Material properties

Properties

Copper is a red-coloured, relatively soft, malleable metal. On contact with air, it quickly develops a thin, protective oxide layer that prevents further reactions. If copper is exposed to moist air for a long period of time, it develops a green layer of copper salts called patina, which protects the metal from corrosion. Copper is the most commonly-used non-ferrous metal in metallurgy after aluminium. It's widely used today in electric power lines because it's an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.

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Alloys

Copper in its pure form has properties that need to be modified to suit different uses. Pure copper isn't hard enough to withstand the stress of load-bearing, for example. It's alloyed with various other metals such as zinc, tin, nickel, aluminium, gold, silver and manganese. This enhances its properties to meet various requirements.