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copperinfo Standards and Properties

Standards are important because they form a common language between producers, stockists and users of copper alloys. It is important to have the facility to compare the old British, European, American and Japanese Standards. CDA provides the information to enable users to do this, through publications and its online enquiry service.

UK and European Standards
Copper and copper alloys like other materials are covered by standards. The use of standards is essential in the proper definition of the type, form and condition of an alloy. Standards form part of the complex technical language used in communication between producers of alloys, manufacturers, designers and stockists and any technical person concerned with materials usage. It is not sufficient to define an alloy as ‘brass’ or ‘bronze’ just as a steel would not be defined as ‘stainless’ or ‘low alloy’. For many years copper alloys have been covered by British Standards. These have been being replaced by European BS EN Standards which will include other National Standards such as DIN (German).

American Standards
Americans are not usually familiar with British or European Standards. They use the UNS (Unified Numbering System) which is the accepted alloy designation system in North America for wrought and cast copper and copper alloy products – it is managed by ASTM and SAE. When manufacturing for USA. it is essential to find a UK or European Standard which is equivalent to an existing American Standard. See Copper Key.

An incorrectly defined material may in the end only be fit for scrap.

The following text is the introduction to Publication 120 ‘Copper and Copper Alloys – Standards, Specifications and Applications’.

The EN series of standards for copper and copper alloys offers a selection of materials to suit a very wide variety of end uses. They represent a consensus agreement on those most frequently ordered by consumers. Commencing in the late 1980s, drafting of European Standards for Copper and Copper Alloys became a major activity for national standards’ organisations and their industrial partners. Because a large number of national preferences have needed to be taken into account against the background of a pan- European agreement to develop tight product standards, the EN standards are more complex than the old BS standards. Furthermore, the EN standards tend to cover narrower fields than BS standards; hence there are more alloys in the EN series than in the old BS standards.