Copper is a reddish-orange natural metallic element that is mined from beneath the surface of the earth. In its purest form, it is relatively soft and malleable, making it an extremely useful and accessible material for both traditional tools and modern applications.
Copper was known to mankind’s earliest civilizations. For a thousands of years, it has been used in a variety of ways ranging from decorative jewelry and artistic sculptures to durable work tools and kitchen cutlery.
Most believe copper was among the first metals, along with gold and iron, to be used for practical and aesthetic purposes. Early metallurgical techniques developed over time include cold working, annealing (heat treatment), smelting (extractive metallurgy) and lost-wax casting.
Today, copper electroplating is a highly refined and effective method many industries rely on. Copper's excellent thermal and conductive properties make it a particularly useful substance in numerous heating, industrial and electrical applications. Copper is also commonly used in corrosion protection.
The many applications of copper plating include use as an undercoat in situations where enhanced adhesion for additional coatings of other materials is desirable, as it provides smooth and uniform coverage. Copper electroplating can be used as a treatment for the preparation of surfaces for soldering. It is also common for industries such as aerospace and electronics to apply copper plating on plastic applications.
Copper electroplating is sometimes used as a heat treat stop-off for masking, as it allows for selective heat-treating when needed. Additionally, electroplating copper may be used in a variety of plating applications where high electrical conductivity and greater thickness build are required. Copper electroplating is sometimes used in electroforming and for the metallization of non-metallic materials, as exemplified by copper plating on plastic. It is also used with semiconductors and for printed circuits through hole plating.
With regard to electroplating, copper offers many benefits. Copper is a soft and malleable metal, making it an excellent choice for electroplating with other flexible metal materials or objects. Copper won't separate from other metals even when it is bent. Copper's excellent conductive properties makes it more effective than other materials for use with electrical components, which is the reason copper electroplating is widely used in the electronics industry. When used as a base coat for nickel steel plating, electroplated copper provides superior protection against corrosion in comparison to other materials.