Difference Between Brass and Bronze

Main Difference – Brass vs Bronze

Brass and bronze are metal alloys. A metal alloy can be defined as a mixture of metals or a mixture of a metal with another element. A metal alloy is different from a metal with impurities because of its properties. A metal alloy is made to obtain desired properties whereas metals with impurities are not. The main difference between brass and bronze is that brass is composed of copper and zinc metals whereas bronze is composed of copper and tin metals.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Brass
     – Definition, Properties, Uses
2. What is Bronze
     – Definition, Properties, Uses
3. What is the difference between Brass and Bronze
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Alpha Brass, Aluminum Brass, Aluminum Bronze, Brass, Beta Brass, Bronze, Leaded Brass, Metal Alloy, Phosphor BronzeDifference Between Brass and Bronze - Comparison Summary

What is Brass

Brass is a metal alloy having a mixture of copper and zinc. But it may sometimes contain some other metals as well. The percentages of the two metals mixed depend on the final product that is going to be made. According to the composition of each metal, several types of brass can be observed. Some of them are

  • Alpha brass – has less than 35% zinc
  • Aluminum brass – contains aluminum for better corrosion resistance
  • Beta brass – contains about 50% zinc
  • Leaded brass – Lead metal is included.

Brass has a bright golden appearance with a better malleability. Malleability is a substance’s ability to get deformed under pressure. It has relatively a low melting point and is a good conductor of heat. Brass is corrosion resistant. Sometimes, Aluminium (Al) is added to improve the corrosion resistance of brass. Although brass is normally bright golden in color, the color may alter according to the amount of other metals added. Increased amounts of zinc provides brass a better strength.

Brass is mainly used in decorative purposes due to its golden color. It is used to make musical instruments because of its high durability. Brass shows low friction, thus, is used in low-friction applications such as locks.

Main Difference - Brass vs Bronze -

Figure 1: Brass Instruments

What is Bronze?

Bronze is an alloy that mainly consists of copper and tin metal. But sometimes, other elements are also mixed with copper to make bronze. Such elements include arsenic, phosphorous, aluminum, manganese and silicon.

Bronze normally appears in a dull gold color. It is mostly recognized as reddish-brown. Its melting point may depend on the amount of tin present. According to the composition of metals, there are several types of bronze.

  • Phosphor bronze – this contains copper, tin and phosphorous.
  • Aluminum bronze – this bronze has copper along with aluminum, iron and nickel.

Bronze is used in boat and ship fittings due to its resistance towards corrosion by salt water. It is also widely used in sculptures, mirrors, reflectors, springs, etc. Bronze is highly ductile (able to be drawn into thin wires.) and exhibits a low friction.

Difference Between Brass and Bronze

Figure 2: Bronze Sculpture

Difference Between Brass and Bronze

Definition

Brass: Brass is a metal alloy composed of copper and zinc.

Bronze: Bronze is a metal alloy composed of copper and tin.

Appearance

Brass: Brass is often bright golden in color.

Bronze: Bronze is reddish-brown in color.

Components

Brass: Brass is mainly composed of copper and zinc. But sometimes aluminum and lead are also added.

Bronze: Bronze is mainly composed of copper and tin metals. But sometimes, arsenic, phosphorous, aluminum, manganese and silicon are also added.

Malleability

Brass: Brass has a high degree of malleability.

Bronze: Bronze is hard and brittle.

Corrosion Resistance

Brass: Brass is corrosion resistant, but not towards salt water.

Bronze: Bronze is resistant to corrosion that occur from salt water.

Uses

Brass: Brass is mainly used for decorative purposes.

Bronze: Bronze is used in the production of boat and ship fittings due to corrosion resistance towards salt water.

Hardness

Brass: Brass is a soft metal and should not be used around flammable materials.

Bronze: Bronze is a hard metal, so it can be used around flammable and explosive materials.

Summary – Brass vs Bronze

Brass and bronze are metal alloys made of copper mixed with other metals or elements. The main difference between brass and bronze is their composition; brass is composed of copper and zinc metals whereas bronze is composed of copper and tin metals. They have different properties and uses due to this difference in composition.

References:

1.Helmenstine. Anne Marie. “What Is Brass? Composition and Properties.” ThoughtCo. N.p., n.d. Web. Available here. 14 June 2017. 
2.” Brass vs Bronze – Difference and Comparison | Diffen. N.p., n.d. Web. Available here. 14 June 2017. 

Image Courtesy:

1. “93879” (Public Domain) via Pixabay
2. “939770”(Public Domain) via Pixabay

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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