Tuesday, November 14, 2023

What is Naval Brass?


Brass is one of the most common alloys due to its strength, durability, and immense malleability. This makes it very beneficial in a number of applications. Naval brass, on the other hand, is a specific type of brass with a slightly different composition that is often found in marine applications - hence its name. It, too, is very strong though corrosion-resistant which makes it successful for a lifetime in salty water. Just what is naval brass? Let’s take a closer look.

Brass vs. Naval Brass: The Composition

The composition of a metal alloy matters. One small change in it can impact its strength in certain situations - and in certain applications. As mentioned, brass is a metal alloy that is made up of copper and zinc. This composition is often in the range of 55 to 90 percent of copper and 10 to 45 percent of zinc. It does contain trace amounts of others, too, like lead and tin. The makeup of naval brass is a bit different. Generally, it will have higher levels of copper than other brass alloys. A common ratio of the metals that build this alloy includes 59% copper, 40% zinc, and 1% tin. Even though the amount of tin found in naval brass is low, it is what gives this metal alloy great resistance to corrosion while housed in the harsh conditions found in seawater. Low levels of lead are sometimes found in brass alloys. And while it may seem like an insignificant addition, it should never be overlooked. The addition of lead is what helps with the metal’s machinability. When you have the perfect combination, the metal can be more workable and stronger than initially thought.

Key Characteristics of Naval Brass

Because of its design, naval brass does have a few key characteristics that set it apart from traditional brass - aside from its ability to succeed in extreme conditions underwater. For example, when compared to brass, naval brass is:
  • More durable
  • More costly
  • More corrosion resistant
  • Less machinable
Naval brass also has a higher melting point than brass - and is not recommended for high-temperature applications. This is what makes it so fitting for marine applications.

Applications for Naval Brass

Yes, naval brass is often used in seawater applications due to its ability to handle saltwater for long periods of time. In the early 1900s, brass tubes were used on ships only to end up experiencing dezincification. This condition happens when the zinc in the alloy erodes due to corrosion. To battle this, naval bass was created and is now one of the most commonly used alloys for ships. It can be found in both saltwater and freshwater situations, used as propeller shafts, decorative fittings, shafting, marine hardware, pumps, valves, and more on ships and other marine equipment. There is no set time frame for how long naval brass will last in one of these water-submerged applications. But it is safe to say that it will last for many years - and definitely longer than traditional brass alloy.

Learn More About Naval Brass at Atlas Bronze

Interested in naval brass for your underwater application? Atlas Bronze can help. Our experts can answer any questions you may have and can help guide you to the right solution for your needs. Contact us today at (800) 478-0887.

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