Monday, October 8, 2012

Is my kid the future?

A year ago, June 2011 to be exact,  I had the great privilege to travel to Germany for a conference hosted by an organization call the Small Giants Community.  The idea of the Small Giants Community is to help companies build lasting relationships with like-minded individuals who understand that there’s more to running a business than just making money. (It's a great org to belong definitely take some time to check it out and explore)  The participants were from every industry and came from all around the world, so there was plenty to learn and share. Since we were on the cusp of emerging from the valley of the global recession everyone seemed to carry an optimistic tone, offering glimmers of hope with excitement about that year's final revenues.  But in all that optimism one dark stain continued to bleed through the sessions and round table discussions - the lack of good young talent.  It was just astounding that no matter what industry, country or company size my fellow participants were from, they all lamented over the lack of young talent to choose from.  Although I felt that Atlas had been pretty blessed over years in hiring talent we really weren't going through a growth spurt so I didn't have many "horror" stories to offer of my own. So I just listened and soaked it in. 

After the conference finished, a colleague and I finished up our trip by visiting some surrounding mills and manufacturing facilities throughout Europe.  As we walked through the various plants and spoke at length with some of the employees, I again would hear the struggles that these various mills were having in raising up and training young new talent.  It was such a problem that they were basically importing talent from surrounding cities or even countries.  Everyone was concerned to say the least.  From the stories I heard, it was quite clear that the tone of the younger generation (ages between 10-20 years old) was that they just didn't have an interest, a desire, or the educational tools needed to enter into the traditional Metals Industry.  And the local early elementary / secondary schools are not very supportive of the Manufacturing sectors as they once had been back in the 1950's & 1960's.

It's 2012 and this global dilemma has continued to stick with me, I keep thinking "What are we going to do?".  And not just as a company but as an industry.  Although we are a distributor I think about our future - in technical terms.  We have some amazing resources with Tom (Smith) & Eric (Grabowski) who have each been in this business for over 30+ years and either started in a foundry or a machine shop.  This of course is of great value because it enables them to truly understand what they are selling and enables us to help our customers in ways others can't. 

Sure as our kids get older and enter the workforce some could acquire skills and take a job on a desk as a Lead Supervisor or as a Sales Representative in a mill or a distribution center. But what about a career as a Foreman, Foundryman, or a Machininst.  Nowadays, how many kids dream of working in the hot and dirty foundry every day.  Especially when they aren't being taught about the value of foundry work and the contribution it holds to every industry in the world.  After all, when preparing the Sophomores and Juniors for college bound careers they usually aren't looking at the Metals Industry as an "exciting career field". 

Are we in America, going to let every other country rise up and develop all the new young talent and become the world leaders in new Casting Methods or Machining Capabilities?  Or will we decide as a nation, state, community or heck even household to expose our children and local schools to the amazing wonders found within Metals Industry.  I would love to see us engage, excite and encourage our kids to enter fields such as Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.  Recently, I read an article where a professor of Mathematics at La Salle University laments over the state of our US educational system:

DR. STEPHEN ANDRILLI, professor of mathematics at La Salle University, supervises the student teaching for mathematics education majors and is the author of an algebra textbook: "The decline in the number of math and science students is based on several factors: the standard of family living has gone up so much that most American children have cable TV, cell phones, computer games, etc., and are spending all of their time on these things rather than ‘hitting the books.’ Second, students are finding much of current education ‘boring’ because they are used to watching fast-paced videos where the picture changes every one or two seconds. Third, students on the middle-school and high-school level have no real idea, in most cases, what scientists actually do, and how much research is actually being conducted on a daily basis — that is, they do not know enough about the science professions to find them attractive. Math and science are generally considered harder than most other subjects, and students generally take the ‘path of least resistance’ as they move through high school and into college."  News Contact: Jon Caroulis, (4/20/05) redOrbit (

So going forward, I am pledging to introduce this great industry (which I do find fascinating, exciting and rewarding) to my kids and beyond.  I am hoping to teach them to think beyond becoming a doctor, a teacher or a business person (which are all great professions) and maybe just maybe consider a career in metals.  A career that supports just about every industry imaginable and touches every area of our lives.  Now I have been accused of being over dramatic in the past (as my husband says) - but I think this topic is indeed a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.  What do you think?

If you or anyone you know are already engaged in a program that educates or introduces the metals industry to today's young people - I'd love to hear your story! 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Sand Castings or Sand Castles?

Recently, I overheard one of the most interesting Sales.  So much so, that I thought it would be a good Blog Post. Let me preface by saying that on a daily basis our Sales group will talk to engineers, machine shops, architects, farmers, universities, other distributors and the list goes on.  So we are used to helping people who have all different levels of industry knowledge and who come from all walks of life.  But this conversation was unique...and although it made me giggle a little bit I couldn't help but wonder how many others had the same question.


Katie, one of our Sr. Sales Rep's, received a call from a customer who was looking for some rings in the alloy C95200.  The weight and size requirements immediately told Katie that we wouldn't be able to get the material "off the shelf" but that the rings would have to Made to Order.  So Katie proceeded to explain to the customer that the best way for these rings to be made would be as a Sand Casting. And after that, the conversation went like this:

(this is where the conversation got interesting....)

Katie:  "Sir, we will need to make these rings as a Sand Casting"
Katie:  "Sir, I'm not sure I understand what you are asking.....(silence) way we will make these rings is with using Sand Castings"
Katie:  "No sir, the rings aren't made out of Sand....(silence)...they are Bronze castings" " No sir, we aren't going to ship you Sand, they will be bronze" 

Clearly the man on the phone had no idea what a Sand Casting was and was not familiar with the different Methods of Manufacture available to him.  Days later and imaging the look on a customer's face when he opened his box to find a "Sand Castle", I had time to think about how I could use this in my blog.   So here's all about the Sand Castings.  


Sand Castings can be traced back to China as early as 645 B.C.  Casting by means of forming sand was common for small parts but eventually over time and with advances in technology, alternative methods of manufacture would be introduced.  This of course improved quality and efficiency.  But even so the Sand Casting method still remains the most widely used casting process.  Why?  Sand castings are the most economical method to reproduce items in metal. Just add water and the sand can be used thousands of times to cast aluminum or other alloys. Additionally, there are just certain alloys that need to be Sand Casted due of the Shape of the part, Quantities required,  the Specification called out or just the overall cost of the piece(s).  

What is a Sand Casting exactly?

Sand casting utilizes expendable sand molds to form complex metal parts that can be made of nearly any alloy. Because the sand mold must be destroyed in order to remove the part, called the casting, sand casting typically has a low production rate. The sand casting process involves the use of a furnace, metal, pattern, and sand mold. The metal is melted in the furnace and then ladled and poured into the cavity of the sand mold, which is formed by the pattern. The sand mold separates along a parting line and the solidified casting can be removed. The steps in this process are described in greater detail in the next section.

The process is fairly basic, there are six steps in this process:

  1. Place a pattern in sand to create a mold.
  2. Incorporate the pattern and sand in a gating system.
  3. Remove the pattern.
  4. Fill the mold cavity with molten metal.
  5. Allow the metal to cool.
  6. Break away the sand mold and remove the casting.

If your like me you’ll need a visual.....

Please know that I haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to Sand Castings.  There are 2 main types of Sand Castings;  Green Mold and the Air Set Method.  But from there you have Cold Box, No Bake Molds, Vacuum Molding and the list goes on.  Then of course, you have the different types of sand used.  But I’ll save those topics for another post.  Over the years I have run into neat websites that feature a whole variety of Sand Castings - decorative to practical, small to large, simple to complex.  Here is a website that I like to visit, it keeps the whole process simple,

As always if you have any questions leave me a comment and I'll do my best to help and if not direct you to the best resource for your question!  

Monday, August 20, 2012


Recently, I have encountered some customers who are getting drawings from their customers calling out for material specifications that they don't recognize.  Additionally, I'm finding some customers who typically know the material they usually buy being stumped by dual Specs.  Such as C93200 is Bearing Bronze but but it's also referred to as SAE 660.  Same material  - just 2 different organizations (Copper Development Association - CDA & Society of Automative Engineers - SAE) calling out for the same material.

Well I came across one of my Cross-Reference guides and thought I'd share.  This is by no means a comprehensive list but it's something for some of the common 800 & 900 series alloys.  It lists the UNS, SAE, Alloy description & typical material applications for the following:

Alloy Reference Chart

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Does SAE 841 have a Heat #?

As most of you know, for some time I was in charge of processing and distributing the Material Test Reports (MTR) here at Atlas Bronze. When I first took on the job I was a bit apprehensive.  The importance of the job and the accuracy of the documents was drilled into my head.  After all, I had heard the stories about those people who went to jail for falsifying Certs (see my post , Who knew you could go to jail! )

But, since I have no intention of falsifying any documents in my life... I'm safe. There is much to say about Material Test Reports...(and by no means am I an expert). But I did see a common thread of confusion surrounding one type of material - SAE 841, Sintered Bronze. 

Here's the story....

Recently, I had a customer who purchased some SAE 841 Sintered Bronze material from us and requested Certs with this material.  Happily I sent over the Certs and then she came back to me, puzzled, asking...."On your paperwork, do you have anything that indicates the lot #?".  I then replied with my standard reply.  After I did this I decided....I must post this on the blog, I get this question so often with Sintered products, hopefully it will help.

MATERIAL: SAE 841, Sintered Bronze
QUESTION: "On your paperwork (Certs), do you have anything that indicates the lot #?"
ANSWER: Unlike other bronze materials, Powdered Metal (841 Sintered Bronze), is not melted nor heat traceable, so therefore there will be not be a LOT# or HEAT#      
Powder metallurgy is the process of blending fine powdered materials, pressing them into a desired shape (compacting), and then heating the compressed material in a controlled atmosphere to bond the material (sintering). The powder metallurgy process generally consists of five steps: 

(1) Blending - The part-specific powder is created by mixing the correct amounts of metals and lubricants to produce the physical and mechanical properties of the finished product.

(2) Molding - the powder is compacted into the desired shape using compressive forces. The part shape is created by compressing the correct blend of materials inside of the part-specific tools.

(3) Sintering - Through the application of heat, sintering permanently bonds the individual metal particles that have been compacted together through the molding stage.  This process is instrumental in providing the majority of the mechanical properties of the final product.

(4) Sizing - Sizing, sometimes referred to as "coining," is the final pressing of the fully sintered part.

(5) Oil Impregnation - Under vacuum, customer-specific oil products are impregnated into the remaining porosity of the completed part.

So looking at the five steps you can see just in Step 1 alone that maintaining a Heat / Lot # is not possible.   The metal is never melted. 

(PS:  I got your feedback that some of you were unable to leave a comment in the Comments section.  It is now fixed, so feel free to add your thoughts.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are Certs REALLY that important?

Tired of your customer asking for a Cert?  How do you feel about buying a new document storage program to handle the 100,000+ Certs that you've accumulated for basically no reason at all?

I was recently handed the Spring edition of EDM Today.  Much to my delight, I found a very refreshing article (on page 22) under the Roger's Rant section, entitled "Certs and Self-Audits, The Triumph of Symbolism over Substance".  I enjoyed the article so much that I had to contact the author, Roger Kern, to see if I could post it for all you to enjoy.  Let me say that one of my early functions here at Atlas was to prepare the Certifications for our customer's.  So I am a tad bit biased in my assessment as to whether or not Certs are necessary. 

Without further adieu (compliments Roger's Rant @ EDM Today)

Certs and Self-Audits

The Triumph of Symbolism over Substance

In what may be a welcome respite for some readers, the Spring Rant redirects its focus from government excess to a disturbing trend that directly affects our industry.

One of my roles as a consultant is to serve as Quality Manager for one of our industry’s EDM supply companies. As more US industrial companies have adopted ISO 9000, AS 9000, NADCAP, and similar quality disciplines, I have seen an unmitigated proliferation of frivolous customer requests for Certs and Self-Audits.


In the “good old days”, customers would reasonably request certs for:
  • Chemical composition of materials
  • Special processes such as heat treating, welding, coating, or plating
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Inspection of critical dimensions
Requests for certifications such as those listed above are proper and necessary for aerospace, medical, and other critical applications.

However, with the advent of ISO and the like, many customers now routinely request certs for everything including toilet paper. A typical scenario goes something like this:

Customer “A” calls in an order to an inside sales person for a dielectric filter for a wire machine and says “Oh, by the way I’ll need a cert for that.” At this point I get involved. I first need to inform the customer that I can’t issue certs for telephone orders unaccompanied by written documentation of the order since it is impossible to certify anything that that is dependent on oral communications. If and when the documentation arrives, it usually contains the generic boilerplate “Certs Required”. This prompts another call to the customer asking what it is they want me to certify. The answer is invariably: “I don’t know and I don’t care, just make certain that a cert accompanies the shipment.

In response to the above scenario, I have developed what I call the “B.S.” cert. Basically the cert consists of a unique Certification Number, my client’s name, the customer’s name and address, the customer’s Purchase Order Number, my clients Packing Slip Number, and some boilerplate language that says that my client shipped them the item(s) stated on the order and that the items shipped meet industry standards.

My problem with this is that besides being a waste of time and paper, this worthless cert is then perfunctorily stapled to the packing slip by the customer’s receiving department without anyone even looking at it. The request and response are a sham. If the customer can’t take my client’s word that the packing slip accurately reflects the contents of the shipment, then why would they rely on a cert that basically attests that the packing slip is correct?

A good example of the “trust thing” is an experience I had when I owned my own shop and EDM supply company. A very large automotive customer issued an edict that we had to supply certification of billet traceability of all graphite rounds that we sold to them. Many small graphite rounds are made from cut-offs left over from making rectangles out of billets or rounds out of rectangles. No one in the industry can or will provide traceability to billet in small rounds due to the onerous costs such traceability would entail. I checked directly with the graphite manufacturer, and even if I bought the rounds directly from them they could not provide traceability. I communicated this to the customer and assured them that the rounds I sold were genuine and we would certify that fact, but this was not acceptable. I also offered to provide physical properties analysis certs on the shipped rods at an additional charge, but of course an increase in cost was not acceptable either. I later learned that they placed the business with a competitor who guaranteed billet traceability, which is a bald-faced lie. Yet, the customer was fat, dumb, and happy.

Another example of Cert Insanity is a client’s customer that has facilities in Mexico. They require a NAFTA cert in order to import the goods from the USA into Mexico duty-free under NAFTA. Under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) goods sold amongst the NAFTA member countries consisting of the USA, Canada, and Mexico cross their borders duty-free as long as the products were made in those countries. In this particular instance, the products in question were made in Korea and not eligible for the NAFTA duty exemption. I notified the customer of the situation and was informed that they still needed me to fill out the cert, specifying the goods were made in Korea even though they were ineligible. It states right on the form that submitting the form for ineligible products is a crime and subject to Federal prosecution. I presume they bought the products from someone else who was willing to comply. 


Along with the proliferation of B.S. cert requests has come a corresponding increase in requests for Self-Audits.

Again, in the “good old days”, if a customer wanted to audit your company, they would send an auditor to your facility and conduct an on-site audit. When I owned my own shop, we would dread these nit-picking and time consuming visits by auditors, but we invariably benefitted from the audit findings and improved our practices as a result of the audit. When the auditor left our facility, he was reasonably assured that what was documented in our quality manual was actually practiced on the shop floor.

One of those audits resulted in a finding that our inspectors should have annual vision exams. It was a simple, no-brainer thing that we had just overlooked, and we welcomed the suggestion.

Today, in many cases, the on-site audit has been replaced with the self-audit – presumably to reduce costs. The self-audit is a multipage document containing a series of multiple choice questions on all aspects of a company’s quality practices. Usually, each question can be answered with “Yes”, “No”, or “N/A”. At the end of the survey is usually a stern warning that any negative answers will likely result in the suspension of the business relationship. That certainly makes it tempting to answer all “Yes”!

Needless-to-say, I always complete these surveys truthfully, in some cases answering “No”. In the last ten years I have completed hundreds of these surveys and have never received any follow-up correspondence or visit. Why? Because no one bothers to look at the returned survey. Some clerk makes a check mark on their ISO form and stuffs the survey in a drawer. If customers really cared about my clients’ quality, they’d come and verify it. In fact, in years past, quality system guidelines mandated on-site visits. Unfortunately, for many companies what really matters is the paper trail and not the actual quality.

If the USA is to be competitive with other nations, we need to do a lot better than just shuffle useless paper around in place of real efforts to assure actual quality improvement.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Aluminum Bronze Factoids


Aluminum Bronzes are a family of copper-based alloys offering a combination of mechanical and chemical properties unmatched by any other alloy series.  This feature makes the Aluminum Bronze the first choice for demanding applications.  No...I'm not on an Aluminum Bronze Campaign kick BUT I love to learn about an alloy family that outshines the rest.  Well at least in some areas!

So what are the attributes that make Alumimum Bronzes so hot and in demand? Check these out:

Excellent Strength - in fact it is similar to that of low alloy steels. 

factoid:  Several common groupings of low-alloy steels, beginning with HY 80, HY 90, and HY 100 steels, are used for building ship hulls, submarines, bridges, and off-highway vehicles. These low-alloy steels contain nickel, molybdenum, and chromium, which add to the material's weldability, notch toughness, and yield strength. When welding these low-alloys steels, preheat and postheat treatments typically are not required.

Excellent Corrosion Resistance - especially in seawater and similar environments, where the alloys often outperform many stainless steels. Aluminum bronzes can be used in environments that are far more aggressive than are tolerated by most other metals.  Like many copper alloys, aluminum bronzes also resist biofouling in both fresh and saline waters.  Aluminum Bronze alloys may be considered for service with a wide variety of chemicals, particularly where is a combination of stress and erosion, but selection must take account of the anticipated temperature & other services conditions.  Here is a sample of some chemicals:  acetic acid, ammonia (dry), Brine, Bromine (dry), Chlorine (dry), Nitrogen, Sodium Carbonate, Phosphate and much more.

factoid:  Stainless steels are known for there Corrosion Resistance properties.  However stainless steel can be contaminated throughout the fabrication process and wind up being highly corrosive.  Such as: iron dust landing on the stainless steel, water stains from resting water, scratches from carbon steel forklifts or carbon steel racks, gouges from improper handling, embedded iron in machine tooling used on carbon steel and not properly cleaned.  Also welding stainless steels can be tricky.  Mistakes in the welding process will result in a weld that is not as corrosion resistant as the base material.

Favorable High Temperature Properties - for short term or long term usage

Good resistance to Fatigue - ensuring a long service life.

factoid:  Aluminum Bronzes happen to possess exceptional...yes, I said exceptional...resitance to fatigue.  (Insert Sarcasm - "Gee, I wish I had an exceptional resistance to fatigue!") This is one of the most common causes of deterioration in marine engineering equipment.  This property is why this material is most suitable for use as propellors and in pump applications. 

Good resistance to Creep - making the alloys useful at elevated temperatures.

Oxidation Resistance - for exposure at elevated temperatures and in oxidizing environments. 

Ease of Casting & Fabrication - when compared to materials used for similar purposes.

High Hardness & Wear Resistance - provides excellent bearing properties in arduous applications.

factoid:  Aluminum Bronzes often provide excellent service in both cast & wrought forms.  A the high end of the wear - and - abrasion - resistance spectrum are special aluminum bronze alloys containing up to 14% alumimum, whose applications include dies for deep drawing and molds for die casting, casting of glass bottles and pressing of vinyl records. 

Ductility - which, like that for all copper alloys, is not diminised at low temperatures

Good Weldability - making fabrication economical

Readily Machined - when compared with other high-duty alloys

 factoid:  Here are some charts for machining purposes....

 - Cutting tool Geometry for Machining Aluminum Bronzes


- Drill Geometry for Aluminum Bronzes


- Reaming Geometries for Aluminum Bronzes


- Recommeded Tap Geometry for Aluminum Bronzes


- Recommeded Milling Cutter Geometries for Alumnum Bronze


Low Magnetic susceptibility - useful for many special applications

Ready availability - in cast or wrought forms

 factoid:  This of course is the most helpful part of dealing with Aluminum Bronzes.  The ability to have a product right off the shelf, cut and shipped within a day or so it extremely helpful.  Atlas Bronze has a wide variety of stocked can visit to see what we've got,


Saturday, February 25, 2012


BLANK!   It is the age old problem.  Well maybe not for everyone.  But certainly for machinists.  Typically,  a machine shop does not know about the availability of a "blank" and will wind up buying a more expensive piece of bar stock instead. 

So, here is the scenario....Machine Shop X gets a print from their customer to make a short run of a part that is made from Sintered Bronze. Usually Machine Shop X will just go out and buy a piece of Sintered Bronze bar stock to make the part.  This is fine, except now you will spend a great deal of money for the part and a whole lot of time in machining.   BLANK!  Here is where the novel idea comes in!  A "blank" already has an ID and an OD and is found in a number of "standard" sizes.  So you choose which blank size is closest to your finished dimensions and then machine. You can add a flange, increase your ID, turn down your OD, groove holes and much more.  You'll still have to do some machining but it will definitely be a lot less work then the bar stock and Machine Shop X will have saved $$.  Cha-Ching!
Til next time..

Good News or....Bad?

Hi All!  I just read this article on Metal Center News and I thought it was very thought provoking.  We shall see what happens in the coming months!

Copper, Brass Shipments Climbing
Copper and brass shipments continued to rally in March. Total shipments were up about 13.6 percent from February 2010 and 14.3 percent over March 2009, according to the Copper and Brass Servicenter Association, Overland Park, Kansas. This trend is in line with what the manufacturing and metals markets are experiencing overall, CBSA reports.

Total copper shipments rose slightly to just under 10 million pounds. Alloy shipments also rose sharply during the month, from just over 12 million to more than 14 million pounds.
Inventory levels also continued to rise. More than half of reporting service centers indicated their inventories were on the rise during the month, while only about 10 percent reported declining inventory levels during March.

An unexpected change in March was the number of companies reporting they still had employees on short-time or lay off. The number increased from 26 percent in February to 31 percent in March for service centers, and from 17 percent to 50 percent for suppliers. Association officials say this is a number they will continue watch closely in the coming months to determine if it’s an anomaly or indicative of something else.

What's the Difference?

One of my first official lessons as a newbie in the Metals Industry was tackling some of the “What’s the Difference” questions.  This of course could apply to just about everything in the industry but I am specifically referring to learning the difference between Solid Bar, Cored Bar and Rectangular shapes.  I had to remember terms like ID and OD, width and diameter.  (Truthfully, my head would spin!) It did seem to me that it took forever to finally be able to distinguish them apart.  But thankfully I had some patient co-workers who would repeatedly explain the difference and eventually I got it.  Now all these years later I have found I am not alone!  It is amazing how many people will call looking to get a quote on material or just need some help and they too are asking, “What’s the Difference”?  It is very comforting. 

So for my first blogpost, I figured I’d pay homage to all the “newbies” with a little lesson on what is the difference between a Solid Bar, Cored Bar and Plate shape.  And what the heck I might throw in another shape for kicks!

I'll tackle the easiest shape first - Solid Bar.  From the picture you can see that this shape is round and it's solid!  Hence the term "Solid Bar" and it's also referred to as Round Bar.  Solid Bar only has two dimensions to remember  --  a Diameter or also seen as "Ø" and a Length

A quick note on length - most bars in Bronze & Copper Alloys are available in any length up to 105" or 144" long.  But sometimes special arrangements can be made with a mill for longer sizes depending on your quantity. 
Next is Rectangle aka Plate.  This shape has 3 dimensions that you'll need to know.
1.) Thickness (or) Thick2.) Width (or) Wide
3.) Length (or) Long
Some people indicate these dimensions in millimeters and some in inches.  It just depends on where your from.  Also, some people won't even indicate a Length (or how long of a piece they need) but rather just supply you with a total weight (lbs) that they need.  That works too!

Then we have Cored Bar.  Oh, Cored Bar.  This definitely was the hardest for me to remember.  Some tried to give me the "Donut Analogy" but for some reason I still didn't get it.  It wasn't until I actually held a piece of Cored Bar in my hand that I got it.  And at that moment I was embarrassed. After all it's Cored!  With this shape, there are 3 main dimensions that you need to know:
1.) ID or Inside Diameter
2.) OD or Outside Diameter
3.) Length or Long
Simple enough right?  I just always got confused as to which was the OD and which was the ID.  So, I had to remember that the OD is always the larger dimension of the two.  Here's a tip:  These same dimensions are also true for Bushings (Plane or Sleeve Bushings). 

Now for the "kicks" that I's a Flanged Bushing shape.  This one usually gets a lot of people.  They know to look for the ID, OD and Length of the Bushing, but they usually forget about the Flange OD & Flange thickness.  Take a look!
  FLANGEBUSHING2 The most important dimensions to pay attention to are: 
1.) ID or Inner Diameter of Bushing
2.) OD or Outer Diameter (or) Body OD
3.) Length of Bushing
4.) Flange OD (Outer Diameter)
5.) Flange Thickness
These particular bushings are available in a wide variety of alloys and they can even be self-lubricated (notice the black circle "graphite plugging" throughout the bushing) to make them easy to use and as maintenance free as possible.They are usually available off the shelf and pretty economical when ordered in large quantities.  But they can be Made to Order too using a print or drawing. 
I hope you found this post useful and informative.  I know that seeing the shapes and dimensions together was a great tool for me in understanding what was the difference!
PS:  Above photos are all courtesy Atlas Bronze and copyright protected

The Marriage of 2 Metals...a long time ago

Hi All!  This Brush Wellman Technical Tidbit was emailed to me and I thought it would be a great resource for some.  So enjoy....and learn :)  And just to make sure to give credit where credit is due, this was written by Brush Wellman.

 Solid Solution Hardening & Strength
(April 2010 updated from October 2000 Publication) by Brush Wellman

Approximately five thousand years ago, early humans discovered they could make a strong, tough metal by mixing copper and tin together. They had created the world’s first Alloy (a mixture of two or more metals). Unaware at the time, they were taking advantage of an important strengthening mechanism, solid solution hardening. The Bronze age therefore became the dawn of metallurgy.

Solid solution hardening is simply the act of dissolving one metal into another, similar to dissolving sugar into coffee. This is done during casting, when all the metals involved are in liquid form. For electrical connectors, copper is usually the main ingredient and is said to be the solvent, similar to the coffee in the above example. Other elements, playing the role of the sugar, to be added to the copper are known as the solutes.

There is a limit to the amount of solute that can be dissolved in to the solvent. This is known as the solubility limit. For example, coffee will only dissolve so much sugar before the excess settles on the bottom. However, raising the temperature of the solvent can often increase the solubility limit. There are several thermal strengthening methods that depend on having excess solute cast into the material and frozen into place when the mixture cools. Read More ......

Written by Mike Gedeon of Brush Wellman's Alloy Customer Technical Services Department. Mr. Gedeon's primary focus is on electronic strip for the telecommunications and computer markets with emphasis on finite element analysis (FEA) and material selection. Mr. Gedeon can be reached via email at or by phone at 1-800-375-4205.