Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Sacrificial Metal: Why Bronze is So Selfless

Consider the following definition of sacrifice from the American Heritage Dictionary: “to sell or give away at a loss.” In accordance with this definition, bronze can be considered a sacrificial metal, in which it offers itself up to serve a piece of equipment that would otherwise be unable to withstand climatic or severe operating conditions.

Last year, I posted a blog titled, “
The Bronze Fish,” detailing how aluminum bronzes are naturally suitable for water applications due to their great resistance to water corrosion. When metallurgically bonded to metals such as steel, which is not ideally suitable for water, aluminum bronzes add strength and durability to the part.

Aluminum bronzes are most commonly used in water applications because of their great resistance to corrosion in a variety of water environments. However, bronze does not only work well in various water environments, but it can also be used in rural and industrial atmospheres.

As a sacrificial material, bronze can be utilized anywhere metal is rubbing on metal. Upon being placed between two pieces of metal, usually steel, the bronze acts as a buffer. When the pieces of steel rub together or move, the bronze bearing absorbs the friction. By doing so, bronze accepts the loss of its own metal as time goes on in order for the steel, or the other metal, to continue fulfilling its operational purpose.

The following attributes are just some of the traits that make bronze a successful bearing material:
  • Low coefficient of friction versus hard shaft materials
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Easy and economic manufacturability
  • Cost effectiveness and availability
  • Ability to absorb friction
  • Ductility

But what makes bronze so selfless?

Although there are various compositions for bronze, being an alloy of copper and tin allows the material to withstand many corrosive factors that other metals cannot endure, such as climatic conditions; weather and exposure to rain, wind and sun; pollutants in the atmosphere; heavy loads and increased speeds; and patination.

Overall, bronze takes a licking and keeps on ticking!


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