What is the difference between a bronze and brass alloy? Copper Alloys

Traditionally speaking, bronzes are alloys of copper and tin whilst brasses are alloys of copper and zinc. However, the generic terms brass and bronze are used much more flexibly to cover a wide of alloys such as naval brasses and nickel aluminium bronzes.

Brass is an alloy that mainly consists of copper with zinc added. Brasses can also have varying amounts of zinc or other elements added, with these varying mixtures producing a wide range of properties and variation in colour. Increased amounts of zinc give the material improved strength and ductility plus brass can range from red to yellow depending on the amount of zinc added to the alloy.

When the zinc content of the brass is between 32% and 39%, it increases the materials hot-working abilities, but cold-working will be limited. When the brass contains over 39% of zinc, it will have lower ductility at room temperature plus higher strength.

Bronze alloys primarily consist of copper with the addition of other ingredients and in most cases the ingredient will be tin although arsenic, phosphorus, aluminium, manganese and silicon can be used to produce different properties in the material. These ingredients produce an alloy much stronger than copper on its own. You can tell the difference between bronze and brass because bronze has faint rings on its surface.

Bronze is also used for nautical applications because of its resistance to corrosion.