Copper Alloys—Including Brass Square Tube, Sheet, and Angle—And Their Antimicrobial Properties

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Before Antony van Leeuwenhoek discovered the existence of bacteria in humans in 1863, diseases were thought to be caused by bad air from stinky trash and rotten meat. People long ago believed that as long as they don’t inhale this bad air, they won’t get sick. When it was proven that bacteria is indeed the primary culprit of most illnesses, no one felt safe anymore. Everyone started to become too anxious, especially when making contact with commonly touched surfaces at home or in public places, such as door knobs and handrails.

Until it was confirmed that some types of bacteria are actually good for the health (some even living inside the body to fight off bad bacteria) and when antibiotic drugs were introduced, the unease continued. Surprisingly, even with these advancements many still find themselves at the mercy of illness caused by harmful microorganisms. Thankfully, there are more than a couple of ways to deal with germs. One of these is using certain types of metal.

Metals that Kill Bacteria

Some non-ferrous metals, or those that do not contain or are not bonded with iron, have antimicrobial properties. They are able to not just repel bacteria but actually kill them. These metals include silver, copper, aluminum, zinc, brass, bronze, tin, and silicon. An experiment conducted by researchers from the University of Swaziland’s Physics department on the effectiveness of these metals in combating coliform bacteria revealed that the metals are indeed capable of killing bacteria. It was also revealed that copper, silver, and zinc have the highest rate of destruction caused to the coliforms.

The antimicrobial properties of these metals are mainly due to the oligodynamic effect, a phenomenon that triggers the death or deactivation of bacteria as a result of exposure to metal ions. While the exact mechanism of this effect is still unknown, there have been many studies that confirm the denaturing effect of metal ions on the protein content of bacteria, which then leads to their demise. Some studies suggest that the metal ions merge with DNA and cellular enzymes and shut them down as well.

Practical Applications

The discovery of this unique property has made copper alloys and zinc a staple in water storage and distribution systems where sanitation is a huge deal. Although silver performs just as effectively as copper, it is much more expensive, which is why it is rarely used for making water pipes and tanks. Copper is more affordable and abundant in supply, too. Its major alloys—brass and bronze—are widely used for making tubes and containers needed in hospitals and agricultural facilities. Brass square tube and fitting products have become more common, eventually reducing the rate of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea and typhoid.

In residential and commercial facilities, brass and other copper alloys have become a popular addition, too. They are used to cover commonly touched and easily grimed areas, including countertops and railings. They are prized not only for their antimicrobial properties but also for their naturally elegant gloss and color.

If you are planning to equip your space with oligodynamic metals to reduce the risk of sickness in the family, it would definitely help to consult with trusted metal suppliers like Rotax Metals. This way you can be sure of the quality of materials you will be getting. If you need brass tubes for your piping systems, they can easily find the most suitable grade of brass for you.

 

About Rotax Metals: Rotax Metals is a premier supplier of copper, brass, and bronze products in North America. Apart from that, we also offer special services, such as metal polishing, metal shearing, waterjet cutting, and metal fabrication. If you need custom extrusions, we can help you as well. Whether you are a sculptor looking for the right bronze block for your project or a plumber in need of new oligodynamic metal supplies, we’ve got you covered.

 

Sources:

Discovery of bacteria in humans: Sept. 17, 1683, healthcentral.com

Antibacterial properties of some metals and alloys in combating coliforms in contaminated water, academicjournals.org

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Naval Brass and Two Other Brass Alloys with Excellent Corrosion Resistance

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Brass is prized for many of its characteristics, including its distinct appearance, machinability, durability, and conductivity. But perhaps the property that craftsmen and artisans consider to be the most important is its excellent corrosion resistance. Through the ages, new brass alloys have been introduced with improved ability to withstand corrosion. This is why brass remains as a preferred material for aggressive working environments and even in marine applications.

Today, there are over 60 types of brass specified by European Norm standards, each with a different composition to suit the specific needs of the user. If you want a material that satisfies the most demanding conditions across many industries, however, here are three of the finest alloys you can get from suppliers like Rotax Metals.

Naval Brass

Also referred to as admiralty brass, naval brass is composed of 30 percent zinc and 1 percent tin. Small as it may be, that tiny percentage of tin is what gives naval brass its most notable property—resistance to dezincification. This is especially true if the copper content is near the top end of the range. Being an alpha-beta brass, naval brass is often cheaper, easier to find in markets, and more workable at high temperatures. Naval brass plates hold up well against seawater and other caustic substances, making it a staple in ship manufacturing.

Muntz Metal

Muntz metal is also a popular material in the shipbuilding industry, although it’s not quite as widely used as naval brass. Its composition of 60 percent copper, 40 percent zinc and a trace amount of iron makes it a little more susceptible to dezincification, particularly in marine environments. This is why Muntz metal is more commonly used only as lining on boats. When treated and protected with iron or zinc anodes, though, it can tolerate a significant amount of dezincification before needing replacement.

Aluminum Brass

Nowadays, aluminum brass is just as important as naval brass when it comes to marine applications. Containing about 76 percent copper, 22 percent zinc, and 2 percent aluminum, this alloy has superior corrosion resistance, too. Aluminum brass sheets, strips and plates are widely used in seawater service and sometimes for production of seawater pipe systems. It is also a prominent material used in Euro coins due to its resistance to tarnishing, as well as its non-allergenic and mild antimicrobial properties.

All brass types are naturally corrosion resistant under normal conditions, but some are designed to be more resilient when exposed to the elements. Consult with your supplier to know which brass alloy works best for your project.

 

About Rotax Metals

Rotax Metals is a trusted supplier of quality copper, brass and bronze products for a number of industries. Founded by Ronald Rosenthal in 1948, our company offers an extensive inventory of competitively priced items along with value added services, such as welding, cutting, forming, and machining. We also provide special services, including polishing, metal shearing, waterjet cutting, metal fabrication through our vast network of resources. Get in touch with us and let our experienced and knowledgeable staff help with your project today.

 

Sources:

The Brasses: Properties & Applications, CopperAlliance.eu

Brass Alloys and Their Applications, TheBalance.com

Engraving Brass like a Pro—Using Quality Tools and Brass Plates

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Engraving is an art form that has been practiced for centuries. A historically important incising technique, it aided the revolution of printing, coining, and cartography. Today, engraving is used for labeling and making decorative elements. It can be performed on virtually all kinds of hard material, including metal, stone, and wood, among which metal is the most commonly used because it is workable and doesn’t easily break or chip. Plus, metal has a luster that exudes a classic and elegant feel not found in other materials.

One of the most popular metals used for engraving is brass. Besides having a gold-like appearance, this metal also boasts of softness and ductility suitable for cutting grooves. However, not all types of brass are excellent for engraving. Some are harder and less yielding than others. Those that contain just the right amount of zinc, particularly from the alpha-beta class, are the best option.

Tools Used for Engraving Brass

Advances in technology have greatly transformed the practice of engraving brass. The emergence of pneumatic tools and laser cutters has significantly sped up the process and increased its accuracy. These new tools though are only commonly used for mass productions and for engraving extremely elaborate and symmetrical patterns. Many craftsmen still rely on handheld tools for creating original designs. If you are looking to engrave on brass by hand, here are some of the basic tools you should consider using.

  • Graver or Burin. This is the general term for the different types of hardened steel tools used for cutting designs into a metal surface. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes that produce different lines, which is particularly essential for making intricate patterns. A graver may have a conical or sharp tip depending on what type of line and how deep they want to cut. The graver’s tip must have the right geometry to ensure that the lines are uniform on all sections of the design.

 

  • Rotating Vice. For more precise lines and patterns, use a rotating vice to guide the graver as it cuts furrows on the brass plate. This device is used to hold the metal plate and rotate it continuously at a controlled speed. As the metal plate rotates, you can feed the graver onto the device until it makes contact with the metal and starts creating your desired lines. Just be careful not to push the graver too hard to avoid puncturing the plate or worse breaking your device.

 

  • Dremel. Professional engravers that accept commission work often use power tools to expedite the process and produce more output. One of the power tools they use is a dremel. It’s a kind of automated graver that has a replaceable tip. It usually comes with a set of special engraving bits, which are available in different shapes and sizes.

To make the most out of these engraving tools, it helps to invest in high-quality engraving brass. Not only will a nice metal plate be easy to cut but the finished product will look distinctly beautiful as well. Get your metal from a leading supplier such as Rotax Metals. Consult with their metal experts so that you can find the right type of brass for your project.

 

About Rotax Metals: If you are looking for the right brass for your engraving project, turn to Rotax Metals. We have guaranteed high-quality brass plates that will surely exceed your expectations. Our company has been a leader in metal supply for over seven decades. We specialize in copper, brass, and bronze plates, sheets, tubes, and bars, catering to manufacturers, metal suppliers, craftsmen, and architects across North America.

 

Sources:

How to Engrave Metal at Home

Engraving Tools, Cutters, Tool Bits and Diamond Tip Engraving Tools

 

Classifying Brasses by Their Crystal Structure—Muntz Metal and Other Brass Types

Copper is valued for its numerous useful properties. Apart from being extensively used for electrical and electronic applications, it also boasts of health benefits. Amazing as it is in pure form, this metal becomes even more useful when combined with other equally prized metals. For instance, when alloyed with zinc, it produces brass, which also has its fair share of great merits, including its high tensile strength and machinability.

Brass can be formed in an array of types by manipulating its zinc content. Each type has unique properties required for specific applications. Currently, there are at least 60 different types of brass. These are further classified into smaller groups based on their crystal structure.

Alpha Brasses

 All brasses that contain less than 37 percent zinc are classified as alpha. This small amount of zinc is evenly distributed within the alloy to form a homogenous alpha grain structure, thus the name. Because there are fewer atoms of zinc held between the molecules of copper in this structure, there’s not enough strength to resist even light pressure. Consequently, the resulting brass is softer and more ductile than other types, making it very easy to work with.

Alpha-Beta Brasses

Adding more zinc to the mixture allows for the creation of a beta grain structure. This is why brasses with 37 to 45 percent zinc content are classified as alpha-beta brasses. Having a beta grain structure, the resulting brass becomes tougher and less ductile, which makes it difficult to work with at room temperature. This is why alpha-beta brasses are usually hot worked by extrusion, stamping, or die-casting. One example of this type of brass is Muntz metal, which has about 60% copper, 40% zinc, and a trace amount of iron.

Beta Brasses

With more than 45 percent zinc, beta brasses are the hardest of all types of brass so much so that they can only be hot-worked or cast. Their hardness makes them suitable for making faucet handles, sprinkler heads, window and door fittings, and other fixtures that are constantly subjected to pressures. Other elements, such as aluminum and iron, are added into the alloy to achieve even better properties that are necessary for complex and aggressive applications.

Apart from differentiating crystal structures, there are other ways brasses can be classified to identify the type that can work best for certain applications. Specifically, they can be classified by their mechanical properties and color, although each property used as basis is related to the rest of the properties.

Using brass with the right characteristics can improve the quality of your project’s output, and possibly reduce the cost. This is why it is important to consult with an expert in metals before shopping around for brass supplies. Top suppliers like Rotax Metals have experts ready to guide you through the choosing and buying process. Also, because they have a huge selection of brass products with different grades and zinc content, you can easily find the most suitable type for your project.

 

About Rotax Metals. When it comes to copper and brass, you should settle only for the best, and that’s what we at Rotax Metals offer. Established in 1947, we’ve been providing the highest quality copper supplies to professionals and businesses across North America. We even customize metal parts for manufacturers that need specific designs for their machinery. Whether you are a designer or a metal supplier, you need us to provide you with topnotch metal solutions for your projects.

 

Sources:

Brass Alloys and Their Chemical Composition, thoughtco.com

Brass, britannica.com

Bronze Tube, Bar, and Sheet Products Can Appear More Elegant with Patina

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Metals react differently to oxygen exposure. Ferrous (iron-containing) metals, for instance, form iron oxide or rust when exposed to air or moisture. Non-ferrous metals such as copper and tin, on the other hand, develop a layer of stain called patina.

This change in properties and compositions actually reduces the metal’s overall quality. In the case of ferrous metals, it could even be worse, because rust can reduce them to dust over time, rendering them unsuitable for use as structural reinforcement. The patina on non-ferrous metals, however, has a different effect. Instead of damaging the inside of the metal, it actually shields it against corrosion.

One metal that is particularly susceptible to patination is bronze. An alloy of copper and tin (both form patina when they oxidize), bronze develops a layer of copper oxide on its surface fast, which later transforms into a much harder material, called copper carbonate. Although it seems like a disadvantage, in certain applications of bronze, this property can actually be a merit. Take sculpture for example.

Bronze Used in Sculpture

For thousands of years, bronze has been tortuously sculpted into statues, ornaments, and accessories. The bronze sculptures made millennia ago can still be seen intact in museums all over the world, thanks to their thick layers of patina. It would take more than a couple more millennia for their patina to completely whittle away at the interior of these bronze artifacts.

Sculpting with bronze is still popularly practiced today, and this is mainly due to bronze’s amazing properties. It is hard but slightly brittle, which makes removing portions of the metal without cracking or chipping it quite possible and easy. The patina, which gives the final output an antique appearance, becomes part of the package.

Artificial Patina

Bronze’s unique patina has become so coveted that some have invented techniques for speeding up its development. Generally called “intentional patination”, these techniques involve the use of a variety of chemicals to achieve a precise surface color. Sculptors usually apply these chemicals in a number of layers to produce varied effects, and depending on the chemical used, the resulting patina can be transparent or opaque.

Originally performed to confer the appearance of antiquity on sculptures, intentional patination helps prevent bronze from developing a different kind of patina, which usually does not contribute beauty to the sculpture’s appearance. Controlling the process allows for the creation of the most beautiful bronze furniture and ornaments.

Of course, the success of intentional patination still depends on the purity of bronze used. If you are looking to make your own bronze sculpture or ornament and you want to achieve a certain antique appearance through patination, make sure to get your supplies from a company that has been providing high-quality bronze materials for decades. Suppliers like Rotax metals can provide you with the highest quality bronze tube, bar, or sheet for your project.

 

About Rotax Metals: Rotax Metals is North America’s leading provider of copper, brass, and bronze supplies. We cater to builders, artisans, manufacturers, and metal suppliers across the U.S. and Canada. Established in 1948, we’ve been the supplier of choice for small and large businesses, simply because we are fully capable of exceeding expectations. We leverage our vast knowledge in metalwork and fully equipped manufacturing facilities to provide only the best materials that could suit any type of project.

 

Sources:

The Artificial Patination of Bronze Sculpture

What Is Patina? Definition and Uses

Patina Formulas for Brass, Bronze and Copper

Where to Buy Copper Sheets and Tubes: Learn about High Conductivity and Deoxidized Copper First

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Copper is the metal of choice for most craftsmen and builders because of its useful qualities. Apart from being highly resistant to corrosion and microbes, it is also easy to work with. It’s no wonder this metal and all its alloys are utilized for a vast range of applications, including electronics, electrical engineering, plumbing, and construction. If you’re looking for a metal that is both durable and striking to include in your project, copper is your best bet.

Before you go looking for a copper supplier in your area, it would definitely help to find out more about copper first. After all, there are many different alloys and grades of copper to choose from so having more knowledge about the metal is key to picking the type that best suits your project. Essentially, copper compounds and alloys are categorized into these two types.

High Conductivity Copper

More than 30 percent of all copper supplies are utilized for electrical applications. The wires and cables within the walls and ceilings of your home and the distribution line connected to the utility posts outside are all made of copper. Thanks to the metal’s excellent ductility and malleability, it can be molded into small leads and thin sheets that are needed for these applications. More importantly, copper is also known for its high conductivity, exceeded only by silver, which makes it a great electrical wire material.

Even if it only comes next to silver in terms of electrical conductivity, copper is still preferred for manufacturing electrical wires because it is much less expensive. Take note though that copper comes in various grades, each having a unique degree of purity. The purer the copper, the higher its conductivity. Most copper materials that have undergone the initial purification process contain at least 93 percent copper.

Deoxidized Copper

Like most other metals, copper usually contains a trace amount of oxygen. If not removed, this oxygen can make copper brittle when brazed or welded with other metals, specifically through contact with hydrogen used in the process. To remove the oxygen molecules, phosphorous or boron is added to the mixture to increase the material’s density and purge all impurities. The resulting material is dense and tough enough to be ideal for making plumbing systems and domestic gas supply parts.

Most copper panels and tubes used for making roofing materials and central heating systems are deoxidized as well. This method also improves copper’s ability to be alloyed with other metals, such as zinc and tin. The quality of the resulting alloys, however, still depends on the amount of other metals included in the mixture.

If you want to know where to buy copper sheets and tubes for your project, consider looking for a company that has been in operation for many decades, such as Rotax Metals. Not only does such supplier have a huge selection of products, but it surely also has experts who can give you the best advice on getting your money’s worth. Working with the highest quality materials will ensure the success of your project, be it home-building, sculpture, or piping.

 

About Rotax Metals: As the leading supplier of copper, brass, and bronze tubes, sheets, and bars in North America, we take pride in our huge inventory and excellent customer service. Whether you are a fabricator looking for a high-quality metal that you can make into customized machine parts or an architect wanting to add metallic flare to your designs, we’ve got you covered. We have highly skilled professionals who can assist you in choosing the right metals for your needs.

 

Sources:

10 Copper Facts

Introduction to Copper: Types of Copper

Top Reasons Why Brass Sales Is Where You’ll Find the Best Materials for Your Next Plumbing Project

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Building or renovating a residential or commercial structure is an expensive and laborious investment whether you do it yourself or you hire a contractor. Among the phases that will definitely be pricey is plumbing installation or replacement. The great thing about replacing old pipes and fittings is that you get to choose the type of material to use. When it comes to plumbing, many opt for PVC pipes and fittings because they are the cheapest option available. Unfortunately, since PVC pipes are plastic, they are not made to last. Before you settle for cheap, you might want to check out brass sales opportunities.

Here are the main reasons why you should opt for brass materials for your plumbing:

Reason 1: Durability

Pipes and fittings are expected to go through a lot of wear and tear after constant use. PVC is not so good at resisting wear and tear, so you will end up replacing plumbing parts over and over. You may have saved a huge sums initially but you’re bound to spend more in the long run than you would if you choose brass instead. Brass pipes and fittings are very reliable, simply because they are durable and resilient. It will many years of constant beating before they crack and corrode.

Reason 2: Best Metal for High Temperatures

Of all the metals and other types of pipe material on the market, brass is best suited for high temperatures. It can withstand up to 800 degrees Celsius of heat; that’s 8 times the boiling point of water. This is why it is also an excellent material for making water heater pipes. The ability of brass to withstand heat is so remarkable that sometimes when a home is ravaged by fire, only the brass pipes and fittings are left intact.

Reason 3: Versatility and Malleability

Brass is a highly malleable metal, which means it can easily be bent or hammered into different shapes. In fact, because it’s so workable, you can make fittings of all shapes and sizes out of it alone without the use of any special alloying techniques. If you need metal parts of specific dimensions, you can have brass customized at a low cost. The workability of brass even allows manufacturers to add details to pipes and fittings to make them look more elegant and suitable for certain aesthetic requirements. You get to hit two birds with one stone, be practical and still be visually pleasing.

Reason 4: Resistant to Corrosion

Unlike PVC, which can easily corrode in acidic fluids, brass pipes can endure a wide variety of harsh substances. It will not rust or corrode easily, so you don’t have to worry about your water supply getting contaminated. In fact, brass has antimicrobial properties that can help purify water before it comes out of your tap. You don’t have to worry about replacing you pipes anytime soon if you go for brass.

 

About Rotax Metals: As leading metal supplier in North America, Rotax Metals is committed to providing you with all your plumbing needs and more. Even the smallest of fittings and details will be taken care of with precision to ensure everything you use for future projects is only the highest of quality and up to the highest of standards.

 

Sources:

Brass Vs. Copper Vs. PVC Pipes, AlvarezPlumbing.com

5 Benefits of Brass Plumbing Fittings, DoItYourself.com