Differences Between Brass, Bronze, And Copper

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When it comes to metal alloys, brass, bronze, and copper are three of the most popular materials used for a variety of applications. While these metals may look similar at first glance, they each have unique properties that make them suitable for different uses. In this article, we will explore the unique properties and applications of brass, bronze, and copper, and also the differences between them so you can choose which one is best suited for your needs.

Basic Overview of 3 Materials

In the world of metalworking, it is critical to understand the differences between the various materials you may be working with.


Brass is an alloy containing copper and zinc in varying proportions, depending on the intended use. Brass is highly malleable and resistant to corrosion, making it a popular choice for applications such as valves, bolts, musical instruments, and jewelry.

One of the most notable advantages of brass is its versatility. It can be polished into a variety of finishes and easily machined into intricate shapes and designs. Brass is bright yellow and can be plated with other materials for other shades if desired.

at Shanghai Elue, some of the most commonly used brass alloys include below types:

Copper 260: The main alloy element is zinc and copper, and sometimes a small amount of lead and iron less than 1%. This grade is sometimes referred to as cartridge brass because of its use in the production of cartridges. The common applications include electric components, rivets, and hinges, etc.

Copper 360: It’s the most popular brass alloy in our daily machining projects, and the majority of our USA customers always ask for this type when it comes to brass machined parts. Besides, it’s highly machinable because of its relatively high amount of lead. It is used to make automotive parts, valves, etc


Like brass, bronze is also an alloy of copper. However, instead of zinc, bronze contains copper and tin, as well as other metals such as aluminum or silicon. Bronze is extremely durable and wear-resistant, making it an excellent choice for heavy-duty applications such as valves, bearings, propellers, and gears.

bronze material

One of the most notable advantages of bronze is its high tensile strength, making it ideal for applications requiring strength and durability. Bronze is also highly resistant to corrosion, which minimizes the need for maintenance and repairs over time.

However, bronze also has some disadvantages. Machining is more challenging than brass, which may make it less cost-effective in some machining applications. Also, bronze is generally more expensive than brass due to the added cost of tin and other metals used in the alloy.

Below are some alloys of bronze:

Copper 932

Copper 932, also known as Bearing Bronze C932 or SAE 660, is a high-strength, corrosion-resistant bronze alloy. Some of its key features include:

1. High emissivity and thermal conductivity.

2. Low coefficient of friction and excellent wear resistance.

3. Good corrosion resistance and wear resistance in the marine environment.

4. Good machinability and durability.

5. High strength, good toughness, and high-temperature operation ability.

These properties make 932 copper a popular choice for a variety of applications, including bushings, bearings, pump components, and other heavy industrial parts.


C954, or Aluminum Bronze, It’s a bronze alloy that contains aluminum and is known for its strength, corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand high temperatures.


Copper is a pure metal, which makes it fundamentally different from brass and bronze. It is highly malleable, making it an excellent choice for applications such as wire and pipe. Copper is also highly conductive which makes it suitable when making electrodes for EDM machining. Besides, it’s also ideal for electronic applications.

copper machined parts

One of the most notable advantages of copper is its excellent thermal conductivity. This makes it an ideal material for applications such as heat exchangers, computer cooling components, and even cookware.

However, copper also has some disadvantages. It is not as strong as other metals like steel, which limits its use in heavy-duty applications. Also, like brass, copper tarnishes and oxidizes over time, which affects its aesthetics and can affect its performance.

Below are some most common grades of copper used in our machine workshop:

Copper 101: it contains 99.99% Cu and very little oxygen, or you can say it’s one type of oxygen-free copper. So it has got exceptional conductivity, which makes it perfect for those machining projects requiring excellent ductility and conductivity.

Copper C110: it’s another pure copper containing 99.90% Cu. for most of those copper machining parts in our workshop, C110 is the most widely used which is easier to machine than 101, and more easily available in China market. Besides, it can meet the demand for most electrical applications.

Differences Between Brass, Bronze, and Copper

Brass, bronze, and copper are three metals that may have some similarities but are fundamentally different. Below are some differences for your reference to differentiate them:

1. Element Composition: Brass is typically an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze usually contains copper and tin mixed with other metals. Copper, on the other hand, is pure metal.

2. Strength & Durability: Of the three materials, brass is the least strong and durable. Bronze has higher tensile strength than brass but is not as strong as steel. Copper is also weaker than steel but has higher malleability and conductivity.

3. Applications: Brass is commonly used for valves, bolts, musical instruments, and jewelry due to its malleability and corrosion resistance. Bronze is primarily used for heavy-duty applications such as valves, bearings, and gears because of its durability and strength. Copper is mainly used for wire, pipe, and electrical/electronic applications due to its excellent thermal conductivity.

4. Cost: Brass is generally the least expensive of the three materials because it contains more zinc elements, followed by bronze and copper respectively.

5. Aesthetics: All three metals can tarnish and oxidize over time, however, brass tends to show the least amount of discoloration. Copper and bronze tend to discolor more quickly, which affects their aesthetics but not their performance.

6. Machinability: Brass is the easiest to machine of the three materials, followed by bronze and copper. Copper is the most challenging to machine due to its strength and hardness.


All in all, brass, bronze, and copper are all popular metals for machining projects in different applications due to their unique properties. While they may share some similarities, they are fundamentally different, and understanding these differences is critical to selecting the correct material for your machining needs.

If you are unsure which material is best for your application, it is best to consult a metalworking expert. They can help you choose the right material based on your specific requirements, budget, and other factors.


Q1: What is the main difference between brass, bronze and copper?

A: Brass, bronze, and copper are all metal alloys, but they differ in composition and properties. Copper is a pure metal while brass is an alloy of copper and zinc and bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. The gold color of brass is usually lighter than the color of bronze, which is darker and reddish in tone.

 Q2: What is the use of brass?

 A: Brass is commonly used in musical instruments, hardware, plumbing, and decorations. Its ductility and corrosion resistance make it ideal for these applications.

 Q3: What is the use of bronze?

 A: Bronze was often used in sculpture and architectural details, as well as bearings, gears and other machine parts. Its strength and durability make it ideal for these applications.

Q4: What are the benefits of using brass in plumbing fixtures?

A: Brass is a corrosion-resistant material that can withstand exposure to water and other harsh environments without deterioration. Plus, it’s a malleable metal that can be easily formed into intricate shapes and designs, making it ideal for plumbing fixtures and other decorative applications.

Q5: What is the difference between red brass and yellow brass?

A: Red brass is an alloy of copper, zinc and a small amount of tin, so it has a reddish hue. Brass, on the other hand, is an alloy of copper and zinc without any added tin. Brass is more commonly used than red brass because of its lower cost and greater availability.

Q6: Can brass and bronze be recycled?

A: Yes, brass and bronze can be recycled. These metals are very valuable and are often recovered from old equipment and scrap.

Q7: Why is brass often used instead of copper?

A: Brass is a cheaper material than copper and has comparable properties such as strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance. Plus, it’s much easier to work with due to its malleability which can bring down the machining cost. Therefore, brass is often used in place of copper for cost-effectiveness in applications where the mechanical or physical properties are not critical.

Cora Feng
Cora Feng

Hi, I'm a CNC Machining Expert for more than 12 years.  We are one of the most accessible and trustworthy machining suppliers in China.

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