Most investors have no idea that the vast array of silver uses has created a worldwide demand that far exceeds supply. The few who do understand the fundamental uses for silver assume that, as with any commodity, deflation will continue to weigh on silver prices.
These investors are missing the unique position of silver metal as both a commodity and monetary asset. There are a dizzying, yet undeniable number of reasons that people continue to frequent coin shops.
Following is an overview of how silver is used in modern times. See for yourself how profitable silver can potentially be for the average investor.
Silver in Electronics
Since silver is the best electrical conductor of all metals, it is an absolute must in conductors, switches, contacts and fuses.
Here’s an overview of the characteristics that create so many silver uses in electronics:Low contact resistanceHigh thermal conductivityMechanical wear resistanceChemical stabilityLow polymer formationCost-effectiveness, with the longest functional life of any metal alternative
Furthermore, silver is an important element in many types of batteries—most quartz watch batteries contain a silver oxide cell for longer life and more power, as do many other types of batteries, including rechargeable and disposable batteries of all sizes.
Medical Uses for Silver
Silver uses in purification have been known throughout the ages. Today, silver is used in many health-care products. Specifically, silver sulfadiazine is used by every hospital in North America to prevent infections in burn victims. Other health-related silver uses include:Wound dressings and other would care products.Climate control system components.gowns, catheters, stethoscope diaphragms and other medical equipment.
There are also a number of silver uses in the military sector. The dry lubricity of silver provides the margin of safety required in giant engines with high-speed parts that otherwise run the risk of oil interruption and serious damage.
In other words, the military needs silver coated bearings to provide the performance and safety critical for jet engines. Of course, this applies to domestic air travel as well.
Brazing and Soldering
Silver, when used in brazing and soldering, produces naturally smooth, leak-tight and corrosion-resistant joints. Not only is silver bactericidal, it offers a combination of high tensile strength, ductility, thermal conductivity, and unusual wettability to most metals.Silver is used in appliances that use water, in electronics and other manufacturing industriesSilver-tin solders are used for bonding copper pipe in homes to eliminate lead and provide built-in antibacterial action (see medical uses for silver below)Silver alloys provide strong bonds for ceramic-to-ceramic joints, silicon chips to metallic surfaces, and surface mounted electronic components soldered to printed circuit boards
Silver Used in Chemistry
The list of silver uses in the chemical industry is nearly endless. Here are just a few examples of products that rely upon the use of silver:Polyester textilesMolded items (such as handles for stoves, key tops for computers, electrical control knobs, domestic appliance components, and electrical connector housings)Mylar tapeAntifreeze coolantCleaning and wetting agents
Jewelry and Silverware
Silver possesses working qualities similar to gold but enjoys greater reflectivity and can achieve the most brilliant polish of any metal.
To make it durable for jewelry, however, pure silver (999 fineness) is often alloyed with small quantities of copper. In many countries, sterling silver (92.5% silver, 7.5% copper for toughening) is the standard for silverware and has been since the 14th century.
Silver, being a rare and noble metal, has been used as a medium of exchange throughout all recorded history.
Until the late 19th century most nations were on a silver standard with silver coins forming the main circulating currency—silver being in greater supply and of less value than gold, thus being more practical for everyday payments.
As gold became more plentiful, however, silver was slowly replaced. Currently, in the U.S., silver is used only in bullion, commemorative and proof coins. However, silver coins continue to be the medium of exchange wherever paper is not acceptable, for example, in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
The List Goes On...
Silver plays a role in many more products that impact our daily lives. Following are just a few of the many ways in which silver is used now and will continue to be used in the future:ElectroplatingMirrors and other coatingsPhotography, including x-ray imagingSolar energy generationWater purification
Want a more comprehensive review? Try the Silver Institute's page on silver uses.
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