Difference Between Brass and Bronze

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023

       

Difference Between Brass and Bronze

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​​​​​​​Introduction

Alloys are substances formed using metals. It is composed of two or more metals; either in a compound or solution. There are many such alloys in the world, and they have an essential impact on our everyday life. Various industries mainly depend upon alloy production, as without alloys it is impossible to create some products.

Alloys can also be defined as the right mixture of metals, which can do wonders. We will talk about two such alloys, which have made wonders and changed the outlook of today's world. Those two alloys are Brass and Bronze. Both have a similar chemical composition but have different properties, which in turn create different works.

This article will show how these alloys had a great impact on the success of the modern era, how these alloys are made to use applying their various properties and how these are older than most other engineering materials.

Brass vs Bronze

'Brass' and 'Bronze' are metal alloys. They are used very often in our day-to-day life. They have similar colours, which makes it difficult to tell the difference just by seeing them. Though, they have different properties, have selective uses, and have almost the same melting point. Both have a distinctive red colour. As an alloy of copper, bronze is typically made up of copper and tin, whereas brass is made up of copper and zinc. If you search across the Internet, you will find out that many factors define their identity and make them distinctive from each other.

Difference between Brass and Bronze in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparisonBronzeBrass
ELEMENT COMPOSITIONBronze is a copper alloy which is formed from copper mixed with tin. Sometimes, copper mixes well with other metals such as phosphorus, manganese, aluminium, or silicon.Brass is a copper alloy containing copper (Cu)and zinc (Zn).
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITYBronze has an electrical conductivity of 15%.Brass has an electrical conductivity of 28%.
MELTING POINTBronze has a melting point ranging from 315 °C to 1080 °C.Brass has a melting point ranging from 809 °C to 1030 °C.
NATUREIt is not as flexible as brass.It is flexible.
HISTORYIt was first found in 3500 BC by ancient Sumerians.It was discovered in 500 BC. And modern bronze was discovered in the 18th century.
COLOURThey are mostly reddish brown, but sometimes, it changes to dull gold colour.They are dull gold.
CORROSION RESISTANCEThey are corrosion-resistant in seawater, which makes them usable in boat fittings and marine parts, i.e., in contact with water.They are corrosion-resistant in galvanic seawater. Saving materials from getting corrosive is due to the presence of zinc.
Elastic NatureIt is very elastic.It is not as elastic as bronze.
USESBronze is used in ship fittings, boats, and propellers because of the resistance to corrosion from seawater. Electrical connectors, bearings, and clips are also made, because of some properties discussed in the article.Mainly preferred for making decorative as it can get flexed. It is also preferred in making acoustic musical instruments. Low-friction applications were also made like doorknobs, valves, locks, and vice versa.

Brass

Brass is a very common alloy of copper. It is made up of one or more different elements. It is mainly formed from copper (Cu) and Zinc (Zn). There are three main forms of brass, are copper-zinc brass, lead brass, and tin brass.

Brass mixes with other metals easily. And it generally mixes with the:

  • Tin (Sn)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Nickel (Ni)
  • Lead (Pb)
  • Silicon (Si)
  • Aluminium (Al)
  • Manganese (Mn)

Thus, mixing with many metals symbolises that it has many uses.

History

Brass was first found in 500 BC. Romans made many things out of this brass, such as coins, artefacts, jewellery, vessels, dress armour, brooches, clasps, etc. The old brass was used to be formed by mixing copper with calamine (calamine is a zinc ore).

Back in the old times, zinc was found in a combined state, which is why, calamine was mixed with copper.

In the 18th century, modern brass was formed (mixing with natural zinc). It is better than old brass as it has better properties. Zinc is a factor in the ductile nature and strength of the material. The more the presence of zinc, the more the material is durable.

Colour changes also occur in brass from red to yellow, as the quantity of zinc varies.

Properties

There are many properties related to brass, as it is an alloy. Every property has led to a change in the dynamics of brass. Each property defines a separate characteristic.

  1. Malleability- Brass has high malleability because of copper. More the copper, the higher the malleability.
  2. Corrosion Resistance- When brass gets corroded, the zinc is lost and the process is known as Dezincification. During this process, the colour changes from yellow to pink. The yellow colour in brass is due to zinc. And it is also found that brass is corrosion resistant, especially when in galvanic seawater. Brass containing manganese is highly corrosion-resistant.
  3. Hardness- Hardness is a property that tells how resistant a material is to localised plastic deformation or in simple words how the material reacts to dents, scratches and many more. Brass is not as brittle as bronze, so it can wear a little easier than bronze; which makes the brass chosen for workability.
  4. Durability- A material can remain functional when subjected to excessive repair or maintenance. Brass is not as durable as bronze. And it is averagely durable which makes it immune to cracking.
  5. Melting point- Brass has a melting point ranging from 809-1030 C. It is generally preferred for decorative projects.
  6. Thermal conductivity- Brass has higher thermal conductivity than bronze, which makes it ideal for manufacturing radiators. Therefore, brass is considered over bronze while doing thermal applications.
  7. Colour- Brass is yellow in colour, like dull gold. This makes it appropriate for furniture.
  8. Weight- Brass has a lower weight than bronze and it has a density of 8400-8730 kg/ m^3.

 Uses

  1. Decorative Use- Brass has a wide range of colours. Its colours range from copper red, and golden to silver, depending on the amount of zinc and copper. It is used in dishware, lamp fitting, locks, door handle, bathroom fixtures, and vice versa. Brass is famous for creating amazing statues, as it is flexible.
  2. Musical Instruments- Popular music items made from brass are trumpets, trombones, French horns, tubas, euphonium, tenor horns and baritones. As, it is corrosion-resistant and gives a good look.
  3. Mechanical uses- It is used in Bearings and gears. Brass casing is a property done in rifles for their long-last. It is also used in making pipes and tubing because of its high corrosion resistance.
  4. Marine use- Red brass is used in the marine hardware system. Brass is essential for other certain parts like pulleys, boat snaps and swivel eye bolts snaps, as it is corrosion-free.

Bronze

Bronze is another famous alloy of copper. It is composed of 88-90% copper (Cu) and 10-12% tin (Sn).

The different metal and non-metal add-ons produce a range of bronze alloys with a wide range of qualities. Bronze is very elastic in nature. It partially forms an oxide layer, which prevents it from getting corroded. This is usually seen on ancient statues. Bronze is preferred over steel and iron as it has a low melting point, is a better conductor of heat and electricity and is denser.

Some famous types of bronze, such as,

1. Bismuth bronze- It consists of 1 to 6% bismuth. It is very corrosion resistant, very malleable, and thermally conductive. It is used in light reflectors and mirrors as it polishes well.

2. Aluminium bronze- It consists of 6-12% aluminium. It has high-strength and tarnish-resistant alloy. It has applications on marine hardware and pumps that carry corrosive fluids.

3. Phosphor bronze- It carries 0.35% phosphorus. As the amount of phosphorus increases the wear resistance and stiffness increase. It is generally used in washers, springs, and electrical components.

4. Silicon bronze- It is sometimes called red silicon bronze because of its colour. It has 6% silicon and other elements. It has high strength, good pouring ability while preparing casts, and an appealing surface finish.

Other elements found in bronze, are

1. Arsenic (As)

2. Lead (Pb)

3.  Silicon (Si)

4. Magnesium (Mg)

5. Nickel (Ni)

Thus, mixing with many metals symbolises that it has many uses.

History

Bronze is one of the oldest alloys found. It was first discovered by ancient Sumerians around 3500 BC. As people learned about the production of bronze, it spread across Mesopotamian cities to Persia. The use of this alloy got so widely spread; those historians named it the bronze age (3300 BC to 1200 BC).

Copper was used, before bronze. But later, when they learned that bronze is harder and durable than copper; the use of the alloy started.

Back in the old times, it was used to manufacture vessels, statues, utensils, ornaments, fittings of chariots, and vice versa.

Today the use has increased more and is used in various fields.

Properties

1. Corrosion resistant- Bronze gets oxidizes in the air and forms a copper oxide layer. This oxide layer prevents it from getting corroded, especially when bronze is in seawater. But, when bronze meets chlorine compounds, it starts to remove the copper layer making it prone to corrosion, and the process is known as bronze disease.

2. Melting point- Bronze with different elemental composition have melting points ranging from 315-1080 C, which make them preferable for resilient projects.

3. Durability- Bronze is more durable than brass. It is hard and sturdy. And cannot be easily flexed. It is corrosion free from water.

4. Colour- Bronze is reddish-brown in colour. As other elements are added to the mixture, the colour changes. Due to this property, we can easily distinguish between brass and bronze.

5. Hardness- Bronze is harder than brass. It is more brittle than brass, which makes it more prone to fracture. It offers better resistance to wear and strength than brass.

6. Thermal conductivity- Brass shows better thermal conductivity than bronze. So, when selecting an alloy brass will be preferred over bronze.

7. Electrical conductivity- While comparing the electrical conductivity, brass has a greater percentage than bronze.

8. Weight- Bronze is heavier than brass with a density of 7400-8900 kg/ m^3.

Main differences between Brass and Bronze in Points

  • Bronze is reddish brown colour, whereas brass is dull-gold colour. Sometimes used in place of gold.
  • Bronze was first discovered in 3500 BC, whereas Brass was discovered in 500 BC.
  • Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper, whereas bronze is an alloy of copper and tin; sometimes mixed with other elements for multiple uses.
  • Both Brass and bronze can be seen in mechanical parts like gears and bearings.
  • The time brass gets corroded it loses its zinc content and this process is known as dezincification, whereas the time bronze gets corroded by getting exposed to chlorine compounds, it gets more susceptible to getting corroded and this condition is known as bronze disease.
  • Electrical conductivity can be the point of difference between both metals. As brass has an electrical conductivity of 28%, whereas bronze has an electrical conductivity of 13%. So, it can be concluded that brass has more electrical conductivity than Bronze.
  • If you go by the Brinell hardness scale, you will find out that bronze scores better than brass. And similarly, in the case of measuring weight, bronze is heavier than brass.

Conclusion

If you turn your head around you will see metals everywhere. It has become so important in our lives, that without metals, alloys, or non-metals it is impossible to see a better change without it. During this article, we discussed two copper alloys which have also been part of the revolution. And it did not just stop over there. Today at almost every door, you might see a product made from brass or bronze. We are at the end of the article and in this article, we have explored many properties, history, and uses of each alloy. The use of these alloys will be more in future and we could not imagine that up to what level we will witness a revolution.

References

  • Bronze vs Brass, What is the difference? Which is better? (dekmake.com)
  • Brass vs Bronze — Detailed Comparison - Techiescientist
  • Brass Vs Bronze, What is difference and Their use? (madearia.com)
  • Brass - Wikipedia
  • Bronze - Wikipedia

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"Difference Between Brass and Bronze." Diffzy.com, 2024. Tue. 27 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-brass-and-bronze>.



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