Copper is one of the most flexible base metals for many different materials. It can be found almost everywhere from uncommon machine parts and intricate architectural elements to simple everyday items. In fact, despite the economy’s unpredictability, copper production remains stable worldwide. Copper has become so influential a product that most countries use it as an economic health barometer.
It’s not an accident that copper is an extensively used material. Unlike other metals, copper possesses a great deal of properties that allow it to be used for a wide range of applications. Here are some of copper’s most notable properties.
- Malleability. Most metals have a certain degree of malleability, but copper seems to top all of them in this aspect. It can easily be hammered, rolled, or pressed into thin sheets without breaking. With this high level of workability, there are many things that can be done with copper. But such property has its share of disadvantages as well. For instance, it cannot be used for tension resistance since it’s too soft and pliable. Fortunately, it can easily be alloyed with other metals to enhance its tensile strength.
- Ductility. Copper is also very easy to draw into wires. In fact, most of the cables and wires you have at home, and the ones crisscrossing the streets outside, have a copper core. Its being a preferred material for wire core, however, isn’t mainly due to its ductility but also to its high electrical conductivity. Silver was originally used, but because it is expensive and heats up easily, it was replaced by copper.
- Antimicrobial. Some metals have the ability to repel microbes and other microorganisms, which can potentially harm your health, thanks to the oligodynamic effect. This is a phenomenon that works when the ions of a metal react with certain proteins inside the cells of microorganisms, consequently disrupting their growth or killing them altogether.
Copper has a lot of other beneficial properties, such as machinability, high corrosion resistance, and stylish sheen. These properties make the metal quite handy for many different applications.
- Electromagnets. Unlike typical magnets, this type works with electricity. Meaning, electromagnets can be switched on and off at will or through an electronic program. They consist of coils that are almost entirely made of copper wires. They are often used in electric bells, electric locks, cranes and lifting magnets, and some surgical tools.
- Tubes, Pipes, and Fittings. Copper has all the qualities needed in piping and tubing work—superior performance, excellent workability, and high thermal conductivity. Because it also has antimicrobial properties, it is preferred for water treatment systems. The stunning reddish color makes copper tubes and fittings perfect architectural and interior design elements.
- Automotive. Most of today’s cars no longer have steel tubes in their hydraulic brakes. Manufacturers have replaced them with copper-nickel tubes, and for good reasons. The new component is far superior in terms of performance, heat resistance, and durability. Most radiators and heat exchangers in cars are now made of copper-nickel alloys, too.
- Ornaments and Fixtures. Tired of your wood, stone, and ceramic surfaces at home? Add more flare to your living space by covering your spaces with copper sheets. A backsplash up your sink makes a perfect shield for your wall, and an additional plating on your countertop makes your whole kitchen look cleaner and swankier, especially because copper has antimicrobial properties and kitchen is one of bacteria’s favorite hangout.
Finding the Right Suppliers
Copper products are not your everyday items at home. You need an expert eye to distinguish quality materials from poor ones. If you don’t have one at the moment, try to find a reputable supplier. That doesn’t take an expert eye to accomplish. Just check the number of years they’ve been in the business, their accomplishments throughout the years, and the reviews they get from their clients, and voila, you already know where to buy copper sheets, bars, and other supplies.
Copper Facts: Chemical and Physical Properties, thoughtco.com