Copper is one of the metals that humans have been working for more than 10,000 years. It is one of the metals that occur in pure form (native) in nature. It was discovered very early, because of its red, metallic glossy colour. As the metal is very soft, it can be very easily worked with hammers. Copper therefore quickly became a popular material for jewellery. Alongside gold and silver, it is one of the metals that could be worked to form sheets and plates at a very early stage.
Deposits exist all over the world. Yet it can only be found in a few deposits in its pure form, its native form. For this reason, copper pyrites and other ores are mostly mined, in which the sought-after metal can be found. That metal forms very colour-intensive minerals when weathered, which give a good indication of possible deposits through their blue and green colours. Chrysocolla and chalcopyrite in particular are important ores, which are used to extract the metal.
Copper is a very good conductor of electricity and heat. These properties make this metal indispensible for industry. Especially in electrical engineering, it cannot be replaced and can be found in virtually every cable. In chemistry, copper compounds are also very important.
Copper sulphate is very well known as a chemical catalyst, which is used in swimming pools as protection against algae and can also used in plant protectants against fungi infestation.
Sheets and plates are also used in construction for building roofing. Apart from the metal’s good formability, its visual properties also play a role. This material has the property of corroding over several decades.
This produces a thin patina which becomes green with increasing age. In chemical terms this reacts with oxygen in the air and the minerals and water from rainfall. A malachite forms, a mineral which is also formed in natural deposits. Malachite has a green to green-blue colour and lends copper roofs their typical appearance.
Copper is a material that is extremely difficult to cut with a laser. It was used in antiquity as a mirror surface and this property makes cutting with a conventional CO2 laser almost impossible. The laser beam would be mostly reflected, which would constitute a major safety risk.
It is also difficult to cut it with other types of lasers, as this metal is one of the best heat conductors there is. As when the laser beam acts the heat is immediately dissipated to the surrounding material, it can only be cut with a great deal of power, in order to compensate for the heat dissipation.
Working copper sheet and plate at Rime
Despite the problems with laser cutting of copper sheets and plates, we have a large selection of sheet metalworking methods, which are also suitable for copper. At Rime those plates are cut mechanically with the Metal guillotine and then on request can be further worked by Bending, Punching, Roll bending and other methods.