Yes, the metal known as copper is ductile.
In the article that follows, you’ll learn more about copper and ductility.
Is Copper Ductile? (EXPLAINED)
What is Copper?
Copper (Cu) is a metal found on the periodic table of elements near its fellow metals Silver (Ag) and Gold (Au) in group 11.
It is one of the softer metals, and it is most easily identifiable by its color.
Copper is a red-gold color when burnished, brown when tarnished, and green when it oxidizes.
This color spectrum is useful if you need to try and identify copper.
One of copper’s most useful traits is its high electrical and thermal conductivity (This is important later).
To know the minutest details, copper has an atomic number of 29 and an atomic weight of 63.546.
If you should ever plan to relocate to Mercury, your copper pots and pans are safe.
Copper has a melting point of 1083°C, and a boiling point of 2595°C and is in a solid state at room temperature.
It has a valence of +1 or +2, compound dependent. It is not magnetic but can serve as an electromagnet.
Fun fact: 65% of the world’s copper is found in North and South America and Australia. Chile is the largest producer of copper globally, and the biggest copper mine is believed to be in Utah.
I’ve already mentioned that copper is ductile, but really what I mean is that it is exceptionally ductile, and it is also malleable.
But what does that actually mean?
What Does Ductile Mean?
Before we jump into what ductile means.
Let’s step back a moment.
Ductility is one of the five characteristics that help you identify whether or not a certain material is a metal.
The questions you need to ask yourself include:
- Is the material ductile?
- Is it malleable? (ductility and malleability are great friends in the metal world)
- Does the material display thermal conductivity?
- Does the material display electrical conductivity?
- What is the chemical reactivity of this material?
All metals will display some of these characteristics to a certain extent. Some are better than others.
But I’m off-topic, back to being ductile.
In the broadest sense, when something is ductile (usually a metal), it can be molded and stretched out into long wires.
You are essentially changing the form of your material, copper, into long wires or threads that will not break, meaning that it is not brittle.
Ductility is affected by a few factors. These factors include:
- The temperature under which the change of shape occurs,
- The speed at which the change is taking place,
- The hardness of the material,
- And finally, the tensile strength*.
*Tensile strength refers to how much force it takes to pull something apart until it snaps.
Metal fabrication is a vital part of our everyday lives.
Think about what we use and take for granted; vehicles for transportation, electricity is generated and transported using wires, our mobile phones and laptops.
All of these require metal fabrication.
Successful metal fabrication requires the material to be ductile, like copper, and malleable.
Malleability is the degree to which something can be shaped through hammering or forging.
Think of metalworkers; they hammer and forge metals into different shapes.
Both ductility and malleability involve changing the shape of your material, copper.
If you prefer to bundle these agents of change together, then refer to pliability.
Ductile materials are usually softer metals like copper, gold, and silver.
Non-ductile materials are usually non-metals.
Why is Copper Ductile?
I’ve discussed copper and ductileness separately.
Now let’s put them together.
Why is copper ductile?
The first and easiest answer is that copper is a metal and therefore ductile, but it isn’t the whole answer.
We’ve also learned that copper is one of the softer metals like gold and, therefore, easier to shape and stretch into wires, displaying ductility.
Copper has a high melting point.
This means that you can heat copper to a relatively high temperature, and it will remain in a solid state.
Imagine your daily life.
Is something easier to shape when it is warm or cold?
Warm, of course.
Coldness tends to make things brittle.
And then copper is also highly ductile because of its ability to conduct electricity.
Do you remember me saying copper has high thermal and electrical conductivity?
This conductivity happens because of the free-flowing electrons found in the structure of the copper.
The electrons in your metal can slide over one another without breaking the metallic bond at an atomic level.
This sliding of electrons contributes to the overall ability of copper to stretch into wires.
Why is Copper’s Ductility Important?
The fact that copper is ductile is important because of the many real-world applications this material has.
It is used in various fields such as the medical, transportation, architectural, and electrical industries.
At the most basic level, copper is used in our homes to heat our water and conduct electricity.
And at the risk of repeating myself, metal fabrication is vital to our everyday lives.
Back to our original question. Is copper ductile? Yes, it is exceptionally ductile.
Copper is a valuable and useful metal that is prized for its ability to be stretched out easily into wires and threads without breaking.
In an ever-changing world, flexibility is paramount!
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