Metals have been indispensable to society since the Bronze Age, around 5000 years ago. Their value can be seen in the size of the metal-producing industries and metal markets. This chapter outlines the production of metals and their conversion to useful products. Recycling is an integral part of this production, since all metals are 100% recyclable. The properties and applications of many metals and alloys today are described, including aluminium, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, iron and steel, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, palladium, platinum, tin, titanium and zinc. For many applications there is no viable substitute material. This chapter provides a context for the subsequent discussions later in the book of individual metal allergens and how the risks of metal allergies can be managed.
The author is grateful to Prof. Thyssen and the Nickel Institute for asking him to write this chapter, and for the many helpful discussions. He would also like to thank the other metal associations for the input which they have provided.
This material has been prepared for the general information of the reader and should not be used or relied upon for specific applications without first securing competent advice. Whilst the material is believed to be technically correct, Nickel Institute, its members, staff and consultants do not represent or warrant its suitability for any general or specific use and assume no liability or responsibility of any kind in connection with the information herein.
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