Brass is a popular alloy used across all major industries because of its favorable characteristics. Brass is electrically conductive because it contains copper and zinc as its primary elements. Depending on the proportion of copper to zinc, the alloy may be more or less conductive, strong, hard, or machinable. The ratio of elements in the brass can even alter the color of the alloy, making it a popular choice for art, visible home fixtures, and musical instruments.
Learn more about how to evaluate the conductivity of brass, common brass applications, and its conductivity relative to other metals.
Electrical Conductivity Explained
Electrical conductivity is the property that measures how easily electricity travels through a material. Resistant materials with low conductivity do not transfer electricity efficiently; those materials can be used as insulation. Very conductive materials allow electricity to pass through them quickly with very little electrical loss, making them an excellent choice for electrical components like wires and relays.
The degree to which brass and other alloys are conductive depends on the exact composition of the metal. If it has a higher proportion of conductive metal (like copper) and a lower proportion of resistant material (like zinc), the overall conductivity of the alloy will be high. In industries like telecommunications, electrical engineering, and electronics, it’s important to use metals that are properly conductive so they can efficiently send electrical signals with minimal loss or heat generation.
Evaluating the Conductivity of Brass
To have the right type of brass for every application, manufacturers need to source reliably fabricated alloys with known compositions. Manufacturers can also use a variety of factors to evaluate the stock’s conductivity. Some of the conditions that affect the conductivity of individual pieces of brass include:
- The proportions of different metals within the alloy
- Ambient temperature
- Surface condition
Brass Conductivity: Experimental Evidence
While manufacturers can rely on product records to determine the conductivity of their brass supply, they can also conduct tests and experiments to calculate the precise level of conductivity. Scientists have run significant tests on different brass alloys to create records and mechanisms for ascertaining their properties.
Individuals can also test the conductivity of brass by putting it to use. For example, they can test electrical wires, connectors, and other components to measure their effectiveness. Musical instruments can also be tested by the instrument’s tonality, which is also affected by the metal’s conductivity.
Applications of Brass
The inherent conductivity of brass makes it an excellent material option for myriad applications. Some of the most common applications for brass include:
- Decorative elements: A popular choice for complex architectural constructions. Its appealing color and formability have also historically made it a popular choice for complex sculpture art.
- Electrical and electronics: Brass offers high levels of conductivity and low levels of resistance, which is ideal for electrical wires, connectors, switches, and other internal components.
- Musical instruments: The conductive properties of brass improve the tonal quality of brass instruments, such as trombones, trumpets, and saxophones.
- Plumbing: Plumbing systems use brass components for controlling the movement of liquid and gas throughout pipes with minimal static electricity.
Factors Influencing Material Selection
Brass offers several beneficial characteristics to manufacturers, including easy fabrication, resistance to corrosion, and electrical conductivity. However, its conductivity is lower than copper, aluminum, silver, and gold, so brass is ideal for applications that need some electrical conductivity and don’t require investing in more expensive copper materials.
Brass From Sequoia Brass & Copper
At Sequoia Brass & Copper, we provide our clients with high-quality brass stock that is cut to order and quick to ship. Select products from our brass inventory, or request a quote to start your order.