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Tin Bronze and Phosphor Bronze

These are alloys of copper and tin and were the first to be developed about four thousand years ago. They were so important that they led to periods in time being named the Bronze Age. Wrought alloys with 4-8% tin are harder, stronger and stiffer than the wrought brasses and in strip and wire form are produced with a combination of high yield strength and good corrosion resistance which makes them ideal for use as springs. Details of the bronzes and other copper alloys used for springs may be found in the standards BS 1654 ‘Copper and copper alloys strip for springs and connectors’ and BS 2B 33 ‘Copper beryllium springs for aerospace’.

The addition of small amounts (0.01-0.45) of phosphorus further increases the hardness, fatigue resistance and wear resistance leading to applications such as springs, fasteners, masonry fixings, shafts, valve spindles, gears and bearings. Cast phosphor bronzes with up to 10% tin and 20% lead are widely used for heavy duty bearings.

Aluminium Bronze

These are alloys of copper with 5 – 12% aluminium, some having additions of iron, nickel, manganese and silicon, available in cast and wrought form. They are stronger than the brasses or tin bronzes with better corrosion resistance due to a hard, adherent, protective alumina film (Al2O3) They have an attractive golden colour, with very little tarnishing with time. The major use for aluminium bronzes is in sea water applications, such as:

  • Fasteners
  • Pumps and valve components
  • Pipe fittings
  • Heat exchangers
  • Bearings

where they meet exacting Def Stan specifications (previously NES), and are widely used for MOD applications.

Silicon Bronze

These are alloys of copper with 3% silicon and 1% manganese. Silicon bronzes have a good combination of strength and ductility, good corrosion resistance and easy weldability. They are used in architectural applications such as:

  • Door fittings
  • Railings
  • Church doors
  • Window frames
  • Hinges
  • Wall ties
  • Fastener material for marine applications,

The alloy is a firm favourite with sculptors and metalsmiths because of its workability, longevity and attractive golden bronze colour.


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