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.



Where to Buy Brass: Knowing the Different Types of Commonly Used Brass

Brass is one of the most commonly used man-made metals in the world. For the most part, people are familiar with brass through applications like door locks or musical instruments. These applications display the versatility of the metal. Brass consists of copper and varying amounts of zinc and other metals. Depending on the other metals present in the alloy, brass’ properties begin to vary.

There are over 60 different types of brass available on the market. The staggering number of options available can make it a little difficult for those who are not completely familiar with brass to choose which one they will need. Fortunately, choosing the type of brass you need is easy if you know exactly how you want to use it.

Respected copper and brass suppliers like Rotax Metals typically carry a wide range of brass options for buyers to choose. Here are some of the most common types of brass sold by suppliers and their best uses:

Alloy 260 – 70/30 Brass

Alloy 260, more commonly known as “70/30 brass”, is the most common type of alpha brass used today. The ratio of brass to zinc is 7:3, hence the common name of this type of brass. As zinc dissolves into the copper during manufacturing, the metals combine into a solid solution that boasts a uniform atomic composition. The result is a softer and more ductile than other types of brass. Don’t mistake “softer” for fragility. 70/30 brass is boasts fantastic durability considering how ductile it is. The unique ratio of this type of brass also means that it is less susceptible to corrosion caused by dezincification.

Alloy 280 – Muntz Metal

Alloy 280, more commonly known as Muntz metal, is an alpha-beta type of brass. It is named after George Muntz, a British metal-roller who patented the brass back in 1832. The alloy is made using a mixture of 60 percent copper, 40 percent zinc, and traces of iron. Muntz metal is known for its stronger, “springier”, and more rigid when compared to other types of brass. Although there is a decrease in corrosion resistance compared to alloys with less zinc, it is still considered a corrosion-resistant alloy. Some of the most common applications for Muntz metal include brass springs, electrical sockets, plumbing parts, fasteners, and corrosion-resistant machine parts.

Alloy 353 – Leaded Brass

Alloy 353, more commonly known as leaded brass sheets and plates, is a type of beta brass. This type of brass has more than 45 percent zinc in it. However, the inclusion of lead in the alloy allows it to adopt atmospheric corrosion resistance and increases the machinability of the entire sheet. Known for its stiffness, it is also ideal for free-cutting. It is commonly used as machine parts that are subjected to friction such as nuts and gears. The brass is also used as a blanket for engraving purposes in clocks and watches. Leaded brass also boasts a good return value as scrap. This allows the alloy to be quite competitive with steel in terms of net cost.

Alloy 385 – Architectural Bronze

Alloy 385, more commonly known as architectural bronze, is often found in brass angles. It is often compared to Alloy 360 (also known as free cutting brass). The key difference here is that architectural bronze has les lead in it. The unique blend of metals makes architectural bronze good at resisting corrosion. This alloy is prized for its machinability and how it is easy to process via hot forging and pressing, and hot forming and bending. As its name would suggest, it is mostly used in architectural applications like trims and hinges. Artists who sculpt with metals also favor alloy 385 due to how easy it is to shape.

Alloy 464 – Naval Brass

Alloy 464, more commonly known as naval brass, is one of the most common types of alpha-beta brass. Naval brass boasts 59 percent copper, 40 percent zinc, 1 percent tin, and lead in trace amounts. This unique composition makes naval brass remarkably hard and strong. As you may have guessed from its name, naval brass is primarily used in seafaring vessels. The presence of tin and lead in the alloy helps protect the brass from the corrosive effects of saltwater. Although the main use for naval brass is in marine applications, it is also used in the industrial sector. Welding rods, valve stems, exchanger tubes, and condenser plates are some of the industrial applications of naval brass.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Choose the Right Type of Brass

The first thing you need to do if you have a project that involves the use of brass is to figure out where to buy brass. This is relatively easy since many renowned brass suppliers deliver nationwide. Once you’ve settled on a supplier, you’ll need to figure out which type of brass you need.

Most brass suppliers, like Rotax Metals, will have more than just the five types of brass mentioned above. Many of these different types of brass share similar properties, but also offer different specializations. This can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact type of brass you need. If you are having difficulty identifying the best type of brass for the job, try answering the following questions:

What are the mechanical properties I need from the final product?

Try to imagine the final product made with the brass you’ve built. How will that product be used? Depending on its use, you will need different properties present in the brass you buy. Ask yourself if there is a specific tensile strength or yield strength you need from the final product. Will elasticity be a concern when manufacturing the final product? Asking yourself these questions will usually help you narrow down your choices to a handful of options.

What degree of machinability do I need for this project?

Machinability refers to how well a certain metal is cut into its final form and size via a controlled material removal process. Depending on how you plan to process the brass you purchase, you may prefer brass sheets that offer higher machinability or you may require sheets that boast lower machinability. Alloy 360 is often considered the benchmark for machinability of brass. Machinability isn’t just about how easy it makes it for you to process your brass. Higher machinability tends to be desirable since it can have a direct impact on the cost efficiency of your project.

Do I need to achieve a certain aesthetic with the final product?

Since brass is made of different types of metals, you can expect certain chemical reactions to occur as you process it. There may be times when you the brass used changes in color during your manufacturing process. In most cases, this is not much of a problem if you plan to add a coat of primer and paint over the final product. However, there will be times when you will want to retain the alluring color of brass. You’ll want to research on how a particular type of brass may react to how you process it before buying it.

Once you’ve answered these three simple questions, you should have been able to narrow down your choices to around three different types of brass. This should make it easier for you to compare the differences between them and make the best choice for your project. If you are still having trouble deciding, do not hesitate to share these answers with the supplier’s sales team. They can easily draft a shortlist of recommendations for you and steer you towards the best type of brass for your needs.



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