When we think of brass, what generally comes to mind is old fashioned pipes, rustic looking hardware or musical instruments. And, of course, those are all very common associations for the metal – but there’s a little more to it. Brass is commonly machined using sheet metal machinery so it’s worth learning a few things about the metal – and that’s exactly what this metal profiling article is going to be covering.
What is brass?
First and foremost, we should establish that brass is actually a copper alloy primarily made up of copper and a small amount of zinc which generally either looks like yellow/gold, copper or anywhere in between. The volume of zinc present determines its colour – the more zinc, the lighter the metal will appear.
As we know, copper itself is not very strong so combining it with other elements hardens it. This makes brass a lot stronger than copper, but still not to the point where it would surpass steel. Brass is used for several different applications that take advantage of both its practical characteristics as well as its rustic aesthetic.
Since brass is an alloy, some of its characteristics and their weight vary depending on the copper to zinc ratio. For example, the more zinc in brass, the stronger and harder it will be – however, it will also be less machinable and resistant to corrosion. So, depending on what you’re using it for, more zinc may or may not be favourable.
There are still some general properties that more or less stay true across the board, though. Its two most significant properties are its thermal conduction and acoustic properties. Brass has what is known as acoustic brightness, which means the sound in brass instruments are emitted for a long time.
It is also a great electrical conductor (just like copper and aluminium) as well as being generally resistant to corrosion. It is ductile and easy to machine into different shapes – making it great for use with sheet metal machinery. These qualities make it a preferred metal for certain applications such as piping.
Brass has been used for pipe fittings for centuries. The fact that it can withstand high temperatures, resist corrosion and can be shaped in a variety of ways makes it ideal for this application as there are a wide variety of fittings that cater to different purposes. Brass is also used for low friction applications such as machine gears, hose couplings, locks or hinges.
Musical instruments account for a large portion of brass’ applications and include trumpets, trombones, tubas and French horns to name a few. These instruments require a lot of precision to create and are typically made with sheet metal machinery nowadays. Similarly to copper, brass also has anti-bacterial qualities and is one of the reasons it makes such a great material for door handles.
Finally, brass is heavily used for decorative purposes. Its varying aesthetic ranging from reddish-brown to yellow gives it an unmistakeable rustic and vintage charm that compliments many darker colours and also materials such as timber or even stainless steel. Combining stainless steel or aluminium with brass can form an industrial aesthetic that makes for a great café or bar.
Brass is completely recyclable. It retains all of its qualities after it’s recycled so it’s ready for its new life. This highly advantageous quality makes it a sustainable metal option that can technically be recycled an infinite number of times. On top of that, the recycling process for brass actually expends less energy when compared to the recycling process of both aluminium and steel and also bears a smaller carbon footprint.
Are you looking for sheet metal machinery?
Whether you’re bending, rolling or cutting brass – you’re going to need some quality sheet metal machinery to do the job and that’s where ACRA Machinery comes into it. We can supply you with a wide range of new and used sheet metal machinery from slitter folders to laser cutters to guillotines. With machines coming from the biggest global brands like Durma and Jorns, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find what you’re looking for.
Having trouble with your machine? Our repair and maintenance service is administered on-site to avoid you having to transport the machine anywhere. We can even schedule regular maintenance visits to ensure your machines run effectively through and through.
Please give us a call on 03 9794 6675 or fill out the contact form on our website if you’d like to get in touch with us.