Copper, brass and bronze are different alloys that are often called “red” metals as they count with many common characteristics. These alloys share a high copper content that gives corrosion resistance as well as a characteristic reddish coloring. Red metals are worked, forged, or cast into shape and are commonly joined by soldering or brazing; however, some can be welded.
– Copper alloys have a minimum of 99.3% copper content. Excellent conductors of heat and electricity and are commonly used for bus bars and wire connectors in electrical applications.
– Brass alloys consist primarily of copper, but they can contain as much as 40% zinc, which increases their machinability. They are often used for nuts, rivets, hinges, and locks.
– Bronze alloys, while mostly copper, contain small amounts of tin, iron, and sometimes zinc. The alloys have a good combination of low friction and high wear resistance, making them the best choice for use as bearings. The other bronze alloys are widely used for gears, valves, and pump parts.
The best metal for forging is brass. Copper alloys are more complicated for forging, and bronze can’t be forged in the traditional way at all.