What to Know About Using a CNC Machine for Brass Parts

We’re going to start with a few assumptions. We’re going to assume that because you’re reading this article you are a CNC machinist or are interested in CNC machining. More to the point, you’re reading this article because you know the difference between things like steel, nylon, and brass when it comes to machining them. Okay then, with all that established, we will impart some knowledge to you concerning machining brass materials on a CNC machine.

Best brass for machining

The chemical formula for making a brass alloy is simple enough; Add Zinc to Copper and stir in a little pinch of Lead and you’ve got brass. The exact formula depends upon what you’re trying to make. Some formulas have more Zinc or Copper, but the best brass for machining should have at least 2% Lead to help with machining characteristics. The added Lead keeps the malleability higher and that results in cleaner, smoother, cuts and extended tool edge life. CNC machinists familiar with the advantages brass brings enjoy better machine outputs and tool performance.

Why Brass?

Due to its low corrosiveness and high electrical conductivity, brass is the metal of choice for all kinds of products. Valves, hoses, fittings, electrical parts, and a plethora of other items are made from brass. As a machining material, brass is a “low friction” metal. That means brass can be machined using less power and with longer tool life. As a result of its properties, many manufacturers prefer machining brass components because they can speed up the CNC machine without affecting the workpiece. Faster production and less tool swapping equal more profit. The best brass for machining is known as Alloy 360, Free-Machining, or Cutting Brass.

History of tooled brass

The compound brass has been around since before anyone could write about it. It appears in the history books around 300 BC and keeps on going right on through to modern times. Because it doesn’t rust easily, shines nicely, and stands up to abuse pretty well, brass has been a go-to metal for a long, long time. Everyone from Ancient Greece and Roman metallurgists to Chinese foundries and Indian smelters was making brass for swords, shields, and other useful items. Brass adorned women’s wrists, elite carriages, and brass buttons on soldiers’ and sailors’ uniforms. The variety of uses has only increased over time and the introduction of technology has increased brass consumption significantly in recent years.

Modern uses for machined brass parts

Throughout time, brass has been introduced into more and more everyday items as well as some specialized things. Some of the items we machine brass in are tiny and others can be quite massive. From valve stems in automobile tires to fittings on sailing ships, the range of products is truly limitless. Understanding the machining qualities of different brass alloys expands production capability as well as sales and marketing opportunities. By incorporating Brass CNC machining capability into production, a machine shop or high-capacity plant can increase its contributions to the bottom line.

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