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What is Bronze Made of?

Published by Lucy Thurston on

Bronze is one of the most widely used metals in human history, with its discovery transitioning humans from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age – a more advanced sect of human development which saw impressive technological advances unlike any other. 

Due to its prevalence, many people don’t know what bronze is made of or how it first came to be. Knowing the composition of metals is important for determining which one is the best option for your desired application. Whilst bronze isn’t as common as steel, it was once the most prevalent metal and was used for all manner of things. It still has a place in society today, despite no longer being the most important metal once upon a time. 

Whilst it’s no longer an obvious choice for many, bronze can be incredibly useful. Find out more about bronze, how it’s made, and what it can be used for below. 

How is bronze made?

One of the most asked questions about bronze is how it’s produced. Bronze is believed to be the first metal alloy in the world. Alloys contain two or more metals, meaning bronze is a mixture of different metals. Essentially, bronze is made from tin and copper. The two metals are melted down and combined to create bronze. 

What are the properties of bronze? 

There are multiple key properties of bronze that lend themselves to its many uses, including:

  • High level of ductility – can be stretched and manipulated easily without breaking
  • Electrical conductivity – is a good conductor of electricity
  • Doesn’t spark – won’t spark when struck against another surface, making it ideal for flammable use
  • Low friction – doesn’t wear away easily when rubbed against other metals
  • Corrosion resistant – won’t corrode, especially in saltwater

What is the difference between bronze and brass? 

A lot of people get bronze and brass confused, but they are two separate alloys made from different metals and have very different physical properties as a result. Where bronze is made from tin and copper, brass is made from copper and zinc. Bronze was used thousands of years before brass, but both have their own uses. 

Due to the differences in the alloying elements, brass has a lower melting point than bronze, and it’s less brittle, although it is also less hard. For this reason, bronze is mostly used for more rigorous applications, whereas brass is mostly used for instrumental or decorative purposes. This is largely due to the colour discrepancies. 

Brass resembles gold in colour, whereas bronze is far more red-toned. It’s this gold shade that makes brass sought after for things like lamp bases and doorknobs. 

What is bronze used for?

Though not as widely used as it once was, bronze still very much has a place in modern society. It has a good level of strength and is less brittle than cast iron. It’s also highly resistant to corrosion, especially from saltwater. With this in mind, you’ll mostly find bronze is used in marine environments. It’s a popular choice for propellors on boats, as well as ship bells, pumps, and other marine engineering parts. 

Bronze is also used in bearings and bushings because it doesn’t corrode through friction, making it the ideal choice for high-stress applications. 

Bronze is perfect for electrical use because of its high level of conductivity, so it’s a popular choice for pipes. 

The final main use of bronze is for sculptures. It’s easy to pour into casts and silicon bronze can be easily moulded, making it a go-to choice for sculptures. Over time, oxidisation will cause the bronze to turn from a glossy red shade to a green/black colour, but the detail isn’t lost. 

When was bronze discovered?

The unique thing about bronze is that it was one of the earliest metals used by humans, and its discovery pulled mankind into a new era that was far more advanced that previous ones. It was the Sumerians who first began using bronze in around 3300 B.C., and by 1600 B.C., it was used around the majority of the world. 

Copper was used before bronze, but the discovery of bronze showed that it was harder and stronger, making it a better choice for weapons and tools, especially compared to stone which was used beforehand. The Bronze Age was a pivotal time for humans, with the invention of the wheel, advanced engineering, written languages, and vast trading networks. 

The Bronze Age was highly advanced, but civilisations suddenly collapsed, and no one is quite sure why. A lot was lost and humankind went backwards following the collapse, but one thing remained which was the use of bronze. 

Buy bronze online 

Bronze is incredibly useful and has many different applications. We are leading suppliers of bronze across the UK and can help you find what you need for your project. For more information, please contact us. 

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