Bronze as a Casting Metal

Bernier Cast Metals works with most copper based alloys including Tin Bronze, Manganese Bronze, Aluminum Bronze, Nickel Bronze and Phosphor Bronze.We can produce small to large runs utilizing air-set sand casting, green sand casting, lost foam casting, and creating wood or plastic patterns directly from customer drawings.

Composition and alloys

There are many different bronze alloys, but typically modern bronze is 88% copper and 12% tin.[14] Alpha bronze consists of the alpha solid solution of tin in copper. Alpha bronze alloys of 4–5% tin are used to make coins, springs, turbines and blades. Historical “bronzes” are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was on hand; the metal of the 12th-century English Gloucester Candlestick is bronze containing a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic with an unusually large amount of silver – between 22.5% in the base and 5.76% in the pan below the candle. The proportions of this mixture suggests that the candlestick was made from a hoard of old coins. The Benin Bronzes are really brass, and the Romanesque Baptismal font at St Bartholomew’s Church, Liège is described as both bronze and brass.

In the Bronze Age, two forms of bronze were commonly used: “classic bronze”, about 10% tin, was used in casting; and “mild bronze”, about 6% tin, was hammered from ingots to make sheets. Bladed weapons were mostly cast from classic bronze, while helmets and armor were hammered from mild bronze.

Commercial bronze (90% copper and 10% zinc) and architectural bronze (57% copper, 3% lead, 40% zinc) are more properly regarded as brass alloys because they contain zincas the main alloying ingredient. They are commonly used in architectural applications.[15][16]

Bismuth bronze is a bronze alloy with a composition of 52% copper, 30% nickel, 12% zinc, 5% lead, and 1% bismuth. It is able to hold a good polish and so is sometimes used in light reflectors and mirrors.[17]

Plastic bronze is bronze containing a significant quantity of lead which makes for improved plasticity[18] possibly used by the ancient Greeks in their ship construction.[19]

Silicon bronze has a composition of Si: 2.80–3.80%, Mn: 0.50–1.30%, Fe: 0.80% max., Zn: 1.50% max., Pb: 0.05% max., Cu: balance.[20]

Other bronze alloys include aluminium bronze, phosphor bronze, manganese bronze, bell metal, arsenical bronze, speculum metal and cymbal alloys.

Properties

Bronzes are typically very ductile alloys. By way of comparison, most bronzes are considerably less brittle than cast iron. Typically bronze only oxidizes superficially; once a copper oxide (eventually becoming copper carbonate) layer is formed, the underlying metal is protected from further corrosion. This can be seen on statues from the Hellenistic period. However, if copper chlorides are formed, a corrosion-mode called “bronze disease” will eventually completely destroy it.[21] Copper-based alloys have lower melting points than steel or iron and are more readily produced from their constituent metals. They are generally about 10 percent denser than steel, although alloys using aluminium or silicon may be slightly less dense. Bronze is a better conductor of heat and electricity than most steels. The cost of copper-base alloys is generally higher than that of steels but lower than that of nickel-base alloys.

Copper and its alloys have a huge variety of uses that reflect their versatile physical, mechanical, and chemical properties. Some common examples are the high electrical conductivity of pure copper, low-friction properties of bearing bronze (bronze which has a high lead content— 6–8%), resonant qualities of bell bronze (20% tin, 80% copper), and resistance to corrosion by seawater of several bronze alloys.

The melting point of bronze varies depending on the ratio of the alloy components and is about 950 °C (1,742 °F). Bronze is usually nonmagnetic, but certain alloys containing iron or nickel may have magnetic properties.

Applications

Industry

Various kinds of bronze are used in many different industrial applications.

Phosphor bronze is used for ships’ propellers, musical instruments, and electrical contacts.[23] Bearings are often made of bronze for its friction properties. It can be filled with oil to make the proprietary Oilite and similar material for bearings. Aluminium bronze is very hard and wear-resistant, and is used for bearings and machine tool ways.[24]