For those individuals that are new to metallurgy it is common to assume that the characteristics of bronze copper and phosphor bronze are interchangeable. These three metals are known as red metals, and although they have a similar look, they are different.
Brass mainly consists of copper with added zinc. Using varying mixtures produces a wide range of colors and properties. When the amounts of zinc are increased, final materials will have improved ductility and strength. Hot-working abilities become possible when zinc contents are between 32% and 39%. Once going over 39% zinc, brass will have higher strength but lower ductility.
Copper boasts excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, which is why the material is used in many products. The material is also durable, formable, and highly resistant to corrosion. Finding pipe fittings and pipes manufactured from this material is common. Different grades of copper allow for custom properties. For instance, oxygen-free copper is exclusively used for functions that require conductivity and ductility. One of the most valued features of beryllium copper is its ability to prevent bacteria. The EPA found that copper alloys kill up to 99.9% of bacteria after contact.
Bronze is considered an alloy and is made using copper and other ingredients. Tin is most commonly added to bronze, but engineers use phosphorus, arsenic, manganese, silicon, and aluminum as well. Mixing materials creates unique final properties for the material. These alloys are typically harder than copper. Industrial applications benefit from bronze, such as companies needing bearings or bushings.
Knowing the difference between the three materials will make engineering design more efficient. For more information on your application’s specific needs you should not hesitate to give us a call.