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A Guide To Recognizing The Perfect Metal Or Alloy For Your Needs

It may lack the ring of words like money or love, but cliches aside, it is metals and alloys that make the world go 'round. They make up such large shares of the structures that keep us sheltered, the vehicles that get us to our destinations and the tools that allow us to carry out our various professional duties and personal responsibilities.

For AMETEK ECP, metals serve alongside glass and ceramics as foundational raw elements of our trade. As such, we'd like to take the time to profile some of these metals and alloys, examining what makes them so valuable to us and the applications for which they will be best suited. While you may have some idea of what you're looking for if you've come to AMETEK for microelectronic components, packaging or cabling, it never hurts to refresh one's memory regarding the specific attributes of metals.

A brief glimpse into the world of metals trading

Many of the commodities markets that loom large in the arena of global trade and investment depend on the rise and fall of metal prices, most notably the London Metal Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange. Let's take a quick look at where these stand:
  • According to Reuters, the latest updates to these marketplaces - as of January 2018 - saw upticks in the costs of copper, with declines experienced by zinc and lead.
  • It's entirely possible that the exact inverse of that will be true tomorrow, but on a broader scale early in 2018, copper prices on the London exchange saw a drop of approximately 8 percent.
  • Over the next several months, the recent tariffs imposed by the White House on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. will loom large in many discussions of international trade - not merely those involving the commodities markets. It's all but guaranteed that numerous sectors, ranging from broad categories like construction and manufacturing to specialized industries, in which AMETEK operates, will feel various effects from the new import taxes. 

The flexibility and variety of alloys

In their elemental state, more than a few of the metals commonly found in AMETEK products have weaknesses - which our metallurgists can easily mitigate by combining them into specific alloys.


Our Coining division handles all of the design and fabrication responsibilities necessary for the creation of all AMETEK metal components - whether they use full-purity metals or alloys - every step of the way, from casting, rolling and tool & die making, to deburring, stamping and packaging. In-house metallurgists draw on nearly 100 years of experience within the industry to create hundreds of different alloy compositions that are readily available as detailed in the Coining alloy list, and will also take requests for custom alloy combinations to meet clients' needs.

metals and alloys

Choosing between various alloys and pure metals

Cost and overall effect on a corporate bottom line are major factors in any material decision, of course. But the choice between purchasing a given alloy component or one made of a 100 percent pure metal - debating the merits of aluminum blended and gold bonding wire, for example - should draw on a number of other factors as well. Let's quickly go over a few of them:

  • Melting point and heat resistance: If your business is going to involve extreme-heat operations, such as certain aerospace and industrial applications, any electronic components necessary for power, communications and other purposes require protective coverings able to withstand great temperatures. Pure gold and silver have some of the highest melting points of any metal used in such contexts, retaining solidus integrity up to 1,064 degrees Celsius (1,947 Fahrenheit) and 961 Celsius (1,762 Fahrenheit), respectively. By contrast, tin and lead aren't nearly as hardy, with melting points closer to 232 degrees Celsius (420 Fahrenheit) and 327 degrees Celsius (621 Fahrenheit), respectively.
  • Electrical conductivity: When strong electrical conductivity is required, silver and copper easily take top marks, with 105 percent and 100 percent conductivity, respectively, per the International Annealed Copper Standard. Copper, however, boasts more resiliency to general wear and tear and will conduct high-frequency electrical currents with greater efficacy. A silver-based alloy that contains copper, or vice versa, would likely be your best choice. 
  • Electrical Resistance: On the opposite end of the spectrum, if it's essential to resist electrical conductivity as much as possible, elements and compounds such as tin, lead or nickel aluminum bronze will be more appropriate.
  • Tensile Strength: While not necessarily as important as other factors in this context - after all, an AMETEK product like a solder preform isn't going to be any machine's primary material - it will still be worthwhile to take the hardiness of a metal or alloy into consideration. A weak solder joint for a connection in a cell phone, for example, may fail and compromise functioning if (when) the cell phone is dropped. Steel and aluminum alloys have the most incredible tensile strength, capable of bearing 90,000 and 45,000 pounds per square inch before reaching their breaking points. Among alloys commonly found in Coining components manufactured for AMETEK ECP, copper, nickel, aluminum and tungsten all have notable ratings for their tensile strength.
  • Corrosion Resistance: In a broad variety of industrial settings, workers and equipment find themselves in close proximity to a variety of corrosive substances. Electronic circuits, semiconductors, cabling and other components must, as a result, be contained within packages that bear the ability to come into contact with liquid- or gas-based corrosion over long periods of time. Gold and silver are somewhat corrosion-resistant, particularly the former, but both tarnish easily. Aluminum and nickel are corrosion-resistant on their own, and even stronger when put together. Indium is another metal with notable resistance to corrosion, and the in-house metallurgists at Coining can combine it with tin, bismuth or gold to develop tough alloys that won't be troubled by pressures of the elements.

As the business world becomes more and more competitive each year, companies need to seize on any advantage available to them. Choosing the best possible components and packages, made of the strongest raw materials, can lead to cost savings and notable performance increases that any organization can appreciate. No matter your metal or alloy needs, AMETEK ECP has the pedigree, in-house capabilities and proven track record necessary to serve them in exemplary fashion.


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