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What Are the Different Uses of Brass?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many uses for brass, from hammers and tools to musical instruments. Brass has been used for thousands of years to make weapons, sculptures and even armor for warriors. In manufacturing areas that contain explosive fumes, materials or liquids, brass is commonly used to make fasteners that will not spark and potentially create an explosion.

Many machinists use a brass hammer to allow hammering on a delicate steel machining without leaving a damaging mark. The softer material will not mar the much harder surface of the steel, thereby allowing the machinist to pound on the delicate steel component without fear. In some applications, the use of a brass hammer is also intended to avoid making a spark. Unlike a steel hammer that can send a spark into explosive gas or materials and cause an explosion, the softer metal will not spark when struck against a steel object. Refineries, oil fields and many mining companies use the softer hammers when needed.

Musical instruments are manufactured from the shiny metal for several reasons. The tonal quality of the metal makes a brass instrument pleasing to the ear. Also, the metal is softer than most other metals, which allows the tubing to be twisted into complex windings, such as those of the trumpet and French horn. This soft metal is also lighter than steel, making it possible for the instruments to be carried for long periods by marching band members. The high luster of the metal also makes the instruments as visually appealing to the eye as they are musically appealing to the ear.

It is the ability of the soft metal to conduct electricity that makes brass a good choice for electronic devices. Used as contacts for speaker wires, the metal is very good at conducting a wide range of signals, which are transferred into a full, rich sound by the speaker. Being easily manipulated and fashioned, brass is a good medium for sculptors and trophy makers alike. The soft metal can be shaped and molded into an artist's impression of many different types of objects.

Rivets of the metal have been used in blue jeans and other types of clothes, boots and other garments for centuries. Some famous makers of denim products use the rivets as a trademark sign on product lines. In high-corrosion areas, nuts, bolts and even tools are manufactured from this soft metal due to the anti-corrosive tendencies of the material. It is also common to use a wrench made of the same soft metal as the fasteners when working in a dangerously explosive environment.

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Discussion Comments

By Melonlity — On Feb 17, 2015

@Logicfest -- Let us not forget one of the most important reasons for using brass in bullet casings. Arms manufacturers tried a lot of different metals, but they all had the same problem. They would stick in chambers when fired.

Brass does not do that plus it does something else pretty incredible. Brass, see, will actually expand when a bullet is fired and will seal a chamber so that there is no wasted pressure. The pressure is used to propel a bullet and does not escape. After the bullet is fired, the brass will contract to its original shape so it can be ejected from the firearm.

That is incredible. Think about how fast that process is. The brass expands for just a split second, contracts and then is thrown out of the chamber in a semiautomatic weapon. Brass is the perfect material for bullet casings, then.

By Terrificli — On Feb 16, 2015

@Logicfest -- Yes, brass is chosen for all of those reasons for bullets. However, it is worth mentioning that brass is also tough enough to allow bullets to be reloaded in those casings.

It is common for people to keep their brass after they fire their guns for that very reason. It is tough enough to stand up to repeated use in reloading sessions, but still soft enough to easily be molded to safely hold bullets in place time and time again.

By Logicfest — On Feb 15, 2015

It is also very common to find bullet casings made of brass. Why? The metal fights corrosion and that is a must for bullets as people tend to store them for a long time. Also, the metal is soft enough to easily be molded into any desired shape, yet still have enough "give" to insert bullets into the top of the casings and crimp them in so they will stay until fired.

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