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Plating on Copper
and Copper Alloys

Copper, and its extensive list of alloys, is one of the most used materials in industrial and electrical manufacturing. Likewise, it is extremely common in the surface finishing industry. 

Copper is ductile, soft, and possesses several desirable thermal qualities that many industries seek after. However, the most notable quality about copper is that it is the second-best conductor of electricity on the periodic table (bested only by the much more expensive Silver). Copper is frequently used by our clients in the Aerospace and Defense industries who are constantly looking to build their equipment lighter and stronger.

Copper can be found in many different alloyed forms. The most common copper-alloys AOTCO plates are:

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Brass

Brass is one of the most common alloys of copper, comprised of Zinc and Copper. Brass can come in a variety of colors and possess a range of different qualities, depending on its Zinc to copper ratio. The added zinc increases the strength and flexibility of the copper material.

Bronze

Bronze is another common copper alloy. Bronze is typically comprised of a combination of copper and tin, but arsenic, silicon, aluminum, and other metals have been used to give the alloy different qualities. Bronze is typically used for its gold-like appearance and increased hardness.

Phosphor Bronze

Also referred to as Tin Bronze, Phosphor Bronze is a copper alloy that combines the anti-corrosive properties of tin with the anti-abrasive qualities of Phosphorus into a ductile, conductive, and soft copper alloy. This alloy is typically found in components that must be durable, flexible, and electrically conductive.

Beryllium Copper

Also known as Spring Copper, Beryllium Copper is a copper alloy that incorporates many of Beryllium’s properties that directly contrast those of typical copper. Beryllium copper is more formidable and overall stronger than regular copper, due to the presence of the naturally hard metal Beryllium in its chemical make-up. On top of this, Beryllium Copper is a much less efficient conductor of electricity than pure copper, making it a better alternative for copper parts that don’t need to pass an electrical current through them.

Common Copper and Copper Alloy Finishes Include:

While copper and its many alloys are some of the most useful materials when manufacturing electrical components, professionals will still have their copper components plated in order to improve their physical strength. Some of the most common materials used as a finish for copper substrates include:

  • Nickel Plating 
  • Nickel Plating as a base for additional finishes
  • Electroless Plating
  • Tin
  • Silver
  • And many more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Benefits of Plating on Copper

Copper is already an incredibly conductive and ductile material, making it ideal for electrical components such as wires. However, with a successful surface finish, your copper substrates can acquire a range of new, desirable physical and chemical properties. The most notable benefits of plating on copper are:

  • Increased Strength
  • Adjust Electrical Conductivity
  • Corrosion Resistance 
  • Thermal Resistance 
  • Long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing finish
  • And many more!
Common Industry Uses for Copper Substrates

Copper Substrates are some of the most commonly used materials across all manufacturing industries. Due to its great malleability, ductility, and electrical conductivity, copper is frequently used in small, intricate, electrical components. Some of the most common industry uses for copper are the following:

  • Electrical Wiring
  • Gaskets
  • Piping
  • Pressure Systems
  • And Many More!

For more information about plating on copper and other metal finishes, including Military Specs, AMS Specs and ASTM Specs, visit AOTCO Military Plating Specs page.

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Learn more about the specifications AOTCO offers, including NADCAP-accredited and RoHS-compliant ones.
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