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Bronze
The Characteristics of Bronze That Make It Great for Metalworking

The Characteristics of Bronze That Make It Great for Metalworking

The Characteristics of Bronze That Make It Great for Metalworking

Bronze is one of the most commonly used metals in the world since the earliest age of humankind. The alloy has had a prominent impact on human history, including its widespread use during Bronze Age of 2,000 B.C. Some scientists, however, hypothesize that bronze may have been used as early as 6,000 B.C. Today, bronze is still used to manufacture a wide range of everyday items such as hammers, sculptures, musical instruments (saxophones and cymbals), and even our coins (pennies).

The Desirable Characteristics of Bronze

Bronze eventually lost its appeal as societies advanced and discovered other types of metal to use for their tools and weapons. Despite this, the use of bronze has endured the test of time and is still widely used in many different applications today. This is mostly because bronze alloys have several characteristics that make it so useful in various applications.

What are the properties of bronze that alloy manufacturers and metal workers love?

1. Bronze is Highly Ductile

Ductility refers to a material’s ability to be hammered and molded into a variety of different shapes and sizes without breaking apart. This property is one of the top reasons why alloy manufacturers love making bronze. This allows manufacturers to easily form bronze into channels, sheets, angles, and more, allowing metal workers to choose the right type for their needs. 

2. Bronze is Incredibly Durable

Bronze is naturally resistant to corrosion, which is why it is often used to manufacture items that are exposed to the elements often. Bronze’s natural corrosion resistance is due to a chemical process called oxidation. When bronze is exposed to the oxygen in the air, a chemical reaction occurs, changing the surface into a layer of copper carbonate. This is highly desirable because copper carbonate serves as a robust layer that protects the bronze underneath from further corrosion.

3. Bronze Exhibits Lower Amounts of Friction

A relatively unique property of bronze is that it produces a lower amount of friction when it comes into contact with other types of metal. Why is this important? Friction is one of the main reasons why items succumb to wear and tear over time. Even materials as durable as metal will also succumb to this. Thanks to bronze’s lower amounts of friction generated, however, items made of bronze are less susceptible to wear and tear, which means these items will break down at a much slower pace. This is often the reason why bronze is a common choice to manufacture parts that are designed to move like gears, springs, and other similar components for machinery.

4. Bronze Does Not Create Sparks When Struck

When it comes to blacksmithing, most people will imagine a burly man striking heated metal with a large hammer and sparks flying everywhere with each strike. This common perception, however, only really applies to certain types of metal like iron. It does not apply to bronze. This particular property is incredibly useful for metal workers whose jobs require them to work near highly flammable or combustible materials, creating a safer working environment. A great example of this would be those who manufacture fireworks.

5. Bronze Tends to Expand When Cooling from Liquid to Solid

A majority of bronze alloys exhibit an unusual tendency to expand as it cools from its liquid state up to just before it turns into a solid. As it reaches its solid state, bronze will shrink slightly. This unusual property is great for one certain application: using molds and casting. Pouring liquid bronze into a cast will allow the bronze to expand and fill in any and all gaps in the mold as it cools. This helps the metal form a more detailed end product. Once the bronze enters its solid state, it shrinks slightly, making it easier to free the metal from the mold in one piece. Given this, it’s no surprise that sculptors love working with bronze alloys.

How Bronze is Made

Bronze is an alloy, which means it is made by melting and combining two or more different metals. In its simplest form, bronze is typically made of 88 percent copper and 12 percent tin. However, metal workers who are looking to increase or decrease certain properties of bronze may opt to include other agents such as manganese, aluminum, nickel, and more. Depending on the copper to tin ratio and the agents used, the properties of bronze made may differ. Some types of alloys will be more malleable than their counterparts, while some bronze alloys will display increased resistance to corrosion. It all really depends on how the metal worker plans to use bronze in the final product that will dictate the ratio of the metals found in bronze alloys.

The combination of metals used to manufacture bronze are vast in number. As a result, there are many different types of bronze alloys available on the market. Some of the more common types of bronze include:

Aluminum Bronze is made by combining varying amounts (often 6 to 12 percent) of aluminum to the copper-tin mixture. Adding aluminum to the mixture further enhances bronze’s natural strength and resistance to corrosion.

Phosphor Bronze is a bronze alloy that contains trace amounts of phosphorous. This creates an alloy that exhibits high fatigue resistance and lower friction coefficients. This is why it’s often used to make electrical components and moving components like springs.

Silicon Bronze is manufactured by introducing both silicon and zinc into your typical bronze mixture. This alloy is prized for its ability to continue its resistance to corrosion and wear and tear, even in incredibly hot and incredibly cold settings.

Always Source Your Bronze from a Trusted Supplier!

If you are on the market for bronze alloys for your next project, make sure you source your bronze from trusted suppliers like Rotax Metals. Not only will respected nationwide suppliers carry more types of bronze alloys for you to choose from, but they will also carry bronze alloys of a higher quality.

How to Distinguish Genuine Bronze from Faux?—Tips from Bronze Sheet Metal Suppliers

Whether you are casting a machine part or sculpting a statue, bronze is the perfect material to use. Its malleability and low-friction property makes it well-suited for these and many other applications. The problem is, bronze materials come in a range of qualities, and some are even faux. You have to be able to distinguish genuine bronze from faux if you want a superior output in your project. You have to know where to buy bronze sheet metal as well to ensure you’ll get the best quality. Here’s how you can test for bronze.

genuine bronze

Strike with another Metal

One of the best ways to determine whether or not a bronze piece is genuine is by listening to the sound it creates when hit with a hard object. A genuine bronze usually creates a lovely ringing sound that lasts for a few seconds, while a fake one creates a dull, heavy sound that disappears fast. The thing that makes this possible is bonze’s tin content. Tin atoms that are well placed within the molecules of copper provide stability, allowing for the transfer and reverberation of sound instead of absorption.

Carry It

Bronze in its purest form is quite heavy. Of course, a lot of other metals are heavy but bronze is unique. It’s harder and denser than most commercially available metals. Those that are harder and denser than bronze are often found in science laboratories and bank vaults. In other words, you can easily identify a fake bronze when you see one by simply lifting it. Unfortunately, unlike other fake products that could get manufacturers into trouble with the law, faux bronze is well-accepted on the market. It’s a mix of resin and bronze powder that looks and feels just like bronze except weighs lighter. That is not the kind of material you would want in most of your projects.

Color and Patina

Bronze sheet metal for sale are available in a variety of shades primarily because of content variation. Bronzes with more tin usually have a lighter shade. Other metals, such as aluminum, manganese, and nickel, mixed with the original alloy also have an effect on the color of the finished product. These shades are hard to mimic. Also, bronze is usually quick to tarnish as a precursor to patination, the process of forming patina on the surface, which is unique in copper alloys. That’s hard to mimic as well. So if the metal you bought suspiciously stays shiny for many days or weeks, that’s probably fake.

Chisel It

Have you ever wondered why a lot of metal sculptures and monuments are made of bronze? That’s most likely because bronze has an unusual property of expanding a small amount when solidifying from a liquid into a solid. For sculpture casting, this is desirable, as it helps to fill a mold. It is also capable of maintaining its physical feature and won’t easily crack when chiseled. To know if it’s really bronze, try to chisel on a particular surface and see what happens.

These are only four of the methods for identifying genuine bronze. Of course, if you want to avoid all the trouble, simply go to reputable bronze sheet metal suppliers like Rotax Metals. With a reputation built on product quality and excellent customer service, they won’t risk offering you faux products.

Characteristics that Set Bronze Square Tube, Bar, or Sheet Apart from Other Products

Choosing a metal for your project is not as easy now as it was centuries ago. With a new alloy being discovered almost every year, you definitely have a lot more choices now. It can get quite confusing, especially if you have no idea how to identify the metal you need.

In case you are looking for bronze, you have to be able to set it apart from other metals so you won’t end up buying a metal that isn’t suitable for your project. Not only is it wasteful, but it’s also dangerous to use a metal that doesn’t have the necessary properties for its supposed application. To help you choose, here are some of the characteristics that set bronze square tube, bar, or sheet supplies apart from other metal products.


bronze tube

It Is Copper-Colored

While this is pretty obvious, considering that bronze’s base metal is copper, you still have to keep in mind that its color is almost similar to that of copper. The reason for this is that copper alloys vary in appearances. Some have lighter tone while others don’t have the physical characteristics of copper at all. So when you go looking for bronze, you can immediately narrow your choices by simply eliminating anything that doesn’t look brownish.

It Is Heavy

Have you ever tried lifting a bronze statue before? If you have, then you must have been caught off guard by its sheer weight. Although most metals are heavy, bronze is quite special, because you can distinguish it from faux bronze by its weight. There’s a certain material called “bonded bronze” that is particularly popular in sculpture. It’s a mix of resin and bronze powder and definitely makes a good sculpting material. The only problem is that it’s not pure bronze. You can tell because it’s three times lighter than genuine bronze.

Tougher than Copper but More Flexible than Brass

Sometimes, even when your choices are just copper, brass, and bronze, there’s a chance you can still be confused as to which one is bronze. In this case, you might want to check their toughness. Go pick a sheet or plate of each metal and try to bend them. You will notice that the most pliable one is copper and the toughest is brass. Bronze is neither too soft nor too hard, which is why it makes a perfect sculpting material.

A Ringing Sound

Like buying any other product, you need to be vigilant when it comes to the quality of your bronze. Avoiding fake bronze is one thing, but avoiding low-quality bronze is another. Bronze can be considered high-quality if it was properly cast, doesn’t have impurities, and has a perfect mixture of copper and tin. You can actually determine this by listening to the sound it makes when hit with another object. A genuine bronze should create a beautiful ringing sound, much like what you hear from a bronze bell.

To make sure that the material you are purchasing is bronze and is genuine bronze at that, it would be best to go to a trusted metal supplier, especially one that specializes in copper alloys, such as Rotax Metals. You can discuss with them the specifications of your project so that they can lead you to the right grade and quantity. Also, you don’t have to worry about quality because for sure all of their bronze tube stock and other products are from the best sources.

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