Pure copper has the best electrical and thermal conductivity of any commercial metal. Today, over half of the copper produced is used in electrical and electronic applications, and copper forms alloys more easily than most metals.
There are more than 400 copper alloys, each with a unique combination of properties to suit many applications, manufacturing processes and environments. Alloys are created by making a solid material out of two or more different metals. Learn more from the examples below.
- Brass is the generic term for a range of copper-zinc alloys with differing combinations of properties including strength, machinability, ductility, wear resistance, hardness, color, electrical and thermal conductivity and corrosion resistance.
- Bronze alloys are made from copper and tin and were the first to be developed about 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age.
- Copper-nickel alloys have excellent resistance to marine corrosion and biofouling. The addition of nickel to copper improves strength and corrosion resistance without changing ductility.
- Nickel-silver alloys are made from copper, nickel and zinc and are sometimes regarded as special brasses. They have an attractive silvery appearance rather than the typical brassy color. Typical applications include coins and ornamental objects.
- Beryllium copper alloys are used for their high strength and good electrical and thermal conductivities. It’s similar in mechanical properties to high-strength-alloy steel. However, it has better corrosion resistance than steel. There are two groups of beryllium-copper alloys: high strength alloys and high conductivity alloys.