Copper and Copper Alloys:
Copper and copper alloy wires are often electroplated with precious metal coatings. The coating may be singular, such as silver-plated copper or may be of multiple layers, such as nickel-gold or nickel-palladium-gold plated copper alloy wire. The performance characteristics of pure precious metal deposits can be enhanced with alloying additives. For example, nickel or cobalt can be added to gold to produce a "hard" gold surface.
One of the main attributes of copper alloys is their high electrical and thermal conductivity, making these alloys quite attractive in electrical and electronic applications. With a steady move toward miniaturization, alloys with high electrical conductivity at the same strength levels are required. The addition of alloying elements to improve various properties of copper, such as strength, reduces electrical conductivity. When added to copper as an alloying addition, each element and combination of various elements influences electrical conductivity in different ways. High performance alloys have been designed to provide high strength with a lesser reduction in electrical conductivity of elemental copper.
The following is a description of some copper alloys:
Nickel silvers - Nickel silvers are alloys that contain copper, nickel and zinc. The term nickel silver refers to their attractive silver luster. Nickel silvers have moderately high strength and good corrosion resistance.
Beryllium - Beryllium copper is a precipitation-hardening alloy containing about 2% beryllium in copper. The combined properties of beryllium/copper alloys often prove it to be the most economical for a given application. These alloys combine the very high physical characteristics of some sophisticated stainless steels with the qualities of copper alloys. Some characteristics are the following
- High fatigue strength
- Unusual wear resistance
- High corrosion resistance
- High tensile strength
- High electrical and thermal conductivity
- Good formability
- Excellent properties at elevated temperature
Beryllium copper is the strongest and best spring material among all copper alloys for application in high temperature, high corrosive and high electrical current environment. It is the best choice for micro-switch, connector, terminal, relay and high precision spring parts. Beryllium copper may be plated with gold or tin.
Phosphor bronze - Phosphor bronzes or tin bronzes are alloys containing copper, tin and phosphorous. The phosphor bronzes contain between 0.5 and 11% tin and 0.01 to 0.35% phosphorous. The addition of tin increases the corrosion resistance and strength of the azes have excellent spring qualities, high fatigue resistance, excellent formability and solderability, and high corrosion resistance. Tin-plated phosphor bronze is used in electronics and in RFI shielding.
Nickel - Copper nickel alloys contain from 2 to 30% nickel, depending upon the application. These alloys may have iron, chromium, niobium, and or manganese added to improve the strength and corrosion resistance. These alloys are thermally stable and very corrosion resistant. They have high oxidation resistance in steam and moist air. They have moderate strength even at elevated temperatures. Higher nickel alloys are corrosion-resistant in seawater and are resistant to marine bio-fouling.
Copper alloy wire is available in a variety of shapes, tailor made to customer-specified size and tolerances: round, square, rectangular, flat, and special. Square or rectangular wire shapes are specified by defining two of three variables: size, corner radii, or diagonals. Special features such as crowned surfaces may be specified in square or rectangular wire. Flat wire edges are usually free formed but may be shaped to specification.
Copper alloys are so widely used, many in complex applications, that there are over 370 commercial copper and copper alloy grades. The Copper family includes coppers, high-copper alloys, brasses, leaded brasses, bronzes, aluminum bronzes, silicon bronzes, copper nickels, and nickel silvers.
Copper alloys provide good thermal and electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, ease of forming, ease of joining, and color, but most have relatively low strength-to-weight ratios and low strengths at elevated temperatures.
Copper and copper alloy materials in all aspects of architecture, both exterior and interior.
Copper is an essential component of many of the latest design elements in today's cars.
- Electrical: Copper's high conductivity makes it the ideal material in a wide variety of electical applications including:
- Electrical Energy Efficiency
- Power Quality
- Building Wire
- Tube, Pipe & Fittings
Copper tube is the highest quality material available today for a variety of building applications including plumbing, fire sprinklers and other applications that use tubing and piping.
- Fuel Gas
Copper tube is an excellent choice for natural gas piping systems.
Copper serves as an essential material in a vast number of industries including electronics.
Copper's unique properties make it ideal for many applications in the harsh environments of marine water life.
- Machined Products
Copper alloy rod and bar products are well suited for machined products.