How is copper used?

How is copper used? By Tom Chandler, Metallurgist, Cadi Company

The number one use of copper is conducting electricity, because it has high electrical conductivity, second only to silver for:

·        Residential and commercial wiring, including distribution of electrical power.

·        Windings in electric motors and generators.

·        Automotive wiring harnesses, as well as starters, and alternators.

·        Conductors in electronic devices and household items (toasters, coffee makers, microwave ovens, electric clocks, televisions, etc. I bet you can think of others?

·        Electrical contacts in switches and connecting devices.

Other common uses include:

·        Copper water pipes and tubes for plumbing, because of its corrosion resistance.

·        Cooling tubes in radiators and heat exchangers, because of its high thermal conductivity.

·        Architectural uses as building material for roofing and other coverings because of its corrosion resistance and aesthetics (pleasing to the eye)

·        As an artistic medium in sculptures (The Statue of Liberty in NYC is covered with copper sheets).

·        To produce hundreds of alloys with other metals to produce brasses and bronzes for a multitude of industrial and other commercial uses that utilize the primary advantages of copper in either electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, or corrosion resistance. Alloys enhance some properties of copper by increasing its hardness, strength or its corrosion resistance, and resistance to softening.

·        Copper alloy electrodes for welding - most notably spot welding in auto assembly -where steel is welded using electric current to put the frame of the car together fast and efficiently.

·        Copper is seeing increased use in healthcare as touch surfaces taking advantage of copper’s antimicrobial properties.. germs die after a short time in contact with these copper bedrails.