The Promising Future of Zinc Batteries

It’s probably not surprising to hear that at Purity Zinc Metals, we are always on top of the latest news and technology when it comes to zinc. We also enjoy staying one step ahead of the latest manufacturing topics and innovations.

That’s why we are closely—and excitedly—following the work being done by a small California-based startup called Imprint Energy, who are creating ultra-thin batteries out of zinc, not lithium. Why is this little battery so exciting? Its micro-design, which includes flexibility, lower costs, and rechargeable capabilities, could change electronics as we know it.

If these thin zinc batteries were able replace standard lithium batteries used in our portable devices, these devices could become razor-thin and ultra lightweight. Imprint’s CEO states in this article that “It’s hard to make standard lithium ion batteries thin and flexible,” which results in design challenges for small laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Their zinc battery, according to this same article, “tackles the problem of rigidity and bulkiness by throwing out the lithium,” using zinc for the anode part and a cathode made of metal oxide. And while, in the past, it’s been a challenge to make zinc batteries rechargeable, they have solved this problem through the use of an electrolyte made of a solid polymer combined with zinc. The end result is a battery as tiny as a few human hairs, that also happens to be safer and less toxic than lithium ion—a promising choice for medical devices.

The possibilities—ranging from cell phones as thin as credit cards to safer implantable medical devices—are endless. And while the work isn’t done yet, it’s showing more than a little potential. We can’t wait to see what these tiny zinc batteries can do, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted!

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The Advantages of Die Casting

Die casting is one of the most versatile and prolific metalworking processes, creating countless varieties of parts used in almost every industry imaginable.  Interestingly enough, it dates back to the mid 1800’s, and today, innovations keep it moving forward.

There are many distinct advantages to die casting over other processes, but many people wonder what they are, and how die casting differs.

For instance, what is the difference between die casting and plastic molding, and is one better than the other? In general, die casting produces stronger parts with closer tolerances that have greater stability and durability. Die cast parts also have greater resistance to temperature extremes and superior electrical properties.

When compared to plastic injection moldings with the same dimensions, die cast parts are stronger. Because they are not joined or welded together, they are as strong as the alloy that makes them, rather than the actual joining process. Another benefit is that parts that have been die cast can have many finishing techniques and surfaces, and can easily be designed to have a certain desired appearance.

Sand casting is another technique that is compared to die casting. Sand cast parts typically have a rough surface appearance as well as surface variations and, occasionally, impurities. Compared to sand casting, die casting produces parts that have thinner walls and smoother surfaces. They also have closer dimensional limits.

Overall, the die casting process is much more economical than sand casting. The production is faster, finishing costs are lower, and significant overall savings are seen.

While there are always certain exceptions for specific applications, the advantages of die casting over these two processes, and others, are many.

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Sustainable Manufacturing: The Future is Now

According to the World Economic Forum, “Companies that take the lead on sustainability will be market makers rather than market takers. By showing the consumer that there is no need to sacrifice price and quality for sustainability, tomorrow’s successful businesses will meaningfully engage the next two billion consumers.”

The fact is, consumers and business owners care about sustainability, and it’s a driving force behind purchases made by end users and manufacturers throughout the supply chain. As a result of this significant interest and the importance of it, there will soon be sustainable standards set forth by ASTM, with which companies will have to comply in order to remain competitive. Now is the time to become aware of them.manufacturingday2

The newly formed ASTM International Subcommittee #60.13 on Sustainable Manufacturing is currently working on standards that will directly relate to how companies create and adhere to sustainability initiatives.  The subcommittee will also work on and promote energy and material efficiency and waste reduction.

Realizing that many companies simply don’t know what zero-waste and sustainability practices fully entail, the international subcommittee of around 100 members—which came together about one year ago—created four proposed standards to create full understanding along with compliance. These standards are: Guide for the Evaluation of Manufacturing Process for Sustainable Improvement; Terminology for Sustainable Manufacturing; Guide for Sustainability Characterization for Manufacturing Processes; and Classification for Waste Generated at Manufacturing Facilities and Associated Claims.

According to Amy Costello, the first chairman of the subcommittee, it’s “a win-win for everybody.” To remain competitive, says Costello, ”all industries have to operate efficiently and those efficiencies have to align with sustainable manufacturing.”

Successful business, staying competitive, remaining efficient, and fostering sustainability—it sounds like a win-win, indeed.


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Zinc is Recyclable

Few materials are as dynamically useful as Zinc. Traditionally known for the anti-rust properties it provides with the galvanization (zinc coating) of steel, zinc is also able protect metal roofing, make high quality alloys, and constitutes one of the main ingredients in brass. Zinc has been an important element in engineering material for decades, and will continue to be relevant well into the future.

Zinc has the potential to be recycled. But unlike other metallic materials, Zinc recycling Recycle_minirequires dealing with more complex issues, such as the separation of zinc from galvanized steel. However, modern recycling technology allows Zinc to be recycled in an efficient manner, with 90% of collected zinc-containing products being subjected to zinc reclamation processes. Galvanized steel, constituting the majority of collected zinc products, is well suited to recycling and provides an excellent source for steel and zinc scrap.

One of the most widely applied zinc recycling procedures is Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) heating, used primarily on collected galvanized steel. The collected scrap is heated until the zinc volatizes, separating from the steel as a gas. This gas is collected and treated, causing the deposition of zinc dust. After treatment in a Waelz kiln, the dust becomes zinc oxide which in turn becomes a raw material used for the production of zinc metal.

At present, 40% of zinc used worldwide comes from reclaimed zinc sources. Processes and technology in zinc recycling continue to advance, making reclaimed zinc an increasingly viable source. Considering the nonrenewable nature of existing zinc ores, it is likely that zinc recycling will become an even more compelling source as time passes.

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What is Zinc used for and how is it used?

Many people love the game Trivial Pursuit, so in honor of the game, here are a few pieces of trivia about Zinc before we tell you about the metal.

Zinc has been known since medieval times.    It was first used around 1000 A.D. in the area that is today known as India. Marco Polo even noted that he saw the manufacture of Zinc Oxide in Persia during his travels in the 13th Century.  It was often used to forge Brass, which is composed of 45% Zinc and 55% Cooper.  The metal is often seen as the “whitish” metal coating on old-fashioned washtubs and buckets.

Today, Zinc is primarily used to coat and protect steel from corrosion.  It has been used in this manner for over a century.  Zinc coated (galvanized) steel is the most effective and inexpensive way to protect steel from the corrosive effects of weather, temperature, and oxygen.  And, PZM’s zinc dust is used in Industrial Coatings to protect steel structures.

There is a process of purifying Zinc to grade called special high grade (SHG) Zinc.  The SHG Zinc is 99.995% pure.  This high purity Zinc is used to avoid Zinc Pest, which is a slow disruption and eventual cracking of Zinc die castings and it is the only zinc that Purity Zinc Metals uses as its feedstock. 4-inch-Zinc-Squares

How does Zinc work to protect steel?  Zinc itself is very strong and has properties that will not oxidize when exposed to elements like water and air.  By coating steel, which corrodes easily in almost any environmental situation, the Zinc protects the steel with a continuously strong metallic barrier that keeps moisture from making contact with the steel.  This is Zinc’s physical barrier, but it also provides  cathodic protection as well and will sacrifice itself before the steel it is protecting.

Zinc protects steel cathodically by galvanically protecting steel.  If exposed Zinc coated/galvanized steel comes in contact with moisture at a cut edge or a surface scratch, the Zinc that is near the exposed steel will first be “sacrificed” to moisture before the steel begins to corrode.  This is a unique property of Zinc and one of the many reasons that it is used so effectively.

Various industries use Zinc for many processes and applications.  The main physical property that they desire is high metallic Zinc content.    For the manufacturing sectors, high metallic Zinc powders are used as coatings, plating, and also for chemical and mining applications.

When Marco Polo noted the manufacture of Zinc Oxide, it is likely he never envisioned the significance of the metal.  Today, without the help of Zinc coating for steel; buildings, bridges, and other large steel structures would be at risk of collapsing as the environment continually ate away at the metal. Fortunately, Zinc coats and protects steel.

For more information about zinc uses please visit our website!

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Pressure Die Casting Alloys

The first zinc base pressure die cast alloys, now commonly known as alloys Zamak 2, 3, 5 & 7, were introduced in the late 1920’s, creating a means to produce quality-cast decorative, functional, or structural parts in high volume and low cost.

These zinc alloys possess a unique combination of properties that permit rapid and economic casting of accurate components. They have many advantages over other types of pressure die casting alloys, a fact that has made them commercially popular since their inception.

These advantages include; lower casting temperatures which translates into faster casting speeds, lower energy requirements, and longer die life. Also because these alloys are compatible with the hot chamber die casting machine, production rates are typically higher than for aluminum alloys, which must be cast in cold chamber machines.

The attraction of zinc casting alloys is also due, in part to their superior as cast surface qualities, allowing for easier plating and finishing, and in addition the good castability of zinc alloys allows the production of economic thin-wall zinc die castings.

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We’re often asked… “What makes you different from the other zinc dust guys?”

That’s a fair question, and one we usually answer this way …

ASTM has specified 3 types of Zinc Dust:

  • Type I
  • Type II
  • Type III

What differentiates these types are the total zinc content, the metallic zinc content and the level of impurities for such things as lead and cadmium.

A comparison of the 3 types looks like this:

So how does our Zinc dust stack up to the standards?

Unlike most other Zinc Dust Producers, we only manufacture and sell Type III – the most environmentally friendly of the three.  PZM only uses Special High Grade Zinc (SHG) as our raw material feedstock, while some producers use only High Grade Zinc Metal which has higher levels of impurities.  Other producers will use Secondary Zinc Metal, such as bottom dross, which has the highest levels of impurities.

Our other secret is that we utilize a Continuous Batch Process. 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we never stop producing which provides an end-product with much more consistent physical and chemical properties, than does batch processing.

We were green before green was cool…”

From our beginnings back in 1969, our founders saw the importance of protecting the environment and the worker.  Harmful environment and worker exposure to heavy metals like lead & cadmium should always be an important concern.  The first step in meeting these concerns is to select a zinc dust with ultra low impurities.

So when you’re specifying Zinc Dust, think of the worker and the environment.  Specify Ultra Pure Zinc Dust from PZM … “It’s the greenest way to protect the Big Blue Marble.”

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Less means more

 Traditional Zinc Rich Coatings

The traditional zinc rich coatings using zinc dust will typically contain about 70-80% by weight of zinc in the dry film.  While this does provide great cathodic protection, it can also cause things like pores, mud-cracking and pin-holes.

This is all a bit flaky don’t you think?

Research shows that you can reduce the zinc content by as much as 25%-30% and still maintain an excellent protective coating.  This can be achieved by mixing both zinc dust and zinc flake.  The mixture of the two will help prevent the undesirable qualities mentioned above.

Some research has shown that this mixture also has been shown to have a very good pot life of 10-15 hours or more.  Additionally, some of these type coatings have achieved very good salt-spray hours.

It would appear that combining the zinc flake and zinc dust shapes (flakes and spherical) increases the electrical contact between the particles and so maintains great cathodic protection even at these vastly lower zinc loading rates.

Mixing the particle shapes seems to increase the number of electrical contact points between the differing shapes – this is what makes it work so well, even with this lower zinc content.

One such company that makes these zinc flakes is Metal Flake Technologies (MFT).  You can find them on the web at

Zinc Flake SEM Micrograph

Zinc Flake SEM Micrograph

Zinc-rich paints possess similar characteristics to a hot-dip galvanized surface coating. Recent studies at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Wales Swansea have shown that flaked zinc in combination with traditional spherical dust provide equal or better corrosion protection with a lower zinc loading percentage.

We at Purity Zinc Metals are committed to partnering to achieve superior and innovative solutions.

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Get to Know Purity Zinc Metals

As the industry leader in providing worldwide customers with the highest quality zinc dust, zinc alloys, and zinc anodes, we at Purity Zinc Metals stand behind a company-wide motto: Nothing Is Impossible. Perhaps our pride in pursuing perfection comes from 40 years of family-owned history.  Perhaps it’s from knowing that our customers—Global Fortune 500 companies and leaders in their own varied industries—rely on us and have served as the backbone of our success.  Or perhaps it’s because our employees, the best in the business, are part of a mutually-respectful team dedicated to our mission.

With a history and heritage we value, we have made a name for ourselves through a simple but invaluable dedication to honesty, and the highest moral and ethical standards.  These standards include being environmentally responsible and respectful, financially sound, and creating an environment where our employees realize how valued they are.  Each of our team members knows he or she will always come to work in a safe and healthy workplace, where morale is high, career and skills advancement is assured, and their hard work is always recognized.

The same level of promises is delivered to our loyal customers. To them we assure consistently excellent products, ever-exceeded expectations, and superior innovation.  We realize our clients’ requirements of our products are safety, performance, quality control, enhanced marketing opportunities, and cost effectiveness, and of that, they are always assured.

When you are a family-run business with dedicated employees and customers who require the best, and have a motto of “Nothing is Impossible”, the best is what they will get.  That’s how it’s been for 40 years, and counting.

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