While no two metal alloys are the same, some do have similarities with each other. Understanding the differences between similar alloys is an important step in ensuring you get the best material type based on your application. Because both brass and phosphor bronze are alloys of copper, they share some similarities, but they have distinct differences too.
Brass vs. Phosphor Bronze
Let's look at brass and phosphor bronze by outlining a few of their key differences. We'll focus on the composition, properties, and uses of these two alloys.
Composition and Properties
Brass and phosphor bronze are both made from copper with the addition of other materials. Brass contains both copper and zinc. A higher percentage of zinc will result in a stronger, more ductile brass. Brass is known for its machinability and its ability to retain strength after forming.
Phosphor bronze is a combination of copper, tin, and phosphorus. While brass is valued for its malleability, phosphor bronze lends a greater hardness. As a harder metal, phosphor bronze has a higher melting point than brass. Some of the key properties of phosphor bronze are corrosion resistance, fatigue resistance, and excellent elasticity.
Because the copper content in brass makes it bacteria-resistant, brass is oftentimes used within the medical industry. For the same reason, you’re also likely to see brass as the material for bathroom fixtures and doorknobs. Plus, the coloring of brass can vary from light gold to near-red. This makes it a popular choice for decorative applications. For example, residential lamp fittings are sometimes made of brass, an application where both visual appeal and antibacterial properties are desired.
You’re most likely to see phosphor bronze as the chosen material for springs, bolts, and fasteners that require both high elasticity and fatigue resistance. Phosphor bronze lends itself well to manufacturing processes like press punching, bending, and drawing, and it is commonly formed into digital electronics and automatic controllers.