When certain materials are added to copper it changes the physical and mechanical composition of the metal. Two such materials are tin and zinc.
Copper that has tin added into it is considered bronze. Bronze alloys provide a very hard metal that can sometimes be brittle and inflexible. When zinc is added to copper, it creates a brass alloy. Brass is softer than bronze, can flow more easily, and is malleable. To lessen the negative properties that zinc and tin add to copper alloys, silicon will also be added into the melt.
Benefits of Adding Silicon to Brass and Bronze
Silicon will add different properties to brass and bronze alloys. Yet one thing that this silicon will add to both alloys is deoxidization characteristics. All copper alloys deal with oxygen being added into the melt that can cause the alloy to become porous, develop voids, or create cracks when worked. To remove oxygen and other harmful gases, silicon will be added into the melt. The silicon will help remove the gas from the copper alloys to improve strength and reduce brittleness.
Another benefit that silicon adds to both brass and bronze is that it helps to increase corrosion resistance. Many copper alloys are naturally corrosion resistant, as they are used in many marine environments, outdoor applications, or when coming into constant contact with water. Silicon also is self-lubricating. If either brass or bronze is used in an application or fixture that requires this capability, then silicon brass or silicon bronze will be chosen.
Benefits of Silicon in Bronze
Due to the brittleness that tin adds to copper when creating bronze, silicon can make the bronze more fluid while reducing the brittleness. Another desired characteristic to silicon bronze is when using it to cast items.
Silicon causes the bronze to contract less when cooling. This property is highly desired when casting complex shapes and intricate geometries that may have points edges along the surface. In addition to being less brittle and offering little contraction, silicon makes the bronze more fluid. It flows well when cast or worked.
Benefits of Silicon in Brass
For brass, silicon’s main benefit is that it improves the strength of the metal. Since it is a soft alloy, the silicon bronze can be strengthened so that it can be used in additional applications where brass could not be used on its own. One thing to keep in mind is that when silicon is added, brass has a lower conductivity than other copper alloys that will have silicon added to them.
When you need silicon brass or silicon bronze, consider the application that the alloy will be used in to determine the which metal to use and the amount of silicon that should be added. If you need additional information about the formulas that can be created to develop silicon brass or silicon bronze, contact Belmont Metals.