Non-Conductive Metals – Examples and Uses

Sarah
DeGuzman

Metals are, by definition, highly conductive. If a material is not conductive (thermally or electrically), then by definition, it must not be metal. However, lots of metal compounds are non-conductive or semi-conductive. In this article, you find typical examples of non-conductive metals, how to make a metal non-conductive, and uses of non-conductive metals.

Non-Conductive Metals

Metals
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All metals conduct electricity, but some are not as conductive as others. Also, different metals have different levels of conductivity measured in terms of Siemens/meter. 

In fact, under normal conditions, no material is fully non-conductive, i.e., and no material has infinite resistance. Electricity even passes through the air if enough electric potential difference applies.

Bismuth, tungsten, lead, titanium, and stainless steel are some of the poorest conductors of electricity.

Bismuth

Bismuth is a white, crystalline, brittle metal with a pinkish tinge. It is the most diamagnetic metal and has the lowest heat conductivity of any metal. Bismuth finds an application in fuses because it is a poor conductor of electricity. When electricity surges, bismuth melts and breaks the circuit.

Tungsten

Tungsten is a rare metal almost entirely found in nature combined with other metals. It was initially separated as a metal in 1783 after being recognized as a new element in 1781. It should conduct electricity because it is a metal. On the other hand, Tungsten is an outlier in that it does not conduct electricity under standard environmental circumstances. However, it conducts electricity at high temperatures.

Lead

Lead
Courtesy: ThoughtCo

Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and the atomic number 82. It’s a denser form of heavy metal than most others, and it is a soft, malleable metal with a relatively low melting point. Lead is silvery with a blue tinge when freshly cut; it tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air.

Titanium

Titanium
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The chemical element titanium has the symbol Ti and the atomic number 22. It reduces to a beautiful transition metal with a silver hue, low density, and great strength. It only occurs in nature as an oxide. It’s corrosion-resistant in seawater, aqua regia, and chlorine. Titanium does not carry electricity well. Titanium has a conductivity of 3.1 percent if copper’s conductivity is assumed to be 100 percent. As a result, titanium doesn’t work well in applications that require strong conductivity.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel
Courtesy: Cubii Co

Stainless steel is a general phrase that refers to various steel kinds. Like all other types of steel, stainless steel is mainly created from iron and carbon in a two-step process. The inclusion of chromium (Cr) and other alloying elements such as nickel (Ni) creates a corrosion-resistant product that distinguishes stainless steel. Stainless steel is a metal alloy that conducts electricity but is not as strong as copper or aluminum. As a result, stainless steel is a poor electrical conductor.

How to Make a Metal Non-Conductive

There is nothing that can make a piece of metal non-conductive electrically. To isolate it from something with electrical potential, it can be insulated or covered with various non-conductive materials, but there are several factors to consider. The first consideration is whether or not the insulating material prevents a high-voltage arc from traveling through it to the metal it is shielding.

Insulators
Courtesy: Total Materia

These non-conductive materials, also known as insulators, prevent or block the flow of electrons. Paper, glass, rubber, porcelain, ceramic, and plastic are non-conductive materials. Glass, ceramic, and plastic are standard in many industries, and they are frequently plated with metal to change their appearance and physical properties.

Non-Conductive Metal Uses

The following sectors use plated non-conductive materials.

Automotive

Electroplated non-conductive material, primarily plated plastic, see wide use in the automotive sector. Plastic parts are simple to mold and plate into practically any shape, giving automobile engineers more creative freedom in their designs without increasing vehicle weight.

Accessories

Everything from plumbing and electrical systems to knobs and decorative elements in the home uses plastic and ceramic fixtures. While plain plastic or ceramic isn’t always the most desirable option, plated non-conductive materials have a more pleasing appearance and provide benefits such as better wear resistance. Furthermore, these products are typically less expensive than their all-metal equivalents, making them more competitively priced.

Electronics

Plating is a joint operation in the electronics industry, and it makes a wide range of electronic components. Plating improves the appearance of plastic trim on personal electronics and frequently provides a protective layer on circuit boards and ceramic elements.

Plated non-conductive materials see frequent use in several consumer products, including kitchenware, toiletries, bathroom items, clothing, and bottle caps.