A metal is one of a class of substances that cannot be dissociated chemically or, in other words, a chemical element. Most of the chemical elements in the Periodic Table are metals. At room temperature, metals are typically hard, solid materials that conduct electricity and heat and are ductile, malleable and lustrous. Their uses are many and varied, though can be used to source suppliers of metals for industry needs.

The physical characteristics of metals are determined by their atomic structure, which consists of a giant crystal lattice of positively charged ions surrounded by a ‘sea’ of mobile, negatively charged electrons. Strong electrostatic attraction holds the lattice together, but allows layers of atoms to slide past each other, so metals can be drawn into wires or beaten into sheets. The layers of atoms and the mobile electrons also allow an electric current to pass when a potential difference is applied across the metal.

A primary metal manufacturer melts, or smelts, metallic ore to separate the metal contained. A secondary metal manufacturer, on the other hand, uses salvaged, scrap or recycled metal as a raw material. Once smelted and refined, the metal is cast into pieces, or ingots, suitable for storage, transportation or further processing.

A metal supplier typically supplies metals for a broad range of commercial and industrial applications in a wide variety of sectors. Metals, in ingot form, can be drawn, extruded and rolled into a vast range of shapes and dimensions, including bar, plate, rod, sheet wire and other wholesale metal products. A metal supplier may offer different grades and thicknesses of metal, which can usually be cut to the required size.

A metal trader works in the world of commodities trading, buying and selling metals on behalf of clients. A metal trader may be involved in buying and selling precious metals, such as gold, platinum and silver, but the two most actively traded metals in the world are aluminium and copper. Aluminium is, in fact, the most widely used pure metal in the world. provides access to the global metals marketplace.

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