At first glance, copper and bronze may appear very similar, even equivalent. However, they have different characteristics and origins that make their applications completely different. Therefore, we will clarify the differences between copper and bronze.
Differences between copper and bronze
Copper and bronze are mainly distinguished by their elemental composition. Thus, we know that copper is a non-ferrous transition metal that exists natively in the earth's crust. Bronze, however, is a metal that comes from an alloy of several elements, in this case, copper-based mixed with tin, which usually makes up 3 to 20% of the alloy. Sometimes it also includes other materials.
As a result of this difference in origin, the rest of the dissimilarities between the two materials arise. Below, we explain some of the characteristics in which they differ:
One of the characteristics that allow us to differentiate between bronze and copper is their resistance to corrosion. Bronze is a mixture of copper, tin and sometimes small amounts of other elements, which makes it a more resistant alloy than copper, since copper itself is not as resistant.
Melting point is a very important characteristic to take into account when talking about these materials, because, when melting, a material used as a machine component can fail. With regard to malleability, it is also essential to take the melting point into consideration. This is because the lower the temperature, the more malleable the material will be.
Thus, we know that copper melts at 1084ºC while bronze ranges between 315 and 1080ºC.
In terms of electrical conductivity, copper is the standard by which electrical materials are classified, as copper is considered to be 100% conductive. This results in the conductivity classification of these materials being expressed as a measure relative to copper. Bronze, on the other hand, is only 15% electrically conductive relative to copper.
In order to differentiate between copper and bronze with the naked eye, we could do so by colour, although this is quite difficult to determine. Both metals are somewhat reddish-brown in colour, but they are distinguishable. The reddish-brown colour of bronze is characterised by an opaque gold, while copper has a reddish-brown to pinkish-orange colour.
The difference in weight between the two materials is also noticeable. In this case, bronze is lighter than copper, which is more like steel, making it considerably heavier.
The price of copper and bronze can vary according to different factors, but although it can change, copper is usually more expensive when compared on the same parameters as bronze. The lower price of bronze can be attributed to the lower copper content in the alloy.
In the applications given to one metal or the other, we know that bronze is used in applications such as musical instruments, durable tools such as hammers, mallets or wrenches. On the other hand, copper is mainly used in wire cable, in electronics and other electronic devices, in motors, as an antimicrobial material and in architecture.
Therefore, we can conclude that bronze is more commonly used in everyday products, whereas copper has a much more industrial use.
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