Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Should I Choose Bronze or Brass for My Application?

Our customers use bronze and brass for many different purposes. Whether it's industrial uses like parts for factories and machinery or consumer goods like jewelry and home appliances, you want to make an educated decision about which alloy is best for your application.

Bronze is typically made with a combination of copper and aluminum, tin, or magnesium, while brass uses copper as the base, which is then combined with zinc. But other than the metals used to make these alloys, what is the difference between brass and bronze?

Here's what to consider when deciding between bronze or brass for your application.


One of the first factors to think about is the strength you need for your application. For industrial purposes, like machinery, you will likely want to choose a stronger alloy. If you're fabricating pieces for consumer use, strength may not be as important as other factors like appearance and resistance to corrosion. When brass and bronze are cold worked, their tensile strength increases; you can also increase the tensile strength of brass by adding a higher percentage of zinc.

The tensile strength of brass is 53 Ksi (365 Mpa) when annealed and 88 Ksi (607 Mpa) when cold-rolled tempered. When annealed, phosphor bronze has a tensile strength of 50 Ksi (345 Mpa), while cold-rolled tempered brass comes in at 92 Ksi (635 Mpa).

Another important question to ask is what you're going to be doing with the alloy you purchase. Will it need to be formed? How will it be worked? When it comes to brass, the percentage of zinc present in the alloy impacts its formability. A lower amount of zinc gives brass good hot working capabilities, but makes it harder to cold work. On the other hand, with a higher amount of zinc, brass is more ductile when worked at room temperature.
Corrosion and Wear

Durability and resistance to corrosion are two other factors to think about. If your alloy will be used in water or in a humid environment, tin brass is an excellent choice. For a material that resists both wear and corrosion, we suggest aluminum bronze cast alloys or silicon bronze.

For industrial applications, you may need to find an alloy that conducts electrical currents or thermal heat. In this case, you should evaluate the material’s International Annealed Copper Standard, or IACS, value for conductivity. A higher number means higher conductivity.

When you are using an alloy to manufacture consumer goods, you will want to think about appearance as well as the other factors discussed above. What do you want the end-product to look like? Brass comes in a range of colors, from yellows to reds, while bronze is available in white, rich browns, and shades of gold. When treated with chemicals or heat, you can obtain a patina too, which may be desirable for jewelry and sculptures.

Talk to Our Brass and Bronze Experts

Before making any decision, it's best to consult with an expert. Our skilled metallurgists can help you choose the right alloy for your application. Give us a call at 1-800-478-0887.


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