Copper alloys are used in a wide range of electrical, engineering, and manufacturing applications because of their excellent thermal and electrical conductivity combined with resistance to soil, weather corrosion, chemical corrosion, and antimicrobial and ductility properties.

At Plethora, we specialize in fabricating prototype components using 101 and 110 copper alloys. Our ultra-precise copper machining capabilities—including 5-axis, 5-axis-indexed, and 3-axis machining—produces components with minimal surface roughness, high dimensional accuracy, and cutting-edge geometries. Plethora’s expert copper prototyping services can match your specifications for your next component design.

The Machinability of Copper Alloys

Compared to other material options, the mechanical and physical properties of copper allow for ease of machining. Depending on the percentage of copper and alloys, copper alloys require lower cutting forces which in turn reduces machining costs and run times.

While pure copper has excellent conductivity, it has lower machinability due to the tendency to produce tubular or tangled chips. In general, copper alloys retain conductivity while causing less tool wear, allowing better chip formation, and achieving better surface finishes.

Why Copper Alloys 101 and 110?

Categorized as Oxygen-Free Electronic (OFE) and super-conductive copper, 101 copper consists of 99.99% pure copper and 0.0005% oxygen. While 110 copper also contains 99.9% pure copper, the alloy has a different composition and categorizes as an Electrolytic Tough Pitch (ETP) copper. Compared to the 101% International Annealed Copper Standard (IACS) conductivity rating for 101 copper, 110 copper has an IACS conductivity rating of 100+%.

101 Copper and 110 Copper: Key Attributes

  Copper (%) Oxygen (%) Ultimate Tensile Strength Elongation A50 mm Hardness Vickers Thermal Conductivity BTU - sq.ft./hr/F° at 68° Electrical Conductivity (IACS) Corrosion Resistance
101 Copper 99.99 0.0005 200-360 55% 40 226 101 Good unless ammonia ions in environment
110 Copper 99.90 0.04 455 55% 83 226 101 Excellent

As shown in the table, 101 copper ranks as one of the purest coppers and has consistent electrical conductivity. The low oxygen content of 101 copper keeps the alloy from becoming brittle at high temperatures during soldering, brazing, or welding.

Because of its elevated oxygen, 110 copper becomes brittle if exposed to high temperatures. However, the alloy serves a diverse set of applications because of its solderability, excellent corrosion resistance, and superior electrical and thermal conductivity.

101 and 110 Copper Applications

Many critical applications require the low volatility given by the minimal amount of impurities in 101 copper. Plethora can help you choose the best material to machine the highest quality part for your given application.

Below is a breakdown of common applications using 101 and 110 copper.

101 Copper

110 Copper

The combination of high purity, excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, and resistance to embrittlement make this alloy the logical choice for:

  • High-performance electronic systems
  • High-vacuum devices
  • Particle accelerators
  • Microwave and radar components
  • X-ray tubes
  • Circuit breakers
  • Cables
  • Switches
  • Armature windings 

Applications ranging from plumbing to housewares and electronic systems take advantage of copper 110’s characteristics:

  • Pipes and fittings used for plumbing
  • Guttering and flashing 
  • Pans
  • Radiators 
  • Switches
  • Bus bars
  • Heat exchanger components
  • Terminals and screens
  • Automotive spark plug electrodes
  • Resistance welding electrodes