Silver’s high thermal and electrical conductivity make it an ideal contact material for contact applications—in fact, it has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all the metals. Pure silver, however, is susceptible to mechanical wear; it has a low softening temperature; it is susceptible to welding; and it can cause total failure in switching devices. Silver, therefore, is often mixed with other metals to create various silver-based contact materials. Different contact applications have different contact material requirements, and for that reason, there are a variety of different silver-based contact materials. Each silver-based contact material has its distinct advantages. Knowing the intended application of the silver-based contact materials will give you the opportunity to select the most advantageous one.
Silver does more than shape the way for wedding bands and fine jewelry. Different types of silver tin oxide have several specific traits that enable them for use in a variety of settings.
This is also sometimes referred to as fine silver. Of all types of silver, pure silver is the most conductive—meaning it conveys electrical current the easiest. It also resists oxidation better than other silvers. On the flip side, it gets softer at lower temperatures than other silvers and, therefore, doesn’t stand up as well to mechanical wear. It also attracts sulfur, which means that sulfur can easily tarnish the exterior look of pure silver over time.
In order to take advantage of the strengths of pure silver, while minimizing the negative properties, silver alloys are created by combining a variety of other metals with pure silver in varying degrees. The goal in doing so is to strengthen the hardness of the silver and make it more resistant to wear. In some cases, it’s also to diminish its ability to conduct electricity so well.
Nickel is the added ingredient that makes for fine-grain silver. As a result of the properties of liquid silver and nickel, only a small amount of nickel can be merged to form fine-grain silver. This material maintains its resistance to chemical corrosion while upping its hardness and overall strength as a metal. The nickel also slightly diminishes the conductivity.
Copper is the extra ingredient added in hard-silver alloys that greatly increases their mechanical stability. This is also referred to as hard-silver in Europe, and its mechanical stability and greater resistance to erosion make it a highly reliable material.
Silver tin oxide is just one of several different forms that silver can be used in. The varied uses of silver and its different variants make it highly useful in a wide range of industries.