How Much is Brass and How is it Made?(tack weld Rory)

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Brass is a metal alloy made up of copper and zinc. The exact ratios of copper and zinc can vary, resulting in different types of brass with unique properties and uses. But in general, brass contains 60-90% copper and 10-40% zinc. The price of brass depends on several factors, including the type of brass, its form and purity, and market conditions. Let's take a closer look at brass, how it's made, its applications and cost.
Types of Brass
There are many different types of brass classified by their specific zinc-copper ratios:
- Standard Brass - 60% copper, 40% zinc
- Naval Brass - 60% copper, 39% zinc, 1% tin
- Red Brass - 85% copper, 5% tin, 5% lead, 5% zinc
- Yellow Brass - 67% copper, 33% zinc
- Cartridge Brass - 70% copper, 30% zinc
- Low Brass - 80% copper, 20% zinc
- Muntz Metal - 60% copper, 40% zinc
- Architectural Brass - 57% copper, 3% lead, 40% zinc
The different ratios create brasses with unique colors, from red to yellow, and properties like strength, corrosion resistance, machinability and more. Standard brass is common and inexpensive while specialized types like naval brass are more niche and costly.
Brass Manufacturing Process
Brass is an alloy, not a naturally occurring metal, so it has to be manufactured. Here are the basic steps:
1. Raw material preparation - Copper and zinc materials must reach a very high purity, often 99%, to create high quality brass. Impurities like iron or silicon can ruin brass properties.
2. Melting and mixing - Precisely measured amounts of copper and zinc are loaded into furnaces and melted at around 1700°F. The liquified metals are continuously mixed to achieve the desired zinc-copper ratios.
3. Casting - Once thoroughly blended, the molten brass can be cast into ingots, rods, sheets or other shapes. Many foundries pour liquid brass into molds to quickly produce standardized ingots.
4. Working and fabrication - After solidifying, brass castings are heated and worked via processes like rolling, forging, extrusion or drawing. This creates brass in an array of forms from thin sheets to wires.
5. Machining - For precise brass parts and products, castings and wrought forms are machined using processes like turning, drilling and milling. Computerized CNC machines enable intricate brass components.
6. Joining - For more complex assemblies, brass pieces are joined through welding, brazing and soldering. This allows customized brass products.
7. Finishing - Lastly, brass parts can be polished, coated, electroplated or patinated to achieve the desired aesthetic properties.
So in summary, expert manufacturing controls the zinc-copper balance while thermal, mechanical and machining processes shape brass into products.
Brass Applications
Brass has excellent corrosion resistance, electrical and thermal conductivity, strength, machinability and color. This makes it ideal for:
- Plumbing - Brass tubes, valves, fittings, faucets and fixtures are standard in plumbing systems. Low-lead and lead-free brass is now common to meet health regulations.
- Electrical - Brass conductors, connectors and components handle electricity safely in power grids and electronics. Brass offers high conductivity.
- Architectural - Decorative brass door hardware, railings, lighting fixtures and accents provide aesthetics inside and outside buildings.
- Locks and clocks - Strong, machinable brass is crafted into locking and timekeeping components that withstand friction and corrosion.
- Musical instruments - Brass instruments like trumpets, trombones and tubas utilize the acoustic properties of shaped brass.
- Ammunition - Cartridge brass is the material of choice for bullet casings due to its expansion properties during firing.
- Costume jewelry - Affordable brass with gold hues is made into necklaces, rings, bracelets and more alongside other metals.
Brass Prices
The price of brass depends on the specific alloy and form as well as market demand:
- Scrap brass - Around $1.50-2.50 per pound. Varies based on copper content. A common way to buy unprocessed brass.
- Brass ingots - About $3-4.50 per pound. Varies by alloy. Refined brass shaped into standardized bars for metalworking.
- Brass sheet - Around $4-8 per pound in 1/16" to 1/4" thicknesses. Widely used in manufacturing so demand affects pricing.
- Brass rod - About $4-10 per pound depending on diameter from 1/8" to 2". Machining applications dictate rod prices.
- Brass wire - Starting at $10-15 per pound. Small gauge wire for wiring, screens and fasteners commands higher prices.
- Brass tubing - Starts around $10-15 per pound and rises based on tubing dimensions due to precision manufacturing.
So generally, fabricated and machined brass products will range from $4-15 per pound based on alloy, temper, size specifications and market conditions. Scrap brass and large raw forms are cheaper. Overall, brass is economical compared to precious metals like copper, gold and silver.
In summary, brass is a versatile, affordable alloy of copper and zinc with many commercial and industrial uses. It can be manufactured into a wide range of products via casting, machining and other metalworking processes. Brass prices vary by type and form but are relatively low, making brass an essential metal in our modern world. Understanding brass properties, manufacturing and pricing allows industries to utilize this material effectively for construction, electronics, decor and more applications. CNC Milling