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What Properties Make Copper the Best and Where to Get Copper Rod and Other Supplies

copper in machines

If there’s one metal that has stood the test of time and has played a crucial role in the creation of the modern world, it has to be copper. Not only is it the first metal discovered and utilized, but even as new metals are being introduced on the industrial market every five years or so, it remained a highly relevant material, and for good reasons.

Apart from possessing a number of extremely valuable properties, copper is also recyclable. Even if copper mining stops at some point in the future, there’s enough scrap copper to resupply the market with and the cycle will continue. Unfortunately, not very many people are familiar with copper. If you ask a random person on the street to name a metal they’re familiar with, they’d probably say steel or aluminum, and there’s a good explanation to that.

Unlike steel and aluminum, which are commonly used for building visible structures like bridges and vehicles, copper is often found inside devices and machines, making it less familiar. There’s also the fact that copper is frequently used in its alloy form, which is typically far from its original appearance. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that copper is an amazing metal.

Applications

To get a feel for how amazing copper really is, let’s examine its applications based on its properties and form. Especially if you are planning to start a metal supply and distribution business or your project involves the use of copper, it pays to know what this metal can do and where it is utilized for. Reputable copper and brass suppliers like Rotax Metals can give you insights that can help you make the right choices.

According to Properties

Copper’s enduring relevance is predicated by its multitudes of levered properties. Here are some of the prominent ones and their applications.

Natural Elegance

Copper has a reddish-brown color, which changes into different shades of gold or tan when combined with other metals. The resulting alloys are perfect for cutlery, sculpture, architecture, and even jewelry.

Anti-Biofouling

Barnacles, weeds, and other saltwater lifeforms cannot attach on the surface of copper or its alloys, which is why it is used for ship hulls, hydraulic systems, and offshore oil and gas platforms.

Corrosion Resistance

Unlike steel and other ferrous metals, copper does not rust. Combining it with other non-ferrous metals makes it even more corrosion-resistant. Copper makes a great material for plumbing tubes and fittings, roofing, and distillation systems.

Electrical Conductivity

Copper is extremely conductive. It’s no wonder most communication, electrical transmission and distribution, resistance welding systems are made of copper.

Ductility

Copper and its alloys are easy to work, too, but they can preserve their mechanical strength. This property is perfect for general engineering, marine, defense, and aerospace applications.

Heat Capacity

Thanks to copper’s high heat capacity, it makes up most of cryogenic, liquid gas handling, heat exchange, and combustion systems. This metal can maintain form and strength even when exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time.

Antibacterial

There’s a reason why the doorknobs and railings in buildings are typically made of copper or its alloys. Copper has a natural antimicrobial property. Its molecules produce ions that can harm certain proteins in microorganisms, leading to their demise.

According to Form

Copper and its alloys can be manufactured into virtually anything, thanks to their high malleability and machinability. However, non-customized or mass produced raw copper supplies usually come in the following shapes and forms.

  • Sheet

    – Copper sheets are great for covering surfaces to add protection and aesthetic value. You can purchase a copper sheet from a local copper sheet supplier and use it on your kitchen countertop or backsplash to take advantage not just of its natural elegance but more importantly of its antimicrobial property.

  • Plate

    – If you want something thicker, try a copper plate instead, although it’s more commonly used for engraving purposes. Copper plates are great for device and machine casing, too. Pure copper, however, isn’t suitable for any application requiring metal plating as it forms patina after long exposure to air and moisture.

  • Tube

    –Copper is also a favorite material when making tubes and pipes. Not only is it extremely malleable, but it’s also antimicrobial, as previously discussed. Most copper tubes go to water filtration and distillation systems, food containment systems, and other structures with prohibitive sanitation requirements.

  • Bar and Rod

    – Typically produced through extrusion and tensile tested, copper bars and rods are later manufactured into auto parts, medical or electrical accessories, and other precision machine components. Whether you need a copper square rod, a copper round rod, or a copper bar for your project, large suppliers like Rotax Metals have you covered.

Copper is, without a doubt, a super-metal. Even with today’s technology, there are still aspects of this metal that we haven’t fully explored, and exploited for that matter. We expect to discover more new copper-based alloys in the coming decades and it’s going to benefit a vast array of industries.

Understanding Corrosion and the Metal Polishing Process

metal sugar bowls and jugs

Corrosion refers to the natural or forced destruction of metal. Different metals corrode in different ways. Iron, for instance, corrode by transforming into iron oxide or rust when exposed to oxygen, while zinc forms a layer of zinc oxide on its surface, which later hardens and turns into zinc carbonate when exposed to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The chemical agent that prompts corrosion affects each metal differently, too, as elucidated through the above-mentioned examples. Oxygen remains the most influential of all corrosion-causing elements due to its abundance, but various compounds, particularly acids, are many times more potent.

Corrosion impacts not just a metal’s appearance, but also its longevity. Especially if the metal has an assigned structural function, identifying and eliminating factors that could trigger corrosion is necessary to prevent accidents.

Stages of Corrosion

There’s a vast range of factors that affect the rate and manner by which a metal corrodes. These include metal type, chemical agent, metal composition, temperature, pressure, and a plethora of environmental factors. It is therefore safe to say that each metal type undergoes unique stages of corrosion when exposed to the same chemical.

To make it easier for us to understand how metals corrode, let us categorize them based on their iron content, since iron is a key player in the corrosion of many of today’s extensively utilized metals. Let’s call those that contain iron “ferrous metals” and those that do not “non-ferrous metals”. Assuming the chemical agent is oxygen, here’s how these two types of metals react.

  • Ferrous Metals

    – Oxygen is present in the atmosphere, so unless placed in a vacuum, ferrous metals are bound to corrode. When a ferrous metal corrodes, oxygen molecules latch onto iron molecules, forming iron oxide. This continues until all of the iron within the metal leaches out.

  • Non-Ferrous Metals

    – Metals like copper, bronze, and brass corrode almost the same way as iron and steel, except the damage stays on the surface. When oxygen molecules combine with the molecules of non-ferrous metals like these, a layer of oxide forms. Over time, this oxide combines with carbon dioxide to form a carbonate, which later becomes the metal’s protective layer.

The Noble Metals

There’s a group of metals that neither tarnish nor rust when exposed to oxygen. They are called noble metals. Platinum, gold, silver, and palladium belong to this group. Even prominent non-ferrous metals like copper and titanium don’t make the cut, because they, too, corrode. Want to know if your gold jewelry is authentic? Try not polishing it for days. If it stays shiny, it means it’s authentic.

Metal Polishing Process

Thankfully, corrosion can be fixed, depending on the metal type and the severity of damage. This isn’t the case with ferrous metals in which corrosion has already cut deep. Like a rotten tooth, there’s a limit to how much of a piece of ferrous metal has been consumed by rust so it can be considered non-salvageable.

It’s a different story when you are dealing with non-ferrous metals. As explained, the damage left by corrosion on these metals are only skin-deep, because the patina acts as a shield against further damage. Such shield can preserve the metal inside for a long time. To give you an idea how long, the oldest metallic artifact discovered was a copper awl, which dates back to 5,100 B.C. It’s surface is heavily corroded but the inside is intact.

Of course, it’s difficult to remove patina and restore a metal’s luster, which is why you should polish a metal when it’s just starting to tarnish. Tarnishing is the first stage of corrosion and it’s just a thin layer that can easily be polished by scrubbing with a homemade or commercial metal polish. Besides, scraping away the patina might damage the metal underneath, especially if it’s the soft type, so don’t wait for the metal to patinate before you polish it.

Then again, if you really need to polish a severely corroded metal item but you don’t have the right tools and polishing agent, opt for professional metal polishing services. They use cutting edge-technology, including powerful substances to eradicate even thick layers of corrosion.

Whether it’s a jewelry item or a raw metal piece you bought from one of the bronze or brass suppliers in your area, if it’s made of a non-ferrous metal like copper, brass, or bronze, it can be polished back to its shimmering self. Here are some simple tips you can follow.

  1. Wash the metal piece with soap and water very carefully to remove dust and grease. Excess dust may contain tiny pieces of stones that can scratch the surface of your metal piece when you start scrubbing.
  2. Dry the metal piece properly until it’s totally stripped of moisture. Water may not go well with the metal polish. Buffing while the surface is still slightly wet may not yield the result you desire.
  3. Choose between a homemade polish and a commercial one. It would be easy to just buy over-the-counter metal polish, but if you’re the exploratory type, you can make your own metal polish by mixing boiled water, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Rub the surface of the metal item with the metal polish mixture and let it sit for a few minutes. Then buff it with a clean cloth until the shiny surface emerges. Do this repeatedly until all surfaces have been fully buffed.

If ever you are interested in making metal furniture yourself, consider using any of the 100 different copper alloys. They’re not just rust resistant, but they are also visually appealing. Some brasses even have a gold-like shade, which makes them so elegant-looking. Just remember to buy your supplies from one of the top bronze and brass suppliers in North America, such as Rotax Metals. They offer some of the highest quality copper alloy supplies in the country.

Difference Between Brass and Bronze

bronze statue

Most people have heard of “bronze” at least once—in a museum, in a church, or in an Olympic ceremony. It’s a metal used to make a variety of things, including sculptures, bells, and medals. Brass?—Not a lot. Only those in the manufacturing and construction industry are well aware of it.

Truth is even though brass is as useful, if not more, as bronze, it isn’t as popular. One apparent reason for this is because its history is not as remarkable as bronze’s. Unlike brass, bronze was discovered at a time when there are no other metals that could rival it yet.

It didn’t take long, though, before brass could make a name for itself. And at one point in history its existence begged the question “Are brass and bronze the same?”or “Can brass substitute bronze?”

While brass and bronze are both alloys of copper, their properties are not the same. Neither metal can substitute the other at least in highly specialized applications.They must be treated as different metals with different values.

Composition

To better understand the difference between brass and bronze, let’s take a close look at their composition. After all, an alloy’s properties can change dramatically when at least one of its contents is altered. In fact, adding even just a miniscule amount of a different element to the composition could produce an entirely different kind of alloy.

As previously mentioned, brass and bronze are both alloys of copper. This means that copper is their base metal content and they differ in their secondary metal content. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

Unlike bronze, which was discovered when copper and tin-rich rocks were combined to build campfire rings, the discovery of brass was almost totally unintentional. For some time it wasn’t regarded as a copper alloy because zinc vapor hadn’t been recognized as a metal yet. It wasn’t even called brass until zinc qualified as a metal.

Properties

Due to their difference in composition, brass and bronze also possess different properties. Anyone working with these metals must take note of this fact because they are generally not interchangeable.Here’s to help you more easily distinguish between brass and bronze.

  • Color

    – Bronze has a reddish-brown or reddish-gold color, which turns into dark brown or green as it oxidizes. Brass, on the other hand, has a bright gold, copper, or even silver color, depending on the type and amount of other metals added to the mixture.

  • Workability

    – Brass is more malleable than bronze. Meaning, it’s less likely to break when hammered or rolled into thin plates than bronze. In fact, bronze is almost as brittle as cast iron and melts longer than brass. Depending on their composition and the output quality desired, however, both bronze and brass may need to be worked hot.Whether you are extruding brass or bronze bars or drawing them into wires, they need to be heated for easier metalworking.

  • Conductivity

    – When it comes to heat and electrical conductivity, there’s not much difference between the two alloys. They are both effective conductors, and that’s why they’re suitable for machines that run on electricity.

  • Corrosion Resistance

    – Both brass and bronze are resistant to corrosion because they are mostly made of copper. However, they react differently to oxidation. Bronze develops a protective layer called patina when exposed to the air, while brass simply tarnishes and loses its luster. Some types of brass are especially resistant to galvanic seawater corrosion, making them ideal for sea vessel covering and pipes for desalination systems.

  • Acoustic Property

    – The sound created by bronze is much duller and deeper than that created by brass, which explains why it isn’t compatible for high-pitched musical instruments. It’s just right for cymbals and bells, though, because its resonance does not disappear fast. Brass, on the other hand, is capable of creating the smooth, wide-ranging tone expected from musical instruments like trumpet and horn.

Where to Purchase Brass and Bronze

Despite being widely used in the construction, communication, and transportation industries, copper alloys are not as easy to come by as more abundant metals like iron and aluminum. There are only very few bronze and brass suppliers in North America that can provide authentic, high-quality products.

It’s easy to tell if a supplier can deliver the right grade of metal for your project. First, find out how long they’ve been in the business. The older the company, the wider its network of sources is, so it’s also highly that they produce superior products. Rotax Metals, which was established many decades ago, is the perfect example. Having their own foundry is also a meritas it means they have full control of the manufacturing and quality assurance process.

Sources:

https://www.diffen.com/difference/Brass_vs_Bronze

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