Deeco Metal’s creates and accentuates the exciting visual possibilities and aesthetic beauty offered by brass, bronze, and copper alloys.
Copper Alloys Benefits & Characteristics
Copper and its alloys have various mechanical and performance characteristics such as conductivity, formability, and color variations. The color variations stem primarily from the different chemical compositions found within and, in some cases, the production and forming methods can also affect alloy colors and selection. For this purpose architectural CDA (copper development association) alloys are grouped together for color matching purposes, and can then be manufactured by the extrusion method (bar and shapes), rolling method (sheet, strip, and plate), drawing (wire, bar, and shape) and various casting methods (components or decorative products).
Deeco Metal’s offers a wide range of copper extrusions for electrical applications as well as copper and brass forging parts to meet mechanical strengths and electrical performance and in some cases color requirements for any architectural application. Alloys of copper and tin are technically considered bronzes and alloys of copper and zinc are brasses. In practice, however, the term bronze is commonly used for a variety of copper alloys, including those with little or no tin. This is because they resemble bronzes in both natural and weathered colors. Nickel silvers are generally identified as "white bronze” and do not contain silver. They have varying amounts of nickel which creates a warm yellowish silver color.
Corrosion, Weathering Resistance & Desired Coloring
Copper, architectural bronze, brass, and nickel silver alloys are all resistant to atmospheric corrosion and have an unlimited lifespan. As they age, they develop a durable oxide film (patina), which most people find very desirable. These aged colors can be artificially applied by using various processes consisting of chemical solutions and acids.
Brass, bronze, and nickel silver will not soften in high temperatures or become brittle at low temperatures.
Copper, bronze, and brass do not spark and as such are approved for use in hazardous environments like mines, oil refineries, or other areas that may be subject to explosions or fire.
Maintenance of brass, bronze, and nickel silver is unique because these metals can be restored to their original appearance, even after years of neglect.
Copper, brass, bronze, and nickel silvers are all copper-based alloys and, as such, can be recycled and reused to produce new products. These scrap materials have high scrap values and economic benefits. "Green" initiatives, including LEEDS, require recyclability, recycled content, sustainability, and energy efficiency which are all features of copper and its alloys. All copper and copper alloys that Deeco supplies are harvested from recycled product. However, it is necessary to add some virgin material to the recycled material to produce the desired finished alloy with the proper chemical composition.
Copper alloys can be polished to either a high gloss or mirror finish. To maintain the polished finish, protective lacquers or other clear coatings are used.
Superior Strength & Ductility
All copper alloys shapes produced by the extrusion method have excellent mechanical and tensile strength. Mechanical information is available in each alloy.
Brasses are non-magnetic so they are commonly used in electrical equipment and instrumentation applications.
Brass can be easily joined to itself and all other copper alloys by soldering, brazing, or welding. Fabrication of brass is much easier than other metals due to the elimination of screws, rivets and other connecting devices, resulting in cleaner lines.
Decorative & Protective Finishes
Modern decorative techniques can be used to tone brass to almost any desired color. There are also several protective lacquers and powder coatings (link to http://www.deecometals.com/secondary-services/coating) that protect the finish and colors and provide a very long life, even in working environments.
Copper extrusions, brass and bronze parts are extensively used in the electrical industry for their conductivity.
The base price of copper, brass, bronze, and nickel silver may be higher than some alternative materials, but that is only a small part of the overall cost calculation. When the value of the scrap is included, the overall price may be less expensive than other lower cost materials. When all factors are taken into consideration the overall cost-effectiveness of copper and brass forging and bar stock and copper extrusions is relative. These factors include: structural strength, wear characteristics, corrosion resistance, the near net shape of an extrusion, the low tooling costs, and a close tolerance.
Excellent Machining Characteristics
While all brasses are easy to machine, the addition of small amounts of lead to brass improves machinability. The alloy C36000 free machining brass is the acceptable U.S. standard for machinability, whereas C38500 architectural bronze is often used as European machining stock. The higher machining speeds and lower tool wear, plus the ability to maintain tolerances and surface finish, further reduce the cost of products made of brass or bronze.
Unified Numbering System
There is a Unified Numbering System for metals and metal alloys: ASTM and SAE. CDA (Copper Development Association) administers the section on copper and its alloys. This system is based on wrought alloy numbers ranging from C10000 through C79999 and cast alloy numbers range from C80000 and C99999.
In addition to the above characteristics and benefits of brass, bronze, and copper alloys there is also an added benefit of anti-microbial properties. Various health organizations have done extensive tests on copper and its alloys and have uncovered some exciting finds.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has registered copper, brass, and bronze as anti-microbial. It is allowing public health claims to be made about their effectiveness against Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, E. coli O157:H7, Enterobacter aerogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The applications for using copper and its alloys for its anti-microbial properties are under continual investigation and further developments may result in copper-based alloys replacing stainless steel and other materials, in certain applications.