Centuries before it was identified as an element, zinc was used to make brass (an alloy of zinc and copper) and for medicinal purposes. Metallic zinc and zinc oxide were produced in India sometime between the 11th and 14th centuries and in China in the 17th century, although the discovery of pure metallic zinc is credited to the German chemist Andreas Marggraf, who isolated the element in 1746.
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Zinc is currently the fourth most widely consumed metal in the world after iron and steel, aluminum, and copper. It has strong anticorrosive properties and bonds well with other metals.
The leading use of zinc is as an alloy; the zinc is combined with copper and with other metals to form materials that are used in automobiles, electrical components, and household goods. A second significant use of zinc is in the production of zinc oxide, which is used in rubber and rubber products manufacturing and as a protective skin ointment.
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