Farmer's Copper Blog

Copper’s Technology Influence

There is about .5 oz of copper in your mobile phone. That’s more than all the other metals in your phone and more than 12% of your phone’s total weight. As more computer chips and sophistication are added to our phones, the amount of copper in them will continue to grow as well.

Because of copper’s incredible properties where electricity is concerned, copper has long been looked to when building and developing technology. Recently copper has been replacing aluminum in computer chips, resulting in much faster operating speeds and greater circuit integration – up to 200 million transistors can be packed onto a single chip. And copper also means that your gadgets need less power — so your battery life lasts longer. Power requirements are now reduced to less than 1.8 volts, and the chips run cooler than ever before, increasing the effectiveness of the technology and the longevity of its components. The use of copper conductors in the chip is the last link in a now unbroken copper chain comprising the electronic data path between user and computer. From external cables and connectors to bus ways to printed circuit boards, sockets and lead frames – it’s all copper.

Copper also helps deliver the internet at faster and faster speeds. Not long ago, it was thought that only fiber optics could handle big bandwidths. Not so. If you have DSL — HDSL or ADSL — then you’re getting your high speed internet connection over a copper wire. These technologies are making it possible for telephone companies to capitalize on existing copper lines and for businesses to accommodate lower-cost communications and networking options – without having to switch to high-cost fiber optics.

Not only can copper be used to send information, but it can also be used to prevent signals traveling where they are not wanted. The National Security Agency buildings at Ft. Meade, Maryland, are sheathed with copper to prevent unauthorized snooping. Even the windows are fitted with copper screens. The copper blocks radio waves from penetrating into or escaping from spy operations. Copper sheathing is also used in hospitals to enclose rooms containing sensitive equipment like CAT scan, MRI and X-ray units to prevent problems related to the entrance or emission of errant electromagnetic radiation.

Copper’s Weathering Components

Copper and its principal architectural alloys are relatively active metals which, when left unprotected, tend to oxidize (weather). Long term atmospheric exposure generally results in the formation of the naturally protective gray-green patina.
Because copper and its alloys afford a broad spectrum of both natural and weathered colors, much effort is expended to either hasten the natural weathering by chemical means or to preserve the bright natural colors through the application of clear protective coatings.

Natural Weathering
The natural weathering of copper to the characteristic blue-green or gray-green patina is a direct consequence of the mild corrosive attack of airborne sulfur compounds.
As natural weathering proceeds, the metal exposed to the atmosphere changes in hue from the natural salmon pink color through a series of russet brown shades to light and dark chocolate browns and finally to the ultimate blue-green or gray-green patina.
During the initial weeks of exposure, particularly in a humid atmosphere or in areas of frequent rainfall, radical color changes often take place with iridescent pinks, oranges and reds interspersed with brassy yellows, blues, greens and purples. During continued exposure, these interference colors fade and are replaced by relatively uniform russet brown shades referred to as statuary or oxidized finishes.
Due to varying fabricating procedures, some mills may coat coiled or flat sheet stock with a thin coat of anti-stain oil film. This film may give rise to dark purple or black surface colorations soon after installation and exposure. This is a temporary color phase caused by the thin oil film, which is quickly washed off by rain allowing the natural weathering of copper to proceed.
In industrial and seacoast atmospheres, the natural patina generally forms in from five to seven years. In rural atmospheres, where the quantity of air-born sulfur dioxide is relatively low, patina formation may not reach a dominant stage for 10 to 14 years. In arid environments, the basic sulfate patina may never form due to the lack of sufficient moisture. Similarly, exposed horizontal surfaces develop the patina more rapidly than sloping surfaces which, in turn, patinate more rapidly than vertical surfaces. The critical variable, in all instances, is the dwell time of moisture on the exposed surfaces.
The progressive oxide, sulfide and sulfate films which develop on copper exposed to the atmosphere are quite thin two to three thousandths of an inch highly adherent, but with relatively low abrasion resistance. Neither the oxide nor sulfide films are particularly corrosion resistant. The sulfate patina, on the other hand, is highly resistant to all forms of atmospheric corrosion, once it has had an opportunity to form completely. It thus significantly increases the durability and, hence, the service life of copper roofing and flashing.
Although the plates represent a typical sequence, the weathering of any installation will depend on local environmental factors, orientation and amount of residual lubricants.
The weathering of copper will reach a final equilibrium with its local environment. This state of equilibrium is very stable and no further weathering will occur after this state is reached. However, the final equilibrium color will vary depending on orientation, slope, and local weather conditions.
The natural weathering cycle of copper is illustrated by the 12 sequential color plates. The following shows the age process from the initial unexposed copper to 30 years later of weathering process:

Read more on the weathering process at the following Copper Development Association’s website:

The Unique Advantage of Stainless Steel

For a wide variety of applications, stainless steel competes with carbon steels supplied with protective coatings, as well as other metals such as aluminum, brass and bronze. The success of stainless steel is based on the fact that it has one unique advantage. The chromium in the stainless steel has a great affinity for oxygen, and will form on the surface of the steel at a molecular level a film of chromium oxide. The film itself is about 130 Angstroms in thickness, one Angstrom being one millionth of one centimeter. This is like a tall building being protected from the rain with a roof the thickness of one sheet of ordinary copy paper. This layer is described as passive, tenacious and self renewing. Passive means that it does not react or influence other materials; tenacious means that it clings to the layer of steel and is not transferred elsewhere; self renewing means that if damaged or forcibly removed more chromium from the steel will be exposed to the air and form more chromium oxide. This means that over a period of years a stainless steel knife can literally be worn away by daily use and by being resharpened on a sharpening stone and will still remain stainless. Silver plated cutlery will eventually wear through to the base alloy, but stainless steel cutlery cannot wear through. Manhole and access covers in the water treatment and chemical industry are widely made out of both galvanized steel and stainless steel. In normal use galvanized steel can last many years without corrosion occurring and in these cases there would be little advantage apart from aesthetic reasons to switch to stainless steel. Where stainless comes into its own is where the galvanized coating is constantly being worn away, for example by chains being dragged over it, or constantly being walked over, or where very corrosive chemicals are being randomly splashed onto it.

This leads on to the important point that the initial investment cost of producing a component or fabrication in stainless steel will always be more expensive that using ordinary steel, not just because of the higher cost of stainless steel, but also because it is more difficult to machine. However it is the better life cycle costs of stainless steel that make it attractive, both in terms of much longer service life, less maintenance costs, and high scrap value on de-commissioning.

New Beginnings for Farmer’s Copper

It’s official! Farmer’s Copper Ltd. has completed the move to their new location in Texas City, TX just south of Houston. It’s been a long process, but well worth the wait!

The Farmer’s Copper family is excited to be conveniently located near Houston. This move will help them to better serve their regional customers faster; and to offer better service to all customers through their updated warehouse.

While the move is exciting, many will miss the wonderful memories created in the old Galveston building where the metal service center was first opened back in 1980. Over Thirty-five years later, the new facility is both a reminder of the company’s previous success, and its commitment to the future. Adding to the legacy that began in 1920 with Farmer’s Marine Copper Works, Farmers Copper Ltd. has grown to be a flagship company for the organization. As one of the oldest family-owned and operated metal service centers in the United States, we carry the old memories with us and set out to make new ones as we grow and prosper in our new home.

Our new location not only has a fresh updated look, but we have also improved our warehouse operations by combining two separate facilities into one in order to systematically create better efficiencies for order processing. Farmer’s team is working diligently to better serve our customer’s needs through our many services, which include; cutting options of horizontal band saws, vertical bar saws, sheet/plate shears, abrasive water jets, precision plate saws, a plasma burner, and CNC routers. We also have bus bar benders that allow us to form or bend bar to any degree up to 5/8” thickness, deburring machines to allow the removal of sharp edges as needed, and computerized engraving for part numbers and heat number traceability.

Truth, quality, and service are the foundations of what our metal service center is built upon, and has been established in our company from day one. We will continue in honoring these values for many years to come, giving the best service our customers not only expect, but deserve.

Farmers Copper Ltd. would like to give a special thanks to our loyal employees for the hard work and dedication that has made this transition to our new location a success. We value our Farmer’s Copper team and the abundant effort they displayed to make the move a success. Unity is what drives our progress and to that we owe our wonderful staff.

Our new home is something we are proud of and excited to share; take a peek into our new facility:






Copper’s Electrical Conductivity

The high electrical conductivity of copper has been vital to the development of the electrical industry in the past 100 years. Electrolytic copper has become the industry standard for electrical conductivity. The measure by which all other materials are rated is known as %IACS (percent International Annealed Copper Standard). A few comparative conductivity ratings are:

C110 electrolytic tough-pitch copper – 101% IACS
C102 oxygen-free copper – 101% IACS
C145 tellurium copper – 95% IACS
Aluminum EC – 62% IACS
Aluminum 6101 – 56% IACS
Stainless Steel 302 – 3% IACS

While high conductivity is the main characteristic that makes copper metals valuable to the electrical industry, there are also other characteristics, which make them valuable for electrical use. Resistance to corrosion makes it possible to use bare wire and bar bus bar without any covering. Copper’s high thermal conductivity enables it to dissipate heat generated in the transmission of electricity. Also, copper metals have superior wearing and bearing properties, which make them invaluable for electric contacts. And when a high-performance contact is required, the copper can be easily plated with silver