Metals have come a long way from being made into weapons and hunting tools to being the very framework that holds cities together. Thanks to them, today’s buildings are much sturdier and safer. Unlike before when all structures were made entirely of wood and stones, modern-day structures are made of a combination of concrete and metal, which significantly improves their stability.
Among the few metals that have remained in extensive use today is brass. Any metalworker can attest to the many potentials of this metal, especially that more and more alloys of brass are being manufactured to cater to various other industries. Apart from being durable and tough, brass has an interesting color and sheen as well, which make it suitable for both structural and decorative applications.
Much like bronze and steel, brass can be shaped into bars, sheets, rods, and channels. However, because brass is more malleable than bronze and steel, it is much easier to work with. It’s no wonder it is preferred for applications that involve making small fixtures or systems with intricate systems. Its high machinability makes it a top choice for manufacturing machine parts.
Because brass has many different beneficial features, it is not surprising how useful it can be for a range of applications. Here are four of its most prominent uses.
- Investment Grade Architectural Structures. Perhaps the main reason why brass is not used as massively in construction as steel is that it doesn’t come cheap. After all, copper, its base metal, is not as abundant as iron, steel’s base metal. However, if you want to build an investment grade structure, steel may not be a good option. Brass, which looks more appealing, not to mention having a gold-like appearance, is a far better option.
- Ornamental applications. Brass is mostly used as decorative elements in homes. It can be made into doorknobs, handles, rails, and even frames for large paintings. It is particularly a great choice for railing and handles in all rooms of the house, most especially in the bathroom, because it has antimicrobial properties. A brass sheet may be a good choice for surface covering, such as for kitchen countertops.
- Musical Instruments. The ability of brass to maintain its molecular structure when exposed to vibration gives it an excellent acoustic quality. Many musical instruments, including trombone and sackbut have valves, bores, and slides that perform best if they are made of brass. Of course the kind of brass used for this application has a rather different mixture of metals compared to the ones used for construction.
- Mechanical Applications. Brass is also known for its machinability, which makes it a good material for making bearings and gears for guns and equipment. It’s even used for shell casings and ammunitions.
Types of Brass
Brass is only one of two main alloys of copper, the other being bronze. Like its base metal, brass has many different types as well. These types of brass are categorized into alpha, alpha-beta, and beta.
Alpha Brass is considered as the highest quality type of brass. It is identified by the distinctively homogeneous crystal structure of its molecules. This can be achieved by melting 37 percent zinc into copper. The result is a high-strength and ductile brass that has a greater corrosion resistance than any brass with greater zinc content.
Alpha-beta brasses, on the other hand, have between 37 and 45 percent zinc content. They are less workable than alpha brasses at low temperature but more workable at high temperature. Also, since they have more zinc in them, they are more susceptible to dezincification corrosion. Brasses with more zinc content than alpha and alpha-beta types are considered beta brasses.
Choosing a Supplier
Whether or not you’re buying brass supplies for the first time, you have to be careful in choosing a supplier. This is because not all suppliers have the same sources. Some offer quality products while others offer substandard ones, and unfortunately in most cases, both sell them for similar prices. Turn only to a supplier that has been providing quality brass channel, bar, and sheet items for decades, such as Rotax Metals.
Learn About the Different Brass Types, thebalance.com
KINDS AND USES OF BRASS, kids.britannica.com