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Brass


Introduction

  • Brass is an alloy, a combination of copper and zinc. It contains around 67% copper and 33% zinc.
  • Commonly, Lead is also added to brass at a concentration of around 2%. Lead improves the machinability of brass.
  • Lead brasses have excellent machining qualities and can be blanked, sheared and milled.
  • Brass does not become brittle at low temperature like mild steel.
  • Brass also has excellent thermal conductivity. Its electrical conductivity ranges from 23 to 44% that of pure copper.
  • Copper is the main component, and brass is usually classified as a copper alloy
  • Brass is stronger and harder than copper but not as strong or hard as steel

Uses of brass metal

Brass metal is used to make water fittings, screws, radiators, musical instruments and cartridge casings for firearms. Brass is a fairly strong metal but relatively malleable, so it is easily mauled into a number of different applications such as pipes, musical instruments and lamps. Brass is used for water in commercial plumbing, but also used in oil, gas and steam applications. It is also used as copper tubing and fittings. So, there is a huge demand for maintenance and repair purposes.

Raw Materials

Copper is the main component of brass metal. Depending upon the types and use of brass, copper varies between 55% to 95% by weight. Brasses that contains a high percentage of copper are made from electrically refined copper but are more commonly made from less-expensive recycled copper alloy scrap.

The second component of brass is zinc. Depending on the brass the amount of zinc varies between 5% and 40% by weight. Brass metal with a higher percentage of zinc is stronger and harder but also more difficult to form because it has less corrosion resistance. Zinc is used to make brass is a commercial grade sometimes known as shelter.

Brass metal also contains small percentages of other materials such as lead 3.8% by weight to improve machine ability. The addition of tin also improves the corrosion resistance. Iron makes the brass harder and makes the internal grain structure smaller to make proper shape of brass. Arsenic and Antimony are sometimes added to brasses that contain more than 20% zinc to inhibit corrosion. Other materials like manganese, silicon and phosphorus in a very small amount.

Manufacturing Process

Manufacturing process of brass involved combining the appropriate raw materials into a molten metal, which is allowed to solidify. After this process solidified metal are then changed through a series of operations to produce the desired brass stock. Actual manufacturing process depends on the desired shape and properties of the brass stock as well as on the machines and practices used in different brass plants. A very typical manufacture process used to produce brass sheet and strip.

Characteristics

  • The metal has both good heat and electrical conductivity and it is wear and spark resistant.
  • Like copper, it can also be used in bathroom fixtures and healthcare facilities.
  • Brasses with lower zinc content can be easily welded and brazed.

Types of Brasses

Brasses can be classified in a variety of ways including mechanical properties, crystal structure etc. The most essential distinction is made by their crystal structure. Three different types of crystal structure are as follows:

  • Alpha Brasses: It contains 37% zinc melted into copper. Such types of brasses are softer than their counterparts, therefore can be easily cold worked, and welded.
  • Beta brasses: It is rarely used brasses. It make-up a third group of the alloy that contain greater than 45% zinc content. This type of brasses can only be hot worked or cast.
  • Alpha-Beta Brasses: It contains 37-45% zinc and is made from the alpha grain structure and beta structure and more similar to that of pure zinc. It is harder and stronger and usually worked by stamping and die-casting.
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