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Glossary of Copper Terms

Admiralt y brass70/30 brass with 1% tin added for extra corrosion resistance.
AgeingCopper alloys such as copper-beryllium and copper chromium are hardened by heat treatment of solution treatment followed by quenching, then ageing at low temperatures to develop improved mechanical properties.
AlloyA copper alloy is a partial or complete solid solution of copper with one or more alloying elements such as zinc, tin, nickel, aluminium or silicon.
Alpha brassBrass containing up to 36% of zinc is usually the single alpha phase with good cold working properties.
Alpha-beta brassBrass containing over 36% of zinc or with other additions usually has two phases present, alpha and beta.
Aluminium brassHigh copper brass with aluminium added for improved corrosion resistance. This is often used for condenser tubes.
Aluminium bronzeCopper-aluminium alloy with up to 13% of aluminium, usually also with other additions such as iron, manganese, nickel and/or silicon.
Annealing (full)Heating copper/copper alloys to 500-550oC in order to produce complete softening.
Anode copperCast slabs of copper from the fire refining processes used as starters for electrolytic refining.
AntleriteCopper sulphide ore.
Arsenical copperCopper with arsenic additions used primarily for the manufacture of boiler fireboxes. Now obsolete.
Arsenical brassBrass with improved corrosion resistance containing arsenic, and frequently aluminium.
ASMAmerican Society for Metals.
ASTMAmerican Society for Testing and Materials, responsible for standards for metals.
AzuriteCopper carbonate ore.
BackwardationLME term used when the price for cash copper commands a premium over the price for copper in three months time. Caused by temporary shortages in spot supplies.
Beryllium copperThe highest strength of any copper alloy, achieved by heat treatment (ageing) and cold working.
Beta brassA brass with very high zinc content may be mostly of beta structure. This is brittle and used only as a brazing filler alloy.
Blister copperThe copper produced after sulphur is removed; it is made by blowing air through the mixture; this produces gaseous sulphur dioxide which forms blister-like bubbles on the surface.
Blue vitriolCopper sulphate.
Bordeaux mixtureCopper sulphate-lime mixture used as an adherent fungicide, especially for grapevines.
BorniteCopper sulphide ore.
BrassCopper-zinc alloy, also used to describe a memorial plate in a church, coinage or bearing block. Originally the term also covered copper-tin alloys now called bronzes. Also used to describe a tin-zinc spelter made for the manufacture of organ pipes.
Brass lumpMiners term for massive iron pyrites (fools’ gold).
Brinell HardnessStandard hardness test using a specified load on a ball indenter (HB).
BronzeCopper-tin alloy, term also loosely used for some other copper alloys.
Burgundy mixtureSolution of copper sulphate and sodium carbonate developed in 1885 for the prevention of mildew and other diseases on grapevines.
BusbarsCopper bar or section used for carrying heavy currents. Busbars are generally rigid when compared to cables.
Cadmium copperCopper with an addition of cadmium for good strength and wear resistance without significant loss of conductivity.
Cathode copperPure copper, the product of electrolytic refining supplied for melting for the manufacture of products.
Cartridge brass70/30 brass with good cold working properties.
CENEuropean Standards Organisation. ‘EN’ standards are being adopted by all European countries.
Chalcocite, copper glanceCuprous sulphide ore.
ChalcopyriteCopper sulphide ore.
ChrysocollaCopper silicate ore.
Cold workingDeforming a metal at a temperature below that of recrystallisation so that the metal hardens.
Continuous castingProduction method for castings where the molten metal is continuously poured into an open mould while the solidified metal is slowly withdrawn and coiled or cut to length by flying saw. May be a vertical, sidecasting or upcasting process.
Common brass63/37 brass, standard cheap brass for cold working. It is now usually a 64/36 alloy to give improved corrosion resistance.
ContangoLME term applied when the price quoted for copper due for delivery in three months’ time is higher than that for cash copper on that day. This is the normal market situation, financing the interest charge.
Copper bottomTo sheath the bottom of ships with copper to prevent attack by the Toredo worm and prevent the attachment of biofouling including molluscs that slow the ship, first applied to British ships in 1761. Now used as a term of assurance of quality.
Copper headA venomous snake, common in the United States of America
Copper-nickelCovers copper alloys with less than 50% of nickel.
Copper noseSlang term for inflamed nose, acne rosaaca, a bacterial infection treatable by antibiotics.
Copper plateA polished plate of copper on which a design is engraved for printing.
Copper wallTerm used in sugar making to describe a double row of copper pans served by a common fire.
CovelliteCopper sulphide ore.
CupriteCopper oxide ore.
CupronickelAn alternative term for copper-nickel alloy.
Deep drawingForming hollow components by using a punch and die to give significant plastic deformation.
Deoxidised copperCopper that has had deoxidiser added to reduce oxygen. Phosphorus is commonly added but other elements such as boron or magnesium may be used.
DezincificationSelective corrosion of the beta phase of duplex brass that leaves a copper residue under a ‘meringue’ of zinc oxide.
DINGerman National Standards Organisation
DGSDirector General Ships standards – obsolete, replaced by NES series, which in turn has been replaced by DSTAN (UK Defence Standardisation).
DHPPhosphorus deoxidised copper (previously known as ‘Dona’ copper).
DLPDeoxidised copper, low phosphorus.
DTDDirectorate of Technical Development, military specifications.
DrawingThe process of pulling a metal through a die to reduce the cross section, usually performed cold.
DuctilityEase with which material can be formed, for example by drawing, bending or rolling. The property is usually measured as elongation in a tensile test or by a bend or deep-drawability test.
Duplex brassSee alpha-beta brass.
ETPElectrolytic tough pitch copper, standard high conductivity copper.
ExtrusionA hot working process in which a heated billet is forced to deform by being pushed through a die to produce a long product of uniform cross-section.
Extrusion ratioThe ratio of the cross-sectional area of a billet to that of the extruded product.
Fire-refined copperCopper refined by melting and processing in an open hearth or rotary furnace.
Galvanic compatibilityWhen exposed to seawater or any electrolyte, metals show a voltage dependent on the electrochemical series. Metals with near-similar voltages are compatible. Metals with differing voltages are likely to cause galvanic corrosion. It is always the anode which corrodes.
GangueThe unwanted rock in copper ore.
German silverObsolete term for nickel silver.
Gilding metalBrass with high copper, usually 90/10 but sometimes 80/20.
GunmetalCopper-tin-zinc casting alloy.
Heat treatable alloyAn alloy capable of being strengthened by heat treatment, usually involving solution treatment followed by ageing (precipitation) treatment.
High conductivity copperStandard form of copper with a purity giving a conductivity of 100% IACS or more.
High tensile brassBrass with additions, typically iron, nickel, manganese and/or aluminium to give better strength and, usually, better corrosion resistance.
HippingA proprietary process for treating metals at very high pressures to compact them to produce good properties.
Hot workingPlastic deformation of a metal at a temperature high enough to promote recrystallisation, thus preventing cold working.
IACSInternational annealed copper standard, a value for conductivity agreed in 1913 with copper being given the value of 100%, equivalent to 58MS/m or a mass resistivity of 0.15176 Ωg/m2. Advances in refining mean that high conductivity copper is now frequently of 103% conductivity.
ICAInternational Copper Association.
INCRAInternational Copper Research Association, now superseded by ICA.
ISOInternational Standards Organisation.
Leaded brassUsually a duplex brass with an addition of lead to give excellent machinability. 
LMELondon Metal Exchange.
MalachiteCopper carbonate ore.
Manganese bronzeObsolete term for high tensile brass.
MILAmerican military specifications.
MonelA nickel-copper alloy, usually 70/30, originally produced directly from a copper-nickel ore in Sudbury, Ontario.
Muntz metalA 60/40 brass with good castability and hot working properties.
Native copperPure copper that occurs in nature without being bound up within an ore.
Naval brass60/40 brass with 1% tin added for extra corrosion resistance.
Near net shape formingForming a product near to final shape so that it needs little further finishing.
NESNaval Engineering Standards.
Nickel silverCopper-nickel-zinc alloy.
Oxygen-free copperCopper melted and cast under controlled atmosphere to give low residual oxygen content.
Oxygen-free electronic copperOxygen free copper containing low residual volatile elements.
PatinaA protective film that develops on copper on exposure to the atmosphere. In most non-polluted environments it is basic copper carbonate but in industrial and urban areas it is mainly basic copper sulphate.
Paris GreenCopper-arsenic compound.
Phosphor bronzeA copper-tin phosphorous alloy, hard and strong.
PolingPart of the old fire refining process that involves reducing the oxidised charge by submerging green wood in the liquid copper.
Red BrassAmerican term for copper-tin-zinc alloy (gunmetal).
Rivet brassAmerican term for common brass.
Rockwell HardnessStandard American hardness test with several ranges of loads and indenters, HRB, HRC.
SAESociety of Automotive Engineers (USA)
Tough pitch copperObsolete term for copper containing oxygen at about 0.03-0.07% which gave a level ‘set’ to the top of a wirebar when statically cast horizontally .
VerdigrisA strikingly green corrosion product that forms on copper in some circumstances, a complex basic copper acetate. Unlike a patina, it is water-soluble.
Vickers HardnessStandard hardness test using a load on a diamond pyramid indenter (HV, VPN or VHN).
Wrought productComponent made by hot or cold deformation of a cast product, removing the original cast structure.


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