They are both metals – yes – but other than that they have many differences, the main ones of which are their weight, cost, appearance and their capacitance which, to the average Joe, is a metals ability to store electrical charge. Aluminium was, in days gone by, the metal of choice but it seems today that Copper is making a comeback and the designers are switching over!
Copper used in wiring and electrical equipment is nominally pure which is why it is being chosen over Aluminium because Aluminium in its purest form does not seem to be strong enough to cope with many electrical applications. Different Aluminium alloy properties change depending on the process they are subjected to. If they are subjected to heat treatment for example, Al6101 becomes harder and stronger.
It has been a rather common misconception that Aluminium has been too soft for some uses and therefore compression connectors must be used to overcome this. But, with design and plating changes, these compression connectors are no longer necessary. Alloys and processing can instead be used in order to make Aluminium become just as useful, as good and as strong as Copper…ALMOST!
Copper Coating and Copper Plating
Sounds familiar but this is the opposite way round. In order to reduce the corrosion of Aluminium and Copper, they are coated in Tin or Silver to reduce their corrosion, because without this Aluminium and Copper are both prone to oxidation and are therefore likely to rust and parts not work appropriately or safely.
All About Copper Plating
Copper Plating is decorative but normally used as it is an extremely functional metal. It is often used for electricals, road mending techniques, medics and in telecommunications, it really is a multifunctional plating technique. This is thanks to it being such an excellent conductor, its ability to shield against electro magnetic interference and radio frequency interference, and its excellent levelling properties. Copper plating is highly thought of in the medical world especially due to the fact that it naturally kills bacteria, thus making it a great protector against infections and diseases, so often also used in laboratory settings, too.