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Advantages of Working with Copper and Copper Alloys

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Copper metals are commonly used in industries worldwide to create unique products that demonstrate exceptional capabilities. For applications that require enhanced malleability, machinability, conductivity, copper alloy products deliver proven results. Whether your application requires increased electrical conductivity and corrosion resistance, antimicrobial qualities, or greater strength and formability, consider copper metal alloys for your next project.

Copper Alloy Materials

There is no other metal category that offers the same beneficial features as the copper family of metals. With extraordinary practical features, distinct color patterns, and patinas, copper alloy metal products are unique in their offerings. With several different options to choose from, there is sure to be a copper or brass alloy that meets or exceeds your project’s specifications.

Copper

Pure copper is relatively soft and displays high electrical and thermal conductivity. There are several different types of unalloyed copper available on the market. Oxygen-free copper products are used exclusively in applications that require high conductivity and outstanding ductility. Copper is often available in bar and sheet and plate formats.

Brass

Copper alloyed brass materials are manufactured from a combination of copper and zinc. Brass alloys provide good strength and ductility and can be cold worked with ease. Depending on the amount of zinc present within the alloy, brass colorations range from red to golden yellow. Brass alloys also display excellent castability and are often used for the following applications:
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Decorative hardware
  • Architectural trim
  • Valves
  • Gears and bearings
  • Springs
  • Radiator cores
  • Lamp fixtures
  • Ammunition

Tin Brass Alloys

Providing increased corrosion resistance and higher strength when compared to standard brass, tin brass products are manufactured from copper, zinc (2% to 40%), and tin (0.2% to 3%). The tin brass family includes admiralty brasses, naval brasses, and free-machining tin brasses. Tin brass alloys are used to manufacture the following types of products:
  • Fasteners
  • Electrical connectors
  • Springs
  • Marine hardware
  • Pump shafts
  • Mechanical products

Silicon Bronze Alloys

Silicon bronzes contain less than 20% zinc and up to 6% silicon, are solid solution strengthened, and are used for applications where increased strength and corrosion resistance are critical. Silicon red bronzes are used to manufacture bearings, gears, and complexly shaped pump and valve components.

Phosphor Bronze Alloys

Often referred to as tin bronzes, phosphor bronze alloys contain between 0.5% and 11% tin and 0.01% to 0.35% phosphorous. Phosphor bronzes display superb spring qualities, high fatigue resistance, excellent formability, solderability, and high corrosion resistance. They are ideal for applications requiring increased corrosion resistance, tensile strength, wear resistance, and stiffness. Applications include:
  • Bellows
  • Diaphragms
  • Spring washers
  • Electrical products

Nickel Silver Brass Alloys

Although they do not contain silver, nickel silver-copper alloys display an appealing silver luster that is revered by many throughout the world. With moderate-high strength and good corrosion resistance, nickel silver-copper alloys are used to produce food and beverage handling equipment, decorative hardware, electroplated tableware, optical and photographic equipment, and musical instruments.

Copper-Nickel Alloys

Copper-nickel alloys are extremely corrosion resistant, thermally stable, and contain 2% to 30% nickel. Copper-nickel alloys are virtually immune to stress corrosion cracking and exhibit high steam and moist air oxidation resistance. Some of the most common applications for copper-nickel alloys include:
  • Condenser tubes
  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Fittings
  • Marine equipment

Aluminum Bronze Alloys

Aluminum bronzes provide exceptional corrosion resistance, high strength, toughness, wear resistance, and contain 6% to 12% aluminum. Aluminum bronzes are used in the following applications:
  • Marine hardware
  • Shafts
  • Pumps
  • Valve components

Copper Alloy Metal Antimicrobial Properties

Due to their inherent ability to kill 99.9% of surface-level bacteria within two hours of contact, more than 280 copper alloys have been granted public health registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This unprecedented registration recognizes copper’s inherent ability to kill bacteria between regular cleanings and aids in reducing infection-causing bacteria on touch surfaces in hospitals, schools, offices, and other public establishments.

Copper Alloy Physical Properties

Pure copper has a melting point of 1981°F (1083°C). However, once alloyed with another element, the physical properties can change drastically. The following table describes the physical properties of some of the most common copper alloy metals.
Copper Alloy Density
lb/in3 (g/cm3)
Meting Point
°F (°C)
Electrical Conductivity
%IACS (MS/m)
Thermal Conductivity
Btu ft/ft2 hr °F (Wcm/cm2 °C)
Thermal Expansion Coefficient (Linear)
X10-6in/in °F (X10-6cm/cm °C)
Copper 0.322 (8.92) 1949 (1065) 101 (58) 226 (3.94) 9.33 (16.8)
Brass 0.308 (8.53) 1680 (915) 28 (16) 70 (1.21) 11.1 (19.9)
Phosphor Bronze 0.320 (8.86) 1750 (950) 15 (8.7) 40 (0.71) 9.9 (17.8)
Copper Nickel 0.323 (8.94) 2010 (1100) 9 (5.2) 26 (0.46) 9.5 (17.1)
Nickel Silver 0.316 (8.73) 1960 (1070) 6 (3.5) 19 (0.33) 9.0 (16.2)
 

Copper Alloy Mechanical Properties

Copper alloys deliver an assortment of physical properties that allow them to be used for an expansive list of demanding applications. Whether it’s increased tensile strength, yield strength, or the rate of work hardening, copper alloy metal mechanical properties are beneficial in various circumstances. The following table describes the mechanical properties of some of the most common copper alloy metals.
Copper Alloy Tensile Strength
Ksi (mPa)
0.2% Yield Strength
Ksi (mPa)
Elongation
IN 2.0 in (%)
Copper 34 (235) 11 (76) 45
Brass 53 (365) 22 (150) 54
Phosphor Bronze 50 (345) 22 (150) 50
Copper Nickel 51 (350) 13 (90) 35
Nickel Silver 58 (400) 25 (170) 41
 

Providing Premium Copper Alloys Throughout Southern CA, Arizona & Northern Mexico

Industrial Metal Supply is the Southlands largest supplier of all types of copper alloys, metal, and metalworking accessories, including rust prevention products. Get in touch with our sales team for world-class metals products and services today.
 
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