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6 Things to Know When Buying Liquid Metal

Category:
  • Indium Alloy
  • Indium
  • Gallium

  • Liquid metal (technically, metal which is liquid at room temperature) is mysterious to many people. It challenges the metal stereotypes we have - most metals are too hot to touch when they are liquid - and most metals are solid at room temperature. Here are six things you need to know if you are planning on using liquid metal:

    1) Available Alloys

    There are 5 standard (non-mercury containing) liquid alloys:

    • Indalloy #46L: (7-8°C) 61.0%Ga / 25.0%In / 13.0%Sn / 1.0%Zn
    • Indalloy #51E: (11°C) 66.5%Ga / 20.5%In / 13.0%Sn
    • Indalloy #51: (11-17°C) 62.5%Ga / 21.5%In / 16.0%Sn
    • Indalloy #60: (16°C) 75.5%Ga / 24.5%In
    • Indalloy #77: (16-25°C) 95.0%Ga / 5.0%In

    The melting points listed above are solidus-liquidus. Indalloy #51E and #60 are both eutectic alloys.

    2) Technical Data

    Here is a good description of liquid metals, along with an introduction to where they are used.

    This is a link to a liquid metals data sheet.

    If this still isn’t enough information, contact an Indium Corporation engineer at AskUs@indium.com

    3) Cost

    The prices of indium and gallium are dictated by supply and demand (as you would expect). Right now – at this writing - the price of indium is quite low. A year from now the price could be higher or lower, the only clear bet is that it will fluctuate. If you are sitting on an old quotation, be sure to have the quote updated. You might be pleasantly surprised!

    4) Shipping

    Liquid alloys are shipped in polyethylene bottles. If you live in a cold climate, you may receive a solid metal. Don’t panic, it will melt as it reaches room temperature (trust your physics, my friends). No need for any special "defrosting" measures – it’s best to keep it in the original packaging and let the metal melt at room temperature. If you do feel the need to heat the packaging, do not exceed 65°C.

    5) Support

    When you buy liquid metal from the Indium Corporation, you are also getting application support. Let us know if you have any questions before, during, or after application: AskUs@indium.com

    6) End of Life (Recycling / Reclaim)

    Most liquid metals can be used and reused many times. Of course, this is application dependent. If impurities arise from excessive use, or if you just don’t need the liquid alloy any longer, we have a recycling program. Recycling does have a minimum quantity threshold where it becomes feasible. This depends on many factors, including the price of indium and gallium (as mentioned above). The best way verify that reclaiming your material is practical is to contact our reclaim team: indiumreclaim@indium.com.

    If you have a new or current application for liquid metals, I would be very interested in hearing from you. Share your thoughts with me at jhisert@indium.com

    ~Jim