Tuesday, November 29, 2022

How To Tell If Brass Bushings Are Worn


two dozen brass bushings on a table

A brass bushing performs an important function in machine designs. Brass bushings reduce the friction between surfaces, increasing the functional lifespan of moving parts. Brass bushings also act as a fail-safe when parts start to break down. With a brass bushing, you can identify problems before larger, more expensive parts have to be fixed or replaced.

Because of its purpose, it is vital that brass bushings are regularly inspected and maintained. With that in mind, how can you tell if a brass bushing is worn out? When can you just clean a brass bushing, or when do you have to replace it? What causes brass bushings to get worn out in the first place?

Here are the key things to know when it comes to brass bushings maintenance:

How Do Brass Bushings Get Worn Out?

Brass bushings are designed to reduce friction between powerful moving parts, so they’re built to last. Despite brass being in their name, brass bushings generally have a two-part design. The bushing’s outer shell is often made of steel, while the inner bushing that endures the most friction is made of brass. Brass bushings are long-lasting, corrosion and water resistant.

That said, several different things can cause brass bushings to degrade. General wear and tear is the leading cause of breakage, especially when brass bushings are used in machines that operate around the clock. Brass bushings can get contaminated, with dirt and debris wearing them down. Lastly, brass bushings do have a PSI limit, especially when comparing bushings of different sizes. Consult the recommended limit before incorporating a bushing into your design. 

At What Point Should I Replace A Brass Bushing?

Just because a brass bushing is starting to get worn doesn’t mean you have to replace it right away. In fact, some people make the mistake of replacing what they think is a worn out bushing that could be restored with a simple washing. Dirt, mud, water, and other substances that plaster bushings should all be cleared out before determining if a bushing is worn out. 

The best way to tell if a bushing needs to be replaced is by examining the equipment your bushing is helping move. As a bushing gets worn out, the pins inside of it will start dragging across the metal, leaving scratches and other visible marks. At first, these marks will be small, but they can grow in size and lead to serious damage overtime.

Replace the brass bushing as soon as it starts to leave marks on the equipment it's supporting. A good time to check if this is happening is when you start hearing sounds out of the ordinary from your bearings while your machine is in use.

How Can I Extend The Life Of My Brass Bushing:

Want to make the most out of your brass bushing? Then be sure to follow these tips when performing maintenance:

  • Regularly clean out debris from the bearing

  • Make sure to properly lubricate parts

  • Clear out excess oil and other liquids before machine use

  • Make sure your machine or design does not exceed recommended PSI limits

  • Do not use your bearing in above recommended temperatures

Buy Bearings With Atlas Bronze:

Whether you need a brass, bronze, or different kind of bearing, you can depend on us to help you procure what you need. Atlas Bronze is one of the leading distributors of metal and manufacturing components in the United States, with over 25 years of exception service. We service companies small and large alike, with affordable prices for our products and custom design services. You give us your requirements, and we’ll get you what you need.

So if you’re ready to fill an order or want to learn more about how we can help your business, be sure to contact us today. We look forward to helping you with your metal needs here at Atlas Bronze!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Bronze Bushings vs. Linear Bushings


an empty freeway onramp

When working with guide rails, one of the most essential components is the bushing. The bushing bears the load of the carriage, supporting the weight of the other components as they slide along the guide rail. Without the bushing, the whole guide rail would quickly fall apart from use.

Because of how essential it is, one common question many machine designers have is whether bronze or linear bushings are better for their designs. The short answer is that it depends on what your guide rail needs. That’s why we’ve developed this guide, to help you understand what the two have in common, how they differ, and what kind of guide rails they’re best suited for.

What Do Bronze And Linear Bushing Have In Common?

Whether you use a bronze or a linear bushing, both of them perform the same function. A bushing is a specific type of bearing that reduces friction as components operate on a guide rail. Bushings also minimize the noise, wear and tear, and even power consumption that comes with machine operation. 

Both bronze and linear bushings have a similar design as well. A bearing is any device that can minimize the friction between a wheel and axle. A bushing is a sleeve or tube that helps with components that slide, such as along a guide rail, whereas most bearings reduce friction in components that roll over each other.

The type of bushing your design will need depends on its intended use and your most essential needs. Here are a few key things to consider that distinguish bronze from linear bushings:

What Key Characteristics Do Bronze Bushings Have?

Bronze bushings are significantly more affordable than linear bushings, and have a long functional lifespan too. Their design incorporates oil, allowing them to lubricate while in use. Bronze is a resilient metal, and it is specifically designed to handle massive loads, capable of handling up to 40,000 PSI when installed properly in machine applications.

The downside of bronze is that because it is primarily metal, they can be loud when incorporated into linear designers. Furthermore, bronze requires a high temperature to release oil, which makes them ill-suited for applications with a low load or PSI. They also require more maintenance than linear bushings as the oil has to be replaced after heavy use.

What Key Characteristics Do Linear Bushings Have?

Linear bushings are an advanced bearing that are tightly built, providing a far smoother motion than most other bearings. Less static friction is generated during use, decreasing the wear and tear compared to bronze bearings. The decreased static friction also means that linear bushings are better suited for wet environments, especially since they don’t corrode as quickly as ball bearings. You also won’t have to perform as much oil maintenance on linear bushings either.

The complicated ensign, along with other metal components makes linear bushings significantly more expensive than bronze bushings. Because of its design, it is also more likely to jam when dirt or dust get in its way. Linear bearings aren’t as versatile as a bronze bearing either, making them harder to procure. Unlike bronze bearings, you may have to get a linear bearing custom designed in order to properly incorporate it into a machine design.

Shop Bearings With Atlas Bronze:

Still need help figuring out if a bronze or linear bearing is right for you? Or maybe you want to explore alternative bearings that might be better suited for your machines. Either way, you’re invited to contact us here at Atlas Bronze!

Atlas Bronze has worked hard over the last 25 years to become one of the top distributors of bronze, copper, brass, iron, and other metals in the United States. We work closely with our client, providing everything from simple bolts to outfitting manufacturing plants. We have hundreds of products ready for shipping, with advanced machinery to fulfill custom orders too.

Reach out to us if you have any questions, and we look forward to serving you at Atlas Bronze!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

What is Sand Casting Used For?


person using machine to pour molten metal into mold

Casting is one of the oldest manufacturing processes in existence. For over 7,000 years, humans have been able to create intricate objects by pouring liquid metal into a mold. While it is a very cost effective method for making intricate objects, the mold matters just as much as the molten metal when making objects.

The most popular mold material option for casting is sand. Sand casting is the art of casting liquid metal with a sand mold. Despite being one of the oldest molding processes, sand casting continues to be popular in the manufacturing industry for a variety of reasons. There are all sorts of objects that can be made with sand casting despite its low investment cost.

What Objects are Made with Sand Casting:

One of the great advantages of sand casting molds is how versatile it is. Sand molds support a wide range of metals, including aluminum, iron, steel, and more. While many manufacturers work with much cooler metals, sand casting molds are able to support liquid metals up to 3,000 degrees fahrenheit.

Sand casting can be used to create a wide variety of products, no matter their complexity or size. Some of the most popular products created by sand casting include:

  • Medical equipment
  • Automobile components
  • Small screws, nuts, and gears
  • Electrical components
  • Mining gear
  • Common home tools
  • Home appliances
  • Plumbing components

The Benefits of Sand Molds for Casting:

  • Price. Molds are typically damaged or thrown away in order to retrieve the metal components formed inside. Sand is highly reusable, and even when the mold is damaged is very inexpensive to replace.
  • Strength. Casting molds have to withstand high pressure and intense heat. Sand molds possess both of these characteristics. The stronger the mold, the more likely the metal object solidifying within will form properly. Sand molds have a high success rate because of these qualities.
  • Moisture Absorption: Moisture has a huge impact on the casting process. A mold with too little moisture can fall apart during formation. A mold with too much moisture can cause steam bubbles to form, ruining the metal object solidifying within. Sand molds strike a perfect balance that accounts for moisture as part of the casting process.
  • Ease of Moldability: Different objects require different molds. These molds have to be precise, and depending on the part may require small, minute adjustments. The flowability of sand allows it to be very easy to work with, allowing for more intricate metal objects to be created without excessive effort when designing the mold.

Contact Atlas Bronze for your Sand Casting Needs:

While sand casting is a very effective and popular manufacturing process, it requires specialized equipment if you want to craft products using sand. Both the molten metal and the sand can heat up to several thousand degrees fahrenheit. As such, a bronze container is often required to contain the sand mold and liquid metal while the metal within cools and solidifies.

Atlas Bronze is here to help with your sand casting needs. We have over 25 years of experience in the metal industry, and have established ourselves as one of the leading distributors of bronze in the country. We’re experts in sand casting as well, and can help you determine if the product you’re making can be made even quicker with sand casting.

So if you have any questions about sand casting, be sure to contact us today at Atlas Bronze! We’re excited to answer any questions you have, and help you with all of your manufacturing needs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

How Does a Thrust Bearing Work?


graphic of five thrust bearings in a row

One of the most important components in any machine that moves is a bearing. A bearing is a traditionally circular shaped part designed to restrict the movement of other machine components. Furthermore, bearings reduce the friction that comes with metal moving against other metal surfaces. As such, bearings are essential for preserving the longevity of machines. There are many different types of bearings, and one of the most important is a thrust bearing. A thrust bearing is a bearing specifically designed to support components that rotate. In more technical terms, a thrust bearing is any bearing designed to support an axial load. There are many different types of thrust bearings, each of which function a little bit differently from each other. Even so, we hope to explain how a few of the most common thrust bearings work, and explain why they’re so important.

How do the Most Common Thrust Bearings Work:

A thrust bearing primarily works by limiting which directions a moving machine part can turn. Most often, thrust bearings restrict moving machine parts to rotating in a circular direction, though these bearings can also be used to only restrict horizontal or vertical movement. By restricting movement, all thrust bearings serve the same main function. They are designed to reduce the friction between moving metal parts and prevent machine damage from parts moving in the wrong direction. This is true of all thrust bearings, no matter what type of thrust bearing they are. Even so, different thrust bearings accomplish their purpose in different ways. Depending on your machine, it may require one of the following types of thrust bearings:
  • Ball Thrust Bearings: One of the oldest and most basic thrust bearings systems.These thrust bearings have tiny balls in the perimeter of the bearing. This is one of the most common types of thrust bearings, and is particularly effective for small machines or those made with inexpensive components.
  • Cylinder Thrust Bearings: As the name suggests, this thrust bearing is made up of a cylinder shaped roller. It is specifically designed to accommodate much heavier axial and impact loads compared to ball thrust bearings. Automobile crankshafts are almost universally made with cylinder thrust bearings.
  • Magnetic Thrust Bearings: One of the most advanced thrust bearing systems, magnetic thrust bearing use magnets for maximum machine support within minimal friction. This is especially useful for machines that would be complicated by oil interaction, and is often used in generators and other electronic machines.

What Machines Use Thrust Bearings:

Almost everyone modern machine with moving parts will use thrust bearings of some kind. They’re easy to mount, while offering fantastic strength, durability, and reliability to significantly increase the longevity of the machines they’re incorporated into. Furthermore, thrust bearings can be used in extreme environments, and can support high loads when incorporated correctly. Some of the most popular and important machines that rely on thrust bearings include:
  • Automobiles
  • Airplanes
  • Mining equipment
  • Oil rigs
  • Home appliances
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Generators
  • Turbines

Get Thrust Bearings Built to Last At Atlas Bronze:

A good thrust bearing can add years to the functional lifespan of a machine. Even so, a thrust bearing won’t do much if the bearing itself is made poorly. There are also other components to be aware of, such as the washers that will help a bearing stay in place despite the heavy movement and axial loads it will have to sustain. Atlas Bronze is here to help you get the parts you need to sustain your thrust bearings and other machines. Founded in 1994, we have over 25 years of experience providing excellent service and selling top of the line metal products throughout the United States. We aim to be metal experts, and are one of the leading bronze, copper, and iron distributors in the nation. If you have any questions about metal, or need help addressing problems you have with your thrust bearings, be sure to contact us today. Our experienced staff is happy to provide any support we can here at Atlas Bronze!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

When to Replace Bronze Bushings?

closeup image of bronze bushings

With so many different options available for bushings, it can leave you questioning which one is the best choice. But when it comes to finding a durable solution that is strong, won’t rust, and will surpass your expectations of a lifespan, you will want to choose bronze bushings.

To keep them working as well as intended, you are going to need to perform the necessary maintenance to boost their longevity. Unfortunately, sometimes that just isn’t enough. Keep reading to find out when to replace bronze bushings.

About Bronze Bushings

Bronze bushings (or bronze bearings) are used to protect parts from wear and tear, as well as reduce vibrations, noise, and shock loads. They also improve the efficiency of the part as a whole. Although there are many different sizes of bronze bushings based on the application, they are still small - yet integral to the success of the unit. Bronze bushings can be created using sintered bronze or cast bronze, allowing them to be useful in many different types of applications. In fact, they can be found in just about every industry. Bronze bushings are used in car engines, bicycles, stage lighting, kitchen appliances, escalators, fishing reels, hydraulic cylinders, ATMs, printer rollers, dental/medical tools, and in so many other ways.

Advantages of Using Bronze Bushings

Why choose bronze bushings? Well, in a nutshell, they are:
Corrosion-resistant and will not rust. Sturdy and hard, making them able to handle pressure without changing shape. Able to handle high temperatures without losing their shape. Resistant to friction. Most importantly, bronze bushings are long-lasting. The quality and durability that come with these types of bushings mean that the frequency at which they will need to be replaced will be reduced - and that’s quite the benefit.

When to Replace Bronze Bushings

Bronze itself can last for hundreds of years with very little maintenance. But, to keep your bronze bushing working effectively it needs to be oiled or greased regularly so that it remains lubricated at all times. This deters corrosion and reduces the wear and tear of the component because it minimizes friction between the two parts.
With some applications, you may never have to replace bronze bushings. This is especially true for those that are well maintained with lubrication and not pushed beyond their ability. However, there are some applications that can push the limits of these bushings, regardless of their incredible strength and durability. In these instances, keeping them greased and maintained will still give you a long lifespan, but they may need to be replaced at a faster rate. If you notice that the operation with the bushing is no longer quiet, smooth, and controlled, it could be time to replace it.

Bronze Bushings at Atlas Bronze

Whether you are looking for bronze bushings for a new project or to replace those you currently have, Atlas Bronze has exactly what you are looking for. We use many different casting methods, alloys, and sizes to meet any need. And our bronze experts can help you to determine just what that need is. Contact us today at (800) 478-0887. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to Clean a Bronze Plate

closeup of a bronze plate

Bronze is very commonly used in everyday items you will find around your house. And this includes your bronze plates. 

If your bronze has started to tarnish or turn green, don’t fret. There are a couple of easy steps you can take to clean your bronze plate and have it shining like new once again. 

What Causes Bronze to Tarnish? 

Many metals will corrode when they come into contact with certain substances - especially if it is over an extended period of time. Other metals, such as bronze, form a protective layer to cover them and prevent any further corrosion. 

Bronze is an alloy that has a composition consisting of a high level of copper. And copper is known for turning green over time. This outer layer of protection, known as patina, occurs when the metal’s molecules are exposed to air, liquid, or other elements. 

Long before you ever have a plate fully covered in patina, it is going to tarnish. Here’s how to clean it and keep it from making that change. 

How to Clean a Bronze Plate

Are you ready to know what the secret is to keeping your bronze plates clean and shining beautifully? You may be surprised, but it is just dish soap and water. Stick to basic dish soap without any extra frills. Wash your plate with soapy water and rinse it well. This will remove any excess dirt, debris, or grease. 

Let it dry completely.

Next, you are going to create a paste-like solution of baking soda and lemon juice. The idea is to drizzle on a small amount of lemon juice at a time until you form a paste. Then, when the bronze plate is dry, you are going to rub this mixture all over it. Let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Use a clean cloth to gently remove the paste from the bronze plate. This will leave it with a perfect shine. 

If you aren’t too keen on the baking soda and lemon idea, you can always place a couple of drops of olive oil on a soft rag and buff it into your plate to release its shine. 

Dangers to Avoid

For the most part, taking care of bronze plates is rather simple - but there are a couple of dangers you will want to avoid. Chloride is something found around pools and even in some popular cleaners. And while it may work beautifully for cleaning some things, it can be disastrous for bronze. It even has the capability of destroying the metal entirely. 

Metal polish and solvents can even lead to very terrible results. They don’t give you the results you are looking for and, in fact, can cause more harm than good. 

Stick to the easy bronze plate cleaning method above and you will maintain them for years to come. 

Atlas Bronze for Your Bronze Metal Needs

If you are looking for bronze to meet the metal needs of your next project, Atlas Bronze has just what you are looking for. Our team of highly-skilled experts is available to help you with your purchase and answer any questions you may have. 

Contact us today at (800) 478-0887.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Can I Use Bronze Filler to Weld Steel?


closeup of a gloved hand welding metal

When it comes to welding steel, bronze is generally not used as a filler in the traditional sense and instead the bronze is used for brazing the two pieces of steel together. By using this process, you can achieve certain results not possible with traditional welding.

Brazing steel with a bronze filler also has several distinct advantages over actually welding steel where the parent materials are melted and bonded together along with the filler material.

In brazing, a bronze or silicon bronze rod is used to join the steel pieces, similar to soldering by using capillary action. This process uses lower heat than a standard weld since the base material is not melted. For some applications this makes brazing the only option as it reduces the stress on the base materials.

Other advantages of using bronze when brazing steel is that you can join dissimilar steels together using this process, which can offer more fabrication freedom.

The most common filler rod used for this process is silicon bronze. This type of bronze is mostly copper as per usual, but there is a small amount of silicon added, generally in the range of 2%-6%. Due to the slower melting temperature of silicone bronze, it makes it a great choice for thin sheet metal and other relatively delicate applications.

Silicon bronze filler can be used to braze using an O/A torch, TIG, and even MIG welders. Although the most common use is with a TIG setup due to the control and consistency it can provide.

When brazing steel with silicon bronze filler rods you need to be especially careful about the heat used. Remember, this isn't welding so the base material should not melt, but you need it hot enough so the bronze filler flows properly. This situation creates a relatively small temperature window to achieve optimum results.

If you run a little too hot and there is very minimal melting of the base metal, that’s OK, but you do risk cracking of the joint and bronze filler if there is too much melting. If you run it too cool, you will have issues with the bronze flowing properly and it will not form a smooth bead.

Once you get the temperature correct for the size and thickness of the steel you are joining, the silicon bronze filler becomes extremely easy and fast to work with. It also creates an aesthetically pleasing bead which can be sanded and finished if needed, just like the base metals being joined.

For certain custom automotive or motorcycle applications, the gold-tinted bead of silicon bronze brazing can be used to add flair to an otherwise standard weld between body panels or other areas, adding a custom look.

With a little bit of experience and practice, using bronze filler to join steel through brazing really opens up options when it comes to metal fabrication. This is especially true when you are joining dissimilar metals or the pieces to be joined have specific restrictions on heat or stress.

So if your next fabrication project requires a strong bond with minimal heat, try brazing using bronze filler. When used for the right application, it can offer very unique benefits over most other forms of welding.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Welding and Metal Fabrication: What’s the Difference?


a welder works on a metal bar

Welding and metal fabrication. Is one just like the other? Not exactly - even though many people use the words interchangeably. And, it’s not surprising since they are two of the most well-known processes of metal working. Welding is one of the many different operations that can be used in the fabrication of metal. And many welders know how to fabricate on some level just as many fabricators usually know how to weld. So, what sets these two apart? What is the difference between welding and metal fabrication? Let’s talk about it.

What is Welding?

Welding is a fabrication process that infuses two pieces of metal together. There are different ways in which this is done - using heat, pressure, or a combination of the two. Most commonly heat is used to melt the base metal while a filler metal is then melted to create a weld pool of molten metal. Once it cools, it hardens and unites the two pieces of metal together. Welding requires a lot of hands-on work and an understanding of the different types of welding tools and machinery, as well as metal and their melting points. Also having knowledge of filler materials and which will work well to bring the two metal pieces together is also required of the welder.

What is Metal Fabrication?

Welding may be one piece of the fabrication process - an essential piece - but it is not the only one. There are many other types of processes that don’t require the use of welding. In fact, metal fabrication encompasses the entire manufacturing process to create products made of metal or even large machines. And it is common for metal fabrication to take place in stages, having different groups create different parts of the process.

The Difference Between Welding and Metal Fabrication

Metal fabrication and welding are two very key parts of metalworking. However, as we are learning, they are two distinct processes. Here’s how they differ.

Fabrication Involves More Than Welding

Even though fabrication considers welding a major component in its processes, there are many more components, too. You cannot simply fabricate metal using solely welding. You will likely need to weld, yes, but you will also need other techniques, too. Fabrication starts with the drawing and planning of an idea for creation. It also involves things like machining, cutting, and forming pieces of metal. In other words, welding may be involved in fabrication at one step along the way, but there are many other metalworking techniques in play, too.

Fabrication and Welding Each Require Special Skills

As mentioned above, it is not uncommon for welders and fabricators to each know a little about the other. But those who have honed their skills will tell you that each one requires a specialized skill set. Many fabrication processes use a stable tool or machine to fabricate the metal. Welding uses many stationary tools, too, but they also perform a lot of their techniques by hand. They have to have precise skills and knowledge of the different types of metals. That is, of course, if they want to maintain a strong weld. So, even though all metal workers likely have a little knowledge of each technique that may be used, different skills are needed for each.

Both Fabrication and Welding Use Different Tools

The tools that both fabricators and welders use to get the job done are very different. Metal fabrication involves a lot of cutting, machining, and bending. To achieve the finished product you will need different cutting machines, such as laser cutters, plasma torches, and even mechanical saws. Welders, on the other hand, use very different tools, such as torches, welding clamps, and consumable electrodes. There is a lot of safety equipment involved in welding, too.

If you’d like to learn more about metals and how they can be used in the metal fabrication or welding process, contact the professionals at Atlas Bronze at 800-478-0887.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

How Do You MIG Weld Different Thickness Metals?


a welder works on sparking metal

There are many varying types of welding techniques - yet they each have their limits. Some will work well for certain metals and others not so much. MIG welding is one technique that can be used frequently and it covers a nice range of thickness of metals. Since it can work better for some metals than others, let’s take a look at what MIG welding is and how to use it with different thickness metals.

What is MIG Welding?

MIG welding, which stands for metal inert gas, may also be referred to as a couple of different things, including gas metal arc welding (GMAW) and wire welding. It is an arc welding process that uses a solid wire electrode pulled through the welding gun. It makes its way into the weld pool where it is met with a shielding gas. Many inexperienced welders find that MIG welding is a good place to start. It isn’t an intricate way to weld and is frequently used by all sorts of individuals who aren’t professional welders, including artists, at home DIY-ers, maintenance workers or mechanics.

How to MIG Weld Different Thickness Metals

There are many factors that need to be considered when MIG welding to ensure that you have everything for a good weld. But perhaps one of the most important is the direct correlation between the metal thickness and the voltage and amps that need to be used. Most MIG welding can suit metal that ranges from 24-gauge to ½-inch thick. To weld the thinner pieces of metal, it is going to require a lower amperage - and the required amperage will go up as the metal thickness increases. For example, MIG welding a piece of metal that is ⅛-inch thick may only require 125 amps whereas a ½-inch piece of metal may require 500 amps. But what this actually means is that the sizing is the maximum thickness you can use with that amperage. So for 500 amps, you can MIG weld a piece of metal any size up to and including a ½-inch piece of metal. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that even though MIG welding can accommodate some pretty thick metals, each welding tool is going to have its own capabilities. Take the time to get to know what you are working with - and what size thickness yours is capable of handling.

Tips for MIG Welding Various Size Metals

To properly MIG weld any size metal, make sure you follow the tips below for both thick and thin metals. For thicker metals:
  • Keep a clean surface. Welding thick metal can be challenging so stripping away all the unnecessary, such as paint, grime, rust, and the like can make it a little more manageable.
  • Preheat the metal. When working with thick metals, preheating the surface before you begin can make it easier for you.
  • Understand shielding gas. Getting the right mixture of shielding gas matters for the success of your weld. For MIG welding, one of the most common is a 75% argon and 25% CO2. But the greater understanding you have of them - and the more practice - the easier it will be to get the right gas for you.
For thinner metals:
  • Angle your torch right. Believe it or not, the way you angle your torch matters as to whether it not you will end up with burnout. For MIG welding, you want to make sure that there is a short amount of distance between the tip and the metal.
  • Use the pulsing technique. Rather than giving constant full heat, pulse your welding tool to avoid going too far and ending up with an unwanted hole.
  • Consider thinner filler metals. Those that are thinner require less heat - and pose less risk to the piece.
There is much to learn about the different sizes and thicknesses of metals. And at Atlas Bronze we know all about them. If you are MIG welding and have some questions about different metals - or which one would be best for your project - contact us today at 800-478-0887.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

How Do You Distinguish Between Different Metal Alloys For Welding?

Rolls of metal sheeting in a warehouse

It is important to know what type of metal you are working with before welding. Some metals are weldable, others are not - but knowing the type will help you determine the proper technique and methods needed for successful welding. 

The more you work with metals and the greater experience you have, you may easily come to recognize what is in front of you. Until then, we’ve got some tests to help you distinguish between different metal alloys for welding. 

Common Ways to Test Metal Alloys

There are 7 general tests that can help you distinguish between metal alloys, including: 

  • Visible surface appearance

  • Spark test

  • Chip test

  • Magnetic test

  • Torch test 

  • Chemical test

  • Hardness test

Let’s take a closer look at each. 

Visible surface appearance. Familiarizing yourself with the visible appearance of metal alloys as well as their common applications, you can get an idea for the type of alloy you are working with - or at least narrow it down. 

Spark Test. You can determine the type of metal you are getting ready to weld by determining whether or not there is a spark when holding it against a grinding wheel. If there is, you may be dealing with stainless steel, cast iron, wrought iron, nickel, etc. Otherwise, you won’t find sparks with metals such as bronzes, coppers, brasses, lead, aluminum alloys, and zinc alloys.  

Chip Test. Using a chisel to chip a small piece off of the metal can give you some insight. The size of the chip, whether its edges are smooth or sharp, the grain, and so on can all be important key aspects of identification. For example, copper chips are smooth with sawtooth-like edges. Brass and bronze have the same characteristics. The differing factor is that copper chips in a continuous strip while the latter has smaller, more brittle chips. 

Magnetic Test. Ferrous metals are magnetic, nonferrous metals are not. All you need is a small magnet to perform this test. You will find that steel, nickel, and iron alloys are strongly magnetic. Copper alloys, aluminum alloys, and zinc alloys are not. 

Torch Test. By firing up a torch and heating the metals, welders are able to better distinguish between them. This is done by visibly inspecting the melted metal as well as paying attention to how fast it melted. Each metal will react a little differently to the heat. For instance, brass and bronze melt rapidly and turn red before they do. Brass may give off white flumes. Copper requires a larger flame to melt and its color becomes very pronounced just before it melts. It does so slowly and may tend to bubble if close to the flame. 

Chemical Test. Certain chemicals can be used to determine the metal you are using. Of course, it is important to have an understanding of what you are doing before you attempt these tests. An example is putting a few drops of 45% phosphoric acid onto stainless steel - if it bubbles, then it is stainless steel. There are a few different tests for various metals that you can use. 

Hardness Test. This test can be done in different ways, but it involves pressing a specific object known as the indenter into the surface of the metal. Its hardness can be determined based on the depth of the penetration or the size of the impression. By understanding the hardness of common metals, you can narrow down which one you may be confronting. 

Learn More About Metal Alloys at AtlasBronze

There are quite a few different metals and metal alloys so it can be tough to always know exactly which is which. But, if you are a welder, it is important to know the properties of each of the metals you are using at all times. 

If you are looking for the right metal for your application - or you aren’t sure which one is best - the experienced professionals at AtlasBronze can help. Contact us at (800) 478-0887 or reach out to us online.