Brass may seem like something that can only be found in musical instruments or plumbing, but it’s actually a metal in high demand among multiple industries. In an article for Platts.com, Nick Jonson discussed a recent report about this year’s export and import rates which was released by The Copper & Brass Fabricators Council:
US imports of brass mill products in June totaled 47.2 million lb compared with nearly 45 million lb in June 2013, a 4.9% increase. June exports totaled nearly 22 million lb compared with 20.5 million lb during the previous year, a 7.3% increase, CBFC said in a report released late Friday.
In the first six months of 2014, US imports of brass mill products totaled 272.4 million lb compared with 245.6 million lb in H1 2013, an increase of 10.9%. H1 exports totaled 130.2 million lb, compared with about 134 million lb in the same year-ago period, a decrease of 2.8%, the CBFC said.
Considering the high demand for their products, dependable brass suppliers like Rotax Metals are doing brisk business indeed. Much of their imports are of pipe and tube components, but sheet metal and bars are close behind. Why the increased need for this alloy? Brass has several properties that make it a preferred material in several industries.
First, high-quality brass sheet metal is sufficiently malleable to be easily cut and molded into a vastly diverse range of shapes such as brass cartridges for bullets or brass fixtures for indoor ornamentation, to name just two. This versatility means that many industries seek to have a reliable supply of brass for their own purposes.
Next, brass is highly resistant to corrosion. This makes it perfect for placement in water-rich areas and other harsh environments. Marine engines and boiler fireboxes are just two examples of where brass is extensively used for its corrosion resistance. Additionally, since brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, varying the composition will make the material more durable. An 85% copper 15% zinc mix is often advised for those seeking maximum resistance to corrosion.
Another property of brass that people find useful is its high tensile strength. This makes it well suited for securing things like clamps or fasteners. Combined with the material’s electrical conductivity, which it has by virtue of being a copper alloy, this characteristic makes brass components a valuable part of many automobiles.
(Source: US brass mill product imports, exports rise in June: CBFC, Platts.com, August 11, 2014)