Bronze, Copper or Brass Tube: Some Considerations for Contractors
While most professional contractors tend to shy away from non-steel metals and alloys due to material costs, choosing either copper, bronze, or brass tube is more beneficial in the long run.
Compared to other popular materials, metal and alloy tubes are stronger, more resilient, and definitely more flexible. You don’t even need to worry about any additional expenses an installation might incur due to accidental breakage or very specific customizations to fit in the tubes.
Why Choose Tubes over Pipes?
An ordinary person can be forgiven in using the terms tubes and pipes interchangeably, though they are mostly wrong for doing so. Any professional will know that there are glaring differences between the two.
bronze copper or brass tube
The first difference metal suppliers point out is that pipes are much bigger than tubes. Furthermore, pipes are a lot harder to join to create or install a whole system as they must be welded or installed using some other type of special method. Tubes, on the other hand, since they are a lot smaller, are better suited for residential use. Tubes can fit in tight spots and only need coupling or tube joints to connect.
Another difference is that tubes are available in other shapes. For example, it is quite normal to see square brass tubing but there is no such thing as a square brass pipe. These different shapes are quite efficient for load-bearing beams or columns because of its exceptional structural strength.
Not All Metal Tubes Are Created Equal
Though these copper, bronze, and brass tubes might look the same at first glance, these three vary widely in their chemical composition. Copper is a naturally occurring metal with a reddish-gold color while both brass and bronze are copper alloys mixed with other naturally occurring metals which gives them their own distinctive colors and physical strength.
Since all three have varying amounts of copper in them, those who are planning to undertake a plumbing project might be wondering why not just use pure copper? For one, pure copper’s price is relatively high. For another, pure copper is extremely soft and has very poor mechanical strength (which makes them perfect for electric wires instead).
The only advantage of copper tubes is its corrosion-resistant properties. Unfortunately, turning pure copper into an alloy like bronze or brass weakens its non-corrosive resistance properties. On the upside, adding either tin or zinc to copper makes it stronger and brings down the material cost.
Asking a respectable metal supplier, like Rotax Metals, can help point you in the right direction to get the correct copper-tin or copper-zinc ratio for your intended application.