What is Brass:Properties, Types, and Manufacturing Routes

Brass has a lustrous golden color that’s why it has captivated designers, artists, and interior designers for centuries. Brass is used for the decoration of temples, homes, and buildings due to its irresistible charm. Brass also has excellent workability and hardness making it useful for automotive components, architecture, and mechanical applications.

Brass is made of copper and zinc . In Neolithic times brass was known as calamine brass which was referred to as copper ore. In ancient documents, term brass was known for bronze which was referred to as copper and tin alloy

In this article, you will get to know about the brass alloy’s composition, brass applications like brass handles and brass hard wears, and brass components manufacturing techniques.

History of  Brass Usage

In ancient civilizations, brass and its types like yellow brass and gold brass artifacts are found in many regions such as Europe and the Middle East. Brass was composed of copper and zinc.

Throughout history, brass has been used in different applications. Brass coins, brass military equipment, and brass statues were used by the Roman Empires. Brass sculptures and brass artifacts were significantly used in Medieval Europe.

Brass products have been revolutionized from coins and statues to the manufacturing of brass steam engines, brass telegraph systems, and brass shipbuilding

What Color Is Brass

As brass is composed of zinc and copper which give them a golden yellow color. Some brass alloys are brownish and red depending upon the composition of brass.
Brass is also named after their colors like yellow brass, gold brass, and fire brass (red brass).

The precise shades of brass depend upon brass composition and brass surface treatments [5]. The brass color changes with a change in zinc composition

Table showing UNS no, Common name, and color of brass alloys

Common Name

UNS No Color

ETP Copper


Soft pink

95/5 Gilding Metal



90/10 Gilding Metal



85/15 Gilding Metal



70/30 Brass C26000


What Is the Brass Composition

Brass is primarily made of copper and zinc. The brass composition varies typically ranging from 5% to 45% zinc and 55% to 95% copper with a small amount of other elements like manganese, silicon, aluminum, phosphorus, and lead.

These additional elements may enhance specific properties of brass alloys

Alloy Name

Copper (Cu)

Composition (%)

Zinc (Zn)

Composition (%)

Other Elements


Naval Brass

59-62 39-42 0.75-1.25 Sn

Admiralty Brass

71-74 26-29

0.02-0.06 As

Muntz Metal



Yellow Brass



Alpha Brass



Cartridge Brass



Red Brass 85


What are the Different Types of Brass

Table showing application and characteristics of different types of brass alloys

Brass Type



Alpha Brass

· Cold-working properties

· Good corrosion resistance

· Hardware

· Electrical connectors

Cartridge Brass

· Good formability

· High tensile strength

· plumbing fittings

· Ammunition casings

Naval Brass

· Good machinability

· Resistance to corrosion in seawater

· Ship propellers.

· Marine hardware,

Admiralty Brass

· Corrosion resistance

· hot-working properties

· Condenser tubes

· Heat exchangers

Muntz Metal

· Good resistance to dezincification

· High strength

· Boat hulls

· Architectural applications

Yellow Brass · Good cold-forming properties

· Moderate corrosion resistance

· Musical instruments

· Plumbing components

Red Brass · Deep red color

· Good machinability

· Jewelry

· Decorative items

Brass Properties

Table showing different properties of brass




Golden-yellow in color.


 Ranging 8.4 to 8.7 g/cm³.

Melting Point

900°C to 940°C which is 1652°F to 1724°F.

Tensile Strength



Hardness of brass is 80-140Hv. It is softer compared to other metals but can be improved by adding other elements and by heat treatments.

Electrical Conductivity

It has a good electrical conductivity that’s why we use brass electrical components and brass wiring. It has electrical conductivity of 15.9(S/m) *106

Thermal Conductivity

Allows efficient transfer of heat due to good thermal conductivity. It has 115 W/m-K thermal conductivity at 20°C.

Corrosion Resistance

Overall, all brasses have good corrosion resistance but may vary depending on the brass composition.


 Show easy shaping and fabrication due to excellent machinability.

Highly ductile

Acoustic Properties

 Brass alloys are well known for their acoustic properties that why we use brass musical instruments.

Types of Brass

1. Alpha Brasses

30-40% zinc and 60-70% copper is the typical alpha brasses composition. Alpha brasses have good corrosion resistance and excellent cold-working properties. Brass hardware and brass electrical connectors are used and manufactured from alpha brasses.

2.Alpha-beta Brasses
Alpha-beta brasses are composed of different compositions of zinc and copper.

Alpha-beta brasses show combined properties of both beta and alpha brasses making it suitable for diverse applications.

3.Beta Brass

Beta brasses composition contains high zinc content compared to alpha brasses, typically Beta brasses are composed of 45 %zinc. Beta brasses are best known for their Acoustic Properties that’s why used in making brass musical instruments.

4.White Brass

White brass is composed typically of brass composition but with the addition of other elements like tin, aluminum, silicon, magnesium, and phosphorus.

It has a silvery color. White brasses are well known for properties like polisability and anti-tarnish properties that’s why mainly used in decorative applications.

5.Red Brass(Fire Brass)
Another name for red brass is gliding metal. Red brass composition is 85 % copper and 15 % zinc in general.

It is a deep red color and has good machinability. Red brass products contain decorative items, brass instruments, and jewelry.

6.Naval Brass
Naval brass is made of 39-42% zinc and 59-62% copper with a small amount of tin 0.75-1.25%. The presence of tin provides excellent corrosion resistance in seawater and provides good machinability.

Naval brass is used in manufacturing ship propellers, brass plumbing fittings, washroom brass handles, and marine hardware.

7.Cartridge Brass
Cartridge brass made of is 70-73% copper and 27-30% zinc. Cartridge brass has good formability and high tensile strength.

Cartridge brasses are used in manufacturing brass products like ammunition casings, brass instruments, brass handles, and plumbing fittings.

8.Dezincification Resistant Brass
This brass alloy as named identify is designed to resist the zinc loss from the brass alloy.

Dezincification-resistant brass alloys are composed of a higher content of copper up to 85% with additional elements like arsenic and tin.

Brass Manufacturing Technologies

This method is used to develop large and complex brass components.

Casting of brass involves pouring molten brass into the mold to achieve the desired shape. Brass annealing is done afterward to release thermal stresses.

Brass rods, brass bars, and brass tubing are often formed from this process.

In extrusion, brass is manufactured in a die to create a uniform long shape.

3.Cutting and Shaping
This step of cutting shaping in manufacturing is done to achieve specific shapes and dimensions of the brass product.

Cutting and shaping can be done through different processes as given below.

  • Forging
  • Stamping
  • Machining
  • Rolling
  • Drawing
  • Deep drawing
  • Spinning

This process is done by joining two brass components where the brass filler is melted and poured between the joining components.

5.Powder Metallurgy
Brass products are developed through powder metallurgy as done in the manufacturing of ceramics. Where brass powder is compacted and sintered.

Modern Technologies

1.3D Printing
3D printing of brass is an additive method of manufacturing where brass is melted and developed into one product by layer-by-layer deposition. This method allows the development of brass products in one go.

Also, this method is very effective in the development of complex shapes.
Wire EDM (electrical discharge machining).
Brass products can be developed with high precision and dimensional accuracy wire EDM method which uses electrical discharge methodology.

2.Laser Cutting
Laser cutting allows the cutting and engraving of brass at a very small level with higher precision than any other available method. It uses a laser beam to cut through brass plates and brass sheets with high accuracy and precision.

3.Waterjet Cutting
High-pressure jet water combined with abrasive material is used to cut through brass material to produce dimensionally accurate brass components. This process doesn’t produce thermal heat while cutting through the brass material.

4.CNC Brass Machining
Brass CNC machining  stands out as one of the more effortless operations across all metal materials, thanks to brass’s consistent hardness and stable machinability.

For skilled mechanical engineers, brass represents the optimal material for CNC processes. The composition of brass is versatile across various environments, posing minimal risks to human health.

Consequently, its application is exceptionally broad, notably in medical equipment and cutlery.

  • Fasteners
  • Valves
  • Pipe fittings
  • Gears
  • Power transmission components
  • New energy battery components
  • Decorative parts (antimicrobial door handles, decorative panels)
  • Precision instrument components (measuring tools, navigation instruments, clocks)

Brass Heat Treatment

The most common heat treatment done after the manufacturing of brass is annealing. Brass annealing is done to release thermal and mechanical stresses from the manufactured brass product.

In brass annealing, brass products are heated to a specifical elevated temperature and then slowly cooled to room temperature.

Table is showing the annealing temperatures of different types of brasses.

Brass Alloy

Annealing Temperature (°C)

Alpha Brass


Cartridge Brass


Naval Brass


Admiralty Brass


Muntz Metal


Yellow Brass


Red Brass


Brass vs Bronze

Brass and bronze both are different alloys of copper alloys. Brass is composed of copper and zinc mainly with some additive elements having yellow-golden color. While bronze is mainly composed of copper and tin and has a reddish-brown color.


YouTube video explaining the difference between brass and bronze.

Gold Brass vs Yellow Brass

Gold brass is known as rich brass because it has a high composition of copper compared to zinc which is 70% copper and 30% zinc. While yellow brass also known as Cartridge brass has a moderate composition of both copper and zinc which is 67-70% copper and 30-33% zinc.


How to Make Brass Look Old

To make brass look older and darker apply a solution of vinegar and salt on the brass component several times allowing it to age naturally.

YouTube video showing a method to clean brass from vinegar:

Brass Applications

Brass Decorative Applications

Due to its aesthetic finish and beautiful color brass is mainly used for decorative purposes. Not only kitchen and bathroom fixtures are manufactured from brass but also kitchen utensils, brass handles, furniture components, and office supplies are manufactured from brass.

The increase in demand for bar decorative products is due to brass’s versatility and aesthetic appeal. High-quality brass is used to manufacture brass faucets. Brass faucets provide a sophisticated and timeless look in both modern and traditional bathroom designs .


Brass Mechanical Applications

  • Brass Plumbing Fixtures
    Excellent corrosion resistance property makes brass suitable to be used in water-related applications like brass plumbing fixtures ensuring long-lasting performance.
  • Brass Fittings
    Brass’s low friction and corrosion resistance properties make them suitable for plumbing systems parts like brass connectors, brass valves, and brass fittings.
  •  Brass Fasteners and Hardware
    Brass fasteners are developed from brass because of their high strength and provide secure and reliable connections in mechanical assemblies.


Brass Musical Instruments

Brass has unique acoustic properties and malleability. Brass can resonate sound effectively that’s why brass is used to manufacture musical instruments. Brass musical instruments include French horns, tubas, cornets trumpets, and trombones.


Brass Automotive Components

Brass has a unique combination of properties like machinability, thermal conductivity, and corrosion resistance making it suitable to manufacture brass automotive components.

Commonly manufactured brass automotive components are

2.Fuel Injection Systems

3.Brake Systems

4.Cooling System Components

5.Transmission Components

Brass Architectural Applications

Brass due to fine tolerance in machining, ductility, malleability, resistance to degradation, and antibacterial properties due to the presence of copper used in various architectural applications like:

  • Handrails
  • Doorknobs and locks
  • Balustrades
  • Protective and decorative finishes
  • Architectural brass angle bars 


What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Brass



Corrosion resistance


Attractive appearance

Lower strength than other metals is relatively ductile.


Lower melting point

Electrical conductivity





high density


Since ancient times brass has been used for multiple applications due to its unique combined properties good formability, high tensile strength, good machinability, resistance to corrosion in seawater, and hot-working properties.

Understanding the properties and types of brass makes choosing brass for your product a great choice.Tirapid’s machinists have years of experience CNC machining brass. Feel free to contact projects@tirapid.com.


Does Brass Rust?

Brass does not rust because it has good corrosion resistance, but it can tarnish over time.

What is Patina?

The formation of a greenish or brownish film on the metal surface due to the natural oxidation process is called patina.

Does Brass do Well in Applications Involving Water?

Yes, brass can be used in water involving applications like washroom door handles, taps, and plumbing fittings because brass has excellent corrosion resistance due to copper.

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