Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Brass or Copper: Which is Better?

Which is better, brass or copper? When a customer calls us asking that question, our answer

is usually, “It depends.” There’s no type of metal or alloy that is inherently better than any other,

but each one has its own particular strengths and weaknesses, which means some are better

suited to certain applications than others. Once we understand the type of strength you’re

looking for, corrosion resistance, conductivity, and color, we can help you choose the right

material for your needs. 

Understanding Brass

Brass is not an elemental metal that can be mined; instead, it must be created. This is key to

understanding its properties. Brass is an alloy that is made with copper—in its simplest form,

brass is a combination of copper and zinc. As the amount of copper is increased or decreased,

it changes the characteristics of the resulting alloy. For example, if you’re after an exceptionally

strong material for your application, you’ll want to have at least 39 percent zinc in your brass.

Once you add more elements to the mix, things get even more interesting. Iron, lead, aluminum,

manganese, and tin are all elements that are commonly found in brass, giving it different colors

and characteristics. Brass products can come in a wide range of colors, strengths, and qualities.

Understanding Copper

If brass is an alloy, copper is an element, right? It’s complicated.

Copper is an element that is mined from the earth, unlike brass. That said, for industrial and

commercial purposes, copper is rarely used in its natural form. Instead, copper alloys are used.

We combine copper with other elements to change or enhance its natural characteristics. 

There are many applications where copper is a top choice. For medical devices and fixtures

like faucets, copper may be chosen because it is antimicrobial. The electronics industry chooses

copper for its thermal and electrical conductivity. Copper alloys can be strong and resistant to

corrosion. And, of course, copper is commonly used in jewelry, architecture, and sculpture because

of its signature hue.

Which Is Better for My Application, Brass or Copper?

As you might have guessed from the introduction to this post, there’s really no universal answer

to the question of whether brass or copper is better. Not only do all applications have all different

needs, because brass and copper are both alloys, it’s like comparing apples to oranges unless

you know the specific alloys you’re looking at. 

One brass alloy could be more ductile than a certain copper alloy; compare two different copper

and brass alloys and you might have the opposite outcome. You can see how this can get

complicated! Unless you’re very familiar with the wide range of alloys available, it’s difficult to

research the answer on your own.

The benefit of working with Atlas Bronze is that we’re experts when it comes to metals. We take

the time to listen to what it is that you need and learn about your application, then present to you

the best choices to meet your specifications.

Learn More About Copper and Brass

Are you choosing between copper and brass for your application? Our knowledgeable sales team

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.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Common Items Made of Copper


Just like colors and patterns, metals seem to go in and out of fashion with some degree of regularity—and right now, copper is definitely having a moment. Copper jewelry and fixtures are everywhere these days, but regardless of the current trends, copper is timeless. It’s used in a number of common items that we use everyday, whether we’re at work, at home, or on-the-go.

Understanding Copper

Copper items are rarely made from pure copper. Instead, copper ore is mined from the earth, then it is concentrated, smelted, and refined. When the copper is 99.95 to 99.99 percent pure, it can either be used as-is in manufacturing, or, as is most often the case, it can be combined with other metals to form copper alloys. By adding other metals to copper, we can introduce new properties and form an alloy that is stronger, a different color, more resistant to heat, etc. There are currently over 400 copper alloys in existence!

Copper and copper alloys are used for a wide range of applications, but the Copper Development Association divides these applications into four key areas: electrical, construction, transportation, and other. Only 3 percent of copper falls into the other category, so the copper you see around you in your home, workplace, or community is really only the tip of the iceberg.

Common Items Made of Copper

Perhaps one of the reasons copper has been so popular as of late is because it’s antimicrobial. Face masks have copper linings and copper keychains that allow people to open doors or push buttons without touching them directly have become a common accessory since the COVID-19 pandemic. Copper water bottles, jugs, and cups are used not only for their antibacterial properties, but also as a dietary source of this important trace mineral.

Copper is highly conductive, corrosion-resistant, ductile, and malleable, which is why it’s used in electrical wiring and for other electronic applications like circuit boards, microchips, electrodes, and vacuum tubes. The telecommunications industry depends on copper wires for LAN internet lines, and copper tubing is used in water and heating systems around the globe.

The household uses of copper aren’t just behind the scenes in wires and plumbing, though. Copper alloys are commonly used in door knobs, handles, and faucets. It’s used as an architectural metal and in sculptures. Copper cookware has been used for centuries and is still commonly used today; pennies are plated with copper, musical instruments are manufactured with it, and copper pins and gears are used in clocks and watches.

When you get in your car to drive somewhere, there’s copper in its electronic components and radiator. Hybrid and electric cars use even more copper than conventional cars. Copper is also used in trains, trolleys, airplanes, and boats.

In other words, no matter where you are or what transportation you take to get there, you are surrounded by copper! Without this metal, many of the modern technologies and conveniences we take for granted wouldn’t be possible.

Contact Atlas Bronze

Are you considering using copper for a project? Our knowledgeable sales staff at Atlas Bronze can help you decide if copper is the best choice for your application. Contact us at 1-800-478-0887 or email sales@atlasbronze.com to learn more or request a quote.

Monday, February 15, 2021

What Are Flange Bearings?


The purpose of a bearing is to reduce friction between moving parts. They get their name from the fact

that they bear force and load, but there are a number of different types of bearings and each type

accomplishes this in different ways. By using bearings in the manufacturing of machinery, the need for

maintenance is reduced because parts don’t wear out as quickly as if they were coming into direct

contact with each other. One common type of bearing we manufacture at Atlas Bronze is the flange


Defining a Flange Bearing

Flange bearings are a very simple type of bearing that has a lip (or flange) on one end. Also known as

flanged bearings, these bearings are mounted with two, three, or four bolts. Because they are

mounted, they have more stability, giving them the ability to support heavy loads when the shaft axis

is perpendicular to the mounting surface. The flange holds the bearing securely in place, preventing it

from falling, shifting, or slipping even when axial push or load are being applied. 

Without a flange, the bearing would likely become displaced, causing the machinery to stop or

malfunction. Flange bearings allow for smooth operations.

Uses for Flange Bearings

Flange bearings are used for many industrial applications, including conveyors, textile manufacturing,

food processing, HVAC belt drives, airport baggage handling systems, combines, and hay balers.

They are also commonly used in cars, trucks, and other vehicles; because engines are a high

vibration environment, flange bearings are ideal because they are bolted in place. In addition, flange

bearings are able to withstand the higher temperatures of engines that cause thermal expansion that

could potentially displace other types of bearings.

In short, any application that involves high vibration, heat, or large axial loads are applications where

flange bearings might be a good fit.

Flange Bearing Types

Flange bearings are typically three inches in diameter or less and their shape depends on how many

bolts are used to mount them. A flange bearing with four bolts is used in heavy duty applications and

the flange is usually round or square. Three-bolt flange bearings have a flange shaped like a triangle,

while flange bearings with two bolts are usually a diamond shape.

Flange bearings are made with a wide range of materials, including plastic, composite material, steel,

bronze, metal-polymer, and other metals and metal alloys. There are flanged plain bearings, flanged

ball bearings, flanged roller bearings, and flared needle roller bearings.

You may choose to use oil-impregnated flange bearings, which reduce the need for maintenance and

lubrication because they release oil from small pores when they are in use and then reabsorb the oil

into the pores when at rest. There are other types of flange bearings that require occasional

lubrication to remain in working condition.

Learn More About Atlas Bronze Flange Bearings

To find out more about Atlas Bronze flange bearings, contact us at 1-800-478-0887 to speak to one of

our sales representatives about our selection. Our team of experts will guide you through the process

of choosing the right flange bearing for your application.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Which Flange Bearing Is the Best?


The flange bearing is a specialized type of bearing that has a lip on one side. Like all bearings, a flange

bearing functions to reduce friction between two parts. Bearings come in a wide range of sizes, shapes,

and materials and they may bear force, load, or a combination of the two, but the flange bearing is one

of the most frequently used varieties.

What Is a Flange Bearing?

A flange bearing is built differently than other bearings because one end is straight, while the other has a lip (or flange). 

Also known as a flanged bushing, a flange bearing provides more stability in an application. The flanged side secures the bearing while it’s being used, preventing it from falling, shifting, or slipping. This is critical in applications that involve axial push or load and when shafts are perpendicular to the mounting surface of the bearing. Without the flange end, an application would quickly malfunction because the bearing would slip out of position.

Flanged bearings also serve to minimize shaft flexing, vibration, and axial overload when heavy loads or high speeds are involved. Because a flange bearing is secured in place, it has the ability to withstand high temperatures that cause thermal expansion, which would compromise other types of bearings.

Determining the Best Types of Flange Bearings

Which flange bearing is best? There’s really no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best flange bearings are the ones that meet the needs of your application.

Although all flange bearings are similar in design, with flanges on one end, the similarities end there. There are several types of flange bearings, starting with the number of bolts needed to secure them in place:

  • Two-Bolt Flange Bearings are best used for machinery with intermediate shaft speeds and load sizes. They have a wing or diamond shape.

  • Three-Bolt Flange Bearings are the bearing of choice for industrial, agricultural, and automotive applications with light-to-medium loads. The flange-end is usually circular. 

  • Four-Bolt Flange Bearings have a great deal of stability, making them ideal for applications with rotating or linear movements or when a mounting surface is perpendicular to the shaft. They are square or circular in shape.

Beyond the bolt number and configuration, flange bearings can be differentiated by the materials used to make them. Oil-impregnated flange bearings release lubrication when under pressure and reabsorb it once the pressure is released, which is why they’re the preferred choice for applications that must be maintenance-free. You might find flange bearings mounted in thermoplastic, stainless steel, or cast iron housing. Each of these materials is suitable for different types of surfaces, machinery, and applications.

We offer a wide range of flange bronze bearings, including plain, graphite-plugged, and oil or grease grooved.

Learn More About Types of Flange Bearings

To find out more about Atlas Bronze flange bronze bearings, contact us at 1-800-478-0887 to speak to one of our representatives about our options. Our sales team has the industry knowledge to help you through the process of choosing the best flange bearings for your application.

The Differences Between Copper and Bronze

There’s quite a bit of overlap in the qualities and uses of copper and bronze, but there are also some

significant differences you should be aware of if you’re choosing between the two metals for your

application. What’s the difference between copper and bronze? Which one is the best choice for

your needs? We answer these questions below.

Understanding Copper

Copper is one of the earliest metals used by human populations. Best known for its reddish hue, copper is the term used for both pure copper and any copper alloy that has at least a 99.3 percent copper content. You’ll find copper in sculptures, architecture, and fixtures, but behind the scenes, it’s also commonly used for heating and electrical applications because of its superior conductivity.

There are other reasons to choose copper for your application besides conductivity, though. Copper is resistant to corrosion and valued for its strength. It’s highly formable, which is likely why it was such a widely used material by early humans. Copper is antimicrobial, making it suitable for many healthcare and medical uses. Architects, sculptors, and other artists appreciate copper because it can be given different lusters and textures when it’s buffed and polished.

Understanding Bronze

Bronze is a metal alloy that is made mostly with copper, but not enough to be considered a copper alloy. In addition to copper, other metals like iron, zinc, and tin are added to impart different qualities on the resulting metal. Like copper, bronze is often used in statues, sculpture, and architecture. Its industrial uses include pump parts, bearings, gears, and valves because bronze is valued for its resistance to wear and low friction. Many musical instruments are also made with bronze.

Bronze cast alloys, like those available from Atlas Bronze, are manufactured in three different ways: sand casting, centrifugal casting, and continuous casting. Different casting methods are used for different types of products and parts.

Copper vs. Bronze: What Makes Them Different?

Here are some of the notable qualities of copper and bronze, and differences between the two metals.

  • Bronze is a dull gold in color, while copper is more of a reddish-orange.

  • Copper is more commonly used in wiring and pipes, while bronze is a popular choice for bushings and bearings.

  • Bronze alloys are resistant to corrosion and known for their strength, while copper is malleable and easily soldered.

  • Copper can be an alloy and also a natural element, while bronze is always an alloy.

  • Bronze has low friction, which makes it an excellent choice for moving parts.

  • Copper has antimicrobial properties, which makes it ideal for high-touch surfaces and healthcare settings.

Learn More About Atlas Bronze Products

To learn more about ordering high-quality bronze products from Atlas Bronze, contact us at 1-800-478-0887. Our sales team offers unmatched customer support and industry knowledge, and we’re committed to working together with you to meet your needs. If you’re not sure whether you need bronze or a copper alloy for your application, we can listen to your requirements and suggest the best option for you.


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.