Nickels are ubiquitous in American life, tumbling around in pockets, rolling under car seats, and emerging from the back of dryers to be used over and over for countless purchases. But these resilient and somewhat humble-looking coins are also becoming costly to produce. Nickel, the coin's own namesake, has become a prized ingredient in many modern products, pushing the market value so much that sometimes making the five-cent coin costs as much as seven cents a pop.
Working in conjunction with the U.S. Mint, a research team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has identified an alternative approach that would reduce the cost of materials for the nickel by as much as 40 percent. This approach would produce a coin every bit as tough and reliable as the old nickel but also every bit as familiar to the American citizen.
Paper - Details - Work - Today - Journal
The paper that details the work was published today in the journal Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation.
As an added benefit, the data from this research has also produced results that may aid high-tech companies looking for new materials to use in resilient electronics such as phones and laptops, and in a variety of radical new colors, to boot.
Manufacturing - Coins - Process - Coins - Palm
The manufacturing of coins is a complicated and demanding process. Coins must not corrode in the palm of a moist hand, for example. The images stamped on their faces must be resilient enough to withstand decades of commerce and the occasional turn through the laundry. Their metallic sheen must always be recognizable, and of uniform thickness and density.
Although invisible to the average customer buying a gumball or a soda, all U.S. coins must also contain a predetermined amount of electrical conductivity to work in vending machines, which use a small meter to determine a coin's currency signature. A parking meter or soda...
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