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.