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Copper and Brass

Copper Alloys and Their Architectural Applications—Bronze Curtain Rods, Brass Railings, and More

copper rods for recyclingWhen we think of construction, the first metal that comes to mind is steel. While it’s true that steel plays a vital role in a building’s stability by acting as reinforcement to columns and beams, it’s not the only metal used in construction. There are many others, most of which are copper alloys. You’ll see them when you take the stairs or the elevator, when you open the door to your home or apartment, or when you take a shower.

Why Copper Alloys Are Architecture-Friendly

Ever since copper was discovered around 10,000 years ago, we’ve become obsessed with exploring its capacities, and all the hard work has paid off well as we now see so many alloys of copper being utilized extensively for various practical applications. But why exactly are copper alloys so in demand in construction? Surely there are many other metals out there that look as good as them. Well, as it turns out, copper alloys possess certain desirable properties that other metals are deficient in or lack completely.

Architects love copper alloys because they offer some kind of design freedom. No other metals are flexible enough to give architects so many options to create designs that are both stunning and enduring. Copper alloys come in an amazing diversity of colors and surface textures as well as a vast array of available product forms, including tubes, bars, and sheets. Thanks to their incredible malleability, copper alloys can adapt to all shapes, dimensions, and luster requirements.

Copper alloys are also very easy to join both mechanically and metallurgically. Having a stable molecular structure, they are extremely durable as well. Some copper-based items from the ancient times still survive today, thanks to copper’s unmatched ability to resist corrosion. Despite that, it’s amazing how many ways you can tint, oxidize, or alter their color. Their thermal and electrical conductivities are off the charts, too. Simply put, there are no metals out there that can match copper alloys when it comes to architectural litheness.

How Copper Alloys Are Identified

As the list of copper alloys grow longer each year, it’s becoming harder and harder to classify them. The risk of mistaking one alloy for another is increasing radically, and it’s not a simple problem. Even choosing an alloy that’s only slightly different from what you actually need could lead to a disaster. This is why we use the Unified Numbering System (UNS) for metals and alloys in North America. In this system, metal alloys are arranged into groups based on their chemical composition, or more specifically on the main and secondary elements they consist. For instance, all copper alloys with zinc as the secondary content are classified as brasses and those that have tin are classified as bronzes.

In the UNS, copper alloys are denoted C followed by five numerical digits. Each combination is unique and represents a particular alloy. UNS designations for other types of metals follow the same format but use different letters. There are currently about 800 copper alloys identified using the UNS. Imagine having to name them the traditional way; that would be utterly confusing. The UNS can help eradicate confusions even in the simplest of ways, such as when selecting bronze shower rods, bronze curtain rods, or stair railings.

Five Principal Families of Copper Alloys and Their Uses

As previously mentioned, copper alloy designations are determined by their secondary content, and so are their families. There are five principal families of copper, each of them with a different primary inclusion. Before proceeding to learning how to install fixed shower curtain rods or how to preserve the luster of your brass furniture, first find out the different families of copper alloy available and their uses.

  • Coppers

    – Although not necessarily alloys of copper (because metals considered alloys contain two or more metallic elements), metals of different grades and thicknesses that are made purely of copper belong to this category. Their differences in physical properties are due to their thickness and the manner by which they were manufactured. Copper material suppliers usually have a separate catalog for this group of copper alloys.

  • Bronzes

    – The oldest known alloy of copper, bronze is made up of copper and tin. A small portion of other metals are also added to produce different varieties, consequently benefiting diverse applications. Phosphor bronze, for instance, is 0.01% to 0.35% phosphorous. The resulting alloy can be used for fasteners, welding rods, and heavy duty bridge plates. Silicon bronze, on the other hand, is 2.80% to 3.80%, making it the most fluid of all copper alloys and it has excellent corrosion resistance as well. You may not notice it but many of your household furniture and fixtures may be made of bronze, including bronze shower curtain rods and bed frames.

  • Brasses

    – Replace tin with zinc as the secondary alloying content of copper and you’ll produce brass. This gold-like alloy is available in a wide range of product forms, including plate, sheet and strip for interior wall and column cladding, tubes and rods for fixtures and railings, wires for screens and grillwork. Like bronze, different types of brass can be produced by adding other metals into the mixture. Brasses can be find both indoors and outdoors.

  • Copper Nickels

    – Due to their high corrosion and tarnish resistance, copper nickels (also called cupronickels) are well-suited for coinage. Many of the coins we have in the United States are made from certain types of copper nickels.

  • Nickel Silvers

    – This group of copper alloys is often mistaken for brasses as both groups share certain qualities. The only difference is nickel silver’s warm, silvery white color (even though it contains no silver), which is why it is also popularly known as white silver.

Whether you’re looking to renovate your bathroom and include shower rods bronze setup or simply beef up your kitchen with a shiny counter cladding, copper alloys are your best bet. Remember to consult with a certified copper sheet supplier like Rotax Metals if you are not familiar with the different types and grades of copper alloys so that you can pick the right material for your project. By giving them details of your plan, they can help you narrow down the vast choices available.

Sources:

https://www.copper.org/publications/pub_list/pdf/A4039-ArchitecturalApplications.pdf

Difference between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

Ever since we learned about metals some 10,000 years ago, we never stopped digging, processing, and combining them to produce new types. Surprisingly, we still do produce new types of metal, pure and alloy alike, despite how advance our technologies have become. In fact, it appears as though we’ve barely scratched the surface. Then again, the few types of metal we’ve discovered so far are enough to fuel the industrial age.

copper cookware

Ferrous vs. Non Ferrous Metals

As distinct from each other as they are, metals share certain qualities. One of which is their susceptibility to corrosion. All metals corrode but their corroding agents vary. Some require extremely harsh acids to oxidize while others corrode just by exposure to moist air. When it comes to corrodibility, metals are generally classified into two types—ferrous and non-ferrous.

It doesn’t take a genius to know the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, although it’s sometimes difficult to spot, especially with untrained eyes. Ferrous metals are those metals that contain a fair amount of iron, while non-ferrous metals are simply those that do not contain iron. While adding iron helps increase a metal’s strength, it also reduces its resistance to corrosion. That’s because iron is highly reactive to oxygen.

When a ferrous metal corrodes, each iron atom on the exposed surface combines with one of the two molecules of oxygen to form iron oxide or rust. That’s the only weakness of iron and yet its impact on alloys is quite immense that it shouldn’t be overlooked. Severe rusting can render a ferrous metal useless, and failure to detect and address corrosion at its early stages may lead to serious damage on the metal. It can spell disaster to a project especially if the ferrous metal is used as a structural element.

Non-ferrous metals, on the other hand, since they don’t contain iron, have natural resistance to rusting. That’s obviously because they don’t have iron to react to moisture. As a result, they last longer without the need for protective coating or alloying with other metals that repel oxygen molecules. You can easily distinguish them by their sleek and shiny surface.

Best Examples of Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals are some of the most extensively used materials on the planet. They make up most of the modern world and serve as the lifeblood of various industries. Here are some of the most prominent examples of ferrous and non-ferrous metals available today.

Ferrous Metals

Perhaps the most popular type of ferrous metal is steel, a metal primarily made of iron and carbon. It can be alloyed with non-ferrous metals such as chromium and nickel to improve its durability. Steel is used for making structural frames and trusses for buildings and bridges.

Cast iron and wrought iron are also popular examples of ferrous metals. Cast iron contains silicon, making it extremely resistant to wear. It’s commonly used for making water pipes, machine tools, automobile engines and stoves. Wrought iron doesn’t have other elements in it apart from iron and carbon, but it’s extremely durable thanks to the addition of slag in its manufacturing.

Non-Ferrous Metals

There are more non-ferrous metals than ferrous metals on the Periodic Table of Elements. That’s primarily because most non-ferrous metals are pure elements. Even their alloys don’t require iron content so those, too, count.

The most widely used non-ferrous metals include copper, aluminum, zinc, lead, and tin. They share certain qualities that are valuable for a wide range of practical applications. Unlike ferrous metals, they can last for thousands of years and can be recycled due to their high resistance to corrosion.

Properties and Uses of Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals

It’s important to note that both ferrous and non-ferrous metals are useful. Even though ferrous metals are apparently less durable than non-ferrous metals due to their low resistance to corrosion, they have qualities not found in the latter that are extremely vital for many different applications.

For instance, ferrous metals are naturally magnetic. This property is useful for motor and electrical applications, which heavily rely on principles of magnetism. Due to their high tensile strength, ferrous metals also have extensive construction and manufacturing applications. Some metals in this category are even used for manufacturing machine tools, drills, blades, taps, and springs. It can maintain a sharp cutting edge. Wrought iron, for instance, due to its hardness and fatigue strength, is used for fencing and railings, agricultural implements, nails, barbed wire, chains, and various ornaments.

Non-ferrous metals are known for having high electrical conductivity. The metal core of the wires and the transformers that make up electrical systems are made of copper. They are also malleable and ductile, making them very easy to form into plates, sheets, and tubes for machine parts. Non-ferrous metals are also the preferred material for electronics as well as pipes for water distribution and plumbing systems. Their corrosion resistance and anti-microbial properties make them the perfect choice for drinking water and food processing.

Some non-ferrous metals, such as alloys of copper, play a critical role in the manufacture of ships and watercrafts. They can withstand the corrosiveness of saltwater, which is about ten times that of tap water. They can help prevent fouling, too, which is the major cause of the distribution of invasive species across the world’s oceans.

Where to Buy Your Materials

Most metal suppliers offer both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, the cost of which inhibits them from providing a wide range of materials. Some suppliers, on the other hand, specialize in either type of metal. Rotax Metals, for example, specializes in non-ferrous metals, particularly copper and its alloys. They are one of the most trusted copper, bronze, and brass suppliers in North America.

When selecting a supplier, make sure they have good credentials. Having been established for many decades is a sign that they are a go-to resource for copper & brass sales. Look through their catalog and find out what types and grades of metal supplies they offer. You know you’ve come to the right place when you see they offer just about every option possible.

Tips for Contractors Who Are Looking for Suppliers of Copper and Brass Sales

copper and brass sales

Having a successful construction business takes more than employing the most highly skilled professionals. You must have a vast network of the best material suppliers within a hundred mile radius from your business place. These suppliers must be able to provide you with superior materials for all of your projects, big and small alike.

One supplier that you should carefully choose is a metal supplier, particularly one that offers supplies for finishing, including hinges, doorknobs, trims, and all sorts of fixture. This is, most of the time, different from the one that supplies you with construction metals, such as reinforcing steel bars. When looking for such supplier, there are several important factors you need to look at.

Specialization

The best trims and fixtures for buildings are those that are made of copper alloys, such as bronze and brass. Whether it’s the towel bars in your bathroom or the splashing in your kitchen, copper alloys outmatch other metals in terms of appearance and durability. Therefore, it would be best to find a supplier that specializes in copper alloys. At least with a company that offers copper and brass sales you can be sure to find even the rarest grades. Top suppliers like Rotax Metals even provide custom solutions.

Reputation

It goes without saying that a supplier with a clean and impressive track record is also the most trustworthy. Find a supplier who’s been in operation for a long time and has served the biggest names in the construction business. This way you can be sure that your company will also receive the same level of customer service and quality of products those companies vouch for.

Inventory and Supply

You want a supplier that can provide you with all the materials you need for each project anytime and in any situation, regardless of whether the economy is good or bad. They must have a huge inventory with a vast selection of items and grades to choose from. The last thing you want is to be in a situation where emergency supply is needed only to find out your supplier can’t deliver. This is why it is imperative to opt for a supplier that has a good supplier of their own or better still one that manufactures their own products.

Customization and Extra Services

Of course, it’s understandable that even the biggest suppliers don’t have a solution available for all kinds of project. Some projects may have highly specific needs that no standard commercially available products can suffice. This is where customization comes in. Not very many metal suppliers are capable of customizing. Only companies like Rotax Metals that have their own foundries and manufacturing sites may be able to deliver. It also helps to find a company that offers extra special services, such as metal fabrication, metal shearing, polishing, and water jet cutting.

Having a trusted metal supplier as a partner can make a huge difference in your construction business. Not only will it shorten delivery time but your customer satisfaction will improve as well. To further expedite your process, find a company that allows you to buy copper online. This company would normally have a professional-looking and user-friendly website.

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