Brass is a substitutional alloy containing varying levels of copper and zinc for various chemical, electrical, and mechanical functions. Despite the fact that brass is stronger, tougher, and stiffer material, still, a question comes to mind can you weld brass?
Here’s a big YES! But welding brass isn’t a piece of cake – it’s a bit daunting task. It has a much higher melting point of 900 to 940 degrees Fahrenheit due to the presence of a significant proportion of zinc. Brass is commonly used for low-friction applications such as musical instruments and decorations.
There are many methods through which you can weld brass. You can simply go and check out our article on brass-to-brass welding, or you can either go for MIG, TIG, or flame welding mentioned in detail below!
Let’s get right into the business!
- Composition of Brass
- A Detailed Guide to Brass Welding
- MIG Welding –Metal Inert Gas Procedure
- TIG Welding Brass – Tungsten Inert Gas Procedure
- What Makes TIG Welding Different?
- Common Problems in Brass Welding
- Some useful tips for brass welding
Composition of Brass
Brass is an alloy containing significant proportions of copper and zinc. Its properties are much similar to bronze which contains tin instead of zinc. Some other elements that are present in brass include aluminum, manganese, lead, arsenic, silicon, and phosphorus making brass a way stronger alloy than others.
Moreover, the two main elements that make up most of the brass are copper and zinc; out of which, copper is 66% and zinc is 34%. This composition makes it a highly suitable substance for jewelry.
Uses of Brass
- Brass has been a very common material for decoration such as doorknobs and drawer pulls–thanks to its deep and gold texture.
- The high melting point, thermal and electrical conductivity, and high workability make it suitable for utensil formation.
- The low-friction and corrosion-resistance properties allow it best for gears, hinges, bearings, zippers, valves, locks, and many more.
- It’s best suitable for musical instruments including horns and bells.
- Brass is an ideal substitute for copper in making fashion jewelry, costumes, and other types of jewelry.
A Detailed Guide to Brass Welding
There are certain techniques through which you can weld brass, some are pretty useful and some are no more than a waste of time. You can either weld brass to brass, or go for MIG, TIG, or Gas welding. However, you might not get the desired results from SMAW Welding or Stick Welding.
It’s just because there’s a need for a wider groove angle for full joint penetration in Stick Welding and how can we forget that it’s much more prone to slag entrapment. To prevent problems like these, we prefer TIG and MIG welding procedures.
TIG welding is generally a good procedure as it gives a nice control of the welding pool and requires shallow penetration. The overall bead appearance is also better when compared to MIG or Stick Welding.
Let’s have a look at these techniques!
MIG Welding –Metal Inert Gas Procedure
In the MIG welding procedure, a thin metal electrode evades the spool. Continuous current passes through it to ensure electrode and base metal melting for fusion. The spooling rate and current are continuously controlled and settings are done for the specific materials.
Afterward, the weld is shielded by inert gas comprising Argon or CO2. Unlike brass to brass welding, the MIG welding procedure demands extra care while you’re choosing the filler wire. If the filler metal isn’t suitable, then you’d end up with discoloration problems that are against the industrial standards. CuAI8 is an ideal color-matching wire that’s good to go with all MIG processes.
Although this is still not 100% color matching; for that, you will need a filler metal with higher proportions of zinc. If you go for zinc, you’ll ruin the entire welding process because zinc will burn out at higher arc temperatures.
The remaining steps in the MIG welding procedure are quite similar to typical welding. You have to get a shielding gas containing CO2 and Argon, with a 75/25 ratio. If sufficient shielding gas isn’t present, Zinc will tend to vaporize producing Zinc Oxide vapors.
Some Tips for MIG Welding
There are four aspects you need to keep in mind when it comes to MIG welding.
- The distance between the base metal and the welding gun should be consistent throughout the process. If the distance is greater, the weld will be fragile and porous. It shouldn’t be too close to prevent burning out a wire. The ideal distance is somewhere between ½” to 3/8”.
- The angle between the base metal and welding nozzle should be 90°; if it’s less, it will lead the weld to splatter.
- Travel angle, which is the angle of your nozzle in the direction it goes, should be 10° from perpendicular.
TIG Welding Brass – Tungsten Inert Gas Procedure
TIG welding, also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), utilizes the non-consumable tungsten rod to provide current to the welding arc. TIG welding allows much more precision and good control as compared to MIG and brass-to-brass welding.
The only thing that holds you back from TIG welding is an expensive material as compared to other welding processes. However, the TIG welding procedure balances out this expense by performing well in beads incorporation that might be part of your design. This procedure allows to weld more exotic materials as in sheet metal work.
The TIG Welding Process
In this process, the welder will build an arc between a tungsten electrode and base metal that doesn’t melt. Soon, the molten weld pool forms at this contact point. Moreover, the shielding gas protects the weld pool and the tungsten electrode from being oxidized. Finally, the finished product of weld forms that is nearly the same corrosion-resistant as the parent metal.
Once the welding is done, you need to cool down the weld puddle and the tungsten electrode. Don’t forget to protect the weld puddle from shielding gas that’s usually Argon or a mixture of CO2 and Argon. This procedure is quite similar to oxyacetylene welding as both involve filler metal for reinforcement of weld.
What Makes TIG Welding Different?
When it comes to welding thin portions of non-ferrous metals including aluminum, copper, magnesium, and copper alloys, TIG welding is a great option to go for. As far as brass welding is concerned, skilled welders can opt for
Flame Welding Brass
Flame welding for brass goes well in terms of color matching when you use CuZn39Sn as a filler metal. There are three types of flames that are commonly preferred for flame welding.
The carburizing flame is a reducing oxy-fuel gas flame that contains an excess of fuel gas that makes up a carbon-rich zone. It’s used in hard-facing to get an optimal fusion of base metal with weld metal without deep melting.
It’s not a good option for those metals that can absorb carbon because it may produce iron carbide. This flame brings out a chemical change in iron and steel.
With a one-to-one ratio of oxygen and acetylene, the neutral flame has no effect on the workpiece. This flame also absorbs additional oxygen from the atmosphere to ensure complete combustion.
An oxidizing flame is an ideal option for brass welding because it carries more heat for zinc and copper.
On the whole, when you’re welding brass through this procedure, you need to keep an eye on the molten puddle constantly. Through this, you will monitor the flame effect on the weld to see the oxygen requirement.
Common Problems in Brass Welding
Usually, all brasses are weldable but when it comes to brass having lead as the main component, welding becomes nearly impossible. The main problem you might face while brass welding is that metal becomes porous due to zinc boiling while melting.
If you’re looking for a good alternative, here it is! The boiling point of zinc is 910°C and the melting point is 420°C; brazing the two metals using copper-silver filler and an oxy-acetylene torch. Through this, the joints become mechanically strong enough to prevent porosity issues.
Another problem you might face during brass welding is the formation of large quantities of zinc oxide in the fumes due to zinc boiling. This needs to be prevented or it may affect the atmosphere negatively –being a health hazard.
Some useful tips for brass welding
Here are a few tips that will help you prevent procedural mistakes during brass welding!
- Don’t forget to form a protective shield to cover the brass from an oxy-acetylene gas. These gases are stored separately, but combined during the process.
- Make sure that the size of the welding tip is one size bigger than the one you should’ve chosen for steel.
- Use Alternating Current to weld brass in 2.5MHz frequency and balance this current depending upon thickness.
- Always check the zinc content of the brass because it helps you to determine the intensity of the flame.
- Form a paste by mixing water with flux and apply it evenly on the brass surface you intend to weld.
1. Is it easy to weld brass?
Due to zinc and copper as the main constituent, brass welding is a challenging task. So it’s absolutely not an easy thing as zinc melts much faster compared to copper. The higher chemical reactivity of zinc allows it to react with oxygen to produce zinc oxide. Heat input needs continuous monitoring or it may cause the alloy to separate.
2. What’s the importance of shielding gas while brass welding?
Shielding gas is mandatory to provide sufficient coverage to protect the metal. It prevents the contact of the weld with atmospheric gases to avoid contamination. Moreover, shielding gas also determines the amount of arc heat and the appearance of the final weld bead.
3. Can I weld steel to brass?
Here’s a big NO! The welding points of steel and brass are so distant that you can’t think to weld them off together. However, brazing permits the joining of two different metals such as brass and steel with the help of filler. When it comes to joining brass with steel, the filler metal should be a silicon bronze rod.
The point that brass welding is a challenging task when compared to other welding brings the point where you wonder that can you weld brass. You can certainly weld brass using TIG, brass-to-brass, MIG, or flame welding techniques. Simply choose one of the procedures, and follow the tips mentioned above to get the best results.