Technology-lexicon COPPER


Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29, a metal in the 4th period of group 11 in the periodic table. It derives its Latin name, cuprum, from aes cyprium or "ore from the island of Cyprus", where copper was extracted in antiquity. Indeed, copper was one of the first metals discovered by mankind in the course of evolution. Since it occurs in pure native form at some sites, copper was already worked by the earliest known cultures some 10,000 years ago.

Unalloyed copper has a tensile strength of 200 – 250 N/mm² compared to 880 N/mm² of standard commercial steel, so copper is a soft metal. It is used mainly to conduct heat and electricity. Moreover, copper and its alloys are employed in artistic design applications because of their colour and oxidation resistance (see "Uses").


Copper is employed to make coins, electrical power cables, jewellery, cutlery, valves and fittings, boilers, precision components, objects of art, musical instruments, pipes, and many other products.

Delivery forms

Sheet, strip, bars, tubes, rod and wire.

Classification of copper grades

The copper grades produced by the copper refineries can be classified by the refining method into

  • fire-refined copper
  • electrolytically refined copper

To the user, a more important distinction lies in the material characteristics reflecting the copper's treatment in the molten state, i.e., prior to casting:  

  • oxygen-containing (tough pitch) copper
  • deoxidized copper und
  • oxygen-free copper