Bronze vs. Brass: Which is Stronger

When it comes to choosing which alloy is going to be best for your application, you’re likely to find that you have a choice between bronze or brass. Considerations will likely include the cost, the appearance, the durability (resistance to corrosion/wear and tear), conductivity, and of course, strength. So which alloy is stronger? Here’s an overview of bronze vs. brass when it comes to strength.

What to Know About Bronze

Bronze is an alloy that is made of a variety of combinations of copper combined with iron, tin, zinc, aluminum, or magnesium.  It is most often made from copper and tin, with modern bronze containing 88% copper, and 12% tin. Bronze is made by heating copper and bronze until it is a liquid, and then it is poured into a mold.  

The discovery of bronze launched an entire era known as the Bronze Age. Because of its strength, and corrosion resistance, it’s been widely used for thousands of years for armor, weapons, tools, coins, sculptures, instruments, and more. Today, bronze is also used for bearings, pump parts, valves, and gears, in myriad applications.   

Bronze is used in many electrical applications because it boasts excellent conductivity. It’s also very suitable for high-stress applications. It’s widely used in marine manufacturing as well, as it boasts high corrosion resistance, even in saltwater. 

What to Know About Brass

Brass is also a metal alloy. Most of the time brass is made from copper and zinc. However, it’s not uncommon for iron, aluminum, lead, tin, or manganese to be added to alter properties, such as the color of the final alloy. Like bronze, brass is also made by heating the elements to liquefaction and then casting in molds.

Brass that contains high levels of zinc will be the strongest type of brass. Brass is also incredibly versatile and can be made in a wide variety of colors ranging from red to yellow. Brass is more malleable than bronze, and it has a much lower melting point. Like bronze, brass boasts excellent electrical conductivity, and it is corrosion-resistant. With the right cleaning compounds, you can also maintain the aesthetic appeal of brass materials. 

Brass is frequently used in plumbing applications, musical instruments, and electronic applications. 

Strength of Bronze vs. Brass

When it comes to deciding which alloy is stronger, it’s important to define strength as it applies to your application.  Brass, for example, is a more malleable alloy, whereas bronze is less malleable and can be brittle. Bronze has a higher melting point and boasts better resistance to corrosion. Brass is more susceptible to cracking from repeated and extreme stress than bronze. So, in general terms, bronze is the “stronger” alloy, but that depends on what characteristic is most important to your application. Not surprisingly, as the “stronger” alloy, bronze is typically, though not always, more expensive than brass.

Atlas Bronze is a leading distributor of Copper & Brass, Iron, Bronze, Sintered Products, Self lubricated bushings and Wearplate, in the United States.