Brass is an alloy made from copper and zinc. An alloy is a combination of two or more elements, one of which should be a metal. When the elements mix, the product is different to any of its original components.
Brass has been valued for many years because it is strong, workable, and beautiful when polished. Many ancient artefacts are made of brass.
There are two main types of brasses - alpha and beta. Alpha brass has less zinc and more copper, so they are flexible. Beta brass has more zinc and less copper so they are tougher and harder.
Another lesser known type of brass is White Brass. This has about 45% of zinc and is not very strong so it is not used for many things.
Alpha brasses are mostly used to manufacture nuts, bolts, screws, and even bullet cartridges. Beta brasses are used for bathroom taps, sprinkler heads, window and doorknobs and for other building purposes.
Brass has been used for many purposes since around the 13th century. Ancient civilizations like the Romans and the Greeks used brass for their armour, jewellery and even some household items.
Brass is a special type of alloy because it is stronger than copper, yet its flexible so it can be made into various shapes. It is also a good heat conductor and does not rust.
Manufacturing brass involves combining raw materials into molten metal and then allowing the metal to harden. This harden metal is then turned into brass stock through complicated mechanical procedures.
Brass stock is the general term for the many ways that brass is commercially available. It involves brass as plates, sheets, bars, wires, foils, strips, rods and billet.
Therefore, the many brass products that we use are made once the brass stock has been commercially moulded into plates, sheets and the rest.
A typical manufacturing process to produce brass strips and sheets involve melting the brass in an electric oven, hot rolling the ‘cakes’ (once the melted brass is poured into moulds it becomes cakes), annealing and cold rolling, and finally finish rolling.
Conserving the amount of unused brass by recycling the material is done but is not as much as the amount of aluminium or steel that is recycled. Brassware that is found in households is sadly just thrown in the thrash.
Industrially, brass that is not used is recycled or reused in different ways instead of being thrown in a landfill. This reusability reduces the negative impact of pollution on the environment.