The International Tin Association Technology team is working in both the UK and China to understand threats and opportunities to tin use. We are also building and talking to technology communities to understand and tackle key industry issues. Our work communicates a positive message about the importance of tin to daily life, now and in the future.
All tin use sectors are benefiting from economic growth in Asia, though China demand is currently stalled. There are also challenges of regulation, technology change and competition. Technology drivers in electronics, solar cell solders, lead-acid batteries are strong and tin chemicals are in steady growth. With continued impact of miniaturisation on solder use and lack of positive developments in tinplate, new uses linked to energy technologies are likely to sustain longer term potential.
Thanks to the positive growth forecasts for electronics and solar cell markets, as well as continued conversion to lead-free soldering, the long-term outlook for solder usage remains balanced or slightly positive against smaller unit volumes as a result of miniaturisation.
Tin chemicals for PVC stabilisers, polymer catalysts and numerous other applications is the second largest tin use, with steady growth. They look likely to retain this position for the foreseeable future, with new uses in energy materials in prospect longer term.
Tinplate is mainly used in food cans as well as in some beverage cans, general line cans for chemicals, paints and dry products and also in can ends. Global consumption of tinplate remains static or declining with new opportunities in emerging economies and circular economy regulation.
Tin use in lead-acid batteries, especially in China, is expected to grow steadily with the introduction of more start-stop and microhybrid vehicles as well as growth in alternative energy and telecoms markets.
Copper Alloys & Other Uses
Copper alloys including bronze are still widely used in applications ranging from sculpture to electrical products. Tin and other alloys, including powders and coatings, are used in brake pads, roofing, engineering, bearings and numerous other ways. Traditional pewter giftware is still highly valued and tin wine capsules are used in luxury wines and spirits.
Tin Use in Vehicles
Tin is called the ‘spice element’ because a little of it is present everywhere in ways that are essential to our quality of life. Tin use in vehicles is a good example.
International Tin also tracks new technologies that are likely to grow future tin uses. Lithium ion batteries and other new energy materials look very promising for tin and we are working to assess their potential impact on future tin demand.