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Brass is probably the best known of the “yellow metals” and it is produced in wide variety of forms with many different characteristics and attributes. It is a basic alloy of copper and zinc and it finds many engineering applications as well as decorative ones. Typical applications include component and equipment manufacture in a variety of industries.

The basics
The name brass actually covers a wide range of alloys, but they are fundamentally a combination of copper and zinc, other elements being added to increase the strength, malleability, ductility or resistance to corrosive attack.

Often known as “yellow metals” the brasses have a distinctive yellow/gold colour, making them ideal for the manufacture of decorative objects. However, there are many more applications and many components formerly made of steel have changed to brass, saving costs of machining and plating whilst not compromising on strength.

Significant savings in time, machining costs and protective coatings have been made in many applications such as: hydraulic hose couplings for aircraft, submersible pump components, hose connections, pneumatic products, garden equipment, automotive components and mining equipment.

The use of brass in naval applications is also well documented and there are further applications in the plumbing and heating industry.

Brass alloys
The range of copper alloys known as brasses cover machining alloys, bending alloys, riveting alloys, deep drawing alloys and spinning alloys to name but a few. These descriptions again signify the wide range of applications for which the metal is used.

The addition of aluminium, iron, manganese and silicon to the alloy mixture gives added strength or hardness, whilst the addition of elements such as aluminium, tin and arsenic give improved corrosion resistance.

The addition of a controlled amount of lead to brass alloys produces what is known “free machining” brass. Free machining brass is designed specifically for high speed, efficient component manufacture.

Alloy specifications
During the late 1990s a new series of BS EN standards was brought in for all copper based alloys. The new series of standards brought with it a new system for describing products.

The system described products in two ways, one using symbols the other using numbers. The symbol system follows the ISO compositional system and a brass made up of a 63/37 ratio of copper and zinc is shown as CuZn37.

The numbering system is a six-character alpha numeric system with two characters (the first of which will be ‘C’ for copper) followed by three numbers and a letter. Using this system CZ121 has become CW614.

This catalogue displays the old and the new numbering systems.

Alloy selection

CW505 (CZ106) CW606 (CZ131) CW617 (CZ122) CW712 (CZ122)  
CW508 (CZ108) CW612 (CZ120) CW624 (CZ130) CW721 (CZ114)  
CW602 (CZ132) CW614 (CZ121) CW707 (CZ126) CW722 (CZ115)