Brass is easily distinguished as a buttery yellow-colored metal often associated with the wind instruments used in marching bands. It is an alloy (mixture) of copper and zinc, and basic iterations of brass typically consist of 67% copper and 33% zinc. It is praised for its durability, workability, and aesthetic value throughout the world and is used in a wide variety of applications. It’s a relatively old alloy produced as early as the 5th Century B.C. by the ancient Chinese.
Brass is called by a number of names, including “cartridge brass” and “Dutch brass”. The mixture of copper and zinc is varied in order to create different types of brass, a few of which include admiralty brass (70% copper and 30% zinc); alpha brass (a.k.a. Prince’s metal); alpha-beta brass (also known as Muntz metal and duplex brass), among others. All of these types are made for specific purposes. For instance, Alpha-beta brass is hot-worked by extrusion or stamping and die-casting, and alpha brass is preferred for forging.
Brass is identified by its bright, gold-like hue, good malleability (ability to be molded into any desired shape), good acoustics (making it perfect for musical instruments), and its hassle-free casting properties. It is also wear and spark-resistant, and is also a good conductor of both heat and electricity (its conductivity ranges from 23-44% that of copper).