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Brass and Naval Brass – Understanding the differences

Have you ever wondered what makes brass and naval brass different? In this article let’s delve into the differences!


Brass is an alloy composed of copper and zinc, often with small amounts of lead and other elements. It boasts excellent machinability, corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, strength at high temperatures, and ductility. Brass finds applications in plumbing fixtures, musical instruments, ammunition casings, appliances, and more.


Naval brass, on the other hand, is a specific type of brass used in marine applications since the early 19th century. It contains higher concentrations of copper (usually around 60-67%) compared to typical brass alloys. This elevated copper content enhances its corrosion resistance against seawater. Naval brass also has excellent mechanical properties, such as tensile strength and fatigue resistance, enabling it to withstand harsh conditions at sea for long periods of time.


Naval brass is used for various marine components, including:


Propellers and Propeller Shafts: Due to its combination of strength and corrosion resistance, naval brass is often used for manufacturing propellers and propeller shafts in ships and boats.


Valves and Fittings: It is used for valves, pumps, and other fluid-handling components in marine systems where resistance to seawater corrosion is crucial.


Fasteners: Naval brass fasteners, such as screws and bolts, are commonly used in marine construction and repair due to their durability and corrosion resistance.


Marine Hardware: Various marine hardware items, like marine fittings, bushings, and couplings, are often made from naval brass.


Nautical Instruments: Some nautical instruments, like compass housings and sextants, may also be constructed from naval brass due to its resistance to corrosion.


It's important to note that while naval brass offers excellent corrosion resistance, it may not be suitable for all marine applications. In some cases, more specialised alloys or coatings may be required to withstand specific environmental conditions or stresses. Nonetheless, naval brass remains a widely used material in the marine industry for its favourable combination of properties.


In conclusion, both regular and naval brass are useful materials with characteristics that make them suitable for certain industrial applications depending on their composition and properties. Regular brass contains higher levels of zinc than naval brass, giving it better machinability. In contrast, naval brass’s higher concentrations of copper give them enhanced corrosion resistance and durability, making them ideal for use in maritime environments where reliable performance is essential even under harsh conditions like those experienced by ships out at sea.


At P&P Non-Ferrous, we specialise in Naval Brass C46400 which we can supply in various forms, including plates, sheets, bars, and tubes. The specific properties of the alloy make it a popular choice for marine engineering applications where corrosion resistance and durability are essential. To learn more about our naval brass and to see if they will best suit your requirements, call the team at P&P Non-Ferrous today and a member of our team will be happy to answer any queries.

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