Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Should I Choose Bronze or Copper for My Application?

When it’s time to choose a material for your application, there are a lot of factors to consider. Do you need a material that is conductive? One that is resistant to corrosion or can be easily worked? Taking a look at your own needs is the first step in the process; the next step involves understanding the metals you’re considering and examining their qualities.

Bronze vs. Copper: What’s the Difference?

It’s common for people to use the words bronze and copper to refer to the same type of metal, but technically speaking, there’s a difference.

Copper can be a pure metal that is mined from the earth, or it can refer to a copper alloy that has a copper content of 99.3 percent. Either way, copper is popular for a number of different applications and it was one of the first metals used by early humans, as evidenced by the Copper Age that began in the middle of the 5th millennium BC.

Bronze is a metal alloy, which means it’s always made from a combination of metals—there’s no such thing as pure bronze. Bronze is primarily made with copper, then other metals are added to impart different qualities on the resulting alloy. Some common metals used to make bronze are iron, zinc, and tin. Like copper, bronze is a metal that has been used since ancient times and the transition from copper tools to bronze is marked by the Bronze Age.

Properties of Bronze vs. Copper

Since bronze contains a large amount of copper, you might think it follows that bronze and copper have very similar properties, but slight changes in formulations can make a big difference in their qualities and characteristics.

Why Use Copper

Copper is commonly used in heating and electrical applications because it has exceptional conductivity. It’s also widely used in artwork, fixtures, and architecture because of its captivating reddish hue. The simple act of polishing and buffing copper can create a wide array of textures and lusters.

Copper has been in the news recently thanks to its antimicrobial properties, making it an increasingly popular material for everything from phone cases to face mask filters. Copper is also strong and resistant to corrosion. If you need a material that is formable, copper can be soldered, brazed, and welded.

Why Use Bronze

Like copper, bronze is a commonly used material for sculptures, statues, and other artwork, but its resistance to wear and low friction makes it a workhorse when it comes to industrial applications. You’ll find bronze in bearings, valves, pump parts, and gears. Many musical instruments are also made with bronze. If you’re looking for a metal that is hard and durable, bronze is a solid choice.

Learn More About Atlas Bronze

Of course, the best way to choose the right material for your application is to consult with one of our knowledgeable team members at Atlas Bronze. Contact us at 1-800-478-0887 and we’ll work together with you to determine whether bronze or copper is best for your purposes. If you’re not sure where to start, we can get you on the right track and ensure a successful project.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

What Is the Difference Between Bushings and Bearings?

If you’re new to the manufacturing industry, you may be confused about the difference between bushings and bearings. Some people say they’re the same. Others say they’re different. Which is it? They can’t be both! Below, we’ll demystify some of the confusion surrounding these parts.
When Bearings and Bushings Are the Same

In the automotive industry, the terms bushing and bearing are often used interchangeably, so if you’re coming to manufacturing with some background knowledge on cars, it’s easy to see why you’d be confused. Bearings (or bushings, as it were) are used in gearboxes, auto transmissions, and shock systems in vehicles.

When Bushings Are Bearings

You know how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? This is how it works with bearings and bushings too—at least outside of the automotive industry. All bushings are bearings, but not all bearings are bushings.

Bushings are also known as sleeve bearings because they come in a cylindrical (or sleeve) shape that enables two components or surfaces to move with a sliding motion. You might also see them referred to as plain bearings. These bushings can be straight up-and-down cylinders, which are used for radial loads, or they may be flanged, which makes them suitable for radial and axial loads. Then, there are thrust washers, which are bushings that can withstand applications that involve thrust forces with moderate velocities.

When Bearings Aren’t Bushings

We know that all bushings are bearings, but what kind of bearing isn’t a bushing?

The easiest way to distinguish the two is to remember that a bushing is always a single part—a cylinder with or without a flange—while any bearing that has multiple components is not a bushing. Ball bearings, for example, are not bushings because they have several parts, including a raceway and rolling elements. In other words, the difference between bushings and bearings in some instances is that bearings are more complex. A simple sleeve bearing is a bushing, but a more complicated bearing is not.

What Else You Should Know About Bushings

We categorize bushings into sleeve bushings, flange bushings, and thrust washers, but they can be further categorized by type of lubrication.

Self-lubricating bushings are used in applications where regular lubrication is not possible or difficult. These bushings have small pores in them that are impregnated with lubricant. This lubricant is released when the bushings are in use, then reabsorbed when they are at rest, greatly reducing the need for maintenance. Graphite-plugged bushings are one example of a self-lubricating bushing.

Plain bushings can only be used in applications where there is already a system in place for lubrication or when there is sufficient staff to perform ongoing lubrication and maintenance. These are more economical than self-lubricating bushings, but once you factor in the added labor costs, self-lubricating bushings usually come out ahead in the long-term.

Learn More About the Difference Between Bushings and Bearings

If you’re still not sure whether you need a bushing or bearing for your application, our sales team is happy to help. Atlas Bronze experts are always available to explain all of our different options and listen to your needs in order to determine the right fit for you. Contact us at 1-800-478-0887 to speak with one of our experts and get started.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

What Are the Different Types of Bushings?


Bushings are an important component in many pieces of industrial machinery and consumer products, as they allow two moving parts to function without causing damaging friction. Sometimes also known as bearings, there are several different types of bushings to choose from and selecting the correct variety means understanding how they differ, as well as knowing the needs of your application.

Types of Bushings

Bushings can be classified by both form and lubrication needs. When choosing bushings for your application, you’ll need to first choose the type, then decide upon the lubrication requirements.

At Atlas Bronze, we manufacture the following types of bronze bushings:

Sleeve Bushings

As their name suggests, these bushings come in a cylindrical form that looks like a sleeve. They allow components to slide without friction. If your application requires sleeve bushings, it’s important to note that it must either have a system that lubricates the bushing or, if not, the sleeve bushings you purchase will need to be self-lubricating.

Flange Bushings

Flange bushings are similar to sleeve bushings in form, with the primary difference being that one or both sides have a flange, or lip, to hold the bushing securely in place. Because these bushings are fixed to a surface, they can withstand thermal expansion and support heavy loads at high speeds.

Thrust Washers

Thrust washers are bushings that are designed to withstand applications that have thrust forces with moderate velocities.

Lubrication Needs

Once you know the type of bushing your application needs, you’ll have to determine whether self-lubrication is necessary. Here’s the difference between plain and self-lubricating bushings:

Self-Lubricating Bushings

When regular lubrication is not possible or desirable, self-lubricating bushings are a must. These bushings are manufactured with very small pores or grooves that are impregnated with lubricant. When in use, the bushing releases the lubricant; when at rest, the lubricant is reabsorbed. This allows machinery to run with very little maintenance.

We offer graphite-plugged bushings, which are ideal for high temperature and heavy load applications. They are resistant to corrosion and operate well in even hostile environments. Another self-lubricating bushing option is the oil and grease groove bronze bushing. This type of bushing has grooves incorporated into the design; we’ll add the lubricant of your choice during the manufacturing process.

Plain Bushings

Plain bushings are the most economical option, but you’ll need to ensure that your application has a system for lubrication or that your business has the available labor to allow staff to lubricate the machinery manually when needed. A plain bushing can also be oil-grooved or graphited if you have special requirements that can’t be met by one of our stock self-lubricating bushing options.

Learn More About the Types of Bushings

Do you need bushings for your application? Are you unsure about which type you need? Our team of engineering and manufacturing experts is here to help. Contact Atlas Bronze at 1-800-478-0887 today to speak to a member of our team to learn more about the different types of bushings we offer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Antibacterial Effects of Brass


If you read the headline of this post and your reaction was something along the lines of, “What?! Is brass antibacterial? No way!”, you’re not alone. Most people have no idea that many metals have antimicrobial properties, but it’s true—and it’s not just brass. Two of the other metals we work with at Atlas Bronze, bronze and copper, are also antibacterial, as is silver and gold. 

Copper: The Key to Brass’s Antibacterial Effect

No, brass isn’t treated with an antibiotic solution or chemical. The reason why brass is antibacterial is because it contains copper.

Copper is actually antimicrobial, which is even better than antibacterial—it means it kills not only bacteria, but also viruses and fungi. Although brass is an alloy that can have different compositions depending on its use, it always contains more copper than any other element, which is why it has the same antimicrobial effect.

Brass has been shown to kill microbes in two hours or less after contact, including 99.9 percent of bacteria. A study that researched the efficacy of copper alloys in reducing the transmission of infectious microbes in a hospital setting found that patient infection rates in intensive care units can be reduced by up to 58 percent and subsequent studies have resulted in similar findings.

Even before being backed up by scientific research, copper and its alloys were understood to have medicinal properties for thousands of years. In ancient times, copper was used to transport water because its quality was better than when other materials were used. We still don’t quite understand what makes copper antimicrobial (although we do have some guesses), but the phenomenon is called the oligodynamic effect.

How Brass Can Be Used to Reduce the Spread of Infection

You might not need your brass bushings to be antibacterial, but ever since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved copper alloys to be marketed as antimicrobial materials, there has been a proliferation of consumer products taking advantage of the natural antimicrobial effects of brass, bronze, and copper. Mobile phone cases, door openers, face masks, and even wallets now boast the addition of copper alloys to reduce the spread of infection.

In addition to consumer goods, copper alloys like brass are being used in businesses and public buildings to limit the spread of harmful pathogens. Hospitals and healthcare facilities, schools, offices, and public transportation providers are using brass for fixtures, handles, knobs, and other high-touch surfaces.

Of course, it’s important to note that not all pathogens are spread through touch—while brass and copper alloys can prevent those diseases that do spread this way, they’re not going to help with infections that are primarily transmitted through inhaling infected aerosols and respiratory droplets. In addition, a pathogen must be in contact with copper for a certain amount of time before being killed—the antibacterial effect of brass is not instantaneous. That said, when used with other infection control measures, copper alloys like brass can play an important role in reducing disease transmission.

Learn More About Antibacterial Brass

If you’d like to learn more about how your business can take advantage of the antibacterial effects of brass, contact Atlas Bronze at 1-800-478-0887 to speak with one of our experts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Everyday Items Made of Brass


Brass is one of the most widely used metal alloys today thanks to its versatility. Your home is likely full of brass, as is your workplace. It’s in the zipper on your jeans and inside your jewelry box too. Why is brass so ubiquitous? What are some common items made of brass? Read on to learn more.

The Basics of Brass

Brass is a metal alloy, which means it can’t be mined from the earth—it must be manufactured from other metals. The most basic composition of brass is copper and zinc. Adjust the ratios of the two and you alter the properties of the resulting brass. Introduce other metals to the mix and you can create brass in a wide range of colors with an array of characteristics making it suited to virtually any application.

Brass is naturally antibacterial and it has properties that make it both easy to form and strong after forming. With these qualities, it’s easy to see why brass is such a popular choice for manufacturers and consumers alike.

What Is Made of Brass?

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, brass is everywhere. Here are some everyday items made of brass:

Nails, Screws, Bushings, Hinges, and Other Parts

One of the reasons brass is everywhere is because it’s a small component of many larger items. The screws that hold together your furniture might be made of brass and brass bushings could be in the engine of your car. Whenever you open or close the doors of your home, it’s likely brass hinges that secure them to the door frame.

Knobs and Decorative Hardware

Speaking of doors—door knobs, drawer pulls, hooks, and other decorative hardware throughout your home might also be made from brass. Because brass can be manufactured in a wide range of colors, it’s an alloy that easily adapts to current design trends, from the shiny yellow-gold doorknobs of the 80s to today’s more understated matte finishes.

Clothing and Jewelry

Zippers on pants, purses, and other clothing items are often made of brass, as are the buttons and rivets on your jeans. Costume jewelry—those inexpensive pieces bought for style and not value—is made commonly made with brass as well. 


Kitchen and bathroom faucets can be made with brass, but so can the pipes, valves, and fittings in your plumbing. Brass is quite resistant to corrosion which is why it’s a common choice for plumbing fixtures.


You can’t go wrong with a classic brass bed frame, but these days you’ll also find brass legs on coffee tables, console tables, sofas, and chairs.

Light Fixtures

Brass light fixtures have surged in popularity in recent years, being embraced by both the mid-century modern minimalist and the boho-chic maximalist. Accent lighting is commonly made with brass too.

Musical Instruments

Brass has unique acoustic properties that make it well-suited for musical instruments. The cymbals on a drum, bells, and—naturally—brass instruments are all made with brass. 

Learn More About Brass

Is brass right for your application? Our brass experts are here to answer this and any other questions you might have. Contact us today at 1-800-478-0887 to learn more.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Which Is Stronger Brass or Bronze?


If you’re choosing between brass and bronze for your application, there are many factors to consider: resistance to corrosion and wear, price, appearance, and conductivity are just a few. One of the most important factors for many applications is strength—which is stronger, brass or bronze? Here’s what you should know. 

What Is Bronze?

Bronze and brass are both made with copper, but bronze is made with a combination of copper and iron, tin, zinc, aluminum, or magnesium. Bronze is commonly used to fabricate items that need to be resistant to wear like bearings, gears, pump parts, and valves. Another popular use for bronze is in architectural details, sculptures, and statues.

(If you’re interested in learning more, read about how bronze is made on our blog.)

What Is Brass?

The main difference between brass and bronze is that brass is made primarily with copper and zinc, although other elements like iron, manganese, aluminum, lead, and tin can be added to change the color of the resulting alloy or give it different characteristics. The strongest varieties of brass have the highest levels of zinc. Brass is a popular choice for jewelry and other consumer goods because it can be manufactured in a wide range of colors, from red to yellow.

(Read more about the process of how brass is made.)

Brass vs. Bronze Strength

To answer which metal is stronger, brass or bronze, it’s important to take a moment to think about what we mean by strength. “Strength” isn’t a physical property we use in the industry to characterize different metals; instead, physical properties include characteristics like conductivity, resistance to corrosion, luster, formability, and hardness.

Thus, when it comes to determining which is stronger, we need to take a closer look at the properties needed for your application. Do you need a metal that is malleable instead of brittle? In this case, you will want to choose brass. Do you want a metal that has a higher melting point? Bronze comes out on top here. Bronze is also more resistant to corrosion. If by strength, you want the harder or the two metals, bronze is also the winner.

The benefit of working with metal alloys like bronze and brass is that there are many choices available, as different formulations can yield completely different physical properties. Our team at Atlas Bronze can help you understand the best material for your application.

Brass vs. Bronze Price

If you’re still wondering, “should I choose bronze or brass?”, you may want to look at the price of each. Bronze is typically more expensive than brass, although the exact cost depends on the composition of the alloys you’re comparing. 

Learn More About How to Tell the Difference Between Brass and Bronze

Are you deciding between bronze or brass for your application? Do you need help understanding the differences between these options? Atlas Bronze is here to help you with all of your purchasing decisions. Contact us at 1-800-478-0887 to speak with one of our experts and get started.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

What Is a Bushing?


metal bushing

Bushings are one of the simplest types of bearings. Also known as a sleeve bearing or plain bearing, bushings are thin tubes that enable a sliding motion between two parts or surfaces. They reduce friction, most often in machinery that has a sliding shaft or rotating component. There are several different types of bushings, many of which we manufacture and sell at Atlas Bronze.

Sleeve Bushings

Bronze sleeve bushings are designed to allow sliding without friction. They must either be used in conjunction with a system that lubricates the bearing or they can be purchased with oil or grease grooves or graphite plugs for self-lubrication (also known as oil-impregnated bushings). It’s important to consider both the velocity of your application as well as the applied load when choosing a sleeve bearing; you should also consider the amount and type of lubrication needed. A graphite-plugged or oil-impregnated bushing needs less maintenance and replacement than a plain sleeve bearing.

Flange Bushings

Flanged bearings (also known as bushings) are used when a shaft runs perpendicular to the bushing’s mounting surface. They give the bushing the extra support needed to perform at high speeds and bear heavy loads, preventing the shaft from vibrating or flexing during operation. As you might guess from the name, flange bushings have a flange at one or both ends. This lip is what holds the bushing in place. Because flange bushings are affixed to a surface on one or both sides, it makes them ideal for applications where thermal expansion is likely to occur.

Thrust Washers

Bushings designed for thrust are referred to as thrust washers or thrust bearings. At Atlas Bronze, we manufacture plain thrust washers, oil or grease grooved washers, and graphite-plugged washers. Thrust washers are used as an alternative to rolling thrust bearings when only moderate velocities are involved in an application. Some common uses for thrust washers include appliances, power tools, vehicles, and any application in which axial forces need to be transmitted while keeping components aligned along a shaft.

Choosing the Right Bushing for Your Application

Although there are many materials used to manufacture bushings, we recommend metal bushings—and bronze bushings in particular—for their resistance to wear, high quality, and versatility. We carry a wide range of sizes in stock, with custom orders available when needed.

Most people know whether they need a sleeve bushing, flange bushing, or thrust washer for their application; they likely also know if they should purchase plain, grooved, or graphite-plugged bushings. What can be more difficult is determining the material for your bushings. At Atlas Bronze, we can use many different casting methods and bronze alloys; the choices you make here will determine the physical properties of the end-product. Do you need bushings that are resistant to heat? Corrosion? Our team will help you make the right decision for your needs.

Learn More About Bushings

If you’re researching bushings for your business, Atlas Bronze is available to help you understand all of the different options. Contact us at 1-800-478-0887 to speak with one of our experts and get started.