While it is likely gold was first found as shining nuggets in streambeds, the world’s true metallic riches are only unlocked through mining. It typically takes tons of ore to produce just grams of precious metals, and the last step in this process is refining. Induction furnaces made by an Inductotherm Group company are widely used for refining precious metals at mine sites worldwide.
Because of their great value and durability, precious metals are seldom truly lost or used up. Instead, whether initially used to make jewelry or electrical contacts, they eventually are recycled and remelted to be used again. Inductotherm Group companies build induction systems that are used by remelters and recyclers worldwide to produce clean, homogeneous and on specification precious metals alloys for use in a wide range of applications.
More than 8000 years ago, Stone Age man wore gold for adornment. Several millennia later, he would use coins made of gold and silver. Today both jewelry-making and minting bullion coins continue to be important parts of the precious metals industry. One Inductotherm Group company builds small induction melting systems designed for the custom jewelry maker as well as larger systems for manufacturers of rings and chains and for mints worldwide.
From King Tut’s spectacular gold sarcophagus to Europe’s gilded Baroque churches, precious metals have long been used in the arts and in architecture. Until recently, precious metals in architecture and construction were used almost exclusively to adorn religious structures, palaces and public buildings. Today, however, they are being used in buildings of all kinds. Energy efficient glazing, made with highly reflective precious metals films, has become more important than gilding.
Alchemists trying to change base metals into gold may have been the first chemists. But in modern chemistry, precious metals themselves are used to create a wealth of products. For example, platinum catalysts are used to produce nitric acid and to refine crude oil and high-octane gasoline. Silver also is a catalyst, and its compounds are used to make powerful explosives. Gold nanoparticle catalysts show potential for making compounds in agrochemicals and other chemical products.
In spite of their high cost, the beneficial and often unique properties of precious metals have led to their use in many industrial and consumer products. Automotive catalytic converters use platinum or palladium to reduce emissions; high quality electronics use gold, silver or platinum connectors; gold foils are used as insulation in aerospace applications; platinum crucibles are used in making optical glass, and silver is used in optical coatings, photographic film and in brazing.
Gold and silver have long been used in dentistry and, along with platinum group metals, continue to provide the best performance for many dental applications. Gold teeth and caps and silver fillings typically last a lifetime. Gold, silver and platinum group metals also are used in a variety of medical applications, including platinum surgical wire, silver-based anti-microbial agents and gold-based treatments for cancer and arthritis.
Whether an induction furnace is used to melt the noblest of metals or the basest iron, professional installation maintenance and, when necessary, repairs, are essential. That is why every company in the Inductotherm Group provides its customers with the highest level of technical support and professional service. But for several companies in the Group, their primary business is providing engineering, installation and maintenance services backed by the Group's worldwide presence and its depth of thermal processing expertise.