled 28%, and AT&T customers recycled 11.5%
  • In 2013, Verizon launched a new recycling program and app that got 31% of its customers to recycle their phones

Is There an Opportunity for You in Smartphone Recycling?

If you would like to reclaim a significant amount of money from old smartphones, you will have to collect an awful lot of them. But can you do just that – collect a large number of older phones? Perhaps you can.

  • If you are a charity, perhaps you can start an outreach program to get people to donate their phones to you. As noted in the statistics above, 89% of mobile phone users toss their devices. Perhaps they can toss them into recycling bins that your organization places in stores, malls, before town halls, and elsewhere. If you spread your campaign over a large geographical area, you could be able to collect enough phones to raise a lot of money for your organization.
  • If you want to start a second or primary business, you might consider buying used cellphones and then recycling them. As Anderle notes in her Guardian article, cellphone companies’ buy-back recycling programs often present a number of hassles for customers, who have typically had to get their returns pre-approved, then print out labels to use when shipping their phones in, then wait weeks until the payment for their phones is credited to their accounts. If you can streamline that process – perhaps by letting customers sell you their used phones via a walk-in, no-hassle process – you might be able to amass enough smartphones to generate a good income.

When and if you do, contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. We’ll be pleased to help you dig out the dollars that are hiding in a quantity of used cellphones and other escrap.

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How Much Platinum Does Your Platinum Jewelry Really Contain?

If you have pieces of platinum jewelry that you’re thinking of recycling, how much platinum do they contain? Here’s some information from the Federal Trade Commission that can help you know.

Don’t Rely on Information that Is on the Packaging

Even if your platinum items are packaged in boxes or other packaging that states that they are made of platinum, don’t believe it unless the items themselves are stamped with markings like “platinum,” “plat” or “pt.”

Understanding the Markings on Pieces of Platinum Jewelry

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum and other platinum group metals that Specialty Metals recycles and refines.

If an item is simply stamped as “platinum,” “plat,” or “pt.” with no other markings, that means that it contains at least 95% pure platinum - if it was legally sold in America.

If it is stamped with a marking like “850Plat,” that means that it contains 85% pure platinum.

Sometimes stampings will indicate the other metals that are present in the jewelry too. For example:

  • 800 Pt. 200 Pd. indicates 80% pure platinum and 20% palladium
  • 750 Pt. 250 Rh. Indicates 75% pure platinum and 25% rhodium
  • 600 Pt. 350 Ir. Indicates 60% pure platinum and 35% iridium

What Other Metals Could Platinum Jewelry Contain?

According to the FTC, jewelry that is marked “platinum” could contain:

  • Other platinum group metals such as iridium, osmium, rhodium, or ruthenium
  • Base metals such a copper or cobalt

Not Sure What You Have?

If you own a quantity of jewelry that you think is made of platinum but which has no markings, what does that mean? There are several possibilities. It could have been manufactured for sale in other countries, for example. It could have been made before current labeling standards were enforced. Or it could have been improperly stamped by the manufacturer.

If your items are not marked, you would be well advised to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, a qualified platinum refiner, for testing. Call 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Plating Primer: How Do Sputtering Targets Work?

We’ve written on this blog previously about how valuable your used sputtering targets can be. Today, we’d like to give you an overview of how the sputtering process works to apply platings to a variety of surfaces. The more you know, the better the chances are that you won’t overlook valuable quantities of precious metals that you could have on hand in your used sputtering targets.

What Is Sputtering?

Shown: One type of used sputtering target, which can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: One type of used sputtering target, which can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

It’s an electronic process that deposits thin films of metals or other materials onto a variety of surfaces. Most often, sputtering is used to apply thin platings onto silicon wafers, solar panels and display screens.

How Does Sputtering Work?

Sputtering is done in a vacuum chamber into which an inert gas is introduced – in most cases, argon. Two items are placed into that chamber: the item to be plated, and the “target” that contains the material that will be applied. A negative electrical charge is applied to the target, causing some of the electrons that it contains to travel to the material to be coated. Presto! You’ve got a thin film of plating right where you want it. But note that the use of the term “target” can be confusing, since it is the source of the plating material that is used, not its final destination.

What Metals or Other Substances Can Be Delivered from Sputtering Targets?

Sputtering targets are now being used in a many industries for the first time. As a result, targets are being used to apply cadmium, chromium, gold, indium, iridium, palladium, platinum, rhodium, silver, tungsten, zirconium, and even more materials that can be used as coatings or platings.

Is That All There Is to It?

No, that is just a very basic summary. In fact, a number of different sputtering technologies are used today, including magnetron sputtering, ion-assisted sputtering, and reactive sputtering. If you are not sure which kind of sputtering is taking place on your production line, speak with your production engineers, with the manufacturer of your sputtering production equipment, or with the supplier of your sputtering targets.

How Much Are Used Sputtering Targets Worth?

That can vary, depending on the value of the metal that you are using as platings, the presence of secondary metals in the sputtering targets that you use, the strength and efficiency of your sputtering applications, and more. The one way to be sure is to send your used sputtering targets to a qualified precious metals recycler for testing. To learn more, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

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Demand for Precious Metals Increases with Widespread Healthcare Changes

America is seeing a surge in the demand for medical tests, technologies and treatments. The result? Your recyclable precious metals are likely to become much more valuable and much more in demand. Here are some of the reasons why:

Baby Boomers Are Aging

Boomers – the people who are part of the immense population “bulge” that occurred between 1946 and 1964 – are now entering their later years. The result is that many more people will require more intensive medical testing and care.

A normal chest X-ray after placement of an ICD, showing the ICD generator in the upper left chest and the ICD lead in the right ventricle of the heart. Note the 2 opaque coils along the ICD lead. Image Credit: Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC

A normal chest X-ray after placement of an ICD, showing the ICD generator in the upper left chest and the ICD lead in the right ventricle of the heart. Note the 2 opaque coils along the ICD lead. Image Credit: Gregory Marcus, MD, MAS, FACC

The Range of Medical Specialties Is Increasing

Not many years ago, most Americans relied on one family doctor to administer a wide range of tests and treatments. Today, people are visiting specialists, urgent care centers, diagnostic testing centers, physical therapists, and alternative practitioners. The result? Again, an increase in the demand for testing and treatment equipment.

More Life-Sustaining Technologies Rely on Precious Metals

The use of medical devices that contain precious metals is increasing dramatically. Gold and Platinum are being used in catheters, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), pacemakers, stents, neurovascular devices and devices that monitor or regulate brain functions. As the demand for life-extending and life-enhancing treatment grows, the demand for precious metals is surging too.

New Technologies and Treatments Will Rely on Precious Metals too

“Worth Their Weight: Precious metals have ideal properties for medical devices,” an article that Victoria Burt wrote for Micromanufacturing, quotes Rick Campo, the President of West-Tech Materials, a leading manufacturer of materials for medical applications. Campo told Burt that researchers are now developing platinum-based inks to be used in medical testing procedures.

The result of these trends could be a further increase in demand for your recyclable gold, palladium, platinum, and other precious metals. What happens when the demand increases for any commodity that is in limited supply? As any economist will tell you, the price of that commodity will increase. That’s why this is an excellent time to recycle old cellphones, circuit boards, quantities of gold-plated scrap, used thermocouples, and other materials that contain precious metals. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

 

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What Precious Metals are Inside Catalytic Converters and What Are They Worth?

If you have a quantity of 500 or more used automobile catalytic converters on hand, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners is ready to recycle them for you and pay you top dollar for the platinum and other precious metals they contain.

Photo of catalytic converter containing platinum, palladium and rhodium which can be recycled and refined for best prices at Specialty Metals.

Before you contact us or ship us used catalytic converters, you might want to take a few minutes to learn more about what catalytic converters are and how they work. The more educated you are, the better you will understand why recycled catalytic converters can be so valuable.

Here’s a quick course…

  • What do they do? It’s simple. The exhaust that comes directly out of internal-combustion engines still contains quantities of unburned fuel, oil and other substances. Catalytic converters are small chambers where those unburned substances are combined with oxygen and burned more completely. The result? The exhaust that flows away from the catalytic converter and out the tailpipe is much “cleaner” than what came out of the engine.
  • When did they start being widely used? It all started back in 1975, when the U.S. government began to regulate the pollutants produced by cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles.
  • Are they used on most kinds of internal-combustion engines? Yes, they are – you’ll find them on gas engines and diesel engines. You will not find them, however, on propane-powered engines or (of course) on electric cars. But guess what – hybrid gas/electric cars like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt still use catalytic converters to reduce the emissions from the gas-burning part of the hybrid setup.
  • What metals do they contain? Platinum is the most widely used. You could also find palladium, rhodium, cerium, manganese, and nickel.

What Structures Are Inside a Catalytic Converter?

Most of us know what the outside of catalytic converters looks like. But what’s inside? Basically, there’s a honeycomb-like structure where the secondary combustion takes place, triggered only by the high temperature of the exhaust gases that are leaving the engine.

Want to look? Here’s an excellent YouTube video that lets you look inside one without getting your hands dirty.

 

Unlocking the Dollars from the Precious Metals that Catalytic Converters Contain

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss the converters that you have on hand. We’ll help you understand the converters that you have and explain their potential value. If you have 500 or more to recycle, you could be sitting on a surprisingly valuable quantity of precious metal.

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Palladium Recycling: Don’t Overlook the Great Value of this Little-Understood Rare Metal

If you ask a group of knowledgeable businesspeople to name the precious metals that can be extremely valuable if recycled and refined, they will probably name gold, silver, platinum and possibly cadmium. They will rarely name palladium, which is a mistake. Palladium is one of the most valuable precious metals. Although it is rare in nature, it is widely found in many recyclable items, including used automotive catalytic converters, and even in alloys of gold and other metals.

Photo of palladium, which Specialty Metals refines and recycles from scrap catalytic converters, lab and dental equipment, electronics and jewelry.

Why is Palladium the “secret” precious metal that is often overlooked by people who could make a lot of money by sending their recyclable items to a qualified palladium refiner? Here are some of the reasons why.

  • Palladium is an element, not an alloy. Yes, its name sounds like the commercial name of an alloy, but it is actually a chemical element with the symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46.
  • Palladium has been misunderstood, almost from day it was discovered in 1802 by a British scientist named William Hyde Wollaston. Almost immediately, other scientists questioned his find and claimed that palladium was really an alloy of platinum and mercury. It was years before Wollaston’s new metal was recognized and listed as an element.
  • Palladium is rare in nature and often comes from distant countries. The most extensive deposits are found in South Africa, Russia, Ontario and Montana.
  • Palladium can be found in a range of manufactured items where few people think to look for it. If you have items that are made of “white gold,” for example, chances are good that they are really made of an alloy of gold and palladium – and that palladium can be extracted by a qualified palladium refiner. Also, some jewelry items that appear to be made of platinum are really made of palladium. That was often done in the years around World War II, when the U.S. government restricted the use of platinum to military production.

Where Will You Find Palladium that You Can Refine and Recycle?

Even though Palladium is rare in nature, you could have it in more recyclable items than you might expect, including:

  • Palladium catalysts, which can include automotive catalysts, industrial catalysts, petroleum refining catalysts, and palladium foil catalysts.
  • Palladium metal itself, which includes palladium wire, palladium castings, palladium rods, palladium mesh, and palladium foil.
  • Palladium alloys used in manufacturing, which can include palladium sputter and sputtering targets, palladium sponges, and palladium flake.
  • Palladium jewelry items, which can include rings, chains, bracelets and jewelry scrap.
  • Palladium-plated items, which can include jewelry and decorative items.
  • Palladium resins, which are used in a variety of manufacturing processes.

Not Sure What You Have? Call Our Expert Palladium Refiners Today

If you have items that you believe might contain palladium – which is currently trading at more than $700 on the London Fix – call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more. Just because other people overlook the dollars that could be gained by recycling palladium doesn’t mean that you have to too.

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Why Used Thermocouple Wire Is a Top Candidate for Profitable Recycling

If you take a look around your place of business, you’re sure to find some items that obviously contain precious metals and which are therefore candidates for profitable recycling. They could be scrap circuit boards that contain visible gold or used catalytic converters that you know contain platinum.

Image of platinum thermocouple wire scrap, a very profitable type of scrap Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners can recycle for your company.

Those items are obvious candidates for precious metal recycling. But with a little digging, you can also find less obvious, easy-to-overlook items that you can profitably recycle too. A case in point is used production equipment that contains thermocouple wires.

If your operations involve heating things, cooling things, or measuring temperatures, it’s pretty certain that you own some quantity of used thermocouple wire which, if extracted and recycled, can put dollars in your pocket. Why is thermocouple wire such a good candidate for profitable recycling? Here are some reasons you should know about:

  • In many applications, thermocouple wire has a short service life. Much of it is used in high-temperature settings on production lines and elsewhere. The result? It wears out quickly and needs to be replaced frequently. Rather than tossing it, you can implement a recycling program to recapture a profitable percentage of its value. Note too that repurposing worn-out thermocouple wire is generally not possible; because its post-use properties are not known, the only option is to recycle it so that its rare metals can be extracted and used again in new devices.
     
  • You probably own several types of recyclable thermocouple wire. Extension grade thermocouple wire, found in many kinds of manufacturing equipment, is used to carry thermoelectric signals a long way – often between the place where heat is generated and a measuring device. Thermocouple grade wire is usually found where the heat happens, or used entirely within pieces of production equipment; it generally contains higher concentrations of precious metal than extension grade wires do.
     
  • A surprisingly large number of precious metals can be found in thermocouple wire. You could be sitting on a quantity of molybdenum, nickel, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, tungsten, or even gold. With a simple recycling program, you can turn those valuable metals into cash.

How to Get Started Recycling Thermocouple Wire

If today’s post makes you wonder whether you are holding valuable quantities of thermocouple wire – or wonder whether you have been throwing away dollars by tossing it – there’s a simple solution. Call 800-426-2344, explain what you have on hand, hear what we have to say – and get the process started.

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Don’t Throw Dollars Away! How to Mine the Hidden Value in Used Sputtering Targets

You know exactly why you’re buying the sputtering targets that you use in your manufacturing processes. You’re using them to apply thin films of alumina, zirconia, indium, tin, zinc, silicon, chromium, titanium, or some other material. So you buy targets that contain the material you want and that’s pretty much all they contain, right?

Shown: scrap sputtering targets, which can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: scrap sputtering targets, which can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

No, wrong. As you already know, the sputtering targets you’re buying never contain just the one metal or substance you’re looking for. They usually contain a number of metals, elements, and other substances too – including gold, platinum, silver, palladium and rhodium! The material you need for your production processes is probably commixed with other metals or chemicals, affixed to a backing plate, and possibly bonded to that plate with a thin layer that could contain a precious metal or other materials that you don’t even know about. (All that could help to explain why the sputtering targets you buy are never guaranteed to be 100% pure.)

Putting that Hidden Value Back in Your Bottom Line

The potential hidden value in your used sputtering targets could lie in the words we used in the paragraph just above: “other materials that you don’t even know about.” Unless you know exactly what hidden precious or platinum group materials your used sputtering targets contain, you run the risk of discarding or recycling them without even knowing that you are tossing dollars away.

Maybe you think that couldn’t be true, because you’re returning your used sputtering targets to their manufacturer, which refurbishes them. That’s responsible of you, and probably a good decision. But it could also be that your supplier sells you sputtering targets once, then refurbishes them, and then sells them to you again. From a certain perspective, that means you could be buying the same trace elements of precious metals again and again, instead of claiming their dollar value. 

How can you find out how much money you can reclaim by recycling your used sputtering targets? Unless you have a fully equipped metallurgical lab on your premises to run tests, you probably can’t do it on your own. But you can call Specialty Metal Smelters & Refiners today at 800-426-2344 to discuss the kind of sputtering targets that you use and to get a preliminary opinion about what trace elements they could contain. Our testing lab can then quickly run tests to determine if they contain valuable materials like gold that you shouldn’t be tossing away.

Related Posts:
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Welcome to the Specialty Metals Blog


Be sure to check here periodically for the latest info on precious metals, including gold, silver and platinum group metals rhodium, palladium and platinum. We’ll try and update periodically with news and information about the metal markets and other current events that could effect the markets.