Are Sputtering Targets Your Best Buy in Platinum Scrap Today?

Are Sputtering Targets Your Best Buy in Platinum Scrap Today?

Are you interested in making money in platinum scrap? There are plenty of reasons you should be. The biggest could be that the new tariffs on items imported from China seem poised to raise the cost of platinum-containing items.

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Three Shady Precious Metal Scams You Should Know About

Three Shady Precious Metal Scams You Should Know About

If you called a precious metals refinery for an over-the-phone appraisal, you would be pretty excited to hear the words, “Your scrap could be worth an awful lot of money.” And you should be happy. The problem is, those words could lure you into one of the precious metal scams that are happening today.

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What’s Happening with Gold?

If you’ve been monitoring the current drop in gold prices, chances are that you have been wondering what is happening with gold. That is a very good question to ask, especially if you own quantities of gold that you would like to recycle or sell at the most opportune time.

Yet as a very wise investor once told me . . .

When everyone is asking the same question, smart investors think of other questions that could be even smarter to ask.

What's going on with gold right now? And is that the only question you should be asking? Maybe now is the time to talk to Specialty Metals about recycling silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium?

What's going on with gold right now? And is that the only question you should be asking? Maybe now is the time to talk to Specialty Metals about recycling silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium?

The message behind that advice is that contrarian thinking is often the best in unsettling times. So instead of following the crowd and fixating on gold, perhaps questions like these will lead you to more profits today.

Smart Questions to Ask

  • Am I overlooking other precious metals that I could recycle profitably today? If you own quantities of catalytic converters, thermocouples, or other items that contain precious metals, could it be wiser to direct your attention to them now? What is happening with gold could be a secondary concern.
  • Could I profit by selling or recycling my gold now, despite the current price levels? If you acquired gold at a price that was lower than its current level, you can still profit by liquidating it now. You make money by selling at a profit, correct? So the current prices may not be a valid consideration.
  • Instead of trying to buy gold now at attractive prices, should I invest in, or recycle, other precious metals instead? Gold is not the only game in town. Other metals, including platinum, are also selling at very attractive prices. Perhaps they offer you a better investing option today.
  • Where can I acquire gold and other precious metals today at below-market prices? We have, for example, recently recycled quantities of used sputtering targets and catalytic converters that our clients acquired for “pennies on the dollar.” Those clients enjoyed a very good return on every dollar they invested, without obsessing about the current trading prices of gold or other precious metals.
  • Why are aggressive recycling companies courting me? In the current climate, a number of firms are attempting to acquire gold now at its lowest price, so they can hold onto them until prices rise. If you are getting solicitations that urge you to liquidate your gold holdings now, it could be wisest to wait for prices to rise so you can realize profits at the right time. Why give away the possibility of claiming future profits for yourself?

Answers to Your Questions about Gold

If gold is on your mind and you have questions about it or other precious metals, this is an opportune time to contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344.

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How Are Metals Plated onto Plastics, Ceramics, and Composites?

We’ve written about tank plating on this blog before – the process of plating a metal onto metal items that have been placed into plating tanks. For that process to work, the items to be plated must be electrically charged – in other words, they must be made of metal.

So that leads to an interesting question:

How can metals be plated onto surfaces of non-metallic materials like plastics, ceramics, or composites?

You have doubtless seen non-metallic items that have been plated with metal – they are nearly everywhere. There are metal-plated disposable plastic drink cups, plastic radio knobs, toys with bright shiny metallic coatings, and many other items.

Let’s look at some of the ways that precious and other metals can be coated onto non-metallic surfaces.

Sputtering and Other Vacuum Processes

Scrap sputtering targets, like the one shown above, can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Scrap sputtering targets, like the one shown above, can contain gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium, and can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

Sputtering is the process of choice today for depositing thin films of silver and other metals onto plastics, ceramics, and other non-metallic materials.  Sputtering is done in the vacuum chamber of a special machine, in which atoms are ejected from a metallic disc called a “target” onto the surface of the material to be coated. Sputtering is now widely used to deposit thin films of silver onto photovoltaic solar panels. (The good news is that used sputtering targets that have outlived their useful lives on production lines contain trace amounts of the silver or other precious metals that they contained. They can be profitably recycled by a qualified precious metals refinery.) Interesting: A variety of other vacuum-coating processes have long been used to coat plastic surfaces with aluminum and other metals; in those processes, atoms of the coating metal are dispersed into a vacuum chamber, where they adhere to the surfaces to be plated.

Electroless Plating

The word “electroless” looks like a misspelling, but it is actually a word that was invented to describe a chemical process that deposits a metal onto plastic. In it, the plastic items to be coated are “etched” by being immersed in a special chemical solution that prepares their surfaces for plating. The items are then immersed in a chemical bath that contains the metal that will be used to plate them. Interesting: Electroless plating looks a lot like tank plating, only no electricity is used.

Electroplating

Yes, ceramics and plastics can be electroplated with gold or silver.  It can be done after those materials undergo the process of electroless plating (see just above). Once they have a thin metallic coating, they can be tank plated, just as metal objects are. Interesting: The items that have been plated using this process are often quite durable. One example? Chrome-plated plastic door handles that are used on automobiles.

Spraying

Two different spraying processes – arc and flame spraying – can be used to apply metallic plating to nonconductive surfaces. In most cases, a powdered form of the metal is heated and then sprayed, using special equipment. Interesting: Spraying technologies can be used to apply a metal coating to just one part of a ceramic or plastic item; just as a painting technician can mask off parts of an item so they receive no paint, parts of the item to be spray-plated can be masked and receive no coating.

Precious Metals Can Be Recovered from Plastic Items

In virtually all cases, metals that have been applied to inexpensive plastic items are not precious metals. (Think of the shiny chrome-like finish that is applied to the bumpers and other bright pieces that you will find in a kit for a model car.) If, however, you own a quantity of ceramics or higher-end materials that have a coating of what seems to be silver or gold – and you do not know exactly what they are – they could be a source of valuable precious metals that can be extracted by a qualified precious metals refinery. Why not 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?

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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Prospector Finds Huge Ancient Sputtering Target Buried in the Mohave Desert

Wheeler McClintock, a solitary 78-year-old prospector, noticed something funny while he was riding his Burro Molly across the Mohave Desert in central California last October.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

This prospector in this photo may not have struck it rich, but you can turn your used platinum sputtering targets into gold at Specialty Metals.

“It was just weird,” McClintock told us in a recent call. “I looked down at Molly and thought I saw that all the brass rivets on her collar were shining brighter than usual. I jumped off to get a closer look and was pretty doggone sure that they were coated with platinum. Didn’t they used to be brass? Then I pulled out my tin cup and canteen to wet my parched whistle and golly day, they were coated with platinum too. Same with my glasses, my pickaxe and spade, my beer can opener, my earring and even the fillings in my teeth. I thought I was going crazy or about meet my maker in the great beyond.”

McClintock rushed to the county Assay Office to stake his claim. “They wouldn’t let me, even if I used one of the `Other’ forms that they use for UFO stuff,” McClintock recalls. “They wanted more info.”

Under the cover of a dark moonless night, McClintock rode Molly out into the desert again, armed with a $79 metal detector and a long metal spike. Returning to the site of his first plating, he stuck the spike into the ground, hit a metal object buried about a foot underground, then continued out in wider and wider circles while probing and testing at every stage. “I was trying to get the measurements of this thing, whatever it is,” he explained.

Finally, he had his answer. He had found a huge disk, about 100 yards in diameter, buried underground. “The Assay Office let me stake my claim, based on that information,” McClintock explains. “But since I had no idea what I had really found or what to do with it, I called the best precious metals refiners in the US, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344, to ask what I had on my hands. This real nice feller was happy to help me.”

“We’re not yet absolutely sure yet what Mr. McClintock has discovered,” states one of the precious metals recycling experts from Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners. “Whatever it is, it is functioning as a huge platinum sputtering target, probably because of radioactive uranium deposits underneath. That’s why any metal objects that pass over it get quickly plated with platinum.”

Where did this thing come from? It could have been created millions of years ago by a meteorite hitting the earth. Or maybe even it was left behind, or created, by a UFO when it landed. We’ll get to the bottom of it. How much is Mr. McClintock’s find worth? Nothing, sad to say, because there is really no Mr. McClintock and this story is all made up.

But weird things happen on April Fool’s Day, right? Best wishes for recycling success from all of us at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

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What You Need to Know about Recycling Used Magnetron Sputtering Targets

We’ve written about sputtering targets many times before on this blog, including this great explanation of how sputtering targets work. They can contain valuable quantities of precious metals, even after they have outlived their useful life in your coating operations.

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

But what about magnetron sputtering targets? Do they, like gold-bearing sputtering targets, contain valuable quantities of recyclable precious metals? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Magnetron Sputtering?

The first impulse magnetron sputtering (HPIMS) machines were introduced to the market in 2006. They are high-powered sputtering machines that are now widely used in many coating applications for one simple reason: They can apply very dense layers of thin films onto a variety of surfaces, most often ceramics, glass and plastic.

  • Magnetron technology is most often used to apply coatings to:
  • Automotive headlight housings and other reflective surfaces
  • Architectural glass
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Photovoltaic cells
  • Solar panels
  • Superconductors
  • Flat panel displays
  • Lighting surfaces
  • Medical testing devices

Magnetron sputtering machines are also sometimes used to “etch” or pre-treat surfaces that will then be coated using regular sputtering technology.

Here’s a very informative video about magnetron sputtering that was produced by Norfolk State University. If you watch until the end, you’ll see that the HPIMS equipment has been used to coat a glass slide with a thin conductive film.

What Metals Do Used Magnetron Targets Contain?

Used magnetron sputtering targets that were used to apply reflective coatings on glass most often contain quantities of silver and metal oxides, including zinc oxide, tin oxide, or titanium oxide. Yet it is worth remembering that used sputtering targets contain more than just the metals that they were used to deposit – they can contain other metals too, such as thin layers of silver or other metals that were used to bond the targets onto their substrates. If you have used sputtering magnetron targets and would like to know whether they can be profitably recycled, call the best precious metals refiners, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to help you recoup maximum dollars from the precious metals they may contain.

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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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3 Simple Steps: How to Find the Best Gold Refiner

Like many companies, you probably have some older gold-bearing scrap and used equipment and components on hand that could put money in your pocket if you sent them to the right gold refiner. They could be old circuit boards, cellphones, medical equipment, eyeglass frames, automobile airbags, digital cameras, sputtering targets, or gold-containing resins and salts that you don’t use in your manufacturing processes anymore. All those things – and more – could contain valuable quantities of gold.

Image of circuit boards and computer scrap, which contain Gold, Platinum, Palladium, and Silver that Specialty Metals refines and recycles.

What’s stopping you from recycling those unneeded things? It’s probably uncertainty. How can you really know how much gold is inside each of the old cell phones that your electronics company has taken back in trades, for example? You can’t tell by looking. And how can you know much gold can be extracted from the used sputtering targets that you’ve taken off your production line?

If you’re feeling that uncertainty, you’re probably feeling some anxiety too. Sure, you could send those old cellphones or circuit boards to just any precious metal recycling company you find online, but how can you be sure that company will pay you for the gold that those items really contain – and pay you a fair price? How can you be sure that you’re not about to be ripped off?

Three Steps to Finding a Reputable Gold Refining Company that Pays You What You Deserve

Well, there are ways. Here are some steps that can safeguard you . . .

  • Step One – Check out the company’s reputation. Before you send in any items that could potentially contain gold, ask to speak with one or two of the companies that the recycling company serves. Ask those client companies about the refiner’s expertise, honesty, and speed in paying. Note that although many companies display customer testimonials on their websites, those quotes have been carefully selected for inclusion. So speak with some of the refiner’s clients instead.
  • Step Two – Send in only a few items for testing and evaluation.  For example, if you’re an automobile dealer with hundreds of airbags that were removed from cars because of a recall, don’t send them all to a refiner and hope for the best. Send in just one and listen to what the company has to say before sending in everything that you have. Also: Consider sending the same kind of samples to several refiners/recyclers to see which is offering you the highest value.
  • Step Three – Do business with a company that bases its value on current metal prices that you can verify independently. We do this at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, for example. You can always visit our home page to see the current market price for gold. It’s an open, verifiable process, because you’ll know exactly how much gold is contained in each item that you’re recycling and know the current market price too.

Don’t let uncertainty or anxiety keep you from extracting the gold from components and materials that you have on hand. Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners has been the top choice of businesses and individuals in the US for secondary refining for over 30 years. We invite you to call us today at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Why It Pays to Find a Refiner for Silver, the “Forgotten” Precious Metal

Shown: silver for fabrication of jewelry, silverware, electronics, X-rays, sputtering targets and other scrap Specialty Metals recycles and refines.

Shown: silver for fabrication of jewelry, silverware, electronics, X-rays, sputtering targets and other scrap Specialty Metals recycles and refines.

When you think about recycling precious metals, you probably think first of gold, palladium, platinum, rhodium and other “high end” precious metals. You’re smart to think that way. After all, some of them can be worth $1,000 per ounce or even more.

You’re probably not thinking about silver. It’s often the “forgotten” precious metal - the one that you think about last. Silver doesn’t sound sexy. Its price is currently hovering at about $20 an ounce, so it’s worth much less than many other precious metals. But the fact is, a silver refiner can probably write you much bigger checks for your silver-bearing scrap recyclables than you expect, for a simple reason.

You probably have more silver than you believe – possibly a lot more of it.

In addition to jewelry and silverware, it’s widely used in:

  • Automotive components
  • Quantities of plated buttons, trophies, incentive rewards and other easy-to-overlook items
  • Coated plastics
  • Electronic devices of all kinds
  • Gauges and measuring devices
  • Mirrors and machines that contain them
  • Quantities of silver, gold, aluminum, or other metallic paint
  • Rechargeable and other batteries of many kinds – many contain valuable quantities of silver cadmium
  • Silver salts and other unneeded chemicals
  • Silver-plated metal scrap
  • Used or unneeded sputtering targets
  • Thermocouples
  • Unused photographic, medical and dental films of all kinds – some of which could be lying around because they are no longer needed
  • Unused welding supplies
  • X-ray equipment and supplies

And don’t forget silver alloys...

In addition to silver cadmium (mentioned above), many other alloys contain silver too. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook them, because their names don’t even mention silver. They have names like Argentium, Billon, Electrum, Goloid, and even Shibuichi. Don’t overlook their value.

Not sure what you have or whether it contains silver that you can turn into dollars? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and our expert representatives can help you discover the real value of your scrap and unused silver-bearing materials.

7 Strategies to Cut the Costs of Sputtering Targets and Precious Metal-bearing Manufacturing Supplies

Illustration of a super hero, symbolizing how an employee or owner can increase their company profits by recycling used sputtering targets with Specialty Metals.

If you own your own company, it goes without saying that you want to cut costs. After all, every dollar that you save is worth as much as every dollar that you earn. They both look the same when they land on the bottom line, correct?

Even if you work for a company instead of owning one, cutting costs should still be one of your top priorities. If you establish a track record of saving your company money, chances are very good that you will be promoted more quickly, move into company leadership sooner, and enjoy other career benefits.

If you agree that you can earn more and move ahead faster if you’re a cost-cutter, how should you get started? We recently found some excellent tips in “Cost saving tips for manufacturers,” a smart post that Neil Summerfield wrote for The Manufacturer, a UK-based publication. You’ll want to read his article for yourself, because it offers some very smart cost-cutting strategies.

Here’s our take on how some of Summerfield’s cost-cutting approaches can be effective for the readers of this blog, who have an opportunity to increase their earnings by recycling the precious metals in the sputtering targets and other materials that are part of their manufacturing processes, along with a strategy Summerfield never even considered…

Strategy 1: Don’t focus on just one area where your company is spending money and try to cut costs there.

Make an inventory of all the areas where you’re spending, prioritize them, and attack them in a logical order. Example: Your company spends different amounts of money on electricity, payroll, office supplies, building heat and maintenance, and manufacturing supplies. To be an effective cost-cutter, you need to weigh those expenditures and identify areas where the most money can be saved.

Strategy 2: Always make your employees and staffers part of the process.

They are uniquely equipped to help you identify areas where you can cut costs – and they are the best people to create and implement cost-cutting measures.

Strategy 3: Shop around and review your supplier relationships regularly.

Summerfield writes that many companies continue to use the same suppliers for five years or more, without bothering to interview others or compare costs. If you’re in a manufacturing industry, the costs of sputtering targets and other materials can change often, especially materials that contain precious metals, and you need to be aware of current costs. Also: Summerfield recommends reading all the fine print on vendor agreements and contracts, because the clauses and commitments you miss could cost you in the long run.

Strategy 4: Invite suppliers to bid competitively for your business.

Summerfield notes that it’s “a buyer’s market” in most manufacturing industries today. You could also be able to cut costs significantly by getting in the habit of negotiating on prices with your suppliers, even after competitive bidding has taken place.

Strategy 5: Keep completely up-to-date with new technology and production options.

Manufacturing systems are improving regularly, often with the goal of making production faster, less labor-intensive, and less expensive. The more current you are with industry trends, the more you can cut costs.

Strategy 6: Don’t cut costs in ways that “cheapen your business” or diminish the quality of what you make.

Summerfield makes this point, and it is a wise one. If you cut costs in ways that make your organization and its products less competitive or less respected, that’s not a route you should take.

Strategy 7: Reclaim and Recycle the value in your used sputtering targets and precious metal-bearing scrap.

For more than 32 years, our customers have come to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to reclaim the value in their precious metal scrap. Sputtering targets contain gold and other platinum group metals, and that could be money your company is throwing away if you’re not recycling them, not to mention getting the best prices for your scrap by working with us.

Want to be a company hero? Call Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners at 800-426-2344 to find out about setting up a regular program to recycle and refine your precious metal scrap, lowering the cost of manufacturing and putting it right back into your bottom line.

Related Posts:

Don’t Throw Dollars Away! How to Mine the Hidden Value in Used Sputtering Targets
Use an Organized Recycling Program for Sputtering Targets to Boost Your Company Profits by 10% or More
Plating Primer: How Do Sputtering Targets Work?

 

Use an Organized Recycling Program for Sputtering Targets to Boost Your Company Profits by 10% or More

Let’s start today’s post with a question. When your current car has outlived its useful life, how do you plan to dispose of it? Will you reclaim its residual value by trading or selling it? Or will you drive it into the corner of your backyard, park it, and let it rust? Or maybe just drive it off a cliff?

That might sound like a dumb question. Of course, you will reclaim the residual value in your car. Yet the fact remains that many companies make unwise decisions about reclaiming the value in their used sputtering targets. Maybe those companies don’t realize how much money they are letting slip through their fingers. Maybe they are just too disorganized or poorly managed to bother to reclaim the value in their used production materials.

A Smarter Way to Reclaim the Value in Used Sputtering Targets

Image of garbage can filled with gold dollar signs, symbolizing wasted value of precious metals in used sputtering targets that aren’t recycled by Specialty Metals.

An organized recycling program can pay you back by giving you back 10%, 20% or more of every dollar you spend on sputtering targets, which can contain gold and other precious metals. If you’re spending $500, $800 or thousands of dollars on the sputtering targets you use and replacing them frequently, you can do the math. Letting those dollars slip away makes absolutely no sense.

Whether you own a company that uses sputtering targets or work in one, here are some steps to putting those dollars back in your company’s coffers . . .

  • Track the incoming sputtering targets that you buy. Know what they are, where they come from, and what they cost.
  • Inventory sputtering targets carefully to be sure you aren’t losing any to theft, disorganization, or a haphazard materials recycling program. As the old expression goes, “What you don’t know can cost you.”
  • Store your new and used sputtering targets securely. If you’re in the manufacturing business, you already do that with the products you make. If you’re not following similar protocols for sputtering targets and other materials that you use in manufacturing, now is the time to start.
  • Let your employees know that you are watching and keeping track of your inventory. You don’t want to create a climate of mistrust, but you do want them to know that if sputtering targets disappear, you will know.

Note that inventory management systems and software can help you automate the steps described above. Some use bar codes, QR codes, or even transponders to keep tabs on inventory. If you only use a small number of sputtering targets in your manufacturing, you might not need all that technology. The important thing is to evaluate your needs and implement a system that keeps you protected.

Take the Smart Next Step Today – Contact Specialty Metals

As a leader in the secondary refining of precious metals, Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners will help you understand just how much value you can reclaim from every sputtering target you purchase and then recycle – and then help you design a detailed precious metals recycling process.

Why let dollars slip through your fingers? Call Specialty Metal today at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

Related Posts:

Don’t Throw Dollars Away! How to Mine the Hidden Value in Used Sputtering Targets
7 Strategies to Cut the Costs of Sputtering Targets and Precious Metal-bearing Manufacturing Supplies
Plating Primer: How Do Sputtering Targets Work?

 

Precious Metal Alert: Are You Protecting Your Precious Metal Holdings from Pilfering?

The good news is, there could be considerable dollar value in the precious metals, used and new sputtering targets, and other production materials that you keep on hand. The bad news is, those materials are prone to pilfering by visitors to your business or by your own employees too. Small items that contain precious metals, or quantities of the precious metals themselves, are usually easy to conceal in a pocket, a shoe, a briefcase, or elsewhere. The result could be that dollars are literally “walking away” from your company.

Image of a gold vault door, symbolizing the value of precious metals in used sputtering targets that can be refined and recycled by Specialty Metals.

If you’re a small company with only a few trustworthy employees, you might not need to worry about pilfering. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to review the following security procedures. They can help deter theft or identify individuals who have been stealing from you if losses have already occurred.

  • Control access to your premises by equipping employees with key cards or access badges. Consider using a system that generates an ongoing record of employees’ arrivals and departures from your building too – the knowledge that their movements are being tracked will help discourage any dishonest employees from pilfering your materials. Also: If you discover that a theft has just occurred, identifying the guilty party will be a lot easier if you have an accurate record of who was on site at the time.
  • Monitor, lock, and alarm exit doors. Have you ever visited a factory where employees prop open an exit door during the warm summer months? We have. Unless you prevent that, there’s a good chance that valuable materials will walk right out the door.
  • Install a second security perimeter around areas where precious metals or other valuable materials are stored. It could be a safe room or a metal security cage with access that is restricted by a card-activated electronic lock or other means. Another option: Use an “open security” strategy by storing valuable materials in a central location that is constantly in view from a main office.
  • Install video surveillance cameras prominently throughout your premises. They should be outside your main entrance, pointed from the outside at all secondary exit doors, and positioned around production machinery and in areas where valuable materials are stored. Also: Consider installing them visibly in company parking areas; they send a signal that your company is well protected against theft.
  • Have a professional security company review and upgrade your current alarm if necessary. The addition of a few features – such as a second alarmed perimeter around storage areas or cellular (not land-line) call-out to notify local police – can make your current alarm a lot more robust.
  • Minimize the precious materials that you keep on your premises. That could mean applying “just in time” production protocols, in which new sputtering targets and other valuable materials arrive just when you need them, not weeks or months ahead of time. It also means quickly disposing of used sputtering targets or other valuable materials. The longer valuable materials sit around, the greater the chances are that they will be stolen. Troubling: Many companies only discover a theft long after it has occurred - that is usually because valuable materials have been stored on site for weeks or months. We can help you with the disposal: call Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners at 800-426-2344 to find out about setting up a regular program to recycle and refine your precious metal scrap like gold from sputtering targets.
  • Install bright lighting in your parking lot, around exit doors, and in other key areas that could be vulnerable during non-business hours. Lights are strong deterrents. Also: If you have a stand-alone manufacturing facility, avoid having extensive plantings adjacent to your building’s exterior walls. They might be attractive, but they provide thieves with a convenient area to conceal stolen items or hide.

Also . . .

Consider hiring a security company. Even if you don’t need to have a professional security guard on your premises during business hours, consider retaining a professional security company to check on your business during non-business hours. Be sure to post signs that your premises are being monitored by that company too – they go a long way toward discouraging theft.

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How Solar Panel Manufacturers Let $MILLIONS Slip through Their Fingers

If you’re in the business of manufacturing solar panels, you’re already an expert in applying thin films. You’re as familiar with applying molybdenum, selenium, tellurium, tin, and other materials as most folks are with walking their dogs. You’re already buying sputtering targets for your thin-film applications from manufacturers in America, Asia and possibly elsewhere too.

No question, you’re an expert. But do you know something else about those metals that can put dollars back in your company’s pocket?

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

We’re talking about recycling sputtering targets once they have outlived their effective production life. Not many companies realize that even when sputtering targets have lived out their lives in the manufacturing of solar panels, they can still retain 4%, 10%, or more of the precious metals that they contained when new – and that significant dollars can be reclaimed by recycling them.

If you spend $10,000 each year on sputtering targets, a simple precious metals recycling program could return $1,000 or more to you. If you spend more than that, you can net an even bigger return. It doesn’t make sense to let those dollars slip away.

Specialty Metals Refiners will help you design a detailed recycling process that can help you understand just how much value you can reclaim from every sputtering target you purchase and then recycle.

Why let dollars slip through your fingers? Call Specialty Metal Refiners today at 800-426-2344 to learn more. 

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:
Use an Organized Recycling Program for Sputtering Targets to Boost Your Company Profits by 10% or More
7 Strategies to Cut the Costs of Sputtering Targets and Precious Metal-bearing Manufacturing Supplies
Plating Primer: How Do Sputtering Targets Work?