Comparing Bronze and Brass

in Copper

Bronze and brass are two of the frequently interchanged metals. Both are alloys of copper but with different additives. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, while brass is of copper and zinc. Each has distinct properties useful in unique sets of applications. The proportions of the content of either alloy vary to produce metals with varying properties.


Both bronze and brass possess the properties of copper. The most common include lightweight, ductility, malleability, conductivity, corrosion resistance, and hardness. Because of additives, these properties either improve or depreciate to meet a specific standard based on the metal use. For example, bronze's hardness can be increased by adding tin and reducing copper in the alloy. Changing the proportions will further harden bronze, making it a better material for heavy-duty applications.


Bronze has a wider application in industries than brass. Its additives make properties excellent in manufacturing bearings and connectors. Silicon, for example, can make good railings, church doors, and fasteners when combined proportionally with copper and tin. Most bronze alloys have outstanding metal-to-metal friction, which make them good materials for making shaft but not for building cannon and gun tubes.


Unlike bronze, which has a variety of industrial uses, brass is considered a substitutional alloy. This means that its properties have limited use in industrial applications. Brass is good for decoration, especially because it has a bright gold-like appearance. It is also used for applications involving low friction. This metal is so malleable that it can be drawn into sheets like typical materials sold by sheet brass suppliers.


These two metals have similar properties, though. Both of them are germicidal because of copper. Due to the oligodynamic or toxic effect of metal ions on organic compounds, microorganisms cannot survive long on the surface of a material made of copper. That is why ships and other sea vessels have keels covered with copper sheets to prevent algae from sticking onto them.


Both metals are also susceptible to perennial cracking or stress corrosion cracking. When brass or bronze is exposed to tensile stress in a corrosive environment, its surface tends to fail. This is due to the brittleness caused by alloying copper with other metals. Pure copper sheets are ductile and can stand stress effectively, while alloys are less resistant to stress and tend to crack.

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Lawrence Halter has 1 articles online

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Comparing Bronze and Brass

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This article was published on 2011/09/10