You might now ask, what is it about this copper sheet that has earned it its own post on this blog, and this question is more than justified, as I would also prefer to write about gold investments, but this piece of copper shows just how big the problems are in the German economy.
Actually, the whole thing starts simply, because for an experiment I need a few PTC heating elements, what I need is not really available in Germany, and comparable costs 22,90 € + 4,90 € shipping fee (total price 27,80€), so I go directly to AliExpress and there I find what I am looking for, 3 pieces at 0,91€ each and shipping fee 1,33€ (total price 4,06€ + performance is better), fits like this.
But I need a material for the heat dissipation that can dissipate and distribute heat well, copper is the best material for this. I only need a small piece measuring 100 x 200 mm (10 x 20 cm) and was hoping that I would find what I was looking for at the local DIY store. I made a quick call and then got a fright.
Firstly, the DIY store only has a fixed size of 40 x 60 cm, which is not what I need, and secondly, the price of this copper sheet is more than €30. When I asked that I didn't need this size and whether it could be cut to size at the DIY store, I was told that this was unfortunately not possible and that I should contact a steel dealer for other sizes.
The only problem was that there is no steel dealer near me, the nearest one would be in Braunschweig and the other raw materials and recycling dealer would be in Magdeburg, an average of 2 hours' drive there and back and a distance of 200 km. At the current diesel price of 1.83€/L, the travel costs alone with the fuel consumption would be 36.60€ and then I don't even know if the material is there, because I would first have to see what is there and the dealer was already closed.
So, even if I wanted to support local trade, or to save the emissions for transportation or ....?
Or what is it anyway? If normal citizens in Germany, which is (still) an industrial location, can't manage to buy copper locally, then something is going wrong, isn't it?
It's not as if I expect to find platinum or palladium in stores, but looking at these problems, I thought I could see how expensive it might be to buy copper sheet from China if I'm already ordering from AliExpress anyway and yes, the prices are much cheaper there and they even have the dimensions I need. The thickness is secondary to irrelevant for my experiment, as I only need the thermal conductivity.
And it was already bought, the copper piece cost me €2.53 and is now on its way to Germany.
A piece of copper sheet and the problems
Actually it would be now and I'm waiting for it to arrive as I'm writing this post after I ordered it, the post picture came later to the post of course 😉
If you now think about it, it is more economical to buy a piece of copper in China instead of in Germany, if you can get the right dimensions in China, but in Germany the hardware store is inflexible to offer a solution (to your own advantage, since you can sell something), if the journey in Germany to buy a copper sheet is more expensive and takes 2 hours just to pick it up, is more expensive than ordering it from China.
Why is shipping from China so cheap? How can it be that it is cheaper to have something like this delivered from China instead of having to pay more than €4.90 for it within Germany?
That shows that something can't be right. Of course I'm now waiting 3 weeks for the copper sheet, but as it's not time-critical I can wait, or should I have bought a copper ingot instead?
Consequently, this shows me that even with simple materials such as copper, purchasing in China makes more sense and so the money goes abroad rather than into the German economy, sad but true, or would you want to pay more if you could get it cheaper elsewhere?