JCL Precision Part Co.,Ltd.

Everything You Need to Know About Copper

What Is Copper?

Copper (Cu) is a chemical element with a reddish and appealing color. Copper material is an extremely ductile metal that is an unusually good conductor of electricity and heat. In nature copper is found in its free metallic state with about an average of 69% purity. 

What Is the Copper Composition?

Copper metal consists only of a single type of element called cu element and is thus chemically indivisible. Copper has an atomic number of 29 means it consists of 29 protons in the nucleus. Copper is mined from copper sulfide ores (chalcopyrite) or copper oxide ores are extracted.

Different Types of Copper

Pure Copper

C11000 electrolytic copper material is often abbreviated as ETP copper. It is created by subjecting suitable cathodes and castings to a straight-up conversion process while under close observation. 

The inherent fabric ability of C11000 electrode copper metal makes it bent, welded, drilled, soldered, and formed to fit almost any intended design. Among the numerous grades of copper, ETP Copper material is the one mostly used because of its versatility in handling the power requirements of electronic devices. 

C11000 shall have a minimum conductivity of up to 100% with the condition of having 99.9% pure cu element.

Copper Clad Laminate

Copper-clad laminate has a thin copper material foil that is attached to a substrate that is not conductive, which is mainly fiberglass filled with epoxy resin (FR-4). 

The lamination process with heating and pressure is used for close bonding of copper foil to the substrate. It is used in the fabrication of printed circuit boards (PCBs). The copper foil is the one that carries out the electrical circuits, while the substrate is the one that has the structure and insulation. 

CCLs are as important as smartphones, computers, and medical equipment because they provide the ability to exact board connections and mechanical stability of PCB boards.


Copper-clad laminate PCB

Oxygen-free copper (OFC)

Oxygen-free copper metal (OFC) is a family of electrolytically refined copper alloys that have their oxygen levels reduced to 0.001% or lower, which improves the alloys' performance. 

The removal of oxygen in OFC stops the formation of oxides, evaluating its mechanical properties. Therefore, it performs well in electrical conduction lines, energy storage technology, and vacuum systems whose size, ability and efficiency are desirable. 

The upscale cord market utilizes oxygen-free copper believes to its superior conduction as well as other useful electrical properties that are allegedly good for audio signal transmission.


Oxygen-free copper speaker wire

Copper Powder

Copper powder is a fine orange–red metallic powder manufactured through methods like atomization and electrolysis. This copper material is used in many fields, including the manufacture of bearings and bushings, the thermal spraying for a coating of corrosion-resistant layers, and in conductive inks printing circuitry, and electronics.


Copper powder

Copper Alloys

Brass: Copper and zinc constitute the main components of brass, with zinc content from 5% to 45 percent. The addition of zinc to the copper alloy one to obtain a variety of colors, hardness, and machinability by changing its properties. 

Brass can be found almost everywhere, starting from musical instruments, plumbing pipes, ornamental items, and many other things due to its beautiful look, corrosion resistance, and easy-to-machine characteristics.


Brass Vintage Cups

Bronze: The principal components of bronze are copper (Cu) and tin (Sn) which normally produce up to 12% of tin. The introduction of tin into copper makes it stronger, harder, and more corrosion-resistant. 

Bronze casting is used in sculpture, artwork, bearings, marine equipment, and architectural detail because of its strength, long-lasting, and corrosion resistance.


Bronze sculpture 

Copper-Nickel Alloys: A copper-nickel alloy is created by blending copper (Cu) with nickel (Ni). The most common composition types include alloys with approximately 90% copper and 10% nickel (Cu-Ni 90/10) or 70% copper and 30% nickel (Cu-Ni 70/30).

Copper-nickel alloys are primarily used in the marine sector as they are characterized by their very high corrosion resistance in seawater on shipbuilding, offshore structures foundations, and desalination plants.


copper-nickel alloy Pipelines

Copper-Silver Alloys: Alloys based on copper-silver metallurgy fuse copper (Cu) with silver (Ag), with 30% silver. These alloys are equipped with better antimicrobial powers than only copper. therefore, effective in areas where cleanness is very essential such as medical equipment and food processing surfaces.

Copper-Tungsten Alloys: Copper (Cu)-tungsten alloys are produced by combining copper with tungsten with 10% to 50% of tungsten. They showcase high strength, thermal conductivity, and wear resistance, making them well-suited to be applied as robust electrical contacts, heat sinks, and components that operate at high temperatures.


Copper (Cu)-tungsten alloys Contacts

Copper-Beryllium Alloys: Copper-beryllium alloys are manufactured from copper (Cu) and beryllium (Be) where beryllium constitutes the smallest constituent between 0.2% and 2.0%. 

Even though beryllium concentration is low, these alloys possess remarkable toughness, hardness, and conductivity ensuring optimum performances for the electronic connectors and precision tools.

Copper-Chromium Alloys: Copper-chromium alloys are usually mixtures of copper with chromium of 2-3%. The addition of chromium increases the strength and hardness of the alloy and also improves its resistance to corrosion thus giving it the ability to be employed in the production of electrical products such as in overhead power transmission lines where high strength, as well as electrical conductivity, is necessary.

Physical Properties of Copper

Density: Copper density is of about 8.96 g/cm 3 (grams per cubic centimeter), and this makes it among the heavy metals.

Corrosion Resistance: Cu element is one of the most durable metals but it has exceptional resistance against atmospheric and water corrosion attacks. The formation of an oxide layer (patina) on its surface serves as a barrier against corrosion.

Thermal Expansion: Copper material has a coefficient of thermal expansion of 16.5 x 10^-6 per degree Celsius. Therefore, it undergoes very slight changes in length due to the temperature fluctuations.

Thermal Conductivity: Copper metal is amongst the best heat conductors known and has a thermal conductivity of about 401 watts per meter-kelvin (W/m·K) at room temperature. This property has its use in heat exchangers and HVAC systems.

Electrical Conductivity: Cu element is the best conductor among all metals with a conductivity of 59.6×10^6 Siemens per meter(S/m) at room temperature. Copper is therefore an integral element of wiring electrical, electronics, and power transmission.

Melting Point: Copper metal has an approximate melting temperature of 1,085. it is the point of temperature where solid copper becomes a liquid form.

Boiling Point: The boiling point of copper material is roughly 2,562 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature at which melted liquid copper transitions into a gaseous state.

Mechanical Properties of Copper

Yield Strength: The tensile strength of cu element is around 200 MPa and 250 MPa. This is the moment when the material begins to create plastic deformation when external loading is applied.

Ultimate Tensile Strength: The Ultimate Tensile Strength of copper lies between 200 to 370 MPa. it's the maximum stress a material can withhold before breaking. It depends on grain and purity of structure which influences these properties. it's the maximum stress a material can withhold before breaking.

Hardness: The hardness of copper is tied to its alloying components and heat treatment. The Rockwell B hardness level of porous copper lies between 35 and 45, but the Rockwell B hardness level of copper alloys can be greater than this value.

Toughness: Its hardness depends on the grain size, pureness, and temperature. Numerous times copper is regarded to be hard which implies it can absorb the energy and undergo such deformations without snapping. 

Fatigue Strength: The fatigue strength of copper is contingent upon variables such as the surface condition, stress concentration, and temperature. The copper is also able to be used for fatigue resistance under repeated cyclic loading.

Elasticity: Elasticity was defined by Young's modulus as 110 to 130 GPa for pure copper. Copper is a plastic-like material that can take a new shape under stress and can also restore the original shape when the stress is released.

Plasticity: Copper in its purest form is a very soft and plastic material. It can be very distorted provided the strain is beyond the limit of its yield point. The accountability of this characteristic draws the copper to processes that include forming, bending, and machining.

Chemical Properties of Copper

Texture: Among metals, copper is a light metal that has a silvery appearance and when polished it gives a satiny shine. But in the end, the color will tarnish to green because the oxidation process will happen as a result a rough surface will appear.

Toxicity: The most positive feature of copper is its nontoxicity to humans, animals, and other living organisms, unlike others.

 It is considered one of the most essential trace elements in the human body that functions as a regulatory element of many biological systems. 

But copper in overdose can cause problems for health organs like the stomach, the liver as well as the kidneys, and the nervous system.

Flammability: Copper is mostly not flammable under normal circumstances. Nonetheless, the spark that comes in contact with the copper dust in a loose powder form is enough to light the powder and trigger an instant fire.

Reactivity: At room temperature and in normal air copper is usually inactive. Copper forms a surface with a thin film of copper oxide (Copper II oxide) which prevents penetration of moisture, and corrosion. But in rare parts, Copper interacts with some acids to produce copper salts plus hydrogen.

Oxidation: Oxidation of copper occurs in the presence of air or water, as a result, copper oxide is formed. The oxidation reaction that causes rust on copper is also known as patination and this oxidation is the reason behind old copper statues, roofs, and architectural items appearing green.

Solubility: Copper is extremely poor with water and organic solvents. However, it also has a vital role in forming insoluble compounds (e.g. nitric acid (HNO3)) and salts of copper in these processes.

What are some advantages of using copper?

Excellent Electrical Conductivity: Copper is well-known as the best conductor of electricity among metals. This unique characteristic makes it the best option for wiring electrical systems, power transmission, and the sheet metal custom fabrication of electrical.

Superior Thermal Conductivity: Apart from having a high thermal conductivity, copper is also one of the best materials that can be used for several heat exchange applications such as electronic heat sink, HVAC systems, and cookware among others.

Corrosion Resistance: Copper is an unusual one among metallic materials that do not corrode in air and water. The fact that it is corrosion-resistant makes it more durable and longer-lasting than other materials, sparing it from both maintenance needs and 

replacement parts.

Antimicrobial Properties: Copper is naturally antibacterial microbes that can on contact kill or stop the growth of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This characteristic allows for its integration into hospital settings, food processing areas, and touch areas where sanitization is most required.

Malleability and Ductility: Copper exhibits high formability and high-deformability properties which makes it easy to work with as it can be cut, molded, and hammered without assuming any damage. This feature makes it possible for producers to make intricate designs and involve manufacturing processes like drawing, stamping, and extrusion.

Recyclability: Copper is potentially 100% recyclable and does not experience a decrease in quality or performance during the reutilization process. 

Aesthetic Appeal: The rich copper-red color of copper and its characteristic of metallicity make it possible to employ it in sculptured elements, decorative and even artwork.

Biocompatibility: Because copper is not toxic to humans in small doses and is also biocompatible, this is the reason why it is used in the production of medical devices, implants, and surgical instruments.

What are some limitations of copper?

Cost: Copper may be costlier than the alternatives of aluminum and steel. Copper price volatility may increase the sum of costs for projects, especially those with big financings like wiring and plumbing jobs.

Weight: Copper has a relatively high density, which can increase transportation costs and structural requirements, especially in cases like airplane and automobile industries when the weight factor is acutely considered.

Corrosion in Certain Environments: Though copper is corrosion-resistant, it also can rust under particular circumstances like when in contact with acidic or saline environments. This can severely limit its use in places where corrosion resistance is an issue under design without any additional protective layers.

Oxidation and Patina Formation: When copper is left in the air and moist for prolonged periods, it changes its shades from silver to green. Besides the barrier the peroxidation provides against the subsequent corrosion, its application might not be preferable in some circumstances for aesthetic or functional purposes.

Softness: Pure copper tends to be quite soft and is therefore easily deformed through mechanical pressure. However, this means the metal is not a good candidate for use cases with very high mechanical strength and wear resistance unless alloyed with any other metals.

Electromagnetic Interference: Copper’s high electrical conductivity can generate electromagnetic interference (EMI) in some electronic products and electronic systems, so shielding or additional design is required.

Bio corrosion: In certain situations, copper might lead to biocorrosion where microbes like bacteria or fungi can increase the rate of destruction of the copper surfaces over time, particularly in humid or moist environments.

Joining and Compatibility: Welding copper pieces is one of the most difficult processes, especially when you need to connect dissimilar materials as well as use some particular welding techniques.


What are some applications of copper?

Electrical Wiring and Conductors: Being a better conductor of electricity than the rest, copper deep drawing uses as the core component for wiring and conductors in residential, industrial, and commercial lines.


Copper Wire

Plumbing and Piping Systems: Copper has corrosion resistance, durability, and antimicrobial properties, which allow it to be used for plumbing and piping systems in buildings. 


Copper Piping

Heat Exchangers and HVAC Systems: Being a superb thermal conductor, copper uses in heat exchangers, air-conditioning systems as well and refrigeration where heat transfer is a significant factor.


 Heat Exchanger

Roofing and Architectural Elements: Resisting corrosion and due to its appeal, copper uses as  the material for roofing, ornaments such as domes, spires, and facial decoration.


Copper roofing

Industrial Machinery and Equipment: Copper uses has a vast application in machines, appliances, and instruments like motors, generators, gears, and bushings. Where its electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and mechanical properties like wear and tear resistance make copper a suitable choice.

Coinage and Currency: The application of copper material and copper alloys for manufacturing coins and money is due to their qualities of durability, corrosion resistance, and appearance.


Copper Coins

Medical Devices and Equipment: Copper is one of the materials that is used in the manufacture of the equipment used in the medical device stamping like surgical tools, catheters, and MRI coils where its properties of being resistant to bacteria and biocompatibility come in handy.

Art and Decorative Items: The artists copper uses in artworks, crafts, and interior decoration because of its malleability, ductility, and pleasing color.


Copper Antique


In conclusion, copper material, which is highly recognized, serves as the foundation material for several industries because of its unmatched electrical and thermal conductivity. 

Copper metal is used extensively in wiring as well as in plumbing and heat exchange systems as it is resistant to corrosion and has antimicrobial effects. Because of this, copper is very important in architectural, medical, and currency applications. 

Unquestionably, copper has a reputation for being prone to being less solid and oxidation but its recyclability places it at the top of the list of metals to be used in different industries. 

Nonetheless, impediments like the cost and weight of copper are still there, however, with the help of smart design and maintenance strategies, such problems will be properly managed to keep copper as the primary material used in present-day industrial applications.