About Brass
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Decorative or protective finishing is easily applied

Brasses may be polished to a high surface finish which can then be either easily republished when required or lacquered to preserve the natural color, enameled or plated with chromium, nickel, tin, silver, gold, etc. as required. Alternatively, the surface can be toned to a range of colors, from ‘bronze’ through various shades of brown, to blue-black and black, using commercially available toning chemicals. These colored finishes are frequently used for decorative and architectural metalwork.

 

All types of common plating processes may be used. For many other metals it is usual to use a copper plate under layer. This is not required on brass because it is easily polished and does not need the expense of an initial copper strike. Cadmium plating of steel was traditionally used to give it corrosion protection when used against brass but, since cadmium is toxic, this has now been replaced by zinc.

 

The most important perceived property of brass is corrosion resistance. All brasses have excellent corrosion resistance in conditions of normal usage, the fact that it is the standard safe material for millions of electrical terminals being just one example. For use in aggressive working environments, consideration has to be given to the selection of brass for optimum lifetime.

 
Brasses show considerably greater tarnish resistance then copper with no tendency to severe general attack comparable to rusting or to significant pitting.
 

A domestic example which everyone takes for granted is the pins of electric plugs which remain free from corrosion, other than very slight tarnishing, almost indefinitely in indoor service. This safety critical product remains reliable for many years.

In outdoor exposure conditions, especially where there is industrial pollution of the atmosphere or in situations very close to the sea, a heavier tarnish develops on most brasses. This eventually produces a thin deposit of brown-green copper compounds which, since it is adherent and spreads uniformly across the surface, helps to protect against further attack.  Consequently, unless aesthetic considerations require the preservation of the original appearance of the brass, no protection is generally necessary. If it is desired to retain a bright appearance this may be achieved by regular cleaning or by lacquering.

 
Conductivity

Brasses have good electrical and thermal conductivities and are markedly superior in this respect to ferrous alloys, nickel-based alloys and titanium. Their relatively high conductivity, combined with corrosion resistance, makes them an ideal choice for the manufacture of electrical equipment, both domestic and industrial. Condenser and heat exchanger tubing also require the good thermal conductivity of copper and its alloys.

 
Spark Resistance

Brasses do not spark when struck and are approved for use in hazardous environments.

 

Hygiene-Control of MRSA contamination

Copper is well-known for its anti-bacterial properties and the copper content of the brasses has the beneficial effect of restricting the growth of micro-organisms. Tests at Southampton University have shown the superiority of copper alloys such as brasses compared to stainless steels in controlling harmful micro-organisms. These tests strongly indicate that the use of copper alloys in applications, including door knobs, push plates, fittings, fixtures and work surfaces, would considerably mitigate MRSA in hospitals and reduce the risk of cross-contamination between staff and patients in critical care areas. It has also been shown that copper alloys are effective in controlling E.Coli OH 157 and Listeria monocytogenes, both of which cause serious food poisoning.

 
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Last modified: August 11, 2016