Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Brass and Why You Need the Help of a Muntz Metal Supplier

Metals are a staple material for construction, industrial, and art projects. They are prized for their many beneficial properties, which are impossible to find in other materials. Even rock, wood, glass, or plastic pale in comparison to metal in many ways. Each metal has its own set of properties that suit specific applications. Fortunately, because there’s a wide variety of metals available commercially, you have a big chance of finding the specific type you need for your own projects.

Copper and Its Alloys

As previously mentioned, each type of metal has a unique set of properties. Many of these properties may not be useful for broad-spectrum applications, which explains why some metals are more extensively used than others. An example of metal whose properties are essential to many basic applications is copper.

The use of copper dates back 10,000 years, making it the first metal to be discovered. It was first used for making weapons and cookware as it exhibits high malleability, a property that is critical in making flat and sharp items. Another reason for its popularity is that it was most likely the only available metal at the time. Even after the discovery of gold and silver, copper still dominated due to its abundance.

With the discovery of copper came the realization that metals can be combined with other metals, a discipline we now know as metallurgy, and the output we call alloys. Thankfully, it was copper that man first discovered. If it was other metals, alloying would have been difficult or almost impossible. Bronze and brass should have been discovered much later, which means there could have been no Bronze Age. History must have been very different. Thanks to copper’s extreme workability, another property many of today’s metal workers prize it for, the industrial age was able to catch up fast.

While copper has over a hundred different versions, or rather alloys, brass and bronze are its greatest gift to the world. Of the two, however, brass seems to have the upper hand when it comes to useful properties. There’s no denying how important bronze is in various industries, but brass, being a much younger copper alloy, has brought something new to the world of metals.

What is brass?

When you combine copper with zinc, you get brass. Specifically, brass consists of about 60% copper and 40% zinc. It was found that brass is more malleable than bronze, which is one of the reasons why many consider it to be a better metal. The malleability of brass, however, depends on its zinc content. Brasses with more than 40% zinc are harder to work. That’s because zinc is notorious for having low malleability.

To better understand how using brass could help you achieve your goal for your own project, let’s discuss its properties. After all, whatever you will do in your project will depend on the properties of the materials you will use. Malleability and workability had already been discussed so let’s talk about brass’s other beneficial properties.

  • Corrosion Resistance. Copper being the base metal, it’s expected that brass does not rust. Considering that zinc is also corrosion-resistant, there’s no real chance brass will form rust in its lifetime. Instead, it will form a patina on its surface as it makes contact with oxygen. Increasing the amount of copper in the alloy boosts this property.
  • Low Melting Point. This property may seem a drawback rather than a benefit but in some cases, it is actually useful. For instance, because brass has a low melting point, it is easy to cast. That could help significantly reduce the amount of energy you need for the entire manufacturing process, which means you can also reduce your carbon footprint.
  • High Electrical Conductivity. We all know that most electrical wires in use today are made of copper. That’s because copper is a highly conductive metal. Although it only comes next to silver, it is still preferred for electrical applications because it can take high temperatures without burning. The same can be said about brass.
  • Exquisiteness. Are you looking for an elegant but cheap material to match your luxurious interior or exterior decoration? Brass may just be the metal you’re looking for. It has brighter hue than bronze and can be really shiny when polished. To the untrained eye, it may even be mistaken for gold.

Brass Applications

People started using brass just about a couple of millennia after copper’s discovery. Around 5000 B.C., it was already mass produced and widely used in China and across Central Asia. Brass-based products at the time include cookware, cutlery, pipes, navigation instruments, coins, and adornments. As industrialization spread across the continent, brass became increasingly in demand, making its way into even larger industries.

Today, as brass spawns different variants, including the famous Muntz Metal used for making ship parts, this amazing metal is used for a great deal of applications, including:

  • High Tensile Brass. Brass can also be alloyed with manganese. The result is a high strength, corrosion-resistant material that is perfect for making hydraulic equipment fittings, locomotive axle boxes, pump casting, and heavy rolling mill housing nuts.
  • Muntz Metal. When a trace of iron is added to the regular brass mixture, you produce Muntz Metal. Also known as yellow metal, this brass is often used as a replacement for copper sheathing due to its ability to resist fouling.
  • Engraving Brass. As the name suggests, this brass type is used primarily for making products meant to be incised, such as name plates, plaques, and medals. It is the 2 percent lead content that creates a balance between firmness and softness required for engraving purposes.
  • Red Bras Also called “gilding metal,” this brass type contains only 5 percent zinc. As a result, it is very malleable, perfect for applications like grillwork, jewelry, architectural fascia, and door handles.
  • Free Cutting Brass. Containing a little bit of lead, this brass type is very easy to machine. It is used for making nuts and bolts, threaded parts, water fittings, and valve bodies.

If you ever need brass supplies for your projects, make sure to get your materials from a trusted supplier, such as Rotax Metals. Especially if you are looking for special brass types like Muntz metal, you should only go to a trusted Muntz metal supplier to ensure that the materials you’ll get is superior in quality.



What You Need to Know before Choosing Engraving Brass Sheet Suppliers

Engraving is the practice of carving a design, pattern, or message on the surface of a material. It is arguably the oldest form of art, dating back 500,000 years. The ancient people continued using engraving as their primary channel of visual art and communication until over 400,000 years later when they finally discovered that soot and animal fat, when dissolved in water or oil, could make paint. Surprisingly, even after the emergence and development of other art forms, engraving lingered. In fact, it is currently a booming $2 billion industry in the United States alone with an annual growth rate of more than 4 percent.

What to Engrave

Any material with sufficient hardness is a good candidate for engraving, but it has to be softer than the burin or any standard engraving tool to make incision possible. Early engravers used stone and metal because they are durable and accessible. Plastics and ceramics came in much later when engraving applications became more diverse. Wood was also widely used but not preferred for applications that require a hard-wearing output due to its poor resilience against the elements. Stone and metal are more suitable in this case.

One example of a stone engraving that has endured for a long time is the hieroglyphs of Egypt. Because they were engraved in stone, it would take more than the elements to wear them away. While metal is generally just as durable as stone, it has a weakness most stone materials don’t have—moisture. When exposed to oxygen or any corrosive substance, most metals would corrode and disintegrate. The rate of corrosion depends on the type of metal and the corrosion agent involved.

What Metals to Engrave

Metals react to oxidation differently. Some metals, particularly iron and alloys that contain iron, corrode very quickly, while others altogether slow down oxidation or repel oxygen by forming a protective layer, called patina. Metals that have high resistance to corrosion are well suited for engraving. This was known even in the ancient times, which is why they were able to tell which metal could last for many years as evidenced by the countless engraved metal artifacts found around the world, some over 5,000 years old. Most of these artifacts are metal plates with writing on them. Perhaps they were used for the same purpose paper is used today.

As expected, most engraved metal artifacts are copper-based, particularly containing if not completely made of bronze or brass, simply because these are the first metals to be discovered. Their resistance to corrosion is so great they can last for thousands of years. Unlike stone, however, they can still sustain significant damage from many years of weathering. Naturally, the patina formation will have covered the entire metal surface overtime and render the metal completely useless, especially because the patina may be difficult or even impossible to remove.

Why Engrave on Metals

Metals were not as appealing for engraving applications in the ancient times as they are now, and there’s a good reason for that. In the ancient times, metals were rare and quite difficult to produce. As the useful properties of metals slowly came to light, engravers became fascinated with them. Metals eventually replaced stone as the primary engraving material, leading the way to the creation of today’s rich and flourishing engraving industry. Here are three reasons why metals are a highly preferred material for engraving.

  • Lightweight. As huge blocks, metals can be really heavy, but they also have unique properties that allow them to lose their weight without compromising density. Some metals are malleable and can be flattened into thin, light plates. Others can be alloyed with other metals to adjust their molecular structure in such a way that the resulting material will be frothy but tough.
  • Flexible. Malleability allows metals not just to be flattened but to be molded into different shapes as well. Increased malleability even makes a metal easy to carve. Also, since most metals can be alloyed with other metals, you can produce alloys of different colors, textures, and sheen. You can even customize by combining different metals or manipulating their patina to achieve the right properties for your engraving project.
  • Durable. With today’s technology, it’s quite easy to find non-corrodible metals on the market. It’s no longer difficult to find a metal that you can count on to last for many years, especially if you want your engraving to endure for future use.

Modern Applications

Engraving played an important role in the progression of each era in history. During the Renaissance period, for instance, engraving was a well-utilized technology, particularly in producing images on paper in artistic printmaking, mapmaking, and reproduction and illustration for books and magazines. At present, it’s being used for quite a number of applications. Here are some of them.

  • Interior Signs. Whether you want to put up a signage in your lobby with your company’s name on it to draw clients into your office or simple labels for each room in your office, engraving is a method that could definitely come in handy, and brass is the perfect material to use. Brass has the most appealing qualities among copper alloys, with a sheen comparable to gold, and is extremely durable as well.
  • Award Plaques. While printed labels are a great option for adorning plaques and medals, nothing compares to the beauty and robustness of engraved labels. They look professional, just as important items like special awards should look like, and would absolutely hold up to the elements.
  • House Nameplates. Having a nameplate for your residence is sure helpful for anyone who might want to visit your home. It wouldn’t be practical to use a printed nameplate as it will be installed outside where it’s completely exposed to the elements. An engraved house nameplate could last longer and would look at lot better.
  • Pet Tags. Engraving also proves to be the most appealing option for making pet tags. An exquisite engraving brass with the name of your beloved pooch or kitty on it is certainly a lovely sight.
  • Memorial Plaques. Engraving information about a person or event you want to be remembered is most efficiently done on a brass sheet as it promises fine and lasting results. Top engraving brass sheet suppliers such as Rotax Metals can provide you with a plate that has just the right grade for your needs.

No matter what you want to engrave, you must find the perfect metal to be able to produce guaranteed high-quality output. Of course, you can achieve this by trusting only the best supplier in your area. They can even teach you how to engrave brass or other metals if you ask them to. Most of these suppliers offer a vast selection of materials apart from engraving metal sheets and plates. If you need tubes, bars, or angles, they can certainly deliver.



Some Facts about Metals Before Buying from Aluminium Bronze Suppliers

Metals in interior design never go out of style. They remain high in demand because they are simple to incorporate in any design element, and can effectively elevate the aesthetic of a room almost immediately.

As easy as it is to do right, however, it can also be just as easy to get it wrong. Professionals make sure to carefully take note of the desired theme to avoid adding in items that could clash with it. A rustic-themed interior, for example, would predominantly have wood materials. Metals can be incorporated too, but certainly not by a lot, and depends on the kind that will be used. Bronze is a good option, to go with the wood aesthetic, for example, because it does “age” beautifully with its patina.

Before you go looking where to buy bronze metal, here are some helpful information on bronze metal and how you can work them into your designs for a simple yet sophisticated look.

Composition and Properties

Technically speaking, bronze is a type of alloy resulting from a combination of copper and another type of metal. The most common pairing is usually copper and tin, although there are many possible varieties.  Other elements contained in bronze may include aluminum, arsenic, manganese, nickel, silicon, or zinc.

Bronze takes on a golden appearance, which is why it is a good substitute for gold. It is also hard but malleable, thus making it a good option for metal art, among its many other functionalities. In particular, bronze is a great choice for sculpture casting because it expands by just a small amount when its form solidifies from a liquid state. This helps better fill the mold, allowing the casting mold to be filled precisely.

Apart from that, it also does not generate sparks when used to strike against a hard surface. It also has considerably low friction, especially when compared against other metals. This makes it a good alternative to steel, especially when working with or around flammable materials.

Unique Patina

The trademark characteristic of bronze is the patina or discoloration. This is actually a result of exposure to air. The oxidation only affects the outermost layer of the bronze metal, though, which means that the rest of the material remains in its original state.

The patina starts out as copper oxide, and then later on transforms into carbonate.  The oxidation process itself is no threat to the metal, and in fact even protects the inner layers against corrosion. What you should be careful about when using bronze are the chlorides, such as those in sea water. This can lead to the formation of copper chlorides, which in turn can give rise to corrosion that can destroy the metal. This occurrence is otherwise known as the “bronze disease.”

Care & Maintenance

If you prefer to have the bronze metal pristine and without patina, clean it regularly with the following steps. Simply use warm, distilled water to rinse the metal, and then put on paste made of baking soda and lemon juice. Gently clean with a brush; ideally, you should use the one with soft bristles so that it doesn’t scratch the surface of the bronze material. An alternative mixture for the paste could also be flour and salt mixed with white vinegar. Once you’ve scrubbed the metal with the paste, leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing.

If the material has already developed the bronze disease, you will have to clean it a lot more frequently. You will need to soak it in a sodium sesquicarbonate solution (5% or less), changed every week. Again, always remember to use only warm, distilled water for rinsing. You’ll know the treatment has worked once the pH level turns neutral.

One thing you have to keep in mind when maintaining bronze is that oxidation is a naturally occurring process for the material when it is exposed to air. Therefore, unless you intend to keep it locked up in a glass case, you can be certain that it will develop patina again after cleaning. The other thing you can do to protect the material is to coat it in entirely with lacquer. Make sure not to miss a spot.

Types of Bronze Alloys

As was mentioned earlier, there are different types of bronze metals, depending on what combination is used. While each type would have their own special attributes, what remains constant across the board is the strength and durability, which is why it’s considered to be one of the most reliable metals around.

Aluminum Bronze – This is said to be the strongest among all types of bronze. It also scores major points for being corrosive-resistant. It has a more industrial functionality too, precisely because of these features. It’s most commonly used in marine hardware as well as in pumps that carry corrosive materials.

Copper Nickel – Like aluminum bronze, copper nickel is also strong and corrosive-resistant. What makes it stand out, however, is its strong thermal stability. This makes it ideal for the manufacturing of ship hulls, other marine equipment, electronic components, and the likes.

Nickel Brass – This type of bronze takes on a more silvery color because of the nickel, although the copper content does retain the trademark bronze strength and resistance to corrosion. Common uses of nickel brass include food and beverage equipment, optical equipment, and musical instruments.

Phosphor Bronze – Otherwise known as tin bronze, phosphor bronze is known for being highly durable and fatigue-resistant. It also has coefficient of friction. Because of its features resulting from its composition, this type of bronze is most commonly used in the manufacturing of electronic components, washers, and others.

Silicon Bronze – Comprised of copper and silicon, this type of metal otherwise known as “red silicon bronze” actually only has as much as 6% silicon. Zinc actually comprises 20% while the rest is copper. Pumps and valve parts are the usual products to come out of this particular metal type.

Bronze in Design

Knowing the different types of bronze is crucial in determining what to incorporate in your designs. Especially if you would like to make something more custom, choosing the right materials would be very helpful for your cause.

Establishing a design theme or aesthetic is a good way to start. Identify how big a component is bronze going to be in the overall look of your design. This way, you can plan early on which likely places you can incorporate it to. More importantly, you can easily get in touch with aluminium bronze suppliers and the likes so you can order the things you need immediately.

Having a well-stocked supply should help you move along with your project a lot faster and smoothly. Of course, that goes without saying that you should be mindful of your inventory so that you don’t end up wasting your resources.

Overall, having bronze elements in your design can work wonders in elevating an otherwise simple look into something a lot more elegant and stylish. Bronze frames, for example, can make pictures or paintings stand out even more. Little bronze trinkets and other crafts can help upgrade a simple wooden table. Bronze trimmings and linings can give that subtle shine to handrails, banisters, and interior sidings.

Of course, light fixtures, coat racks, even tables and chairs, cabinets and other decorative elements all could use a pop of bronze too to upgrade its looks. Incorporating these style elements would require a special kind of care, however, that’s why knowing how to care for and maintain these metals is equally important.

Metal suppliers such as Rotax Metals can help you find the right material that you need. With quality materials, you can better execute your design plans.



What is Bronze? Definition, Composition and Properties. ThoughtCo.

Mixing Metals: The Do’s and Don’ts.

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