Copper Properties

Copper and copper alloys are some of the most versatile engineering materials available.

The combination of copper properties such as strength, conductivity, corrosion resistance, machinability and ductility make copper suitable for a wide range of applications.

These copper properties can be further enhanced with variations in composition and manufacturing methods.

  • Electrical conductivity: Copper has the highest conductivity of the engineering metals. Silver or other elements may be added to increase strength, softening resistance or other properties without major loss of conductivity.
  • Thermal conductivity: This property is similar to electrical conductivity. Alloys of copper may be used for this property, where good corrosion resistance compensates for loss of conductivity with increased alloying.
  • Color and appearance: Many of the copper alloys have a distinctive color, which may change as the object weathers. For most alloys, it is easy to prepare and maintain the surface standard, even in adverse corrosion conditions. Many of the alloys are used in decorative applications, either in their native form or after metal plating. The alloys have specific colors, ranging from the salmon pink of copper through yellow, gold and green to dark bronze in a weathered condition. Atmospheric exposure can produce a green or bronze surface, and pre-patinated alloys are available in some product forms.
  • Corrosion resistance: All copper alloys resist corrosion by fresh water and steam. In most rural, marine and industrial atmospheres, copper alloys are also resistant to corrosion. Copper is resistant to saline solutions, soils, non-oxidizing minerals, organic acids and caustic solutions. Most ammonia, halogens, sulfides, solutions containing ammonia ions and oxidizing acids, like nitric acid, will attack copper. Copper alloys also have poor resistance to inorganic acids. The corrosion resistance of copper alloys comes from the formation of adherent films on the material surface. These films are relatively impervious to corrosion therefore protecting the base metal from further attack.
  • Ductility can be restored by annealing: This can be done either by a specific annealing process or by incidental annealing through welding or brazing procedures.
  • Hardening/Strengthening: There are four common ways to harden (strengthen) copper such as strain hardening, solid-solution hardening, precipitation hardening and dispersion strengthening. The fifth, spinodal decomposition, is currently used commercially, but only in certain copper-nickel-tin alloys. Combinations of strengthening mechanisms are often used to provide higher mechanical properties in high-copper alloys.

The Total Materia database brings global metal properties together into one integrated and searchable database. Quick and easy access to the mechanical properties, chemical composition, cross-reference tables, and more provide users with an unprecedented wealth of information. Click the button below to test drive the Total Materia database.

Total Materia Search by Steel Properties

You can quickly and easily search over half million copper properties records by designation, countries/standards, type, standard number, chemical composition, mechanical properties, other properties or any combination of these criteria. For example, let’s look for a US copper alloy, which needs to have at least 8% of Al and 4% of Ni, and high tensile stress of over 500 MPa for a demanding automotive application.

Click Advanced Search from the main window. Next, choose Copper from the Group of Materials list, USA/ASTM from the Country/Standard list and enter requested copper properties and alloying elements.

Copper properties: Example of combined copper properties search by composition and mechanical properties

The search results screen appears. Click on a copper alloy from the list to review its properties; in this case, the fourth position is selected – copper grade B 150 C63000.

Copper properties: Result list of the copper properties search

After clicking on the material, a list of subgroups appears. In Total Materia, the term “subgroups” refers to specifications that define properties of the copper grade; in this case there is only one specification – B 150. Note that properties defined according to different specifications may differ significantly.

Copper properties: Specification that defines properties of the ASTM copper grade B 150 C63000

Copper properties within the Total Materia Database include composition, cross-reference tables, mechanical properties, physical properties, and more. Click on the examples below to enlarge them.

Copper properties: Chemical composition of the copper grade B 150 C63000
Copper properties: Cross-reference table of the copper grade B 150 C63000
Copper properties: Mechanical properties of the copper grade B 150 C63000
Copper properties: The physical  properties of the copper grade B 150 C63000