Base metals — such as iron ore, copper, aluminum and nickel — are listed in stock markets. Beyond supply and demand, the quotation in the stock market is the third factor influencing the short-run fluctuations in commodity prices.
Spoiler, they are! Despite the current circumstances, the increase in the production volume of metallic Bi has divided its base price by 3 and has stabilized at that level, making its use viable for the friction industry.
The industry has evolved, and so we did! Since we were the rookies of the friction industry 35 years ago, a lot of product families were developed besides copper, brass and bronze, such as synergistic composites, abrasives and synthetic metal sulphides. But we couldn’t limit to have a wide range of products! We want to be a trustworthy partner for our customers, and so, we decided to move the focus from the product, to the solution.
Now the important is the purpose of the product, more than the origin. And to do so we have to be aware of which are the main challenges of the industry, where the industry is moving forward and so, how can our products can adapt to our customers’ needs.
But we cannot shoot to the air, we need to have some criteria on our product development strategy. Therefore, we need to give an answer to the three main axes that drive where the industry is moving forward.
Prices of strategic metals for friction industry, such as tin and antimony present pronounced variability both at short and long term, even though its demand has been continuously increasing during the 21st century. Meanwhile, unlike other metals, the base level price of bismuth has been largely reduced during the last decade and it’s pretty stable. Bismuth is not listed in stock markets.
Scientific literature concurs that bismuth and most of its compounds are less toxic compared to other heavy metals (lead, antimony, etc.) and so, the inflection point came when several industries realized about that and started to massively replace lead on a wide range of industries. Although bismuth had few commercial applications at the beginning of the century, which made this product very expensive in the past, it, new applications followed afterwards.
Therefore, since then, new applications followed afterwards. And now we stretch a bit more the focus on the friction industry and realize that some commonly used products, have now a serious contendant, which not only is able to provide a similar effect, or even an improvement, but also it is reaching its price level, if it has not already done so.
If we target some of the “top environmental challenges” of nowadays, as it is antimony replacement (Sb2S3) or reducing tin dependency, we can analyse if its analogue in bismuth (Bi2S3) has potential to replace them. Results turned out positive in this regard and that’s why this product is already being used for the most advanced friction material manufacturers from a technical perspective, and of course at rimsa we are ready for it!
At rimsa, pure (BI81) and composite (BI65) compositions are available, to match the requirements of your application. BI65 was designed to reduce the density of the product, and therefore its price. It’s unique composition provides the same friction behaviour with an additional contribution of thermal conductivity.
Thanks to our production technology, we ensure consistent quality and very stable chemical composition, without impurities and free of heavy metals
Do not hesitate to contact us for any question or requirement you may have. We will be happy to collaborate with you
Armenteres s / n – Pol.Ind. MATACÀS- Nave 21 08980
Sant Feliu de Llobregat Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 666 46 11 / +34 635 519 002
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Imagine we had the opportunity to do a massive survey asking this question to friction industry formulators.
They’d surely answer iron in first place, probably followed by copper, zinc, tin, maybe aluminium…But presumably not bismuth! It sounds quite an exotic metal, isn’t it? If you think this metal is more present in investigation laboratories rather than in industrial massive plants, you’d better leave the twentieth century behind and go deep in the environmental trends of 2020’s.
It is true nevertheless, bismuth had few commercial applications at the beginning of the century, and those applications that use it generally require small quantities relatively to other raw materials.
Several of the new applications in free machining steels, lead free solders and galvanizing had the size and potential growth to put intense pressure on demand for bismuth, and of course they did!
Searching on ECHA the CAS Nº for bismuth on its metal form, as well as for its sulfide (Bi2S3) and its derived oxide (Bi2O3) “No hazards have been classified”, and so, applications for this metal increased even more. In fact, it is currently being used in large scale on fine electronic components, antibacterials, tissue engineering, biosensing etc.