How Much Gold Is in the Hottest New Gadgets?

Everybody loves owning the latest new electronic devices and gizmos. What could be cooler than cruising through the neighborhood on a new hoverboard or in your self-driving car? But how much gold do today’s hottest new products contain, and how and when can you recycle it?

New Smart Cars

Future cars from just about all manufacturers are going to perform all kinds of amazing tasks for us – in fact, many cars are starting to do so now. They have backup cameras, lane-departure and blind spot warning systems, smart cruise control that keeps you from plowing into the car ahead of you, self-parking capabilities, and tons more. And let’s not forget about fully electronic cars and plug-in hybrids.

How much gold is used in creating the electronics that back up these features? More than in past cars, because they use either more, or larger, printed circuit boards. And as readers of this blog know, printed circuit boards contain gold, especially in the pins that are used to plug the boards into connectors. But bear in mind that even if the size and/or number of printed circuit boards doubles or triples in smart cars, the total amount of gold use in each vehicle will remain quite small, in all probability worth no more than a few dollars.

When can you get your hands on those jumbo printed circuit boards so you can send them to a qualified gold refinery and cash in? Probably not any time soon, unless self-driving cars start to drive off the road in record numbers or “smart” cruise control systems suddenly start to malfunction. But it would be sinister for even the most evil precious metals hunter to hope for those things to happen. Let’s just wait until those cars go out of service and end up in scrap yards in about 10 years.

Image of drone delivering package for blog post on about how much gold is in new gadgets. Credit: bestgreenscreen/iStock.


There’s no question that drones are very hot right now with hobbyists. They are also being used by surveyors, home inspectors, filmmakers, builders, and also in telecommunications, warfare, espionage…and even by drone-flying treasure hunters looking for gold. We are also hearing that plans to deliver packages using automated drones. Yes, they are booming. Bang, we are living in the age of drones.

But how much gold do they contain? Actually, small amounts can be found in the printed circuit boards that are installed in the drones themselves, in their handheld remote controls or – in the case of more advanced industrial drones – in the computer systems that control them.

When can you get your hands on the gold that is contained in all those drones? As soon as people start to scrap them. It’s already happening, as I saw just a few weeks ago when I saw a newbie droner fly his toy into a tree, where it got stuck in a high branch and whirred pitifully, unable to get free. Chances are you are going to start seeing more busted drones in the electronics dumpster at your local dump pretty soon. Be on the lookout for them.

3-D Printers

Hobbyists of all kinds are eager to own them. (Why spend $4.00 for a plastic Elmo at the store when you can buy a 3-D printer for $1,200 and make one at home?) But there is no standing in the way of progress. And let’s face it, the prices of 3-D printers are going to fall fast when they have been on the market for a few years. It happened with VCRs, with CD and DVD players and lots of other electronic consumer products, and it will happen again with 3-D printers.

How much gold to 3-D printers contain? Trace amounts can be found in their printed circuit boards.

When can you get your hands on the gold they contain? You’re going to have to wait a few years, but then you are going to start seeing these once-hot items at the dump alongside inkjet and laser printers. Be patient, they are coming your way.

Personal Transportation Devices

Last Christmas, hoverboards became very hot gift items. And Segways – those very cool two-wheeled self-balancing personal transportation scooters that were introduced more than a decade ago – have now become widely used by law enforcement agencies. They are also being rented to tourists, who can scoot off on them to check out the cities they are visiting. But by far, the most numerous personal transportation devices are the electronic scooters and wheelchairs that are giving welcome mobility to individuals who are movement-impaired.

How much gold do these products contain? The bigger they are (and the bigger the printed circuits they have), the more gold you can find in them. Again, we are not talking about hundreds of dollars of recyclable gold in any one of these wheeled vehicles, only a few bucks at most. But obviously, the more vehicles you can get your hands on, the more money you are going to make by recycling them.

When can you get your hands on these vehicles and cash in? Right now, especially those motorized carts and wheelchairs that are used by handicapped folks, who are trading in their old rides for new ones at dealers across the country. Visit them and see if you can set up an agreement to help scrap older models and share the money you get from recycling the electronics they contain.

Game Consoles

People are buying the latest game consoles for their kids (or for themselves), then trading them in or scrapping them after two or three years when something newer becomes available. Plus, we have an interesting new phenomenon happening, as Nintendo and other makers are starting to introduce retro game consoles that let buyers relive the childhoods that they squandered playing Super Mario, Ms. Pacman and Frogger.

How much gold to these products contain? Only trace amounts. But when you consider that millions of these units have been sold over the decades – and that many of them are still lying around unused in homes – it seems like you should be able to get your hands on them pretty cheaply. For example, how about putting an ad in a local paper, or a poster in your local supermarket, that offers to buy old game consoles? If you can buy hundreds of them for a buck or two each and send them to us for processing, you might have a viable way to earn some extra money.

When can you start to collect these devices? How about today.

Action Cameras and Camcorders

Extreme athletes have fallen in love with these devices. They attach them to their bike and skydiving helmets, handlebars, (and God knows where else) and record shaky videos of their stunts that they post online. Then there are also waterproof cams that are big hits with surfers, scuba divers, and lunatics who swim with sharks.

How much gold do these hot cameras contain? As is the case with the other devices we’re writing about today, not much. But hey, these cameras are being used in settings where chances are pretty good that they are going to get crushed, squashed, run over, drenched or bitten by sharks, right? Also, as each new and improved generation of cameras is released, the older, lower quality models are getting tossed.

How can you get your hands on them? Again, try putting posters or ads in areas where people are using them – like in surfing or skydiving clubs.

And When You Collect those Gizmos…

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we will tell you how to send your items to us for testing and recycling. Be sure to mention today’s blog post and ask about the costs of sending your items to us to be tested. In some cases, we offer free or discounted shipping.

Related Posts:

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Recycling Gold: Do Older or Newer Sources Give You the Greater Yield?  
New Uses for Gold Point to Increasing Value in the Years Ahead 
Do Old Digital Cameras Contain Precious Metals that Can Be Recycled?