Copper is a metal known for its diversity and longevity. While you can find copper in different industries, one of the most common — which the majority of Three D Metals customers use it for — is in the power industry.
Keep reading to learn more about copper, common applications, its versatility, and what to know about the quoting process.
When to Choose Copper for Your Product
There are many applications for copper, but what are the reasons someone might choose it over another material, such as steel?
Copper has electrical characteristics, whereas steel can’t generate power or electricity.
“Copper is also a thermal conductor, but it’s also a good conductor of electricity,” says Jeff Cox, vice president of sales at Three D Metals. “It’s got good thermal properties, meaning it holds heat well.
“A lot of people like it from an architectural standpoint because of the look of it, for its aesthetics,” he added. “But we use it mostly for power distribution and generation because of its electrical properties.”
Common Copper Applications:
While copper has diverse uses, here are a few of its common applications:
- Switch gears
- Electrical boards
- Lighting features
- Architectural aesthetics
- Electrical contacts
- Electrical switches
“There are so many applications for copper, but really anything that has to do with generating or conducting electricity,” Cox added.
One example he gave was copper’s usage on the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carriers’ EMALS, or electromagnetic aircraft launch system.
“It generates the power to launch the aircraft off the boat,” he noted.
Benefits of Choosing Copper
Its longevity is another reason why many people choose copper — and its green patina.
“When I first got into the business, we supplied copper [for reconstruction] work on the ornamental dome on the Library of Congress , and this was in the late 1990s,” Cox said. “They had to replace it because of the underlying [wood] structure, but [most of] the copper was over 100 years old and it could still be used.”
In addition to its thermal and electrical conductivity, copper also offers additional benefits: It’s antimicrobial and a sustainable choice, as copper can be recycled.
Copper Products at Three D Metals
Three D Metals offers a range of copper products, from coil, strip, bar, rod, sheet, and plate, to tube and pipe, as well as custom shapes. We also carry multiple types of copper and copper alloys. Click here for a full list of our copper products and alloys.
Common Applications for Copper Sheets
A popular Three D Metals product is our copper sheets. In fact, our largest product distribution line is for transformers and the power industry. Some common applications for our copper sheets include:
- Electrical panels
- Stamping operations
- Architectural roofs and gutters
What Goes Into a Copper Product Quote Request?
As you explore copper products and are getting ready to request a quote, make sure you include the intended end use of your product.
If it’s a copper coil product, your supplier would need to know the gauge, thickness, or width you would need, as well as the I.D. (inner diameter) and O.D.(outer diameter) of the coil. You would also need to know the temper or softness of the material.
For a copper bar product, your supplier would also need to know the gauge, thickness, and length you need.
Some questions the supplier may have would be:
- Will you weld the material, braze, or solder it?
- Will you bend it?
“The more information you can give us on what that end-use or application is, the more we can assist you with what you may need,” Cox said.
Copper Product Availability and Demand
The demand continues to be strong for copper coil and copper bar especially — as it is being used in data centers and for technology.
“More people are working remotely and the infrastructure needs to be upgraded,” Cox said. “Copper is used a lot with utilities, so there are updates being made to power grids, and that market is extremely strong.”
There are only five major copper mills in the United States, so that combined with this year’s inflation and shipping issues only complicates the copper supply chain.
“Supply is definitely not as strong as demand right now, and we’ll continue to see this through the end of 2022,” Cox said. “Right now copper is at a record high in price — I’ve never seen it that high.”
If you’re a supplier looking to track copper prices, sign up for Three D Metals’ Daily Metals Values to keep up-to-date with current industry and metal pricing.