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- ASM Specialty Handbook ® Copper and Copper Alloys
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Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc , in proportions which can be varied to achieve varying mechanical and electrical properties. Brass is similar to bronze , another alloy containing copper that uses tin in place of zinc;  both bronze and brass may include small proportions of a range of other elements including arsenic , lead , phosphorus , aluminum , manganese , and silicon. The distinction between the two alloys is largely historical,  and modern practice in museums and archaeology increasingly avoids both terms for historical objects in favor of the more general " copper alloy ".
Brass has long been a popular material for decoration for its bright gold-like appearance, e. It has also been widely used for all sorts of utensils due to many properties, such as low melting point, workability both with hand tools and with modern turning and milling machines , durability, electrical and thermal conductivity.
It is still commonly used in applications where corrosion resistance and low friction is required, such as locks , hinges , gears , bearings , ammunition casings, zippers , plumbing , hose couplings , valves , and electrical plugs and sockets. It is used extensively for musical instruments such as horns and bells , and also used as substitute of copper in making costume jewelry , fashion jewelry and other imitation jewelry.
Brass is often used in situations in which it is important that sparks not be struck, such as in fittings and tools used near flammable or explosive materials. Brass has higher malleability than bronze or zinc. By varying the proportions of copper and zinc, the properties of the brass can be changed, allowing hard and soft brasses.
The density of brass is 8. Brass scrap is collected and transported to the foundry, where it is melted and recast into billets. Billets are heated and extruded into the desired form and size. The general softness of brass means that it can often be machined without the use of cutting fluid , though there are exceptions to this.
Aluminium makes brass stronger and more corrosion-resistant. Aluminium also causes a highly beneficial hard layer of aluminium oxide Al 2 O 3 to be formed on the surface that is thin, transparent and self-healing. Tin has a similar effect and finds its use especially in seawater applications naval brasses. Combinations of iron, aluminium, silicon and manganese make brass wear - and tear-resistant.
Brass will corrode in the presence of moisture, chlorides , acetates , ammonia , and certain acids. This often happens when the copper reacts with sulfur to form a brown and eventually black surface layer of copper sulfide which, if regularly exposed to slightly acidic water such as urban rainwater, can then oxidize in air to form a patina of green-blue copper sulfate.
Although copper and zinc have a large difference in electrical potential , the resulting brass alloy does not experience internalized galvanic corrosion because of the absence of a corrosive environment within the mixture. However, if brass is placed in contact with a more noble metal such as silver or gold in such an environment, the brass will corrode galvanically; conversely, if brass is in contact with a less-noble metal such as zinc or iron, the less noble metal will corrode and the brass will be protected.
Since lead has a lower melting point than the other constituents of the brass, it tends to migrate towards the grain boundaries in the form of globules as it cools from casting. The pattern the globules form on the surface of the brass increases the available lead surface area which in turn affects the degree of leaching. In addition, cutting operations can smear the lead globules over the surface.
These effects can lead to significant lead leaching from brasses of comparatively low lead content. In October the California State Attorney General sued 13 key manufacturers and distributors over lead content. In laboratory tests, state researchers found the average brass key, new or old, exceeded the California Proposition 65 limits by an average factor of 19, assuming handling twice a day.
Keys plated with other metals are not affected by the settlement, and may continue to use brass alloys with higher percentage of lead content. Also in California, lead-free materials must be used for "each component that comes into contact with the wetted surface of pipes and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures".
Dezincification-resistant DZR or DR brasses, sometimes referred to as CR corrosion resistant brasses, are used where there is a large corrosion risk and where normal brasses do not meet the standards. Applications with high water temperatures, chlorides present or deviating water qualities soft water play a role. DZR-brass is excellent in water boiler systems. This brass alloy must be produced with great care, with special attention placed on a balanced composition and proper production temperatures and parameters to avoid long-term failures.
The lead and arsenic significantly suppress the zinc loss. Another such material is gunmetal , from the family of red brasses. Lead can be added for ease of machining or for bearing alloys. The tin addition suppresses zinc leaching. The high malleability and workability, relatively good resistance to corrosion , and traditionally attributed acoustic properties of brass, have made it the usual metal of choice for construction of musical instruments whose acoustic resonators consist of long, relatively narrow tubing, often folded or coiled for compactness; silver and its alloys, and even gold , have been used for the same reasons, but brass is the most economical choice.
Collectively known as brass instruments , these include the trombone , tuba , trumpet , cornet , baritone horn , euphonium , tenor horn , and French horn , and many other " horns ", many in variously-sized families, such as the saxhorns.
Clarinets , especially low clarinets such as the contrabass and subcontrabass , are sometimes made of metal because of limited supplies of the dense, fine-grained tropical hardwoods traditionally preferred for smaller woodwinds.
The use of metal also avoids the risks of exposing wooden instruments to changes in temperature or humidity, which can cause sudden cracking.
Even though the saxophones and sarrusophones are classified as woodwind instruments, they are normally made of brass for similar reasons, and because their wide, conical bores and thin-walled bodies are more easily and efficiently made by forming sheet metal than by machining wood.
Such alloys are stiffer and more durable than the brass used to construct the instrument bodies, but still workable with simple hand tools—a boon to quick repairs. The mouthpieces of both brass instruments and, less commonly, woodwind instruments are often made of brass among other metals as well.
Next to the brass instruments, the most notable use of brass in music is in various percussion instruments , most notably cymbals , gongs , and orchestral tubular bells large "church" bells are normally made of bronze. Small handbells and " jingle bell " are also commonly made of brass.
The harmonica is a free reed aerophone , also often made from brass. In organ pipes of the reed family, brass strips called tongues are used as the reeds, which beat against the shallot or beat "through" the shallot in the case of a "free" reed. Although not part of the brass section, snare drums are also sometimes made of brass.
Some parts on electric guitars are also made from brass, especially inertia blocks on tremolo systems for its tonal properties, and for string nuts and saddles for both tonal properties and its low friction.
The bactericidal properties of brass have been observed for centuries, particularly in marine environments where it prevents biofouling. Depending upon the type and concentration of pathogens and the medium they are in, brass kills these microorganisms within a few minutes to hours of contact. A large number of independent studies        confirm this antimicrobial effect, even against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA and VRSA.
The mechanisms of antimicrobial action by copper and its alloys, including brass, are a subject of intense and ongoing investigation. Brass is susceptible to stress corrosion cracking ,  especially from ammonia or substances containing or releasing ammonia. The problem is sometimes known as season cracking after it was first discovered in brass cartridges used for rifle ammunition during the s in the British Indian Army. The problem was caused by high residual stresses from cold forming of the cases during manufacture, together with chemical attack from traces of ammonia in the atmosphere.
The cartridges were stored in stables and the ammonia concentration rose during the hot summer months, thus initiating brittle cracks. The problem was resolved by annealing the cases, and storing the cartridges elsewhere.
Although forms of brass have been in use since prehistory ,  its true nature as a copper-zinc alloy was not understood until the post-medieval period because the zinc vapor which reacted with copper to make brass was not recognised as a metal. The Shakespearean English use of the word 'brass' can mean any bronze alloy, or copper, an even less precise definition than the modern one.
Brass has sometimes historically been referred to as "yellow copper". Many have similar tin contents to contemporary bronze artefacts and it is possible that some copper-zinc alloys were accidental and perhaps not even distinguished from copper.
By the 8th—7th century BC Assyrian cuneiform tablets mention the exploitation of the "copper of the mountains" and this may refer to "natural" brass. During the later part of first millennium BC the use of brass spread across a wide geographical area from Britain  and Spain  in the west to Iran , and India in the east.
By the first century BC brass was available in sufficient supply to use as coinage in Phrygia and Bithynia ,  and after the Augustan currency reform of 23 BC it was also used to make Roman dupondii and sestertii. Brass was produced by the cementation process where copper and zinc ore are heated together until zinc vapor is produced which reacts with the copper. There is good archaeological evidence for this process and crucibles used to produce brass by cementation have been found on Roman period sites including Xanten  and Nidda  in Germany , Lyon in France  and at a number of sites in Britain.
The fabric of these crucibles is porous, probably designed to prevent a buildup of pressure, and many have small holes in the lids which may be designed to release pressure  or to add additional zinc minerals near the end of the process.
Dioscorides mentioned that zinc minerals were used for both the working and finishing of brass, perhaps suggesting secondary additions. Little is known about the production of brass during the centuries immediately after the collapse of the Roman Empire. These places would remain important centres of brass making throughout the medieval period,  especially Dinant.
Brass objects are still collectively known as dinanderie in French. The metal of the early 12th-century Gloucester Candlestick is unusual even by medieval standards in being a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel , iron, antimony and arsenic with an unusually large amount of silver , ranging from The proportions of this mixture may suggest that the candlestick was made from a hoard of old coins, probably Late Roman.
Aquamaniles were typically made in brass in both the European and Islamic worlds. The cementation process continued to be used but literary sources from both Europe and the Islamic world seem to describe variants of a higher temperature liquid process which took place in open-topped crucibles.
In 10th century Yemen al-Hamdani described how spreading al-iglimiya , probably zinc oxide, onto the surface of molten copper produced tutiya vapor which then reacted with the metal. A temporary lid was added at this point presumably to minimise the escape of zinc vapor.
In Europe a similar liquid process in open-topped crucibles took place which was probably less efficient than the Roman process and the use of the term tutty by Albertus Magnus in the 13th century suggests influence from Islamic technology. The final product was cast , then again melted with calamine.
It has been suggested that this second melting may have taken place at a lower temperature to allow more zinc to be absorbed. Some of the most famous objects in African art are the lost wax castings of West Africa, mostly from what is now Nigeria , produced first by the Kingdom of Ife and then the Benin Empire. Though normally described as "bronzes", the Benin Bronzes , now mostly in the British Museum and other Western collections, and the large portrait heads such as the Bronze Head from Ife of "heavily leaded zinc-brass" and the Bronze Head of Queen Idia , both also British Museum, are better described as brass, though of variable compositions.
The Renaissance saw important changes to both the theory and practice of brassmaking in Europe. By the 15th century there is evidence for the renewed use of lidded cementation crucibles at Zwickau in Germany. Their irregular composition suggests that this was a lower temperature, not entirely liquid, process. By metallic zinc ingots from India and China were arriving in London and pellets of zinc condensed in furnace flues at the Rammelsberg in Germany were exploited for cementation brass making from around Eventually it was discovered that metallic zinc could be alloyed with copper to make brass, a process known as speltering,  and by the German chemist Johann Glauber had recognised that calamine was "nothing else but unmeltable zinc" and that zinc was a "half ripe metal".
In Nehemiah's son William Champion patented a technique for the first industrial scale distillation of metallic zinc known as distillation per descencum or "the English process". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Brass disambiguation.
Alloy of copper and zinc. This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. Main article: Antimicrobial copper-alloy touch surfaces. See also: Antimicrobial properties of copper and Copper alloys in aquaculture.
ASM Specialty Handbook ® Copper and Copper Alloys
Copper alloys, such as bronze and brass, have played important roles in advancing civilization in human history. On the other hand, discovery of intriguing properties and new applications in contemporary technology for copper and its compounds, particularly on nanoscale, have continued. In this paper, examples for the applications of Cu and Cu alloys for advanced device applications will be given on Cu metallization in microelectronics devices, Cu nanobats as field emitters, Cu2S nanowire array as high-rate capability and high-capacity cathodes for lithium-ion batteries, Cu-Te nanostructures for field-effect transistor, Cu3Si nanowires as high-performance field emitters and efficient anti-reflective layers, single-crystal Cu In,Ga Se2 nanotip arrays for high-efficiency solar cell, multilevel Cu2S resistive memory, superlattice Cu2S-Ag2S heterojunction diodes, and facet-dependent Cu2O diode. Skip to main content. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
about using copper and copper alloys in familiar ways and in Copper and copper alloys are widely used in a variety of products that enable and enhance our (ASM. International Conference , Metals Park, OH). MICHELS, H. T., WILKS.
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Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu from Latin : cuprum and atomic number It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material , and as a constituent of various metal alloys , such as sterling silver used in jewelry , cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins , and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.
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Volume 4E examines the heat treating process as it applies to nonferrous metals and alloys. It covers aluminum, copper, nickel, and titanium in detail, describing accepted heat treating practices and how they drive metallurgical transformations that ultimately determine material properties. The volume also contains information on quenching, distortion, and residual stress and addresses the complexities of alloying, aging, and microstructural development. Sign In or Create an Account. User Tools. Sign out of all accounts.