For many component designers, the look and feel of a component’s exterior are equally as important as its ability to function in its required environment. This balance of aesthetics and function makes the material choice a critical one. As a machine shop that serves designers in a wide range of industries, it’s the main reason we see many of our customers turning to brass for their component designs.

An alloy of copper and zinc, brass is preferred for its gold-like color and surface finish. These qualities, combined with the material’s ease of machining and durable mechanical properties, make it a suitable choice for prototyping and production of hydraulic, electrical, and electronic components, and more.

Plethora’s custom brass prototyping services provide you with the high-quality components you need to test your product’s design and functionality. Our machining capabilities, which include 3-axis and 5-axis CNC milling and turning, support brass components production for applications ranging from aerospace to construction and musical instruments to household fixtures.

Close-up-of-brass-on-a-CNC-machine

 

The Benefits of Brass for Your Next Component

Brass has many distinct advantages that make it a good choice for component designs. These include:

  • Easy machinability
  • Excellent corrosion resistance
  • High scrap value: 100% recyclable
  • High strength
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Thermal conductivity
  • Malleability, with the ability to be shaped into unique geometries.
  • Aesthetic polish and finish
  • Non-bacterial properties due to copper

Machining Component Prototypes with Brass 360 and 464

At Plethora, we offer Brass 360 and 464 for our machining services for prototyping and production. One of the most significant benefits of leveraging brass for a machined part, particularly compared to aluminum and steel alloys, is its malleability. It can be easily machined into unique and complex shapes and sizes. This characteristic allows us to produce a quick-turn prototype that meets the exact specifications of your design.

In comparison to metals like bronze, steel, or aluminum, brass is a much softer metal. This property protects our machines from wear and tear, making the prototyping of your part more efficient and cost-effective. Combined with Plethora’s finishing and secondary operations, these advantages ensure we provide you with a high-quality product with a smooth, polished finish.

The specific advantages of Brass 360 and 464 are listed below. Our team of experts can help guide you to choose the best material for your component.

Brass 360 and 464

Brass 360
  • Excellent tensile strength. Even though it is soft and ductile, it can hold its strength in extreme conditions.
  • Consists of copper and zinc with about 3% lead—making it easy to cut, shape and drill.
  • Excellent corrosion resistance.
  • Fair hot and cold forming.
  • Excellent for soldering.
Brass 464
  • Superior tensile strength and hardness.
  • A copper-zinc-tin alloy is used most commonly in the naval industry because of its high resistance to corrosion and dezincification in freshwater and seawater applications.
  • Excellent for soldering and brazing.
  • Outstanding for hot forming and hot forging.
  • The maximum lead content is 20%, so it’s considered lead-free.

Brass 360 and 464 Mechanical Properties

As a base metal in brass, copper is combined in varying proportions with zinc to form the different types of brass we use. Each alloy has unique mechanical properties to consider when choosing the right one for your project.

  Brass 360 Brass 464
Tensile Strength, Ultimate 68,200 psi 55,000 – 88,000 psi
Tensile Strength, Yield 52,200 psi 24,900 – 66,000 psi
Elongation at Break 18% 50%
Modulus of Elasticity 14,100 ksi 14,500 ksi
Poisson’s Ratio 0.311 0.28
Shear Modulus 5,370 ksi 5,660 ksi
Shear Strength 37,700 psi 39,200 – 44,960 psi
Machinability 100% 30%

Brass 360 remains the industry standard for machining due to its high machinability percentage. With higher strength ratings, brass 464 has fair machinability and optimal for use in more aggressive environments. We have the ability at Plethora to machine both to suit your specific needs.

Key Applications for Brass in Component Designs

Engineers and designers in many industries enlist our custom brass prototyping services for their precision machining projects. Some common examples of applications that leverage the properties of brass include:

 
  • Marine components. Marine applications use brass 464 for its corrosion resistance and strength. Naval brass applies to marine hardware components, propeller shafts, valves stem and ball, and aesthetic components.
  • Decorative accessories. Brass has an excellent aesthetic appeal due to its color and finish. It has a high demand for decorative applications, such as fashion accessories or interior decoration components.
  • Household fixtures. The copper in brass is known for its antibacterial properties, ideal for fixtures on doors and windows.
  • Musical instruments. Brass has excellent malleable and acoustic properties. It’s used in instruments such as the trumpet, french horn, trombone, and tuba.
  • Automotive components. Brass is a preferred material for radiators in vehicles because of the lighter weight and lower airside pressure drop than aluminum.
  • Mechanical components. The non-magnetic property of brass makes it suitable to use in electrical and ammunition components. That same property makes brass ideal for clocks and watches.