Copper and copper alloy powders have been used in industrial applications for many years. Among the best-known examples is the self-lubricating bearing which was the first major application, and still accounts for roughly 70% of granular copper powder used.
Pure copper powder is used significantly in the electrical and electronics industries because of its excellent electrical and thermal conductivity. Alloyed with metals such as tin, zinc, nickel and other elements, Copper in powder form is used for structural parts and friction materials. Brass, bronze and other copper alloy objects produced by powder metallurgy–the production and working of metals as fine powders which can be pressed and sintered to form objects–have the physical and mechanical properties of their cast or wrought counterparts.
In addition to the above applications of granular copper powder, the metal powder is also used in non-structural applications, and in flake form. The powder flakes–where thickness is small in relation to other dimensions–are used to make decorative and protective coatings, printing inks and antifouling paints. Non-structural applications for the powdered Copper include brazing, cold soldering, and mechanical plating (such as for medals and medallions).
Another application for the material is as an ingredient for cold-casting, where Copper powder is added to casting resins such as polyesters, epoxies or fast-cast polyurethane resins, to create an authentic metallic copper-like appearance and feel. Alternatively, it can be used as a filler, added in larger quantities to resin-mixes, where it increases the density and thermal conductivity of a casting material.