What is Copper?

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Copper, ‘the red metal’, is one of the most electrically conductive of all the metal elements. While its electrical properties, in combination with its ductility and malleability, have helped the metal to become an integral component of the world’s telecommunications, it’s aesthetically pleasing red color that easily oxidized to a gritty green patina, also makes the metal a favorite material of artists and architects.

Copper’s Physical Properties

Color: Pure copper is a bright reddish-brown metal that, when exposed to corrosive environments, can take on a green-hued patina.

Strength: It is a weak metal with a tensile strength about half that of mild carbon steel. This explains why the metal is easily formed by hand, but is not a good choice for structural applications.

Toughness: It may not be strong, but it is not easy to break due to its high toughness. This property comes in handy for piping and tube applications, where a rupture can be dangerous and expensive.

Ductility: It is very ductile and also very malleable. The electrical and jewelry industries benefit from the ductility of the metal.

Where to find it

From common household electrical wiring to boat propellers and from photovoltaic cells to saxophones, copper and its alloys are employed in a myriad of end-uses. In fact, the metal’s use in a wide-range of core industries has resulted in the investment community turning to copper prices as an indicator of overall economic health, spurring the moniker ‘Dr. Copper’.

In order to better understand the metal’s various applications, the Copper Development Association (CDA) has categorized them into four end-use sectors: electrical, construction, transport and other.

Electrical

  • Electronic connectors
  • Circuitry wiring and contacts
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Micro-chips
  • Semi-conductors
  • Magnetrons in microwaves
  • Electromagnets
  • Vacuum tubes
  • Commutators
  • Welding electrodes
  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Heat sinks

Construction

  • Heat exchanger tubes for condensers in steam power stations and chemical plants
  • Irrigation and agricultural sprinkler systems
  • Piping at distillation plants
  • Seawater feed lines
  • Cement pumps for drill water supply
  • Tubes for distribution of natural and liquefied petroleum
  • Fuel gas distribution piping
  • Handles
  • Door knobs
  • Locks
  • Tables
  • Lighting and bathroom fixtures
  • Faucets
  • Hinges

Transport

  • Wiring for glass defrost systems
  • Fittings, fasteners and brass screws
  • Hydraulic lines
  • Bronze sleeve bearings
  • Wiring for window and mirror controls

Other

  • Cookware and Thermal Applications: The metal’s thermal properties make it ideal for cookware, such as pots and pans, as well as air conditioner units, heat sinks, calorifiers for water heating and refrigeration units.
  • Clocks and Watches: Because it is non-magnetic, it does not interfere with the operation of small mechanical devices. As a result, watchmakers and clockmakers use copper pins and gears in the design of timepieces.
  • Art: Copper and its alloys are also commonly seen in works of art, perhaps the most famous of which is the Statue of Liberty. The statue was plated with over 80 tons of copper sheet, attached with over 1500 copper saddles and 300,000 copper rivets, which results in her green patina color.
  • Coinage: Until 1981, the US one-cent piece – or penny – was minted mostly of copper (95 percent), but since that time has been minted as copper-platedzinc (0.8-2.5 percent).
  • Musical Instruments: What would a brass band be without it? Brass is used to produce horns, trumpets, trombones and saxophones because of the resistance to corrosion and anti-bacterial properties of copper.

What’s it worth?

Find out how much your scrap copper is worth by bringing it to Scrap Mart Metals in Valley Park, Missouri. We have a drive-thru and drop off metal recycling center makes it easier than ever to bring in the scrap metal recyclables from your home, business or organization. Scrap Mart offers top dollar payouts for all of your scrap metals. Since 2011 we have provided superior service to our customers. For years, Scrap Mart has served the St. Louis area with a commitment to service and value. We appreciate your interest and look forward to earning your business.