Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Manufacturing Metal Parts And Fittings -Brass Vs. Stainless Steel

Use of brass is common in human civilization since ancient time while steel came much later. With time the quality and usage of the metal has improved significantly. Brass can be a highly durable metal if handled with care.

The use of brass fittings in automotive and agricultural industry has grown rapidly in the past few decades. Although there are twenty varieties of brass are produced by varying the percentage of copper and zinc as major ingredients, only six types of brass are used in fabricating various machine parts, tools, plumbing fixtures, and inserts.

Brass is extensively used especially in tools and machine parts where low friction is required, such as locks, door knobs, bearings, gears and so on.

Why The Automotive And Agricultural Industries Prefer Brass To Steel For Fittings And Parts?


Now, you might be wondering why manufacturers use brass when there is a harder and more durable metal like stainless steel is widely available. Well, there are a few key factors to consider.

Lower Manufacturing Cost With Brass


While raw material cost for both the alloys are almost same, it is the manufacturing cost that makes all the difference between the two. Brass is easier to mold than steel and it significantly lowers the manufacturing cost of automotive brass fittings and parts.

Better Thermal Conductivity


Assembling plastic components often requires threaded metal inserts to support and strengthen the joints. Brass being a better thermal conductor than stainless steel ensures faster heating and easier insertion into softer materials like thermoplastic.

Its rapid cooling property allows the plastic set quickly and thereby fixing the position of the brass insert accurately into the joint, which is not possible with stainless steel. 

Higher Value Of Metal Scraps 


Metal scraps are the byproducts of tools and machinery manufacturing process. Compared to stainless steel scraps brass scraps are sold at higher value and used in recycling. Nearly 90% of brass alloys are recycled. Therefore, it is evident that brass fittings are more cost-efficient than their stainless steel counterparts. 

Industrial Applications Of Brass Fittings


While both brass and stainless steel are required for industrial applications, their reaction to various corrosive agents determines their usage. Relative softness of brass allows easy installation of brass fittings and components. However, brass has versatile usage across different industries.

  • Plumbing and sanitary fixtures - Brass is extremely reliable for hot and cold water systems. Hence, brass fittings are commonly used in joining water pipes in residential and commercial constructions.
  • Automobile parts - Brass is corrosion resistant to petroleum products. With nickel coating finish automotive brass fittings and plumbing fixtures can become further resistant to stains and corrosion.
  • Marine applications - When exposed to marine air for long time, brass component forms a protective patina on its surface, which makes it suitable for using in marine equipment to be used on board. Naval brasses, used in seawater, are produced by mixing tin with copper and zinc.
  • Electrical parts- Brass is used in electrical parts and wiring accessories like battery terminals, switchgears, transformers, and earthing system components, such as earth clamps and bars.
  • Musical instruments- Because of its acoustic properties brass is a popular choice for musical instrument manufacturers. 

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