Depending on which copper alloy you chose, you can achieve the strength of steel, superior corrosion resistance and/or durability in applications that require wear and galling resistance. But first, let’s differentiate between brass and bronze, because in some quarters of industry, the terms are used interchangeably.
Aluminum Bronzes are a family of copper-based alloys that use iron and nickel in their chemistry - but rely on aluminum as the principle alloying element. Aluminum significantly adds to the strength to the point that it is similar to that of medium carbon steel. The additional advantage is that aluminum bronze also possesses excellent corrosion resistance. It is that strength and corrosion resistance that gave rise to the early use of aluminum bronze.
A small adjustment in metallurgy causes significant changes in performance. This recognition of other properties has led to the use of Aluminum Bronzes for a variety of parts requiring strength, hardness, resistance to wear and galling, low magnetic permeability, resistance to cavitation, erosion, softening and oxidation at elevated temperatures. These properties, together with ease of weldability, have greatly extended the fields of application for Aluminum Bronze.
Non-ferrous metals or alloys are materials that are not iron based like their ferrous counterparts. One of the more common groups of non-ferrous materials are copper-based alloys such as bronze and brass. While it is common to use brass and bronze interchangeably, there is a difference.
Brasses are copper-based alloys which have zinc as the principle alloying element. In some cases, small amounts of nickel, aluminum, iron, or silicon may be also present. A good example is C85500 (also known as “60-40 yellow brass”). This alloy contains up to 63% copper, 0.8% aluminum, and around 40% zinc. Since the zinc content is high, the material is classified as brass.
Bronzes are copper-based alloys where the major alloying element is not zinc or nickel. The term bronze is used with a preceding modifier that describes the type of bronze it is, by indicating the major alloying element(s). For example, MTEK 83-7-7-3/C93200 is a high lead tin bronze because it contains 7% tin and 7% lead in addition to 83% copper and 3% zinc. Also, MTEK 175/C95400 is called an aluminum bronze because it is made up of 11% aluminum in addition to 85% copper and 4% iron.
Metallurgically, Bronze is a copper-based metal alloyed with tin, lead, aluminum or other elements to change the material’s physical or mechanical properties. The historic “Bronze Age” stretched from around 3000 B.C. to about 1000 B.C. Early craftsmen found the material easier to deal with than stone for many uses, and more durable than other materials that they had access to for weapons, utensils, and decorative pieces.
In fact, we still get calls from time to time from customers who want us to cast a bronze art piece – we normally decline those opportunities. But even though MetalTek only casts the occasional bronze statue, we do pour a lot of bronze. And there are good reasons why customers choose it.
Copper Base alloys are specified for their ability to satisfy needs like corrosion resistance, good mechanical strength, frictional and wear properties, bio-fouling resistance, and high electrical and thermal conductivity. Unique combinations of these properties are met not by a single copper-based alloy, but by a series or family of copper-based alloys. Common families are: Aluminum Bronze, Manganese Bronze, Tin Bronze, Leaded Tin Bronze and High Copper Alloys.
- HIGH TENSILE (C86300) Manganese Bronze
- Family of bronzes primarily known for its extremely high strength and ability to resist the corrosive effects of seawater and brine. Often referred to as Yellow Brass.