Side by side of custom copper bus bars

Fun fact: The term “bus bar” comes from the Latin word omnibus, which translates to “for all” in English.

And when you think about it, that makes sense, since bus bars carries all of the currents.

Here at Protocase, we custom manufacture copper bus bars, which are formed strips of copper for distributing current, mounting components and dissipating heat. These bus bars are often put into a custom enclosure or a board so that it distributes a significant amount of current. These copper bus bars can be part of a fully custom enclosure design, or a standalone part. are usually put into a custom enclosure or a board so that it distributes a significant amount of current.

When it comes to custom copper bus bars from Protocase, there are a few key things to know. Read on to learn about copper bus bar leadtimes, material, bend constraints, fasteners, finishes and more.

Copper Bus Bar Leadtimes

Custom copper bus bars with cutouts

We know your time is valuable, and you need your custom parts made quickly so you can keep your projects and development on track. Similar to our custom enclosures, panels and parts, we can make your copper bus bars in 2-3 days, and in whatever quantity you need. (And if you have time, our Economy service might be ideal, especially if you are looking for the most cost-effective option).

You can order custom copper bars as part of a custom enclosure design assembly, or as a standalone part that you need.

Copper Material Key Facts

We stock copper alloy C110, which is a general-purpose copper alloy designated in ASTM standard B152. Copper C110 has very high connectivity and offers excellent formability, which makes it an awesome choice for electrical and electronic applications.

To offer you ample choice for your custom copper bus bars and specific project requirements, we offer 5 different thickness options for C110 copper:

  • 0.188″ | 4.78 mm    
  • 0.250″ | 6.35 mm    
  • 0.125″ | 3.18 mm    
  • 0.093″ | 2.36 mm    
  • 0.064″ | 1.63 mm

If you need another thickness that we do not stock, let us know – we can likely order it as a non-stock item, for additional lead time and cost.

Custom copper bus bars in build for University of Patras' UoP Racing Team
University of Patras’ UoP Racing Team’s Build

Bending Guidelines for Copper Bus Bars

C110 copper offers excellent formability, so that means there is a fair amount of flexibility for creating the bus bar you require for your specific need.

When it comes to bending copper, our machinery and tooling dictates certain minimum bend dimensions and bend radii that are possible.

Our website lists all of the possible minimum bend and bend radii for each thickness of copper that we stock. Click here to view the full chart. And if you want to discuss a different bend radius for your copper bus bar design, we’re here to help. Contact us to set up a call with a member of our Engineering & Design Services team!

Fastener Guidelines for Copper Bus Bars

If you opt to have fasteners in your custom copper bus bar, we recommend sticking with stainless steel self-clinching fasteners for two specific reasons:

  1. Stainless steel is the ideal material to match copper for compatibility reasons.
  2. Self-clinching fastener is much better than a conventional fastener, because copper alloy is so soft by nature. You could technically tourque fasteners into tapped holes – if you’re really careful. But we really don’t recommend it.

For these two reasons, stainless fasteners, specifically self-clinching fasteners, are your best bet for custom copper bus bars.  

Finishing Options for Copper Bus Bars

Usually, bus bars are left unfinished. Why? Because you are typically looking for the most electrical conductivity possible.

Copper that is left unfinished will then oxidize and lose color and turns to patina, which is a thin green layer on the surface. Think of an old penny.

Pennies that have oxidized and turned to patina

A copper bus bar will develop a similar greenish tone as it ages.

What if you don’t want your copper bus bar to patina? There are a few options:

Custom copper bus bar with tin plating

Tin plating: This is a simple immersion technique that deposits pure tin onto the copper. Once tin plating is completed, the bus bar has improved corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity and solderability. One important note – a third-party supplier completes tin plating for us, which means there will be an additional leadtime and cost.

Powdercoat: You can opt for powdercoating your copper bus bars, but powder coating will affect the bus bar’s electrical conductivity. To get around this issue, you’re going to need to specify the contact areas where you would like masking applied. When you do that, the entire bus bar won’t be powdercoated, and the areas in which you need electrical conductivity will be left bare.


Custom copper bus bar with bends and cutouts

We can make your custom copper bus bars in any quantity that you require, either as a standalone order or as a part of a larger build that you want to complete.

Remember to keep our minimum bend radius recommendations in mind and to stick with stainless steel self-clinching fasteners at all times possible.

Want to get a price quote for your custom copper bus bar design? Submit your design through our Request-a-Quote portal – our team will assess your design and provide you a price quote for whatever quantity you need.

About The Author

Christa Carey

Christa Carey has been with Protocase since the very beginning. In fact, she was the first employee the company hired back in 2002, after working for the Protocase co-founders in a previous job. She graduated in 2000 from Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada. As the CNC Engineering and Design Services Technical Services Manager, Christa manages a team of engineers and technologists in the CNC Machining Division.