Thursday, February 15, 2024

A Guide to Understanding Bronze Alloys and Their Applications

Bronze is a timeless metal alloy that has left its mark throughout history. It has been used in the creation of tools, machines, weapons, art, technology, and so much more. And it is still a huge part of our world today. 

The thing about bronze, however, is that it comes in many different compositions. While it is primarily copper and tin, other metals can be included in it, creating a new set of unique properties. 

Its ability to adapt in so many situations is perhaps why it is such a widely-sought metal yesterday and today. 

Here is a closer look at bronze alloys and where you can find them. 

Why Bronze? 

There are many reasons why bronze can be found in so many different applications from artwork to technology and so much more — such as marine, antimicrobial, and industrial applications. Bronze is often used as component parts like bearings and bushings, gears, gibs, nuts, piston rings, pins, and fasteners. 

It is its incredible properties that make it shine, including: 

  • Strength. Bronze does well under heavy and harsh conditions. This makes it a great option for applications that require durability. 

  • Hardness. Its high hardness level means it maintains a long lifespan without needing to be replaced due to wear and tear. 

  • Melting Point. Bronze has a high melting point making it perfect for high-heat situations. 

  • Ductility. With a high ductility, it can be manipulated to create any type of shape for any form of artistic expression, architecture, or any other application. 

  • Conductivity. Bronze has a high thermal conductivity. 

  • Corrosion-Resistance. This metal alloy is very resistant to corrosion, even when placed in salt water. It’s no surprise that it often finds its place in marine applications. 

Types of Bronze Alloys

While bronze is a metal alloy that has a composition of mostly copper and tin, various other elements are often added to the mix to create different properties. A few common bronze alloys are: 

  • Aluminum bronze

  • Manganese bronze

  • Silicon bronze

  • Phosphor bronze

  • Nickel silver

Let’s take a closer look at each.                                 

Aluminum Bronze

Copper, tin, and aluminum create the alloy aluminum bronze. It is even more strong and corrosion- and tarnish-resistant than regular bronze. It is often used in water due to its capabilities, especially in marine applications, water pumps, and the oil industry. It is also a great option for gears, bearings, propellers, valves, and the like. 

Manganese Bronze

By adding manganese to bronze, it is very resistant to corrosion which is why it is one of the most ideal options for saltwater applications like boat propellers. This alloy is shock-resistant and is less likely to break than it is to deform. Many heavy-duty applications make use of manganese bronze, such as gears, valves, fittings, shafts, brackets, and more. 

Silicon Bronze

Another type of bronze, silicon bronze has a composition of copper, zinc, and silicon. It is strong and corrosion-resistant while remaining aesthetically pleasing. What’s more is that it is self-lubricating, too. This alloy is often used for bushings, bearings, valves, and pumps in various applications.  

Phosphor Bronze

This bronze is a combination of copper, tin, and phosphorus. The addition of the latter boosts its hardness, making it less likely to succumb to wear and tear. It is a popular option for electrical applications, such as connectors, as well as springs, washers, and bellows.  

Nickel Silver

While its name doesn’t specify bronze, nickel silver is still a bronze. It is made up of copper, tin, and, of course, nickel. This gives it a silver color, hence its name. You can find nickel silver used in all types of applications, including zippers and keys, musical instruments, heating coils, and even silverware. It is also commonly used as valves, fittings, and rings in turbines. 

Need a Bronze Alloy For Your Application? 

Atlas Bronze offers many different bronze alloys to meet the needs of your application. If you aren’t sure what would be the best option or you have questions, contact us today. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff will help you find exactly what you need. 

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