FAQ - Rare and special metals and materials

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Richard Hull
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FAQ - Rare and special metals and materials

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:26 pm

Often, for one purpose of another in our work, we must acquire rare metals or materials that are not common to the general public's marketplace.

Good places to check for precious metals are...

Pawn shops
Gold and silver buyer/seller locations
Kitco.com

Rare metals can be found at.....

Kitco.com
RotoMetals.com (a favorite of mine)
Alpha-Aesar

Odd materials, special plastics and polymers can be located at...........

Local plastic suppliers and shops in big cities
Mc Master-Carr
On-line searches

Construction materials steel, aluminum, wood. etc. can often be found at.............

Local junk and scrap yards..( very inexpensive if you find the right items)
Lowes, Home Depot and hardware stores. ( small formed aluminum stock, threaded rod stock, drilled steel angle stock)
Lumber yards often have interesting materials...Take a look around.

Don't be discouraged. Instead, get out there and look for the least expensive, usable source.

And now for a bit of history about my attempts to locate elements for collecting that has proved useful in my Fusor work.

As I was poking about in the metals market I was stunned to see what my Hafnium stock is worth. Way back in the late 80's and throughout the 90's I bought large amounts of various rare metals in the form of scrap wire, sheet, foil, rod and bar stock from a local firm that formed the raw rare metals into those different forms and sold to Aldrich, Alpha Aesar, Goodfellows, IBM, Smith Corona, HP, Boeing and others. Among the metals I bought were Tungsten, Indium, Zirconium, Tantalum, Hafnium, Niobium/Columbium, Magnesium, electrolytic O.F. copper, hyper pure Aluminum, Sodium, etc.

It turns out that they sold their scrap back to the raw metals sellers that supplied them. Due to the tremendous loses and expenses incurred in taking their scrap and turning it back into bulk metals again, they often got only 10-20% of what they paid in return for their scrap. In the case of Magnesium and Tungsten the manufacturers would take the scrap back but would pay nothing for it, at that time. So I got those scraps for free.

Back then they paid about $150 per lb for Hafnium rod stock which they turned into wire, foil, sheet and smaller rod stock. They sold their scrap Hf to me for $21.00/lb if in the form of rod, block or plate, according to my notes taken back then. Needless to say, I would only take useful scrap, like wire, foil, sheet and rod stock of all the metal scraps I purchased from them. Hafnium was no exception. I have about 20kg of various forms of Hf here and the current market price, as of Yesterday for 1" diameter rod stock containing 0.2% tramp Zirconium was $1780.00/kg.

Finally the worst scrap that often paid only 5% back from the bulk metal sellers was foil and wire which tended to vaporize in any remelt effort. Hf foil and wire was sold to me at $7.00/lb back then. This, as it turned out, was the most useful form for me! For your amusement, check out the prices of these wire and foils. The normal fabrication charges chase the commercial mass price of the finished product up by 1000 to 10,000%!!!

Roto-metals is one of the most fabulous of sellers in the interesting metals market as of this writing. You need to check them out no matter what!

I have found it useful to find places who have interesting things that I don't really need now, but either write them down in a notebook, if local, or bookmark them, if on-line. I really hate it when I need something I saw cheap and in abundance somewhere, then need it desperately, but can't remember where I saw it.

From Aluminium to Zirconium, it is out there and at some point you may need it.


Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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