What are Christmas baubles made of?

Posted December 20th 2017

Although modern day baubles are typically made of blown glass, they have a long history and in the past have been made of glass, wood, metal and various other materials.

Hans Greiner, who made glass beads and tin figures to hang on trees in addition to the traditional apples and candy canes, first manufactured Glass baubles in Lauscha, Germany. Glass tubes were heated over fire, and then inserted into a clay mold where they could be blown so that the glass expanded to fill the shape of the mold. Although the molds used today vary wildly in shape and size, the original ones tended to be fruits or nuts. In the 1850s, a silvering technique developed by Justus von Liebig was also incorporated which involved swirling a silver nitrate solution into the cooled glass after which the bauble could be painted.

As glass baubles became popular, other local glassblowers saw an opportunity and began to produce them in a wider range of designs and finishes. In 1832, a young queen Victoria was delighted to have a Christmas tree adorned with baubles, lights and other ornaments and when a picture of her tree was featured in a London newspaper, from her husbands native Germany, Lauscha began to export products through Europe, leading to the rise in the decorated Christmas tree that we know today.

Although round, glass baubles are the most well known, and typically seen Christmas tree decoration, they are available in all shapes and sizes, as well as different finishes now. Plastic can often be used to make cheaper and more affordable baubles, and metal may be used to make more intricate figures and decorations such as reindeers, angels and stars. Older Christmas decorations tend to be made of more expensive materials, such as silver bells or tinsel made of shredded silver – although this is rarely seen anymore. The decision to use cheaper materials, as we see today, is to make them more accessible and affordable, as well as cheaper and easier to mass produce.

metal christmas baubles

Surgical Metals

Posted December 12th 2017

The most commonly used metals in surgery are surgical stainless steel and titanium. Surgical stainless steel is a term used to label particular grades of stainless steel that are commonly used in biomedical appliances. The most common forms are austenitic 316 stainless steel and martensitic 440 and 420 stainless steels and whilst there is no certain definition of what constitutes surgical stainless steel, manufacturers generally recognise this to be any grade of corrosion resistant steel.

316 stainless steel is an alloy of chromium, nickel and molybdenum that is highly resistance to corrosion and relatively strong. 316 stainless steel can be cheaper to produce than the commonly used titanium alloy, Ti6AI4V, and as such is commonly used in the production of biomedical implants. Its drawback, however, is the nickel content which can induce a reaction with the immune system and cause complications. For any implants which may be subject to pressure once in place, such as body piercings, bone fixation screws and prostheses, austenitic steel is more commonly used.

Titanium has been commonly used for biomedical purposes since the 1950s, after already having been used in dentistry prior to this. It is commonly used to make prosthetics and can be used as the material for biomedical implants all over the body from false eye implants and spinal fusion cages, to pacemakers and hip replacements. In addition to thus, several surgical instruments are coated with titanium nitrade, an extremely hard ceramic material that hardens and protects surfaces. Titanium is commonly considered to be the most biocompatible metal due to its high level of corrosion resistance and high fatigue limit. A protective oxide film forms naturally in the presence of oxygen, which protects it from bodily fluids and prevents reactions between the metal and hosting environment.

Although both materials are useful, there are several differences between them that make them suitable for different things. Titanium is stronger and more lightweight than stainless steel, and less rigid which can limit the amount of stress placed on bones. It also lasts longer and generally has superior strength to stainless steel, although stainless steel is still commonly used in implants which will be placed under heavy strain. Another plus point for titanium is the fact that it does not contain nickel, making it by far the better option for those with proven or suspected nickel allergies. It is estimated that 10-20 percent of the population is allergic to nickel, which is a massive figure, and it is one of the main causes of contact dermatitis.

surgical metals

What does being a scrap metal dealer entail?

Posted December 5th 2017

Scrap metal is made up of recycled materials that have been left over from manufacturing and consumptions of products that use metals. This could be anything from parts of old vehicles, to surplus materials that have been discarded during the manufacturing process. It does not, however, include gold and silver, or any other alloy that is comprised of more than 2% of either gold or silver.

A scrap metal dealer is someone who deals with the sale of scrap metals and must have a licence in order to do so. Anyone who is a motor salvage dealer, or conducts business, which deals in any part of the buying and selling of scrap metals, may be deemed a scrap metal dealer. There are two types of licence that can be obtained – a site licence, which licenses the holder to buy and sell scrap metal from one or more sites in the local authority area, as well as transporting the material between multiple registered sites, and a collectors licence, which authorises someone to collect scrap metal in the local authority area. A separate licence must be obtained from each council the collector will be operating in and only one of each type of licence may be held in an individual local authority area.

The price of scrap metal may vary widely depending on location and these are often negotiated directly between sellers and buyers, although sometimes you may see scrap metal prices posted online or in publications. In the US, for example, scrap prices can be found in several publication such as American Metal Market.

One of the key benefits in recycling scrap metals is the impact on the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency conducted research, which found that using recycled scrap metal instead of iron ore can save up to 75% of energy used in production, as well as giving a 97% reduction in mining wastes and 86% reduction in air pollution. These figures are phenomenal and are just a small insight into the benefits of using scrap metals, which can be just as effective as using virgin materials.

William Rowland is proud to include in its portfolio, the purchasing and sales of specialty revert and scrap metal. Our product range includes nickel based alloys, nickel and cobalt irons, nickel, chrome and molybdenum alloys, nickel copper alloys, cobalt based alloys, nickel cobalt alloys, and many more.

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