Copper and its Alloys

Standards are important because they form a common language between producers, stockists and users of copper alloys. It is important to have the facility to compare the old British, European, American and Japanese Standards.

CDA provides the information to enable users to do this, through publications and its online enquiry service.

UK and European Standards

Copper and copper alloys like other materials are covered by standards. The use of standards is essential in the proper definition of the type, form and condition of an alloy. Standards form part of the complex technical language used in communication between producers of alloys, manufacturers, designers and stockists and any technical person concerned with materials usage. It is not sufficient to define an alloy as 'brass' or 'bronze' just as a steel would not be defined as 'stainless' or 'low alloy'. For many years copper alloys have been covered by British Standards. These have been being replaced by European BS EN Standards which will include other National Standards such as DIN (German).

American Standards

Americans are not usually familiar with British or European Standards. They use the UNS (Unified Numbering System) which is the accepted alloy designation system in North America for wrought and cast copper and copper alloy products - it is managed by ASTM and SAE.  When manufacturing for the USA, it is essential to find a UK or European Standard which is equivalent to an existing American Standard.  See Copper Key.

An incorrectly defined material may in the end only be fit for scrap.

The following text is the introduction to Publication 120 'Copper and Copper Alloys - Compositions, Applications and Properties'.

View the publication from this page or order it  from the Resource Library.

The EN Standards

The EN series of standards for copper and copper alloys offers a selection of materials to suit a very wide variety of end uses. They represent a consensus agreement on those most frequently ordered by consumers.  Commencing in the late 1980s, drafting of European Standards for Copper and Copper Alloys became a major activity for national standards’ organisations and their industrial partners.  Because a large number of national preferences have needed to be taken into account against the background of a pan- European agreement to develop tight product standards, the EN standards are more complex than the old BS standards.  Furthermore, the EN standards tend to cover narrower fields than BS standards; hence there are more alloys in the EN series than in the old BS standards.

Publication 120 summarises the main compositions and the range of properties.  For full details refer to the standards documents obtainable from:

The British Standards Institution
398 Chiswick High Road
London W4 4AL
Tel: 020 8996 9001
Fax: 020 8996 7001

Defence Standards (DStan)

These standards are sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and include aluminium bronzes, aluminium silicon bronzes and copper-nickels used in demanding military applications, where high fracture toughness, low magnetic permeability and excellent corrosion resistance are required.

The standards explain the various classes required in service (for example, on a submarine) and include details of the mandatory, non-destructive testing by ultrasonic, dye penetrant and X-ray methods.

The DStan specifications were formerly designated Naval Engineering Standards (NES).

For further details of DStan, visit

Copper Key Software

‘Copper Key’ is software which enables users to find the nearest equivalent designations for EN, old BS, US (ASTM), German (DIN), Japanese (JIS) and Chinese (GB) copper and copper alloys. The software allows users to compare compositions of equivalent designations and see which national standards apply.

This software provides an essential introductory cross-reference tool for designers and specifiers but, for full details on properties and special requirements, such as non-destructive testing, heat treatment or cleaning, the relevant standards, obtainable from BSI or other national standards bodies, should be consulted.

This software has been updated to indicate antimicrobial copper alloys ie alloys approved for registration by the Environmental Protection Agency to be legally marketed as antimicrobial in the US. These alloys fall under the Unified Numbering System (UNS) which is the accepted alloy designation system in North America for wrought and cast copper and copper alloy products.

To find equivalents to these UNS alloys, enter 'EPA' or 'antimicrobial' in the 'full text search' field.  In the results window, 'US EPA Registered Antimicrobial' should appear in the 'remark' field.  It is then possible to select materials with equivalent compositions in different national designations and also find applicable standards.  It should be noted that this list is not exclusive, it merely represents the alloys already registered by the EPA as antimicrobial.

The software was developed by CDA's sister organisation in Germany, Deutsches Kupferinstitut, and is available to use, free of charge, online.

National Standard Bodies

Here is a selection of national standard bodies:

 Country  Acronym  Website
 Australia  SA
 Austria  ASI
 Belgium  NBN
 Czech Republic  UNMZ
 France  Afnor
 Germany  DIN
 Italy  UNI
 Japan  JI|S
 Russia  GOST R

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Copper Key

Compare compositions of equivalent designations in different national standards.
Pub 120 Copper and Copper Alloys
Plumbing fitting - EN 1254
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