Copper sheet metal fabrication involves processes that transforms copper sheets into different shapes and sizes. Different aspects relating to copper make it favorable in sheet metal fabrication with some discussed below.
Benefits of Using Copper in Sheet Metal Fabrication
Copper finds use in sheet metal fabrication thanks to the following unique qualities:
Copper is naturally antibacterial with an ionic presence that eliminates infection-causing bacteria. This property is useful in the fabrication of copper alloys employed in applications requiring antimicrobial surfaces.
Copper is an excellent electrical conductor thanks to its low resistance. Copper conductivity is useful in the fabrication of parts intended for applications requiring electrical transfer.
Malleability refers to a substances’ ability for transformation into different shapes using forming techniques such as forging. Copper is easily malleable allowing you to manipulate it easily during the sheet metal fabrication process.
Ductility refers to a material’s propensity to be drawn into wire form without breaking. You can strip copper sheets in fabrication processes before drawing them for use in electrical cabling applications and making stringed instruments.
Copper has one of the most outstanding thermal characteristics of naturally occurring substances due to its tight lattice structure. It therefore allows for fabrication of parts requiring high heat capability such as boiler heat exchangers.
Additionally, elevated heat strength allows you to conduct fabrication processes such as welding easily.
You achieve copper hardening by employing cold working techniques used in sheet metal fabrication such as drawing and rolling. While it reduces conductivity and ductility, it increases strength without grossly affecting use in conductive applications.
Resistance to Corrosion
Copper can tolerate corrosive substances such as steam, fresh water, organic acids, saline and caustic solutions and non-oxidizing minerals. Adherent coatings on the copper surface make copper alloys corrosion resistance by shielding the base metal.
Corrosion resistance is an essential property when fabricating parts four use in corrosive environments such as under water and chemical industries.
Copper Alloys Used In Sheet Metal Fabrication
There are several copper alloys formed by combining copper with other elements to enhance certain properties. Some of the common alloys employed in copper sheet metal fabrication are:
Electrolytic Tough Pitch (ETP) Copper [C110]
As the most widely used copper alloy, it finds use in the fabrication of parts used in low resistance electrical applications. With about 99.90% copper, Copper C110 finds use in high temperature and electrical applications such as heat exchangers.
- Low resistivity with high conductivity for fabricating electrical parts.
- High thermal strength tolerates welding process.
- Malleable thus allowing easy performance of processes such as forming.
- Making heat exchanger fins
- Making aircraft parts
Oxygen-Free (OF) Copper [C101]
At purity level of 99.99%, the C101 has the highest conductivity rating among copper alloys. It is also less susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement, highly ductile, and oxidation-resistant finding use electrical applications such as making grounding strips.
- Highly ductile making the drawing process easy.
- Corrosion resistance allows fabrication of parts employed in exposed environments.
- High conductivity makes prevents distortion during welding process.
- Low resistance.
- Making electrical components such as grounding strips
- Fashioning power transmission lines
- Making medical equipment
- Manufacture of electronics
Cadmium Copper (C162)
Is an alloy with high-performance rating containing at least 98% copper with cadmium as the main additional element? Cadmium enhances the copper strength and its sensitivity to heat application such as the welding process of fabrication.
- Improved tensile strength prevents deformation from forming processes.
- High level of electrical conductivity.
- Outstanding thermal stability supports welding during fabrication.
- High-strength transmission lines
- Making electrical components (connectors, circuit breaker switches, spring contacts)
- Scientific applications such as developing geophysical exploration tools
The principle elements in bronze are copper and tin usually with copper at a larger percentage and tin at about 12%. Addition of elements such as nickel, aluminum, phosphorus, manganese, or silicon is not uncommon to improve workability enhance properties during fabrication.
- Increased hardness is useful especially in forging processes.
- High conductivity facilitates fabrication of electrical based applications.
- Fatigue and wear resistance reduces weakness resulting from fabrication process.
- High yield strength allow use of fabrication processes employing large forces.
- Automobile components
- Gears and bearings
- Marine fixtures
- Components for electrical systems such as relays and contacts
Combining zinc and copper results in brass alloy with the possibility of unique property combinations by addition of other elements. Such elements in small proportions include aluminum, arsenic, silicon, phosphorus and manganese.
- Highly malleable than bronze allowing use of various forming techniques.
- Retains structural integrity at low temperatures useful during cold working.
- High thermal capacity allows heat application during joining process.
- Heat exchanger radiators
- Wind instrument such as trombones and trumpets
Addition of about 10–20% nickel to brass, which is a zinc-copper combination, produces nickel-silver. It has a silver like hue with the following properties:
- Superior tarnish resistance is essential in fabrication of aesthetic parts.
- Stress corrosion cracking resistance allow use in forming parts that are calibration sensitive.
- Contact springs and pins
- Food production equipment
- Making telecommunication components
- Model construction
- Musical instruments
- Test probes
Copper-Nickel combine copper and nickel elements with small quantities of iron and manganese for strengthening. This allows copper-nickel to withstand various fabrication processes such as forming, hammering, pressing and rolling.
- Highly resistant to corrosion (seawater)
- Macrofouling resistance
- Thermal conductivity
- Good tensile strength
- Excellent ductility after annealing
- Plumbing needs such as piping
- Heat exchangers and condensers
- Marine hardware and fixtures such as propellers and hulls
The strongest and hardest copper alloy formed by combining copper with at most 3% beryllium through heat treating and cold working. Beryllium-copper can tolerate force forming processes in fabrication including forging.
- High corrosion resistance than steel alloys
- Resistant to non-oxidizing acids
- Excellent machining properties
- Increased electrical and thermal conductivity
- Manufacture of springs
- Electrical connections
- Valves, pumps and injection molds
- Non- sparking and non- magnetic tools
- Percussion Instruments such as tambourines
Processes in Copper Sheet Metal Fabrication
The copper sheet metal fabrication involves the following processes:
- Cutting (with or without shear) including blanking and plasma cutting.
- Forming such as bending, rolling, stamping and stretching.
- Joining techniques such as welding and riveting.
- Surface finishing methods like electroplating and anodizing.
Application of Fabricated Copper Sheet Metal Parts
Parts made from fabricating copper sheets find use in the following areas:
Fabricated copper sheets form grounding straps which safeguard electrical appliances and people from dangerous exposure to electrostatic discharge. The copper grounding absorbs the current preventing risky transmission of electricity.
Copper sheets converted into tubes are adequate for the required pressures during plumbing installations given its light and strong properties. Its forming capability allows quick and reliable installation while its antimicrobial property inhibits germ proliferation.
Copper sheets transformed into roofing materials are cost effective while offering excellent corrosion resistance and less maintenance need.
Fittings and Décor
Sheets of copper and its alloys find use as door and window frames, wall cladding, structural fasteners and decorative items.
Limitations in Sheet Metal Fabrication of Copper
Some of the drawbacks in employing copper in sheet metal fabrication include:
- Compared to fiber optic cables, copper parts pose larger shock risks given its predisposal to electrical interference.
- Copper sheets, compared to other materials like aluminum, are costly especially in applications where weight or size are crucial considerations.
- Copper sheets can deteriorate in the presence of inorganic acids such as ammonia, sulfides, and oxidizing acids like nitric acid.
- The bonding capability of copper is unreliable making it a poor choice for semiconductor applications because of its metallic characteristics.
KDM Capability In Copper Sheet Metal Fabrication
At KDM we offer unlimited possibilities in fabricating copper sheet metals.
From normal to precision copper sheet fabrication processes, KDM offers unlimited capability in:
- Welding, among others.
Additionally, we offer unlimited surface finish options depending on you copper sheet metal fabricated parts.
In short, when it comes to sheet metal fabrication, consider type of alloy and technique to use. This way, you will get high quality copper parts.
In case you want to fabricate copper parts from China, contact us now.
Copper Alloys – Source: Science Direct
Sheet Metal Fabrication Machines – Source: KDM
Using Copper In Sheet Metal Fabrication – Source: METAFAB
Fabricating Copper Sheet Metal – Source: Xometry