Copper in Industrial Applications
Laser engraving copper is particularly challenging because of the high reflectivity of the material. In fact, a solid surface made of pure copper will reflect more than 95% of incident near-IR radiation. As with stainless steel, a fiber laser is generally preferred over a CO2 laser when laser engraving copper or to produce laser cut copper. A fiber laser has a wavelength of around 1.07 µm, around 10x smaller than the wavelength of a CO2 laser. Not only will a fiber laser be reflected less than a CO2 laser, but the smaller wavelength allows for a greater power density which makes it easier to penetrate the copper surface.
Copper has excellent workability and lends itself well to processes such as brazing, welding, and soldering. Where increased hardness is desired, copper has been blended with other metals to form alloys such as brass, bronze, and sterling silver, all of which are commonly used to create jewellery.
A particularly useful characteristic of copper is its antimicrobial property. Copper and copper-alloy surfaces have the natural property of destroying microorganisms, making copper an excellent material for doorknobs, handrails, computer keyboards, faucets, and health club equipment. Being a biostatic material, many other forms of life cannot grow on a copper surface.