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Copper and Brass

Common Uses of Metals in Our Daily Life

Humanity’s 6 million years of existence represent a tiny fraction of the evolution of life on Earth as we know it. Surprisingly, our ancestors kept their primitive lifestyle for most of this period. Progressive civilizations only started to emerge around 12,000 years ago when the first metals were finally discovered.

Our ancestors called the first metals “native metals”. These include gold, copper, silver, tin, lead and iron. They were initially use to make weapons, shields, cookware, jewelry, and furniture pieces. Eventually, advancements in metalworking technology allowed for even more sophisticated applications.

The discovery of metals paved the way for industrialization to which we owe the modern world we live in today. If metals were discovered much earlier, we’d probably be a Type 1 civilization in the Kardashev scale by now. That’s because metals hold the key to limitless innovations.

Major Uses of Metals

When you think of metals, the first thing that would probably imagine is the Kinzie Street Railroad Bridge. After all this prominent landmark in Chicago is made mostly of steel, one of the most popular metals around. Structures like this bridge show us how essential metals are to modern world infrastructure. To elaborate, here are some of metals’ major uses.

  • Transportation

    – Metals like steel and titanium account for about 80 percent of the total weight of the average vehicle. Same goes for trains, airplanes, ships, and other modern-day transports. The roads, bridges, and railways these vehicles run on are either reinforced or completely made of metals, too. It’s hard to imagine the world’s transportation systems completely devoid of metals.

  • Construction

    – Metals play a major role in construction of vertical structures as well. For instance, columns and beams of low and high-rises are reinforced with steel bars. So are the hollow blocks that comprise walls and partitions. Depending on your home’s architecture, the roof trusses and the roof itself may be made of metals, too. All the equipment and tools used for construction, including power tools, hand tools, and excavators are all made mainly of metals.

  • Telecommunication

    – The towers and dishes that feed signal into your electronic devices are all made of metals. Even if they only provide structural support, metals are safer and more reliable to use than other materials due to their natural toughness and high tensile strength.

  • Security

    – Ever seen a padlock, deadbolt, knob lock, or even a bank vault made of plastic or wood? I bet you haven’t because metals, with their immense strength and toughness, are the preferred material for this application. Prison cells consist of metal bars, too, because not only are metals hard to wreck, but they are also easier to extrude into bars and plates than other materials.

  • Electricity

    – If you peel off an electrical cable’s plastic jacket or insulator, you’ll be greeted by a metallic core. Metals are an ideal wire core material because they are electrically conductive. In fact, around 95 percent of an electrical system consist of highly conductive metals, mostly copper, to allow for maximum distribution of electricity.

Uses of Metals in Our Daily Life

A lot of objects and products you use on a regular basis are made of metals or have metallic components. Identifying these everyday items can help you get a good sense of the importance of metals in our daily life. These items may range from small furniture pieces to large fixtures like the ones you can purchase from a copper sheet supplier. Here are some major examples.

  • Cutlery

    – Family meals won’t be complete without a set of shiny spoons, forks, and knives. While you can opt to use plastic or wooden cutlery, it doesn’t give off that sophisticated vibe that you can only experience with its metallic counterpart. If anything, non-metallic utensils are unappealing to most people, especially when used in a formal setting. Furthermore, metal cutlery lasts longer and is easy to maintain.

  • Money

    – Ever seen a coin made of rubber or stone? I bet you haven’t, because all modern coins are made of metal. In the past, coins were made of gold or silver, but as the value of these metal increased, they were replaced by other less valuable metals, such as copper, nickel, and zinc. These metals are both lightweight and corrosion-resistant, so they are perfect for this application. During war times, however, coin manufacturers used steel because the usual metals were hard to come by.

  • Decoration

    – The trims along your door frame, the lovely curls and shapes on your railings, or even your engraved curtain rods all complement the modern look you desire for your home. Metallic decorations have long been incorporated in interior and architectural designs because they are both elegant-looking and durable.

  • Jewelry

    – The majority of jewelry items, if not all, have metallic components. Even bracelets or hair clips that are made mostly of stone or ceramic usually have metallic chains, cords, or clasps.

  • Containers and Packaging

    – Some of the groceries you usually buy, such as preserved food and soda, come in metallic containers or wrappings.

  • Gadgets and Appliances

    – Just about every device or equipment you own is either partially or mainly metallic, be it your entertainment system, laptop, cellphone, or kitchen appliances. Non-metallic cladding or casing is often used to enhance their aesthetics.

Should you need metals for your own handicraft or architectural projects, make sure to look for a company that offers high-grade metal supplies. Premier copper, bronze, and brass suppliers in North America, such as Rotax Metals, are your best bet. Find out how long they’ve been in the business and where they source their materials. Visit their foundry to get a glimpse of the metalworking methods they use if possible.

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.

Top 10 Uses of Copper and Others Interesting Facts

copper pot

While gold and silver are irrefutably the most well-known of the 95 metals in the Periodic Table of Elements, to metallurgists and metal connoisseurs, they are nothing out of the ordinary. The real icon in the world of metals is copper, and for a number of good reasons.

  1. Copper is believed to be the first metal humans discovered, dating back to 10,000 years ago. Even before rulers of the first empires wore golden crowns and accessories, copper was already widely utilized for cookware, work tools, and fittings.
  2. It is chockfull of properties that are useful for a vast array of structural and decorative applications.
  3. It’s more abundant than the majority of non-ferrous metals.
  4. It’s easy to combine with other metals to form alloys, thereby allowing the creation of new, expedient materials.
  5. Copper production is so immense an industry that it is often used as a basis for determining the state of global trade.

Properties of Copper

As mentioned, copper is prized for its many useful properties. It’s no wonder copper & brass sales have never seen a significant decline in the last few years. Copper alloys turn out to be extremely useful for the exact same reason. Let’s take a look at some of copper’s more valuable properties.

  • Workability

    – Copper is a malleable and ductile metal. It can be hammered or rolled into thin sheets and drawn into small wires without breaking. In its purest form, copper can be worked cold, but a copper sheet supplier may have to hot work it if it’s combined with another much less pliable metal, such as zinc or lead.

  • Electrical/Heat Conductivity

    – One of the most prominent properties of copper is its high electrical and heat conductivity. It is so conductive that 95 percent of all the transformers, cores of electrical wires, and other conductors are made of copper. Silver is the only metal that is more electrically conductive than copper, but it isn’t good at handling heat, which is why copper is still preferred for electrical applications.

  • Durability

    – Most metals corrode as they oxidize. Iron, for instance, slowly reduces to rust when exposed to oxygen. Copper, on the other hand, oxidizes by developing a protective layer on its surface, called patina. The longer the exposure, the tougher the patina gets. This green layer of protection can preserve the inside of copper for thousands of years.

  • Anti-Bacterial

    – Copper is also one of the few metals that can produce the oligodynamic effect, a phenomenon in which ions of copper break down certain proteins that make up single-celled organisms, killing them eventually.

  • Recyclable

    – Over 80 percent of all the copper ever mined and manufactured are still in use today, and they are all recyclable. Because of this, copper is considered one of the most eco-friendly metals.

10 Uses of Copper

There are more things around you that are made of copper or copper-based alloy than you probably know. Part of the reason is that copper alloys come in different colors and shades depending on their composition. This means they don’t have a single identifying feature. Here’s a list of things copper is used for.

  • Kitchen Sink

    – Copper is a good choice for kitchen sink because it is generally resistant to corrosion and it has anti-microbial properties. For those who are not a fan of patina, however, pure copper is out of the question. They prefer copper alloys that take longer to tarnish, let alone develop patina.

  • Table Tops

    – As mentioned earlier, copper is extremely malleable. You can turn it into thin sheets or plates that make a perfect cover for table and counter tops. Copper’s anti-microbial property makes it suitable for this application as well since these are high-touch surfaces.

  • Jewelry

    – Copper is also a good material for accessories. Even in the ancient times, those who can’t afford gold jewelry wear copper jewelry instead. It offers design flexibility too due to its high ductility.

  • Door Knobs and Pull Handles

    – Maybe you haven’t noticed this but most, if not all, of the door knobs and pull handles you’ve ever held are made partly of copper. They can only be either brass or bronze.

  • Railings

    – When you’re in the train, at a balcony, or on the stairs, odds are you’ll clutch on to the copper-based railing nearest you. Like table tops, railings are also commonly touched surfaces, which is why they are best made of a metal with antimicrobial property. They are conspicuous, too, so they must be made of a naturally elegant-looking material.

  • Tools

    – Ever wondered what metal your wrenches, pliers, screw drivers, and other house tools are made of? Judging by their physical features, you can easily tell that they are copper-based. Specifically, most of them are made of beryllium copper, a non-sparking and non-magnetic alloy that works well in hazardous workspaces.

  • Musical Instruments

    – Copper alloys are also valued for their acoustic quality, especially brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. There are so many brass-based musical instruments that an entire subset of them was named brass.

  • Wire

    – Copper’s high electrical conductivity makes it the safest and most efficient material for wire cores. Unlike silver, it doesn’t burn up when conducting high voltages.

  • Pipes

    – Copper’s antimicrobial property once again proves extremely useful, and this time in filtration applications. Pipes used to convey water or substances requiring zero-level contamination are often made of copper alloys.

  • Gutter

    – It’s probably not the most frugal choice, but a copper gutter is a great addition to your roofing system. It lasts longer, repels mold and mildew, and looks appealing. However, since copper is a little bit more expensive than its galvanized counterpart, you have to be ready to fork out more cash.

There’s just so many uses of copper in everyday life. Over a hundred different copper-based alloys have been discovered since the industrial revolution, and most of them are massed produced and commercially available. Thanks to reputable copper suppliers like Rotax Metals, you have access to superior materials for your projects.

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