Although metal fabrication is a process known to many, only a few have a thorough understanding of the use of gold and silver fabrication. Fabricated metals, especially silver, have high demand and are a critical part of the production process in different industries, from solar energy to medicine. In general, fabricated metals are essential for creating everything from pipes and wires to car parts and electrical equipment. Silver fabrication in Australia makes for 9% of the global market share.
What is Metal Fabrication?
Metal fabrication involves shaping the metals suitable for different parts and end products. They can be fabricated to form cables, solders, wires, tubes, chains, sheets, strips, granules and more, based on the buyer’s requirements or the industry. Numerous techniques are used to fabricate metals into shapes that play a significant role in mass production.
The Role of Silver in Metal Fabrication
Silver is known for its malleability, ductility (as it can be reshaped or squashed), strength and lustre, and aptly called the “indispensable metal”. It is popularly used to make jewellery pieces, decorative art, idols, tableware and fine arts. Under industrial use, silver is known for its heat and electrical conductivity, anti-bacterial qualities and light sensitivity. Silver is an invaluable metal used to braze and solder alloys, create glass coatings, LED chips, batteries, dentistry, RFID chips used for tracking shipments, touch screens, semiconductors and other industrial uses. Fabricated silver is also used in photography, nuclear energy, solar or photovoltaic energy, wood preservation, water purification, medicine and more. The shift of the demand from older industries has now moved to newer technologically oriented uses.
Significant Uses of Fabricated Silver
1) Solar or Photovoltaic Energy
The light-sensitive property of silver has found its way into the photovoltaic industry. It is used as a conductive ink for solar cells or solar panels to transform the light into electricity. Based on the Silver Institute’s World Silver Survey results in 2014, the demand for ‘silver-lined’ photovoltaic cells has compounded at an annual rate of 20% over the past ten years.
2) Photographic Use
Even though there is a decline in use, silver used to be one of the significant components in cameras due to its light-sensitive properties. Photography being a No. 1 end-user of silver, it used silver nitrate to create halide crystals that are light sensitive. The high light sensitiveness led to silver being used to produce radiography elements to inspect industrial or medical equipment, graphic arts and consumer photography. It hit its highest demand in 1999, accounting for 25% of the fabricated silver. In the current times, the stills captured by x-rays pose as the biggest consumers of silver.
3) Industrial Silver Fabrication
Due to its electrical and thermal conductivity, silver is popularly used in the electrical industry to produce appliances, contacts, fuses, switches and more. It is mainly used in multi-layered capacitors made of ceramics, manufacturing silver films, membrane switches, automobile windshields that are electrically heated, adhesives that are conductive and thick film pastes. Apart from these, fabricated silver is used in the automation industry as the contacts used to trigger the actions in modern cars is usually coated by silver. Silver membrane switches help activate all the car’s basic actions, including starting an engine, adjusting power seats, opening and closing power trunks and windows. Brazing and soldering alloys with silver help produce corrosion-free, smooth and leak-tight joints.
Being a precious metal primarily used in jewellery, it is one of the highly sought after fabricated metals in the industrial sector.