Gold Uses In Industry

November 11, 2008 | By | Reply More

Gold IngotA knowledge of the commercial uses of gold enables a savvy investor to make a judgement on the future demand for the metal and in conjunction with other criteria such as the erosion of the purchasing power of a currency, political factors, gold hoarding or selling off by governments, the technical picture, etc.etc., can make the decision to be long, short or stay out of the market until a more favorable opportunity occurs.

 

Basic Information

  • Chemical Symbol: Au
  • Atomic Number: 79
  • Melting Point: 1947.97 Degrees Fahrenheit, 1064.43 Degrees Centigrade

Medicine

Gold is non toxic and biologically benign, an excellent conductor of electricity, virtually indestructible, easy to shape and flatten and can be drawn out into microscopically thin strands known as bonding wire.

  • The most well known use of gold in medicine is in dentistry. The metal is combined with other metals such as platinum, silver, copper zinc or palladium to produce non-toxic, chemically inert alloys that are easy for dentists to work with and are strong and lasting. The current demand for gold in dentistry is about 60 tonnes annually having recovered from a decline to circa 48 tonnes in 1987.
  • Rapid and ongoing developments in the use of lasers incorporating gold coatings are making dramatic progress in the treatment of cancers, sealing battlefield wounds in the field, emergency injury treatments in hospitals and previously inoperable heart conditions and tumors.
  • Lasers reliant on gold are used in delicate eye and brain surgery where absolute accuracy is essential. Another recent development is the use of gold-coated lasers in the rejuvenation of burnt or damaged skin tissue leaving adjacent healthy tissue unaffected.
  • Gold helps in the treatment of prostate cancer and some other cancers and is used in surgical instruments to clear clogged arteries.
  • It is used in an eye surgery procedure to correct a condition, known as Lagophthalmos, where eyelids cannot be fully closed. By surgically implanting gold into the upper lids the gravity effect of its weight allows the lids to close when the muscles relax.
  • Computerized wheelchairs enable the handicapped to have more control over their movements. The controls and the computer are linked by gold wire (bonding wire) and gold-coated pads that are both resistant to corrosion and have high electrical conductivity. As these power wheelchairs are used outdoors and often exposed to extremes of temperature and weather, the use of gold in essential components is necessary to minimize breakdowns and the possible life threatening consequences.

Hi-Tech Electronics

  • Gold plays an essential part in every one of the millions of computers and peripherals that are produced worldwide every year. Gold is refined to 99.999 % pure and is drawn out to a wire only one hundredth of a millimeter in diameter.
  • This bonding wire is used to connect the semi-conductors and circuits. It is used on circuit boards and to make the contacts when using the keyboard. The printed circuit boards in computer games have gold circuitry and gold plated contacts are used in the plugs to ensure trouble free contacts. Washing machines, dishwashers and even the humble pocket calculator need gold to operate reliably and efficiently.

Telecommunications

  • In every telephone mouthpiece there is a transmitter that uses gold in its diaphragm. The metal is used for its dependability in the variety of conditions that are likely to be encountered.
  • Throughout the telephone systems of the world gold is used to plate billions of contacts for phone jacks and connecting cords because of its’ signal reliability and that it will not corrode or otherwise deteriorate.

TVs, VCRs and DVD Players

  • The circuits are connected by fine lines of gold to the micro-electronic circuit chips that change the incoming signals into a TV picture and sound.

Space

  • As the exploration of space continues so more and more uses for gold are being developed. Silicon wafers containing gold wafers protect on board computers in spacecraft from bombardment by heavy ions in space and allows monitoring and adjustments of the computers by ground control.
  • State of the art sophisticated and intricate gold circuitry allowed color pictures and chemical analysis of the surface of Mars to be transmitted back to earth.

The tonnage of gold used annually in the electronics industry amounts to approximately 150 tonnes with Japan being the major electronics manufacturer and accounting for over 45% of gold consumption, followed by The US with circa 30%.

The ever increasing speed of advances in technology suggests that even more uses will be found for the unique properties of gold and the consequential increase in consumption by the industrial sector alone.

Gold as a store of value and gold in jewelry and other adornments are subjects that warrant their own special informative articles on this site.

When deciding whether or not to  play the precious metals markets, gold has, without doubt, the most complex of considerations to evaluate but also can be by far the most rewarding to both the informed long term investor and the short term speculator.

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