What Is Brass Made of and What Are Its Properties?

telescope with brass components

When you think of brass, the first thing you would probably imagine is a musical instrument, particularly a trumpet or a saxophone. While many musical instruments are indeed made of brass, they are not the only items made of such material. There are countless others, some of which are everyday objects, such as doorknobs, drawer pulls, and handrails.

Brass is quite a common metal but very few people are truly familiar with it, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Apart from having a plain appearance, brass also comes in numerous varieties. Furthermore, the color of brass can be engineered to suit a wide range of design applications, which is why it is almost always mistaken for other shiny metals.

What is brass made of?

Brass is the resulting alloy when you combine about 67% copper and 33% zinc. This standard composition can be altered to produce different types of brass. Minute amounts of other metals, such as lead, phosphorus, aluminum, manganese, and silicon can be added to the mixture to further improve the properties of brass. For instance, adding up to 2% lead could give brass better machinability.

Not all combinations, however, produce useful versions of brass. Some make brittle and soft kinds, while others too difficult to cold work. Another problem that may arise is dezincification, which is characterized by the gradual increase in porosity of brass due to an excessive amount of zinc.

Useful Properties of Brass

If you are familiar with copper and zinc, it will be easy for you to understand the nature of brass. We know that copper is extremely durable, able to last for thousands of years due to its ability to form patina, a green layer of material that protects its surface from weathering. Zinc, on the other hand, is known for its high corrosion resistance and density, which makes it incredibly impermeable. Now, let’s take a look at brass and its useful properties.

  • Corrosion Resistance

    – Like copper, brass is also resistant to corrosion. It’s no wonder manufacturers prefer brass channel and tube products to other metal supplies. With the right composition, brass can even hold out in seawater, which is ten times harsher than tap water. Unfortunately, brass tarnishes quickly, which is why brass furniture and accessories must be regularly polished to stay shiny.

  • Workable

    – Standard versions of brass are prized for their malleability. Meaning, they can be molded into different shapes and thicknesses without applying heat. Compared with bronze, brass is easier to cold work, weld, and braze. Adding a little bit more zinc helps improve this metal’s machinability.

  • High Conductivity

    – Like copper, brass also has a considerable heat and electrical conductivity, around 40% that of copper. It doesn’t quickly burn under high voltage like silver and other conductive metals. This is why brass is the preferred material for machine parts that function as conductors.

  • Germicidal Properties

    – Brass is also anti-bacterial, a property that is characteristic of most non-ferrous metals. Their molecules produce ions that target a certain protein in single-celled microorganisms, resulting in their demise. The entire process takes about two to four hours depending on the type of metal involved. This is the reason why copper alloys, such as brass, are ideal for filtration systems.

  • Aesthetic Appeal

    – There’s no denying the majestic appearance of standard brass. Its glittery yellow tone rivals that of authentic gold. Those who are looking for a cheaper alternative to gold in their crafts must consider brass.

Major Classifications of Brass

    There are currently over 60 types of brasses available commercially. They are classified according to the ratio of their copper and zinc content. As mentioned, by changing the ratio of what brass is made of, you can produce brasses of varying properties. To better identify each brass type and measure their performance, they are methodically classified into three forms.

  • Alpha Brasses

    – More commonly known as soft brasses, these are brasses with 65% copper and 35% zinc. This much copper is what makes these brasses malleable and easy to work cold. They also look more gold-like than the other forms of brasses.

  • Alpha-Beta Brasses

    – Brasses with 55-65% copper and 35-45% zinc are classified as semi-hard or alpha-beta brasses. They are slightly harder than alpha brasses, which is why they are usually worked hot. This slight change in composition gives these brasses a brighter, less golden hue. Additionally, alpha-beta brasses are also less resistant to corrosion than alpha brasses.

  • Beta Brasses

    – The hardest types of brasses belong to the beta group. Theses brasses have 50-55% copper and 45-50% zinc. Due to their hardness, they are quite impossible to work unless they are heated. The high amount of zinc also poses the risk of dezincification.

When purchasing brass for your projects, always be precise about the composition to make sure you’ll get the exact quality you need. The last thing you want is to use soft brass for structural applications. You must always consult with a metal expert before choosing a specific grade of brass. You may also get your supplies from top brass suppliers like Rotax Metals, especially because they supply North America with superior copper products.

Everything You Need to Know before Making Metal Jewelry

metals and gemstones jewelry
With annual global sales of over $166 billion dollars, jewelry production is undeniably one of the world’s largest and most dynamic industries. Even with the recent financial downturn following the COVID-19 outbreak, this industry is still set for a sparkling future.

It all started with national apparel brands, such as C&A in Germany and Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom. International brands, such as Zara and H&M, later followed and dominated the market. Smaller brands that produce slightly lower quality products have also taken a sizeable share of the market, but branded jewelry remains the favorite.

History and Development

Humans have known and used jewelry for thousands of years, thanks to our natural desire to accessorize either as part of a tradition or as a means to prettify ourselves. Ancient jewelry items were made of a vast assortment of materials, including seashells and peals connected by strings to make necklaces and beads of gems glued on bones to make hairpins.

Today’s jewelry has come a long way from being unsophisticated handicrafts to intricately designed and machined items. The materials used have immensely improved, too. While jewelry pieces made of gold and gemstones were already popular in the early Bronze Age, it is only during the industrial revolution when more varieties with contrasting values had emerged.

Little has changed in the gemstones used in jewelry, and that’s mainly because their value is measured by their purity. The metal that clasps them, on the other hand, has seen remarkable perfections in terms of quality and value, thanks to advances in metallurgy, which gave way to the discovery of alloys that may not be as valuable as the known precious metals but are equally lasting and dazzling.

Types of Metals Used for Making Jewelry

When you think of jewelry, the first thing you’d most likely imagine, apart from the gemstones, is a golden metal component, or a silver one if you like shiny white color better. That’s only natural since gold and silver are the most popular precious metals around. Some people even think that these are the only metals used for making sterling jewelry pieces. Truth is, there a lot more.

Of course, you can’t expect these metals to be in their pure form. Most, if not all, of them are alloys of different metals and they are only named after their base metal. Alloying helps improve the properties of metals and make them more fitted for jewelries. Here are some of the most common metals jewelry making companies use.

  • Titanium

    – This metal nearly snatched the spotlight from gold in recent years. When it debuted as one of the toughest materials on the planet, everyone wanted a piece of it. True enough, this metal is so strong that even films like The Core used it as a reference to the only metal that could possibly withstand the heat of the Earth’s core. As a jewelry component, it won’t disappoint either. It has a shiny, silvery appeal that makes a great pair to any jewel.

  • Platinum

    – Finer and more appealing than titanium, platinum has a brighter and fairer silvery look, which is ideal for making metal jewelry. When paired with colored gems like sapphire and tourmaline, its elegance further stands out. Platinum is also resistant to tarnish so you can enjoy its hypnotic luster for a long time without the need for constant polishing.

  • Copper

    – We know copper as the metal that makes up the core of electrical wires. It’s expensive as a construction and electronic material, but as jewelry, it’s quite affordable. After all, copper is more common than other metals used for jewelry making. It also tarnishes faster. Its warm, reddish glow is what charms jewelry aficionados from all over the world.

  • Gold

    – Possibly the most precious of all metals used for jewelry, gold is prized for its tarnish-free, warm tone. We’ve known gold for its dazzling yellow color, but truth is gold comes in other colors. You’ve probably heard of white and rose gold. They are nothing short of genuine and sometimes even more elegant-looking than the traditional yellow shade.

  • Brass

    – If you want something that looks like gold but many times cheaper, brass may just be your best bet. The only difference between brass and gold is that the former is not resistant to tarnish, and that’s mainly because brass is a copper-based alloy. It’s less valuable, too, considering that both of its main components—copper and tin—are not considered as precious metals. Thanks to brass suppliers, there’s been a steady supply of brass for jewelry making.

Generally, most metals can be shaped into jewelry pieces. Even aluminum and certain types of steel, which are essentially for industrial and construction use have their fair share of presence in the jewelry market. Because some metals are more valuable than others, however, only those mentioned above are frequently utilized. Their value varies depending on a number factors, include the quality of the metal, where they were quarried, and the company that worked them.

Metals like copper, brass, and bronze are forged in foundries before they can be utilized as raw materials for jewelry making. They can be manufactured into plates, bars, or even strips for easy cutting and machining. Copper and brass suppliers like Rotax Metals are the go-to resource for high-quality copper-based metals for jewelry making.

A Definitive Guide to Welding and Fabrication

welder at work
Ever wondered why building a structure, vehicle, or machine made primarily of metals takes a long time to finish? For instance, it takes about four to six months to build a plane, and over ten times that to build an aircraft carrier. Thanks to advances in manufacturing technology, smaller vehicles such as cars and trucks can now be built in less than a day and that’s only because most of their components have already been prefabricated. So, it’s more like basic assembly than a construction.

One of the reasons is that a lot of factors must be taken into account when constructing these metal beasts, and there’s a different set for each type. Whether they are made up mostly of steel plates or bronze bars, their construction is at the mercy of these considerations. Safety, stability, and durability are just some of them. Manufacturing components and merging them together also take time. The assembly of machine parts is only made possible by a variety of techniques, the most common of which are fabrication and welding. Depending on the function and location of the machine parts, either method must be carried out.


Before we delve into the differences between welding and fabrication, it’s important that we first understand what they are and how they are carried out. Welding is a method of joining metal pieces together by melting their point of connection. Fabrication, on the other hand, is a method of joining metal pieces through cutting, bending, and assembly. Welding, however, must be distinguished from metal-joining techniques such as brazing and soldering, which involve melting a filler metal and not the base metal itself. As for fabrication, any metal-joining method that does not involve heating or melting the base metal belongs to this category.

Key Differences between Fabrication and Welding

Now that we know what welding and fabrication are, let’s try to differentiate them so we can identify situations in which they are ideal. It will also help us understand how they work and who we should turn to if we need either method for our projects.

They Require a Different Set of Tools

The fact that welding requires heating the base metal and fabrication doesn’t only means the tools they use are not the same. When you see a tradesperson prepare equipment like welding clamps, torches, power sources, and consumable electrodes, you can quickly tell that they will be performing welding. You may even find safety equipment and gear, such as auto-darkening welding helmets and respirators in the setup. When you see tools like cutting machines, including mechanical saws, laser cutters, and plasma torches, lathe, and bending machines, you know fabrication is about to happen.

Variety of Techniques Involved

In terms of goal, there’s a big, apparent difference between welding and fabrication. While both methods share the same purpose of constructing metal-based assemblies, welding’s main goal is to bond metal pieces together. By contrast, the goal in fabrication may vary as there are many different techniques classified under this category. For instance, your goal may simply be creating detailed cuts on a metal piece that would later be part of a machine, or perhaps you just need to bend metal plates to form a casing for delicate machine parts. Individually, these techniques are considered fabrication.

They Are Not the Same Profession

Unless you are a highly skilled and experienced metalworker, it’s hard to imagine you could perform both tasks excellently. Welding and fabrication are completely different disciplines, and so they require different skill sets, which can only be developed through many years of separate experience. If you need both welding and fabrication in your project, take note that you will have to hire two different groups of professionals—welders and fabricators.

Pros and Cons

Even though there are circumstances where either welding or fabrication is the ideal method to use, they still have a share of pros and cons that you can consider in your choice when you’re working with metals. For instance, when it comes to efficiency, welding is occasionally a better bet because you can do it onsite and instantly without the need to take the metal to a metalworking facility. It’s also the preferred option for large-scale construction applications.

Contrariwise, fabrication has many perks over welding, too. If you want quality work with guaranteed stability, you’d like the parts of your machine to be fabricated rather than welded together. Welded structures are likely to be less sturdy than fabricated ones because their parts don’t initially come in one piece. Also, let’s not forget that heat used in welding may trigger a chemical reaction on metals, which affect their properties on a molecular level, ultimately reducing their sturdiness.

Can Copper Alloys Be Welded or Fabricated

Metals like bronze and brass are among the most commonly welded and fabricated materials around. Assemblies with intricate compositions that are made mostly of these metals are proof of that. Their malleability and ductility allows them to melt and weld easily as well as be machined into accurate cuts and shapes.

This, however, depends on the type and quantity of metals alloyed to them to manipulate their properties. For instance, if you mix too much lead, the alloy becomes less workable, which makes it hard to bend without breaking. Understanding proper metalworking can help produce high-quality copper alloys that are ideal for welding and fabrication applications.

There’s no denying the suitability of copper alloys for welding and fabrication work. The question now is how can you be so sure that you are using the highest quality materials? That’s when reputable bronze and brass suppliers like Rotax Metals come in. Not only do they have their own certified foundry, but they also have an amazing selection of products. You’ll never have to go to multiple providers again.


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