Brass tubing is one of the many forms of alloy tubing, valued in particular for its high corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, malleability, relative strength and physical appearance. It is usually a shiny or dull gold-like, buttery yellow. It gets its properties from the two metals from which it is primarily alloyed, copper and zinc.
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Materials in Brass
Commonly, brass is also alloyed with other elements, such as arsenic, silicon, tin, manganese, aluminum and phosphorus. These metals are commonly added to brass compositions in order to improve their mechanical and/or physical properties, such as hardness, formability, strength or appearance. No matter the exact composition of a brass alloy, however, the majority ingredient will also be copper, followed by zinc. Typically, brass is approximately 67 percent copper and 33 percent zinc. Brass tubing is commonly used in harsh environments, such as those involving high water temperatures or severe weather, and in the creation of brass instruments. Brass tubing is commonly used to help run systems and products such as boiler systems, heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, pipes, valves and other gas and water passage systems.
Types of Brass
Note that, because brass is an alloy, there are many different types of brass available with which manufacturers can fabricate tubing. Every brass variation, with its unique copper to zinc ratios and added elements, offers different advantages, such as increased strength, corrosion resistance or hardness. Brass is, for example, commonly divided into groups of alpha brasses, alpha-beta brasses, beta brasses, gamma brasses and white brasses. Alpha brasses are brasses with a composition of more than 65 percent copper and less than 35 percent zinc. These are the brasses preferred for most tubing applications; they are malleable and can be both hot-worked and cold-worked. Exhibiting the most golden hue, alpha brasses are commonly forged or pressed. Next down the line, alpha-beta brasses, also known as duplex brasses, are 55 to 65 percent copper and 35 to 45 percent zinc. Typically, they are only hot-worked. With their high levels of zinc, alpha-beta brasses are brighter than alpha brasses. Following alpha-beta brasses, beta brasses are 50 to 55 percent copper and 40 to 45 percent zinc. Beta brasses, which are stronger and harder than the previous two, can only be hot-worked and are well-suited to casting. Of all the common brasses, beta brasses are among the least yellow and the most bright. Gamma brasses are less common. The brasses in this category are between 33 and 39 percent copper and between 61 and 67 percent zinc. Finally, brasses that fall into the white brass category are less than 50 percent copper and more than 50 percent zinc. There are few usable brasses in this category, as they tend to be too brittle for general use. They show very little of the traditional golden brass hue, and are instead almost completely silver. Types of brass alloy commonly used in the production of brass tubing include: cartridge brass, common brass, delta metal, low brass and silicon tombac.
Brass Manufacturing Process
Before brass tubing can be formed, the brass itself must be made. To do so, manufacturers first gather the proper types and amounts of scrap metal for their planned composition. Once they have gathered everything they need, they feed the scrap into a furnace at predetermined intervals. The scrap metal will become molten at 1920 degrees fahrenheit (1050 degrees celsius). For the best results, manufacturers use electric furnaces to reach these temperatures. As the metals melt, they homogenize into a new product, brass. Here, the manufacturers may choose to add more scrap, if the brass composition is not correct or adequate, or they may move on to the next stage, forming, which may be embarked upon once the molten brass has reached recrystallization. At that point, it can be poured into a tube-shaped mold or cast, where it takes on the mold’s form. Once they have cooled and hardened shapes can be finished into different lengths, widths and more precise shapes. From here, manufacturers can sell the finished brass tubing to retailers, wholesale suppliers or other manufacturers.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Brass Tubing
Brass tubing manufacturers are more than happy to help customers determine the best tubing for their applications. Those interested in such a purchase would be wise to come prepared to a consultation with knowledge of required tubing strength, the dimensions of the application space and the environment in which the tubing will work. Supplied with this knowledge, manufacturers are able to determine the right tube diameter, wall thickness, overall length and brass type for any application. For more information, contact an experienced manufacturer today.