PGMs: uses and applications of Platinum Group Metals

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The six platinum group metallic elements, also known as platinum group metals or PGMs, are noble metals employed in numerous applications: from fountain pens to aircraft turbines, from cell phones to catalytic converters, from ceramic enamels to precious jewelry.

Platinum metals play a central role in our society: it is estimated that 1 in 4 goods produced to date contains platinum or the like, and that PGM metals have played a key role in their production. In the future, platinum group metals will be increasingly sought after and used in energy generation, transportation, healthcare, and many other areas.

What are the platinum group metals

The platinum group consists of six noble metals with a white-silver color: platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. Similar in their properties, PGMs are placed together on the periodic table and are derived from the same mineralization.

  • Platinum (Pt): undoubtedly the most well-known of PGMs. It has a high melting point and thermal stability, is highly resistant to corrosion, serves as a good catalyst for oxidation, and is biologically compatible.
  • Palladium (Pd): though not as popular as platinum, it has a unique ability to absorb hydrogen, making it suitable for various chemical processes. Like platinum, palladium is chemically stable and possesses catalytic properties.
  • Rhodium (Rh): another particularly efficient catalyst, with a high melting point and remarkable thermal stability.
  • Iridium (Ir): the rarest and most corrosion-resistant metal, very dense and biologically compatible, with high chemical and thermal stability.
  • Ruthenium (Ru): it serves as a good alloying agent, has a high melting point and strength, and exhibits catalytic and conductive properties.
  • Osmium (Os): the densest and hardest metal, often combined with other PGMs, is an excellent conductor of electricity and an effective catalyst.
macchine per platino metalli pgm

Common uses and applications of PGMs

The platinum metals are highly valued for their wide range of industrial, medical, and electronic applications. They are versatile noble materials that play a significant role in various products we use daily, such as:

  • Catalytic converters: they represent the largest sector for PGMs, accounting for over 70% of the global demand for platinum, palladium, and rhodium combined.
  • Jewelry: PGM metals are also used in jewelry production, due to their corrosion resistance and high-temperature properties.
  • Medical field: the biocompatibility properties of PGMs makes them suitable for use in medical implants, surgical instruments, cardiac devices and dental applications.
  • Aerospace/Automotive: platinum group metals are present in electric vehicle powertrains, aircraft turbines, fuel cells, and emission control systems.
  • General industry: PGM metals are employed for filaments and electrical contacts, electrodes and thermocouples, nitric acid and silicones, LCD glass and coatings.
  • Consumer electronics: such as cell phones, hard disks and small appliances.
  • Precision instruments: iIncluding standard weights and lengths, tips, pins and nibs.

PGMs are exceptionally durable and can be processed very efficiently. Due to their unique life cycle, over 96% of platinum group metals are recovered through recycling techniques to minimize metallic waste in the environment.

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PGM metals processing with INVIMEC

In general, the production of components in platinum or PGM alloys involves processing specific raw materials and semi-finished products, such as:

  • Metal wires: also known as PGM wires, they can be processed using rolling or drawing techniques for use in a wide range of applications, including electrodes, connectors, electronic or medical components, etc.
  • Strips: thin strips made of platinum or platinum alloys, PGM strips can have varying thicknesses and are used for different components like sensors, contacts, thermocouples, etc.

With a continuously growing demand and research in the field, the use of platinum metals is set to expand further. Thanks to their exceptional physical and chemical properties, the platinum group metals continue to find applications in a wide range of industries.

With over 50 years of experience in metal processing, INVIMEC has been able to design and provide machines tailored to the production of components in platinum and PGM alloys, meeting the demands of the industrial, jewelry, medical, and electronic markets.

Our machine range include industrial rolling mills, wire rolling mills for specific sectors such as watchmaking and jewelry, combined rolling and forming systems for special applications and materials, including all platinum group metals and PGM alloys. Our company is also available for a free consultation on your project.

Contact us to know more!