Copper is a malleable, ductile metal that can be found in many everyday items. From jewelry and electrical components to plumbing fixtures and coins, copper is everywhere. But did you know that there are different types of copper? Knowing the different varieties of copper can help you better understand why it’s such a popular
Types of Copper
Copper is one of the earliest metallic substances to be used by humankind. It has been a key material in technological and structural developments since its discovery millennia ago, and as such there are various distinct types of it available today. Some of the most well-known variants include pure copper, often referred to as ‘native copper, which has very few impurities; electrolytic copper made up of 99.9% actual copper; casting alloys, containing small percentages of lead, zinc, antimony, and tin; brass alloys, including anything from 40-90 percent copper alongside zinc; bronze alloys, usually with between 10%-25% tin and 90%-75% copper; cupronickel alloys, consisting primarily of copper (around 97%) with nickel added for higher strength applications; phosphor bronze alloys, which contain additional elements in order to lend corrosion resistance or increased electrical performance capabilities; and gunmetal alloys for similarly specialized projects. The sheer range of options available means that no matter the task at hand there will almost certainly be a type of copper perfect for it.
Oxygen-free copper (OFC) is the purest form of copper available on the market today and is made through either a three- or four-step process. It contains 99.99% pure copper with no oxygen content whatsoever, making it ideal for applications where electrical conductivity and high-temperature strength are important considerations. It is commonly used in electronic connectors, motors, switches, relays, and battery terminals.
Electrolytic Tough Pitch Copper
The second type of copper is an electrolytic tough pitch (ETP). This type of copper has up to 99.9% purity and contains 0.04–0.05% oxygen content; this tiny amount helps make ETP more ductile than OFC but also reduces its electrical conductivity slightly due to oxidation on its surface during manufacturing processes. Because it has greater ductility than OFC, ETP tends to be used in applications that require extra flexibility, like wiring harnesses and cable assemblies, while still providing good electrical conductivity properties.
The third type of copper is deoxidized copper (DCO). This type of copper contains between 0.03–0.08% oxygen content which makes it slightly more malleable than ETP but still very strong in terms of electrical conductivity relative to other metals like aluminum or steel, which have much higher resistivity values compared to DCO or ETP types of copper for example. DCO tends to be used for applications where both flexibility and good electrical conductivity are required, such as switches, relays, motor windings, and some telecommunications components like antennas or RF cable assembly parts.
Copper is an incredibly versatile metal that can be found all around us in everything from jewelry to plumbing fixtures and electronics components – but did you know there are different types? Oxygen-free, electrolytic tough pitch, and deoxidized are three common varieties that each offer their unique properties depending on what they will be used for, so knowing their differences can help you choose the right one for your application! Whether you need a highly flexible material with good electrical conductivity or something stronger with fewer impurities, understanding the types of copper available will ensure you get exactly what you need for your project!
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