Like most natural resources, copper has a storied past. Ancient civilizations appreciated both its beauty and utility, fashioning both jewelry and tools with the metal. Over the centuries, humankind has further harnessed copper’s physical properties for its benefit. Most notably, the very symbol of the United States is constructed with copper. Although the frame is iron, the entire exterior of the Statue of Liberty is copper with the exception of the gold-plated flame. The greenish hue of this national treasure tends to confuse many people regarding the materials used to build the statue, but the natural brown tinge of the copper oxidized within roughly 30 years into the color we see today.
More recently, copper has been grabbing the headlines in a less dignified manner. Construction companies are wringing their hands as copper-based materials disappear from their worksites resulting in significant losses and delays. Even businesses and homes are subject to copper theft if wiring or pipes are visible, causing untold damages. The crime waves tend to fluctuate in tandem with the price of copper, but it has been an ongoing issue that proves difficult to combat.
What is the mystique surrounding copper that makes it so appealing? If it is such a target for thieves and vandals, are there alternatives to help the business and homeowners alike?
Civilized society is built on laws and natural resources. Copper emerged as the foundation for electrical applications which are at the core of our daily lives. Just recall how helpless you feel when the power goes out. This reliance on electricity has placed an emphasis on the mining and manufacture of copper ore with Chile leading the world as the top producer of this resource.
Once purified, the adaptability of copper is its true segue into key industrial manufacturing outlets all over the world. Copper forms alloys with other metals very easily, which makes it a popular candidate to help increase strength and resistance to corrosion. Copper Plating is a common manufacturing technique used to share copper’s conductive and thermal attributes. Many products on the market will have copper coatings designed to enhance not only their practical uses, but the aesthetic as well. Although a naturally lusterless metal, additives can polish up the copper with an eye-catching finish.
Based on the rash of copper thefts, we already know that copper is a popular construction material. Of course, buildings will utilize copper for electrical wiring, but many of the pipes are also copper. Even though a variety of other materials have been sourced for pipes including plastic, very often they will end up being copper-coated to prevent corrosion. Also, many architects will incorporate copper into their designs by employing cladding. Layers of coppers on a building can introduce added appeal.
There are other less common uses for copper, but it is surprisingly pervasive in our daily lives. Wiring in cars and even airplanes is made of copper. And just try to find a coin that does not contain a small percentage of copper.