Brass Alloys in the Olden Days

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Published: 10th August 2011
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Brass making is significant throughout history, especially during the Medieval Period and the Renaissance. During the Medieval Period, brass was used to manufacture coins in Northumbria, a medieval kingdom in what is now Northern England. Brass was also highly evident in historical structures, such as Scandinavian graves in Scotland and St. Bartholomew’s Church—whose Baptismal font is in brass casting—in Liege, Belgium.

Also, during the same period, brass making was done through a cementation process in both European and Islamic countries. This involved using zinc oxide known as tutiya or tutty instead of zinc ores in making metals with lower iron impurities. This Islamic cementation process had actually influenced Europe where the tutty was evaporated in preheated crucibles that were filled with powdered calamine and charcoal.

Changes in brass making were seen in the Renaissance period. Cementation crucibles were used in Zwickau, Germany to make brass.

These crucibles had lids with holes on them that were covered with clay plugs to allow more zinc absorption. The crucibles were then used to melt the brass for casting.

This kind of technique served as a foundation in today’s brass casting.

Through casting, brass is made when a liquid material or metal is poured into the mold where it then solidifies. It is through this process that brass rods are made.

However, there had been other cementation brass making techniques used in the process to manufacture brass rods. For instance, it was discovered that copper grew heavier when it was transformed into brass and that its color became gold when calamine was added. Another kind of metal, zinc, became widely used to make brass. Zinc was condensed in a furnace in Germany to produce brass. Later on, it was discovered that zinc could be combined with copper to make brass—referred to as speltering.

Those important discoveries led to innovations in manufacture of brass in Europe. The use of water-powered hammers has made it easier to make brass. This led the brass industry to flourish. Supplies of cheap copper increased. Nehemiah Champion introduced the use of granulated copper which is made by pouring molten metal into cold water.

With this kind of technique, brass manufacturers and brass rod suppliers are able to make different brass products for residential, commercial, business, or industrial purposes.

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