Brass is a unique alloy created by combining copper and zinc. Varying the quantities of each base metal within brass allows manufacturers to achieve specific mechanical and electrical properties.
In order to truly understand the value of brass, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the brass manufacturing process. Here are the four steps that must be taken to create usable brass.
Brass starts out as molten copper that is melted in a large vat. Manufacturers calculate the ratio of zinc that needs to be added to the copper to achieve the desired characteristics. This amount of zinc is added to the melted copper.
As the zinc starts to melt, some zinc evaporation will occur. Manufacturers will add small amounts of zinc to account for this evaporation loss while the alloy mixture is brought to the correct temperature. The molten alloy is poured into molds and allowed to cool into slabs.
2. Hot Rolling
The cooled slabs are placed into a furnace and heated to a specific temperature (which is based on the intended use of the brass). Once they reach the proper temperature, the slabs are processed through a set of rollers that gradually reduce the thickness of the slabs. When the desired thickness is reached, the slabs are set aside to cool.
Once completely cooled, each slab is run through a milling machine known as a scalper. The scalper removes the oxidized layer that forms on the surface of the brass slabs.
Hot rolling can make brass harder and more difficult to work with. Annealing is done to help reduce hardness and increase flexibility. The annealing process requires that the thinned brass slabs be slowly heated to a set temperature inside a furnace. The temperature and time required for successful annealing will vary based on the application of the brass. Each brass slab is then run through a second roller that helps thin them even more. This second rolling makes the brass more robust and resilient.
After being put through the second roller and allowed to cool, the thin brass sheets are run through a third roller. The purpose of this roller is to finish the brass and prepare it for final manufacturing.
Imperfections are removed from the brass, and the strength of the alloy increases. The brass sheets are then cut to size according to the specifications of each project the brass will be used to create.
Contact a local brass supplier to learn more.