Properties

This section provides a brief overview of the properties of copper and copper alloys to illustrate the ease with which designs can be realised. For further information on properties, alloys, manufacturing techniques and suppliers, contact your local Copper Centre. 

AESTHETIC

Copper has always fascinated people with its beauty and elegance. It respects tradition, but at the same time enables new and appealing architectural and design solutions. The pleasing appearance of copper and its alloys adds a feeling of quality, even prestige, to public spaces, furniture, design objects and decorative items for the home.


Appealing


Colours

Lacquering

Plating

AVAILABILITY

Copper is very easy to work, and can be shaped into nearly any form, offering cost-effective products for industrial and consumer applications alike. Along with its alloys, such as brass and bronze, it has been used for many centuries to produce tube, sheets for roofing and cladding of buildings, and wire for electrical applications and jewellery. It can be made into complex shapes, as demonstrated by the intricate curves of brass instruments such as trumpets. It is also cast to make taps and valves, bells and statues that last for hundreds of years.


Easy to shape


Easy to alloy

CASTABILITY

Copper and its alloys has the ability to reproduce fine detail on a surface. They can be successfully cast in sand, for the greatest flexibility in casting size and shape and is the most economical casting method if only a few castings are made. Permandent mold casting is best suited for tin, silicon, aluminum and manganese bronzes and yellow brasses.


Casting

CONDUCTIVITY

Copper has the highest thermal and electrical conductivity of any metal, except silver.


Electrical


Thermal

DURABILITY

Indoors, copper and its alloys will very slowly darken in colour, but they will not rust. This darkening does not damage their function, which is very important for items such as water and gas pipes, taps and electrical wires. Decorative items such as jewellery, light fittings and door furniture are easily polished to restore a bright surface. Outdoors, copper and its alloys will gradually form an  ttractive, stable green patina that enhances the appearance of statues, roofs and other decorative and architectural items. It is no wonder that architects and designers choose copper time and  gain. Copper pipes were used by the Ancient Egyptians to carry water. Today, copper tube is used in many European homes to carry hot and cold water for plumbing and heating and to safely  onvey natural gas to homes and businesses.


Corrosion resistance


Tough

EASY OF JOINING

Copper and copper alloys can be easily joined, by bolting and riveting, by soldering, brazing and welding and by adhesive bonding. In industry, this is very useful for plumbing pipework and joining busbars, vital elements of power distribution systems. Elsewhere, it is also an important feature for artists crafting sculptures and statues, and to jewellery makers and other artisans working with this beautiful material.


Soldering

Adhesive bonding


Brazing

Bolting

Riveting

FORMABILITY

The generation and transmission of electricity has transformed the world. Copper has made this possible. The very small diameter wires, which transmit power in cars, computers, televisions, lighting and mobile phones, only exist because of the high ductility and malleability of copper.


Ductility and Malleability

BIOCOMPATIBILITY

Humans have exploited the inherent antimicrobial properties of copper since the dawn of civilisation. Scientific research has demonstrated copper’s antimicrobial effect on a range of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi. This supports its use in applications where control of these germs will benefit society, such as healthcare, food processing, heating & air-conditioning and public transport. Pathogens don’t survive on copper surfaces, reducing the risk of them being transferred via touch. This positions copper as an additional weapon in the fight against hospital acquired infections.


Antimicrobial


Antifouling

Essential

SAFE

In hazardous environments, copper is non-magnetic and non-sparking. Because of this, alloys such as copper beryllium are used for special tools where a spark would be dangerous, such as in a mine where it could ignite gas. They are also important in military applications, such as minesweepers, which must have a low magnetic permeability. The famous sea clocks and watches made by John Harrison in the 18th Century, which helped solve the problem of longitude, could not have been made without extensive use of brass and tin bronze.


Non magnetic


Non sparking

ECO-SUSTAINABILITY

Copper exists in naturally-occurring ores and, in Europe, is mined mainly in Poland, Portugal, Spain, Russia and Sweden. As copper can be recycled, again and again, without any loss of performance, it is rarely lost from the world’s resources. Today, around 40% of Europe’s demand for copper is met by recycled material. Recycling products at the end of their lives contributes to sustainable development. Recycling also uses only 20% of the energy required to mine copper.


Recyclability

Sustainability
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