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WHAT ARE METALS MADE OF
BRASS, BRONZE, CRS, HRS, HSS,
STAINLESS STEEL,
NICKEL SILVER OR "GERMAN SILVER

1. What is Brass made of?
Brass is a combination of copper and zinc, in approximately the ratio of 2/3 copper and 1/3 zinc. Sometimes lead (about 3%) is added to improve machinability.

2. What is Bronz made of?
Bronze is usually made of copper and tin. However bronze describes any bronze colored alloy even if it doesn't have any tin. Various bronze alloys include silicon, manganese or phosphorus. Mostly bronze is used for bearings.

2. Steels. Steel is a refined iron where the impurities carbon, silcon, sulphur and phosphorus are removed and then the iron is combined with carbon and /or chromium and /or nickel. Various other metals may be added to create a nearly infinite variety of steel and steel aloys. A few common steels are discussed below.

a. What is CRS? This is Cold Rolled Steel.

b. What is HRS? This is Hot Rolled Steel.

c. What is HSS? This is High Speed Steel.

d. What is Stainless Steel? Stainless steel is low in carbon but has about 20% chromium. Stainless has a beautiful finish but is very hard to machine.

Both CRS and HRS are mild steels. Mild steels have a low carbon (<.3%) content and therefore can't be hardened. CRS is formed (into bars, rods or angles ...) "cold" and therefore has internal stresses inside. Because of these stresses, an intricate part, like a one piece crankshaft, or a heat treated part may distort. CRS has a smooth surface, which requires no additional finishing. The steel stock found in the hardware store or home improvement center is usually CRS.

HRS is formed hot so it does not have any internal stresses but it has a rough black scale surface. HRS is a little cheaper, but CRS is easier to find. HRS is used for welding, so a welding shop with steel stock would be a good source for HRS.

HSS is a carbon steel (0.3%<carbon<1.7%) that also contains tungsten. HSS is used to make tool cutters (drills, taps, dies....) HSS cannot be easily hardened or annealed in the home shop. Drill rod and tool steel are also carbon steels that can be hardened and annealed in the home shop to machine custom tools. But they cannot take the heat of, no do they wear as well as HSS.

4. Nickel Silver, or "German Silver" doesn't even have any silver in it. An alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc. Also called "white Brass".


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Last modified: November 29, 2001