Brass - An Overview of This Useful Metal Alloy and Its Cost(how to extract broken tap Oliver)

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Brass is a metal alloy made up of copper and zinc. The proportions of copper and zinc can vary to create different types of brass with unique properties and uses. Brass is highly malleable and durable, corrosion resistant, and has attractive golden coloring. These characteristics make it a popular choice for decorative metalwork as well as industrial applications. In this article, we'll take a closer look at brass, how it's made, typical compositions, and pricing.
What is Brass?
Brass is defined as a metal alloy of copper and zinc. The copper gives brass its golden color and high ductility, while the zinc makes it harder and stronger than pure copper. The amount of zinc vs copper can vary widely, creating brasses with different properties optimized for specific applications. Here are some common brass compositions:
- 65% copper, 35% zinc: Architectural brass
- 60% copper, 40% zinc: Cartridge brass
- 70% copper, 30% zinc: Yellow brass
- 85% copper, 5-15% zinc: Red brass
Brass is sometimes alloyed with small amounts of other elements like aluminum, arsenic, lead, or silicon to impart particular characteristics. For example, aluminum improves corrosion resistance in seawater conditions. Lead improves machinability but is being phased out due to toxicity concerns.
How is Brass Produced?
Brass is produced by first melting and mixing appropriate portions of copper and zinc metals in a furnace. The molten brass can then be cast into ingots, extruded into rods or tubes, or rolled into sheets.
The traditional method starts with solid forms of copper and zinc which are weighed and blended to achieve the desired composition. However, much modern brass is made by directly combining the pure metals in molten form. Some production facilities also use brass scrap metal, which is melted down and refined.
After the initial melting and blending, secondary remelting and alloying steps may be used to further refine the brass and achieve tighter control of the composition. The liquid brass can also be degassed under vacuum to remove trapped air bubbles that could lead to defects in finished products.
Machining of Brass
The excellent machinability of brass makes it the first choice metal forturned parts, plumbing fittings, screws, ammunition casings, instruments, valves, and other precision items. Brass is soft and ductile, allowing it to be worked easily on lathes, mills, and machining centers. It also has high thermal conductivity, dissipating heat readily during machining operations.
Brass machining tips:
- Use sharp cutting tools with generous rake angles
- Moderate speeds and feeds recommended
- Use sulfur-based EP lubricants
- Annealing may be required to re-soften work-hardened brass
The low forces and smooth cutting action involved in machining brass result in good dimensional accuracy and fine surface finishes. When properly machined, brass parts require little to no additional finishing or surface treatments. This helps minimize total production costs.
Common Uses of Brass
Here are some of the most common uses of brass leveraging its attractive appearance, strength, machinability and antimicrobial properties:
- Decorative trim, door hardware, furniture accents
- Plumbing pipes, fittings, valves, fixtures
- Musical instruments like trumpets, saxophones, trombones
- Ammunition casings, bullet jackets
- Bells, clocks, novelty items
- Electrical connectors, terminals, switches
- Marine components like propellers, steering wheels
Brass vs. Bronze
Bronze is another copper alloy but with tin rather than zinc as the main secondary element. While they share some similarities, brass and bronze fill quite different roles:
- Brass is brighter and more golden vs. the brownish hue of bronze
- Brass is more ductile and malleable than harder, stronger bronze
- Bronze better resists corrosion in marine environments
- Brass is better for fine machining and plumbing
- Bronze is better for statues, weapons, load-bearing applications
How Much Does Brass Cost?
Brass pricing depends on the specific alloy, form, and quantity being purchased. Here are some typical price ranges:
- Brass scrap metal - $1.50-$3.50 per pound
- Brass sheet, plate, bars - $3-$8 per pound
- Brass tubing - $4-$10 per foot
- Brass rods - $3-$20 per foot
- Brass ingots - $2-$5 per pound
Architectural brass sheet and rod for decorative applications commands premium pricing in the $5-$20 per pound range. Red brass rod suitable for machining and plumbing applications goes for $7-$22 per foot.
Brass wire, fasteners, fittings, and plumbing components range from under $1 up to $50 or more depending on the item type and complexity.
Scrap brass containing mostly clean copper alloy clippings and solids can be recycled profitably at most metal recycling facilities. Prices vary based on copper futures markets but generally bring about $1.50-$3.50 per pound.
Brass vs. Other Metals
How does brass compare cost-wise to some other popular metals? Here are typical per pound prices:
- Aluminum - $1-$3
- Stainless Steel - $2-$4
- Mild Steel - $0.50-$2
- Copper - $3-$4.50
- Brass - $3-$8
So we see brass positioned as a mid-range metal in terms of pricing - more expensive than basic steel but much less than exotic alloys. Considering its outstanding usefulness across so many applications from plumbing to bullets, brass delivers excellent value for the cost.
The unique characteristics of brass make it ideal for the right jobs. When appearance, machinability, and corrosion resistance are important, brass is hard to beat. This versatile alloy continues serving critical roles everywhere from musical instruments to missiles. With maintenance of global copper and zinc supplies, brass should remain an affordable mainstay material for the foreseeable future. CNC Milling