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Hands showing gold bars against the backdrop of a blurred sea of gold coins below

 

High-purity bars and materials with precisely controlled compositions are essential for advanced industries. However, verifying and certifying the purity levels in these high-value materials is a complex undertaking. 

A rigorous understanding of state-of-the-art purity testing is invaluable for all those producing, utilizing, and investing in these specialized high-purity materials.

 

What is the Composition of High-Purity Bars?

High-purity bars are ingots composed of metals, alloys, or chemical compounds with extremely low levels of impurities. They are manufactured through specialized refining and purification processes to achieve purity levels of 4N (99.99%) or even higher.

For example, precious metal bars such as copper, aluminium, silicon, gold, and platinum must have a 99.99% content of the original metal. Low primary metal content will decrease the bars’ market value. 

 

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Why Purity Testing is Vital

There are several reasons why comprehensive purity testing is crucial for high-purity bars:

  • Quality Control - Purity testing allows manufacturers to verify that their production processes achieve the required purity levels. It’s an essential part of quality control and maintaining standards.
  • Material Properties - Even in trace amounts, impurities can significantly degrade metals’ and alloys’ electrical, thermal, optical, and mechanical properties. Purity testing allows confirmation that the bars have the right composition for the application.
  • Reputation and Trust - Rigorous purity testing demonstrates a manufacturer’s commitment to quality and professional standards. This helps build reputation and customer trust.
  • Compliance - Many industries require third-party purity certification to verify that materials meet specific purity criteria. Purity testing allows manufacturers to comply with these standards and regulations.
  • Value - Higher purity means higher value. Purity testing determines the precise purity levels, ensuring manufacturers receive the full value for their high-purity bars.

With so much on the line, state-of-the-art purity testing is indispensable for producing high-purity bars.

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3 Purity Testing for Precious Metal Bars

 

A golden magnifying glass in hand set against a clean white environment

 

Various analytical techniques are used to test and verify the purity levels of high-purity bars. The methods employed depend on the material composition, required precision, cost considerations, and other factors.

Some of the most standard purity testing methods include:

1. Spectrographic Analysis

  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) - XRF analyzes the characteristic X-ray emissions from the metal when it is excited by a primary X-ray source. The element composition can be determined based on the emitted wavelengths and intensities. Portable XRF devices facilitate rapid purity analysis.
  • Spark Optical Emission Spectrometry - A spark emitted by the sample evaporates a small amount of surface material. The optical spectrum of this spark plasma is analyzed to identify and quantify impurities.
  • Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Techniques - ICP methods use an argon plasma to excite the sample. The characteristic optical emissions or mass spectra provide detailed composition analysis. ICP-OES and ICP-MS are common variants.

2. Electrochemical Analysis

  • Potentiometric Titration - The sample is titrated against a standardized reagent, using a potentiometer to detect the endpoint. This reveals the concentration of the critical electrolytic component.
  • Stripping Voltammetry - Controlled voltage pulses strip away and dissolve surface atoms. The solution is analyzed to quantify the concentrations of dissolved elements.

3. Classical Wet Chemistry

  • Gravimetric Analysis - The sample is chemically converted into a compound. The mass of this compound reveals the purity based on stoichiometric calculations.
  • Fire Assay - Fire assay is traditionally used for gold and platinum group metals. The sample is mixed with lead and other reagents and melted. Impurities get extracted in the slag, allowing the purity to be determined.

While the above methods are the most widely used, some other emerging techniques include glow discharge optical emission spectrometry (GD-OES), laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), and microwave plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (MP-AES).

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Purity Certification Standards

For mission-critical applications, independent purity certification from a qualified laboratory is essential. Various national and international standards bodies provide rigorous certification standards.

  • ASTM International - ASTM B 580 covers platinum group metal purity certification. ASTM E 1086 deals with high-purity aluminium analysis.
  • GB Standards - Chinese national standards like GB/T 4957 specify technical requirements for certifying high-purity copper and other metals.
  • ISO Standards - ISO 11427 covers platinum group purity certification. ISO 17296 deals with high-purity silver.
  • JIS Standards - Japanese standards like JIS H 1611 stipulate analysis methods for high-purity aluminium.
  • GOST Standards - GOST (Russian state standards), like GOST 11069, handle high-purity zinc certification.

Obtaining purity certification from an experienced lab following these standards provides confidence to manufacturers and customers that the stated purity levels have been verified.

This article may pique your interest: What To Do Before Buying Silver Bars

 

Are High-Purity Bars Valuable for Traders and Investors?

 

Hands lifting in a gesture of prosperity each holding a gold bar

 

A primary advantage of opting for high fineness bars relates to pricing premiums. Bars stamped and verified with exceptionally high purities often command higher premiums over the base commodity spot price. 

The easier resale and liquidation of high-purity bars is another significant benefit. Well-known mints and refineries with established reputations for purity standards, such as PAMP Suisse and Sunshine Minting, carry more trust. Their bullion products are fungible and easier to offload through dealers than bars from less transparent sources. 

Finally, the compliance and accounting benefits for metals traders in high-purity products certified to meet industry purity standards should not be overlooked. Large spot market participants must fulfil reporting requirements. Bars from reputable sources simplify this management.

You might also like to read: Are Gold Bars A Good Investment For Retirement?

 

Wrapping Up

High-purity bars offer traders, investors, and manufacturers substantial advantages that make exploring them worthwhile. Their precisely controlled compositions enable advanced applications and provide quality assurance. 

Moreover, bars certified to meet recognized purity standards garner premium valuations and liquidity while simplifying regulatory compliance. 

With so much to gain, traders should learn more about these specialized high-purity materials, the leading producers, available purity certification standards, and testing methods to ensure materials meet specifications. 

Knowledge in this area can help uncover new opportunities and applications to drive profits. 

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“When considering “CFDs” for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant risk and could result in capital loss. Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.”

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