What is Tin?
Tin is a soft, silvery white metal with a bluish tinge. It does not occur naturally and must be extracted from ores, such as the mineral Cassiterite. An ancient metal, it is essential to the creation of Bronze – an alloy of Copper.
Tin material properties
It is ductile and malleable and can be manipulated via different ways of cold-working such as rolling, spinning and extrusion. Being extremely soft, Tin is rarely used in its pure state, instead, it is combined with other metals to make alloys such as Bronze or Pewter, which are stronger.
The non-toxic metal has a low melting point and is resistive to corrosion from water. It is attacked by strong acids and alkalis, but nearly neutral solutions do not affect it appreciably. These properties, along with its firm adhesion to the surfaces of other metals such as Iron, Steel, Copper and its Copper alloys, make Tin suitable as a coating material to protect other metals from oxidation.
Is Tin magnetic?
Tin is considered paramagnetic, or weakly attracted to a magnet. Materials can be diamagnetic, paramagnetic or ferromagnetic. Diamagnetic materials are weakly repelled by magnets, while Ferromagnetic materials are what most people think of as “magnetic” and encompass metals such as Iron, Cobalt and Nickel.
This material is used to create Tinplate–steel sheet metal which has been coated with a thin layer of Tin. Tinplate, in turn, is the material used to manufacture ‘Tin Cans’ which serve as containers in a wide range of industries from food and beverage, to cosmetics, fuel, oil, paints and other chemicals. Tinplate is also used to make ‘Tinfoil’.
The material’s other significant application is as a solder for the electronics industry. The low melting point makes it and its alloys (often with Lead or Indium) suitable for bonding together materials. Tin and Tin alloy solders are used for joining parts for example in electric circuits, well as connecting pipes etc.
Tin in Art and Design:
A few properties of this material have made it particularly appealing to use in art and design, and for centuries – its ease of availability, affordability, and the fact that it is lightweight and malleable. This means that the material can be easily shaped, crimped, stamped, punched, and cut into a wide variety of decorative and functional works. The lustrous material also looks like Silver and can be used in its stead for art objects and sculptures.
It has been used extensively for interior objects, metal wall art, plaques, figural sculptures, hanging ornaments, wall signs, busts, decorative badges, vessels, vases and also tin foil art. Products made using Tin – including cans and bottle tops – also feature heavily in recycled art.