Friday, June 9, 2017

Brass Tubing: Categories and Properties

Depending on the project, brass can be purchased in various forms, gauges, and sizes. For instance, you can choose to get sheets that you can freely shape in any way. Some brasses work best for water applications or electrical work. How is the alloy classified? And what are its other favorable physical characteristics?

Alpha Brasses

Based on their crystalline structures, some brasses are categorized as alpha brasses, in which majority is copper and the zinc content is about 37% or less. UNS C26000, aka cartridge brass, is a well-known example of this variety of alloy, and it is very ductile, malleable, and ideal for cold working. Other low zinc brasses are 70/30 brass and yellow brass, which are often used for hardware and ornamental projects. 

Alpha Beta Brasses

Duplex brasses, also called alpha beta brasses, have two kinds of crystalline structures, making the alloys stronger and more favorable for hot working, such as forming and extruding to make brass tubing and the like. Zinc content is around 37 to 45%, and some trace metals like aluminum and tin are added to further improve its corrosion resistance. A small amount of lead may also be included to make it more machinable and to protect it from cracking as the alloy cools.

Continuous research is being done to further improve the physical properties of copper alloys like brass. Some studies have found that while the copper and tin combination exhibits excellent electrical conductivity, the addition of magnesium further strengthens the alloy. Such findings serve as a guide for craftsmen and workers to use the right type of brass for its intended purpose.

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