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An iron copper alloy provides conductivity, toughness, and strength. It can be adjusted to fit specific applications.
The microstructural and mechanical properties of grey cast iron with different concentrations of copper have been examined. The addition of copper increases the hardening and strengthening of the alloy, but at a high copper content it results in a brittle white iron structure due to the precipitation of ledeburite. The tensile strength and impact strength increase with increasing copper content, while the ductility decreases.
Currently, most of the copper used for electrical purposes has about 6% iron added to it to provide strength and wear resistance. But, there is a desire to have even more iron in these alloys for improved conductivity and other special properties.
Iron-copper master alloys can be made by sintering pure elemental copper powders with a range of iron compositions. These alloys are then infiltrated into iron-base powder metallurgy (P/M) parts to produce a variety of strengths and densities. The properties of the infiltrated parts are greatly influenced by the type and composition of the iron powder, infiltrant composition and furnace conditions, as well as any heat treatment that may be performed after the infiltration process. Carbon-free iron-copper P/M parts exhibit very good strength with only a minor reduction in ductility, but the performance of carbon-containing iron-copper P/M parts improves greatly after heat treatment. The improved ductility is accompanied by excellent strength levels, which are greater than that achieved in pre-sintered iron-copper premixes without carbon.