Brass is a binary alloy composed of copper and zinc that has been produced for millennia and is valued for its workability, hardness, corrosion resistance and attractive appearance.
he exact properties of different brasses depend on the composition of the brass alloy, particularly the copper-zinc ratio.
In general, however, all brasses are valued for their machinability, or the ease with which the metal can be formed into desired shapes and forms while retaining high strength.
While there are differences between brasses with high and low zinc contents, all brasses are considered malleable and ductile (low zinc brasses more so). Due to its low melting point, brass relatively easily cast, however, in this case, a high zinc content is usually preferred.
Brasses with a lower zinc content can be easily cold worked, welded and brazed. A high copper content also allows the metal to form a protective oxide layer (patina) on its surface that guards against further corrosion, a valuable property in applications that expose the metal to moisture and weathering.
The metal has both good heat and electrical conductivity (it's electrical conductivity can from 23% to 44% that of pure copper), and it is wear and spark resistant.
Like copper, its bacteriostatic properties have resulted in its use in bathroom fixtures and healthcare facilities.
Brass is considered a low friction and non-magnetic alloy, while its acoustic properties have resulted in its use in many 'brass band' musical instruments.
Artists and architects value the metal's aesthetic properties, as it can be produced in a range of colors, from deep red to golden yellow.