For most people, strength is the primary attribute that metals possess. After all, metals are used for industrial purposes, such as in construction, architecture, or even plumbing.
In reality, though, many metals in their pure form are not particularly hardy. Take for instance copper, which is relatively soft compared to other structural metals. Fortunately, adding other metals to copper—a process called alloying—can greatly improve its strength.
There are more than 400 copper alloys known to man, and one of the most useful variants is brass, which is produced by the addition of zinc. Rotax Metals, which supplies heavy-duty square brass tubing and other brass products, says that this alloy boasts of many advantages, such as:
A brass tube provides excellent durability, making it a favorite piping material among plumbers. For starters, it can withstand extremely high temperatures, making it ideal for hot water distribution in the home. It is also one of the most corrosion-resistant metals available, so areas with corrosive water (like acidic groundwater) can benefit from brass tubes. In addition, brass pipes never rust, which greatly extends the service lifetime of a plumbing system that uses these components.
Brass is one of the most versatile alloys because of its machinability. An informative article from About.com further explains this characteristic:
“The exact properties of different brasses depend on the composition of the brass alloy, particularly the copper-zinc ratio.
In general, however, all brasses are valued for their machinability, or the ease with which the metal can be formed into desired shapes and forms while retaining high strength.
While there are differences between brasses with high and low zinc contents, all brasses are considered malleable and ductile (low zinc brasses more so). Due to its low melting point, brass can also be cast relatively easily. However, for casting applications, a high zinc content is usually preferred.
Brasses with a lower zinc content can be easily cold worked, welded and brazed.”
Brass is not only tough and versatile; its warm, golden hue makes it very attractive as well. In fact, furniture and interior designers often use this metal in faucet taps, lighting fixtures, and bedframes, among many other applications. Outside the home, this alloy has proven to be a popular architectural metal, often being used to clad building facades to enhance their appearance.
(Source: Metal Profile: Brass, About.com)