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Like brass, bronze is an alloy primarily made of copper. But where brass combines copper with zinc, bronze is made of copper and tin, often mixed with small amounts of other metals and non-metallic elements, such as lead and silicon.
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By combining soft copper with brittle tin, the result is an alloy with improved strength and hardness. Bronze is also mon-magnetic, corrosion resistant, and exhibits good thermal and electrical conductivity.
Bronze is sold in the form of tubes & rods, ingots or sheet. Two main types of bronze sheet – silicon bronze sheet and bearing bronze sheet – can be found in a variety of industrial applications. Silicon bronze sheet is relatively easy to machine, while working bearing bronze sheet requires more fabrication expertise.
Silicon bronze (C65500) is a low-lead brass alloy that is generally composed of 96% copper, along with silicon and possibly small amounts of manganese, tin, iron, or zinc. It is known for its easy pouring ability and attractive surface finish, as well as a superior corrosion resistant makeup, even when submerged in liquids including salt water, fresh water, most acids and organic chemicals.
Bearing bronze (C93200) also offers high corrosion resistance, as well as excellent wear resistance and high hardness. As the name suggests, bearing bronze sheet is most often used for bearings, bushings, and similar applications.
The many beneficial characteristics of bronze make it useful for a wide range of applications, including:
Springs – Phosphor bronze precision-grade wire is used to form compression springs and electrical contacts. Its corrosion resistance, high strength, and low coefficient of friction, make it a popular substitute for costlier alloys, such as beryllium copper.
Marine architecture - With its high corrosion resistance, high strength, and natural lubricity, bronze is ideal for use in saltwater and freshwater applications, such as engine parts, pumps, propellers, and ship’s bells.
Industrial castings – Bronze is relatively easy to machine and pour for castings and results in components, such as pumps and valve stems, which can withstand high wear and abrasion. Silicon bronze also has self-lubricating qualities which make it ideal for bearings and bushings in a wide range of applications, including small electric motors and automobile transmissions.
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Sculpture – Bronze has been used to make beautiful works of art in many cultures for centuries. When silicon was introduced to the alloy mix in the 20th century, silicon bronze became the primary form used in sculpture.
Musical instrument strings – Bronze wound strings are used for acoustic guitars, pianos, and traditional instruments like the sitar. Bronze windings around steel or nylon cores provide a much warmer sound than other metals, especially for lower notes.
Safety tools – Steel tools such as hammers, mallets and wrenches, can cause unsafe sparks when used near flammable or explosive gases and vapors. Bronze is non-magnetic and spark-free, making it a much safer choice for preventing arc flash in hazmat areas.
Bronze wool – As a substitute for steel wool, bronze wool is used to polish and sand wood and metal surfaces. Because it resists corrosion and doesn’t shed like steel wool – leaving particles that could cause electrical shorts – bronze wool is ideal for industrial, construction, and marine applications and won’t leave stains on wood.
Questions? Industrial Metal Supply stocks a variety of silicon bronze and bearing bronze materials. We stock bronze in all forms: