Brasses are copper-zinc alloys, with or without relatively small quantities of other elements, namely aluminium, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, silicon and tin. These alloys are characterised by moderate to high strength (depending on grade), good corrosion resistance, good electrical and thermal conductivity, and an attractive colour.

Lead is frequently added to brass to improve machinability and pressure tightness. Addition of tin helps to improve corrosion resistance. Aluminium is sometimes added to increase fluidity and to give a smooth surface.

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