Selected Metals - 7: Copper Alloys -Bronze
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Copper has been used for more than 13,000 years and was the only metal known to man for the majority of that time (the lizard skeleton imbedded in copper shown to the right may be 11,000 years old). It wasn't until somewhere around 5000 BC that copper was mixed with tin to produce a much harder metals called bronze. The discovery of bronze was such an important time to historians and archeologists that it has come to be known as the Bronze Age.

Bronze remains a material in common use today. Alloys other than Tin have since been added to copper to produce substantially different properties. The most common alloys are: phosphorus, aluminum, manganese, silicon, nickel, lead, and iron. The first four alloys play the main role in bronze metallurgy therefore bronze has been divided into four groups: Phosphor Bronze, Aluminum Bronze, Manganese Bronze, and Silicon Bronze. Following are four bronze alloys, one from each group. Note that the machinability indications are comparing bronze to bronze.


  • Primary alloy aluminum
  • Machinability good
  • Weldability fair for all methods except oxy
  • Applications valve and pump components, marine equipment
  • Comments a free machining and anti galling copper alloy


  • Primary alloy manganese
  • Machinability fair, galls easily
  • Weldability best to solder or braze
  • Applications valve and pump parts, bearings, heavy duty mechanical components
  • Comments hot forgeable alloy combining high strength and good corrosion resistance


  • Primary alloy phosphor
  • Machinability very good
  • Weldability best to solder or braze
  • Applications bearing and cam followers
  • Comments very good wear resistance


  • Primary alloy silicon
  • Machinability poor, galls easily
  • Weldability best to braze while other methods are good
  • Applications valve guides, valve stems, fasteners, pole line hardware, and marine fittings.
  • Comments moderate strength, good corrosion resistance, similar to C64200 in properties and applications.
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