Search:

Skip Navigation Links
Tag: precious metals
The Many Uses of Silver ~ The Silver Institute
Note from SG&S:  One of the things that all precious metals experts agree upon is the fact that apart from being a precious metal, silver is a valuable investment for its industrial use alone. Ted Butler referenced this in his speeches at the Phoenix Silver Summit this past spring, "Silver: Past, Present & Future" (ref. http://www.teapartysilver.org/news/TPNews10.html & http://www.teapartysilver.org/news/TPNews11.html .
Another feature that enhances the value of silver as an industrial metal is its increasing scarcity. We are not seeing this visibly yet in the investor marketplace, but the experts are watching this and commenting on it with increasing frequency.
The following information from The Silver Institute details the many ways in which silver is valuable as an industrial metal. As an investor, you may draw your own conclusions.
 
The Many Uses of Silver
 
Pharmaceuticals
Silver is leading a revolution in technology and medicine. The white metal's unique bacteria-fighting qualities are becoming more and more critical in healing conditions ranging from severe burns to Legionnaires Disease. In fact, the most powerful treatment for burns is silver sulfadiazine, which is used in every hospital in North America to promote healing and reduce infection. Everything from surgical threads to bandages and dressings to doctors' coats and catheters are utilizing silver. In hospitals and homes, silver in ductwork provides maximum sterile atmosphere.
 
Electrical
Silver is the best electrical conductor of all metals. Because it does not corrode, its use in electrical and motor control switches is universal. A fully-equipped automobile may have over 40 silver-tipped switches to start the engine, activate power steering, brakes, windows, mirrors, locks and other electrical accessories
 
Chemical Catalyst
Silver is also one of the few elements that improve the efficiency of chemical reactions. It is the only catalyst that will oxidize ethylene gas into ethylene oxide, the building block for polyester textiles used for clothing and specialty fabrics, and melded items like computer keyboards, electrical control knobs, domestic appliance components and Mylar tape used for all audio, VCR and recording tapes. Nanotechnology applications using silver are growing -- in computers, communications, miniature motors and switches.
 
Reflectants
Silvered windshields in homes, cars and office buildings reflect away some 70% of the solar energy that would otherwise pass through, thus reducing the load on air conditioners. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star Program has spurred 50% increase in silver-coated glass in past six years, translating to 350 million square feet of glass, or five million ounces of silver per year.
 
Industrial
Silver is the ideal industrial material. No other metal has silver's combined strength, malleability and ductility, or facilitates electrical and thermal conductivity as well, or can reflect light and endure such extreme temperature changes. Jet engines of today and tomorrow can depend on silver-coated bearings for their performance and safety. All major jet engine manufacturers utilize these high-performance silver bearings, which provide critical fail-safe lubrication required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
 
Printed Circuitry
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) use silver for connecting paths of electronic circuitry. PCBs are essential to the electronics that control the operation of aircraft, automobile engines, electrical appliances, security systems, telecommunication networks, mobile telephones, television receivers. Most computer keyboards use silver membrane switches.
 
Superconductors
These low-current switches are also found in control panels of cable television, telephones, and devices using digital electronics. Superconductivity is the power transmission of the future and silver makes it faster and more effective. Silver-jacketed superconducting oxide wires can carry more than 140 times the electric load of copper wire with less than 1 percent of the weight. This wire utilizes about 1,000 ounces of silver per mile. Silver already improves performance at lighter weights and size in cables, motors, generators and transformers. Silver oxide-zinc batteries provide higher voltages and longer life for such consumer goods as quartz watches, cameras, and electronic tools.
 
Electroplating
The ease of electrodeposition of silver accounts for silver's widespread use in coating. The plating thickness of some items, such as fuse caps, is less than one micron although the silver then tarnishes more easily. Coatings of two to seven microns are normal for heavy duty electrical equipment. Silver plating is used in a wide variety of applications from Christmas Tree ornaments to cutlery and hollowware.
 
Brazing & Soldering
Silver facilitates the joining of materials (called brazing when done at temperatures above 600oCelsius and soldering when below) and produces naturally smooth, leak-tight and corrosion-resistant joints. Silver brazing alloys are used widely in applications ranging from air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment to power distribution equipment in the electrical engineering sector. It is also used in the automobile and aerospace industries.
 
Coins
Silver, being a rare and noble metal, was a more desirable medium of exchange than beads, feathers, shells, and the like. Its use as a medium of exchange is known throughout all recorded history. Coins, in the sense of having an authenticating stamp on them, began to appear in the eastern Mediterranean during 550 B.C. By 269 B.C. Rome adopted silver as part of its standard coinage. Silver became the trading medium for merchants throughout the civilized world. (Gold being reserved for governments and the wealthy.) Today silver coins continue to be the medium of exchange wherever paper is not acceptable, for example, in parts of Africa and the Middle East. One example of a trade coin is the Empress Maria Theresia Taler, first minted in Austria in 1741. It was standardized in 1780 as 28 grams and 833/1000 silver (the remainder copper). Some 370 million of these 1780 dated coins have been minted up to 1996 and a large proportion remain in circulation today.
 
Photography
Although a wide variety of other technology is available, silver-based photography will retain its pre-eminence due to its superior definition and low cost. From it's very outset, silver halide has been the material that records what is to be seen in the photograph. As little as 4 photons of light activate silver halides which amplify that incident light by a factor of one billion times. In today's photography, silver halides are coupled with dyes that bring the color of the world around us into permanent record. An estimated 196 million troy ounces of silver were used worldwide in 2003 for photographic purpose.
 
Silverware & Jewelry
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) is the standard for silverware and has been since the 14th century.
 
Mirrors & Coatings
Silver's unique optical reflectivity, and its property of being virtually 100% reflective after polishing, allows it to be used both in mirrors and in coatings for glass, cellophane or metals. Everyone is accustomed to silvered mirrors. What is new is invisible silver, a transparent coating of silver on double pane thermal windows. This coating not only rejects the hot summer sun, but also reflects inward internal house heat. A new double layer of silver on glass marketed as "low E squared" is sweeping the window market as it reflects away almost 95% of the hot rays of the sun, creating a new level of household energy savings. Over 250 million square feet of silver- coated glass is used for domestic windows in the U.S. yearly and much more for silver coated polyester sheet for retrofitting windows.
 
Solar Energy
Silver paste is used in 90 percent of all crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, which are the most common solar cell, according to the Photovoltaic Technology Division of the U.S. Department of Energy. And all silicon cells used in space to power satellites use silver in the form of evaporated metal to make the electrical contact. The electricity generated by photovoltaic cells is highly reliable. As soon as sunlight strikes, power begins to flow. Sunlight striking silicon cells generates electrons, which the silver conductors collect to become a useful electric current. The conductive silver, which also enhances reflection of the sunlight, is applied in the form of a glass paste with a minimum of 90 percent silver along the top and across the bottom of the silicon crystal. When fired, the silver forms a complete circuit collecting solar energy and conducting it to the power supply line. A group of roofing-tile solar cells can generate sufficient power to provide a house and also fill batteries to supply power after dark. Silver plays yet another role in the collection of solar energy: efficient reflection of solar heat. Silver is the best reflector of thermal energy (after gold).
 
Water Purification
An increasing trend is the millions of on-the-counter and under-the-counter water purifiers that are sold each year in the United States to rid drinking water of bacteria, chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, particulates, and odor. Here silver is used to prevent the buildup of bacteria and algae in the filters. Of the billions of dollars spent yearly in the U.S. for drinking water purification systems, over half make advantageous use of the bactericidal properties of silver. New research has shown that the catalytic action of silver, in concert with oxygen, provides a powerful sanitizer, virtually eliminating the need for the use of corrosive chlorine
 
 
The Case for Buying Silver: A History of Paper ~ Howard Ruff
The Case for Buying Silver: A History of Paper
Howard Ruff
July 19, 2007 - The Daily Reckoning
 
History tells us that the first paper currencies were notes payable (redeemable) in gold or silver, or, mere warehouse receipts for stored gold. Over the years, it became obvious that it was easier to simply exchange the receipts after a transaction than go to the warehouse with the receipts to get the gold and silver. The receipts became currency in common usage, and the people began to think of the receipts (currency) as money all by itself, completely detached from any stored gold.
 
Then, as governments began to buy votes or finance wars, they yielded to the temptation to simply print more "receipts" than there was gold and silver to back them up (who would know?), each time triggering more and more inflation. The foundation for inflationary tactics was laid in America when Roosevelt created the New Deal, then Lyndon Johnson financed the War on Poverty and the Vietnam War at the same time (guns and butter), and the printing presses have had to step up the pace ever since (poverty won and so did North Vietnam, but that's another story).
 
The process of currency destruction has been accelerating, with advances punctuated by retreats, since the '30s. Throughout history, this has been the case over and over again ever since the birth of paper money. The critical moment in this era came when Nixon "closed the gold window" (no longer allowing dollars to be exchanged for gold or silver) at the Federal Reserve. This move finally admitted America's irresponsible reality and permanently detached the paper dollars from gold or silver, and the money printers were off to the races. Then Uncle Sam hammered the last nail into the coffin in 1965 by no longer making 90 percent silver coins.
 
In the last ten years, the Fed has manufactured trillions of dollars out of nothing at the fastest pace in history by far, and it's now accelerating. The Fed has then loaned the dollars into circulation, or given them to politicians to spend. Since then, Congress has been spending like a drunken sailor. (What is the difference between Congress and a drunken sailor? A drunken sailor spends his own money!) This money expansion now dwarfs the monetary explosion which led to that historic metals bull market in the '70s. Gold and silver have been rising recently in response, driving gold from US$252 to US$560 (TP Note: 10/12/00- $1058) , and silver from US$4 to more than US$15.50 (TP Note: 10/12/09 - $17.75).
 
It's hard for me to exaggerate or overstate what is happening. Economists call this monetary-expansion process "inflation". It really should be called "dilution", that is, dilution of the money supply, and consequently its value. Inevitably, this sooner or later causes rising consumer prices, which laymen, and the media, and even Wall Street, will still mistakenly call "inflation". Calling rising prices "inflation" is like calling falling trees "hurricanes"! Or as Jim Dines says, "it's like calling wet sidewalks rain".

When will the masses catch on to this steadily progressing fact of life? Gold and silver prices are the true measure of public awareness. Sooner or later, awareness reaches critical mass, and the metals go through the stratosphere.
 
One early-warning harbinger of inflation is the dollar losing exchange value against foreign currencies, which began in earnest in 2002 and 2003. The dollar, with fits and starts, has been in a long-term bear market against other currencies for a few years. A falling dollar is inflationary, as it takes more and more dollars to buy the increasing amounts of foreign-produced goods we are now buying. Wal-Mart's soaring sales are a telling indicator, as they are Asia's biggest customer. Gold and oil are quoted in dollars, so up they go. And now the metals are rising, not just against the dollar, but against nearly all currencies as the metals grow in strength, and virtually every country on Earth is inflating its currency. It's actually more accurate to say the dollar is falling in relation to gold, than to say gold is rising in relation to the dollar.
 
The falling dollar-exchange value explains the early strength of the metals, and there is a lot more to come, as we continue to flood the international money markets with dollars. We now don't even have to print them. This is the age of cyber-money, when less than five percent of the dollars are minted or printed, and most are only computer entries at banks. We don't even know how many dollars there are!
 
There is a serious supply problem. Twenty-two years of low or falling gold and silver prices gave us a drop in production and exploration of epic proportions, as miners pulled in their horns to preserve their capital. This set the scene for a great supply/demand problem. Now that prices are high enough to make gold and silver mining profitable, it will take as long as seven to ten years to develop new mining and production, and falling supply and rising demand have made higher prices inevitable for the imminent future.
 
Also, remember that most of the easy shallow silver has been mined over the centuries, even with primitive methods, and the silver deposits are still being depleted. For example, during the Roman millennium, silver coins were used for currency, so the Romans, after they conquered Spain, expropriated the large Spanish silver mines so they could use the silver for their own coins. They soon depleted the shallow mines, so they began to counterfeit their own currency, mixing silver with base metals, making the coins thinner, or clipping the corners.
 
As the mines were further depleted, it got worse and worse until the citizens began to distrust the currency, demanding more and more of it in exchange for their goods and services, causing a great inflation. Soon, the far-flung Roman Legions refused to accept the less-and-less valuable coins at face value for their pay, and began deserting in droves. This inflation was one of the root causes of the fall of the Roman Empire-all because they counterfeited the currency.
 
Now, silver industrial applications have soared into the thousands, and there are few satisfactory substitutes in sight. New silver mines are getting harder and more expensive to find, and supply is falling farther and farther short of demand. One expert claims that the deeper you go into the ground, the less silver there is.
 
Both metals are far rarer than most people know. All the gold ever mined since the dawn of history, including that in central banks, gold fillings and sunken shipwrecks in the Caribbean, would cover a football field about four feet deep. And, demand is now leaping past new supplies.
 
China and India are enjoying a historic burst of capitalist prosperity, and their booming new middle class is enthusiastically buying silver and gold jewelry, creating soaring new demand! Silver use is incredible and rising! The thousands of irreplaceable silver industrial uses, partially accounts for the shrinking inventory. Government silver warehouses are now all empty, and COMEX futures positions, much of which must be covered eventually by deliveries or purchases, are estimated to be equal to or greater than all new production!
 
Silver is the poor man's gold. Think of gold as large denomination money, and silver as small change. A one-ounce gold coin now costs only about US$650, and you can buy a roll of pre-1965, 90 percent-silver dimes for close to US$50 a roll. Partly because it is so much cheaper that the potential buying pool is much larger, and industrial use is so much greater, silver will be more profitable than gold by at least 100 percent!
 
And there's more to come.
Page 5 of 5 (42 records) << First < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next > Last >> 
To View Our Privacy Policy
& Security Information
Please see our FAQ page