Take a close look at fire hoses, sprinkler systems, irrigation lines, and even gas delivery lines. Likely, at least one fitting on these items will be made of brass — and for good reason. Brass is one of the most commonly used metals for industrial items such as compression fittings, barb fittings, and pipe adapters, to name a few.
Scientifically speaking, brass is actually an alloy of copper and zinc, which means that it has some of the most valuable properties of both elements, such as low friction from copper and durability from zinc. To better appreciate just how valuable brass is for industrial applications and equipment design, take a look at some of this metal's greatest advantages.
Brass Is Easy to Mold
One of the greatest characteristics of brass is that it is highly malleable when compared to other metals, such as zinc or bronze. Essentially, this means that brass has a lower melting point, so it is easier to melt down and mold into precise shapes. Additionally, when in a molten state, brass has a better flow consistency, so it is easier to pour into intricate molds and achieve consistent results.
The overall malleability can differ depending on the base composition of the brass. For example, brass that has a higher copper content is easier to melt down and form into specific shapes than is brass that consists of more zinc than copper. This is why you can find brass that is deemed as either hard or soft. Softer brass may be used in industrial applications for products such as compression fittings.
Brass Is Highly Recyclable
Manufacturers who work with brass to create different fittings and hardware pieces value the metal for one reason specifically: Brass is highly recyclable. It is so recyclable, in fact, that today at least 90 percent of it is recycled and later reused. During manufacturing processes, most forms of trimmed brass can be recollected and reused pretty much immediately.
The beauty of brass recycling is that it can actually be done onsite at a lot of facilities. For example, if a manufacturer uses molds to create brass intake valves for pneumatic systems, the excess materials that are considered scrap can be placed back into a kiln to be melted down and reused.
Brass Is Easily Combined With Other Materials
If the composition of brass in its original state is not fitting for an application, the brass can still be manipulated to fit where it needs to with the addition of other elements or compounds. Brass's flowability makes it one of the easiest materials to mix, and it responds well to the mixing process. A few examples of how brass can be altered with the addition of other materials include:
- Adding a small percentage of lead or silicone improves machinability.
- Adding tin improves the corrosion resistance of the brass.
- Adding iron allows the brass to be forged because it becomes harder.
Additives are often used to lessen some of the negative qualities of brass. For example, soft brass can be prone to stress cracking, so other additives may be used to strengthen the material and prevent this problem from occurring. Most brass fittings you find in use will not be purely brass because brass responds so well to different additives.
The advantages of brass and its workability make it readily used across many industries for many purposes, from manufacturing equipment to achieving certain processes like transporting gases and fuels. If you would like to know more about brass fittings or the brass fittings that we have available, reach out to us at KIMS International for more information.