Why is platinum preferred material for labware?

The precious metal platinum is frequently used as a material to make various products for analysis purposes. We explain the choice for this by highlighting the physical and chemical characteristics.

Physical properties precious metal

Precious metal has the following physical characterisctics;

  • A good machinability, hardly any limits have to be set on the design of the most complicated products and yet it is sufficiently hard to give the products the necessary strength.
  • Good mechanical properties at high temperatures and resistance to fatigue caused by numerous temperature changes and prolonged heating.
  • A high melting point. Melting points of platinum, platinum combinations and other precious metals;
Chemical symbolMetalMelting point
AgSilver961°C
AuGold1064°C
IrIridium2443°C
PtPlatinum1768°C
RhRhodium2237°C
Pt/Au 95/5%Platinum / gold1670°C
Pt/Ir 97/3%Platinum / iridium1772°C
Pt/Ir 90/10%Platinum / iridium1780°C
Pt/Ir 80/20%Platinum / iridium1815°C
Pt/Rh 90/10%Platinum / rhodium1850°C
Pt/Rh 80/20%Platinum / rhodium1900°C
Au/Pt 90/10%Gold / platinum1120°C

Precious metal chemical properties

Precious metal has the following chemical characterisctics;

  • Resistance to the corrosion/oxidation caused by a large number of acids, gases and corrosive salts or mixtures.
  • Resistance to high temperatures, it does not flake, discolor or significantly change weight.

Usage of platinum for labware

The elements that combine most of these properties are the metals of the platinum group. With the exception of osmium and palladium. Osmium oxidizes at normal temperatures and palladium oxidizes at about 400°C. Palladium is also affected by certain mineral acids in particular, such as nitric acid.

Although the mechanical properties and heat resistance of iridium and ruthenium are better than those of platinum and rhodium, it is the hardness and high melting point that make them difficult to process.

Pure iridium products are only used for special applications. In addition, iridium and ruthenium are metals which oxidize relatively easily, necessitating an inert and reducing atmosphere.

Platinum is preferred over the three other metals; rhodium, palladium and osmium. This because of its physical and chemical properties, which make it ideally suited for applications in laboratory equipment. The properties can however be adjusted by adding certain other metals.

More about the usage of platinum in industries

Applications of platinum labware

Platinum crucibles and dishes are instrumental in XRF analysis. Their resilience to high temperatures and resistance to chemical reactions make them ideal for preparing samples for XRF, a critical process used to determine the elemental composition of materials.

Platinum electrodes are highly conductive and durable. As such, they are utilized in various chemical reactions where an electric current is required. Platinum’s resistance to corrosion makes it especially suited to electrolysis processes.

Platinum foil is used in medical devices, electronics, catalysts, and hydrogen diffusion. Its superior electrical conductivity, coupled with its resistance to chemical reactions, makes it perfect for these high-tech applications.

Platinum tubes have excellent thermal and electrical properties combined with durability. These characteristics make them suitable for medical equipment, glass and fiberglass manufacturing, and even in the crafting of musical wind instruments.

Platinum rods find widespread use in medical equipment, especially in pacemakers and parts replacement due to their biocompatibility.

Recycling platinum products

With platinum serving such a wide range of purposes, its consumption is high. In the context of finite natural resources and escalating raw material costs, recycling platinum is an environmentally and economically sustainable practice.

Our customers have one address for both ordering new platinum and for precious metal extraction at the end of the product’s usable life. Our team can be contacted for any questions you might have regarding your platinum or recycling needs.

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