Copper has been a vital component in cars since the early days. A modern car contains up to 25kg of copper or more, mainly used for electrical applications. The primary reason why copper is used in cars is, of course, its high conductivity. And yet, in recent years, the use of pure copper in cars has been influenced by a number of global trends such as rapid innovation and climate change. The advantages for the automotive industry of using alternatives to pure copper for specific applications are becoming more evident.
The need for smaller high-performance components
Self-driving technology, high-tech digital displays, superior connectivity, sensors monitoring thousands of car parameters, electric or hybrid engines and drive trains, have transformed cars into ultra high-tech, data-driven intelligent tools. These swift innovations require cars to pack a lot more electronics, electric and data wires and connectors. The automotive industry is increasingly looking for lighter and smaller components to meet cost efficiency, design and environmental requirements and expectations.
Saving up to 80% in weight and size
Meet Copper Magnesium, a high conductivity alloy with good tensile strength, excellent solderability and plateability. Its high flexlife makes it very suitable for use in environments exposed to vibration and motion. CuMg alloy wires are highly suited for use in wire harnesses, as connector or conductor wire and for automotive switches and relays.
The key benefit of CuMg alloys is that they can be drawn to extremely thin wire while maintaining excellent mechanical and electrical properties. Lamifil’s CuMg0.2 alloy wire can be drawn to a cross section of 0.13mm2 , a weight and space reduction of 60% compared to Cu-Etp wire’s 0,35 mm2 cross section. The CuMg0.5 alloy can even be drawn to 0.07 mm2 – saving 80% in weight and size compared to Cu-ETP – while featuring an average tensile strength of 675 MPa compared to 470 MPa for Cu-ETP.
Pioneer and market leader
The use of copper alloy wires in the new generation of European cars, including hybrid and electric cars, will grow from 2% to 10% in the coming generation of cars. Lamifil was one of the pioneers to develop CuMg alloy wire for the automotive industry and today is one of the market leaders for this particular product.