CNC Machining Materials

Copper

At a glance

Processes

CNC Mill
CNC Lathe

Lead Time

As fast as 3 days

Finishing Options

Available as-machined, media blasted, or hand-polished

Tolerance

ISO 2768

Price

$$$

Applications

Bus bars, gaskets, wire connectors, and other electrical applications

Alloys

101, 110

About the material

101 and 110 copper alloys offer excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, which make them natural choices for bus bars, wire connectors, and other electrical applications. While 101 (also known as super-conductive copper) offers higher conductivity due to its purity (99.99% copper), 110 is generally easier to machine and thus more cost-effective.

Material Properties

110 Copper

Tensile Strength

42,000 psi (1/2 hard)

Elongation at Break

20%

Hardness

Rockwell F40

Density

0.322 lbs / cu. in.

Maximum Temp

500° F

McMaster Part Number

8963KK149

101 Copper

Tensile Strength

37,000 psi (1/2 hard)

Elongation at Break

14%

Hardness

Rockwell F60

Density

0.323 lbs / cu. in.

Maximum Temp

500° F

McMaster Part Number

2554T511

Material Finish

Copper has a shiny reddish-orange finish, which varies slightly based on the surface finish method. Copper can be media-blasted and polished to achieve many different cosmetic surface finishes.

Design Recommendations

Min Wall Thickness

0.5 mm

Min End Mill Size

0.8 mm (0.03 in)

Min Drill Size

0.5 mm (0.02 in)

Max Part Size

1200 x 500 x 152 mm [x,y,z] (mill)
152 x 394 mm [d,h] (lathe)

Undercuts

Square profile, full radius, dovetail profiles

Radii : Depth

Depth must not exceed 12x drill bit diameter.
For end mills, depth must not exceed 10x tool diameter.

Cost Saving Tip

To reduce costs, limit the number of part setups, the number of inspection dimensions or tight tolerances, and deep pockets with small radii.

Copper FAQs

Is copper hard to machine?

Pure copper CNC machining is very difficult to and requires specialized knowledge. Alloying the copper with elements such as tin, silicon, zinc, aluminum, and nickel can drastically improve machinability because it changes the material composition.

What is the best type of copper for CNC machining?

Copper alloys have great electrical and thermal conductivity, which make them natural choices for many electrical applications, such as bus bars and wire connectors.

  • 101 copper offers higher conductivity due to its purity.
  • 110 copper is generally easier to CNC machine making it more cost effective.
  • Copper beryllium (CuBe) combines high strength with non-magnetic and non-sparking qualities. It is excellent for CNC machining, forming and general metalworking.

What are the benefits of machining copper?

Copper’s unique benefits and properties make it a valuable material for a wide variety of applications and is easy to machine.

Copper has good corrosion resistance and is especially malleable and ductile. It is a good heat and electricity conductor and can be hard and soft soldered easily.

With copper CNC machining, precise copper parts can be produced quickly and with a high level of repeatability, ensuring each part meets strict requirements and specifications.

Copper is suitable for a wide array of applications such as pipes, electric cabling, circuit boards, electronics, wiring, radiators and cooling systems.

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