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What Is White Brass?


I am a student, interested in understanding what impact white brass historically had on the nickel industry. It's probably a very basic question, but I'm interested in knowing what white brass actually is, and does it relate directly to nickel silver? If so, how?

Thanks for your help with this!

Amelia Newbury
student - Waltham, Massachusetts


At least 4 alloy groups are known as white brass; some do not contain nickel.

1) 65Sn-(28-30)Zn-(3-6)Cu [compositions in weight %], a hard, tough castable alloy used for automobile bearings,
2) A zinc alloy containing a few percent Cu, castable, used for cheap jewelry and novelty items,
3) 56Cu-16Zn-28Sn, an electroplating alloy ¯ Proc. Amer. Electroplatersģ Society, p. 247 (1944),
4) "White nickel brass is a grade of nickel silver. The white brass used for castings where a white color is desired may contain up to 30% nickel. The 60:20:20 [Cu:Ni:Zn] alloy is used for white plaque castings for buildings. Nickel brasses known as German silver are copper-nickel-zinc white alloys used as a base metal for plated silverware, for springs and contacts in electrical equipment, and for corrosion-resistant parts. Extra-white metal, the highest grade, contains 50% copper, 30 nickel, and 20 zinc. The Federal Trade Commission prohibits the use of the term German silver in the marketing of silver-plated ware." ¯ "Materials Handbook" [link is to product info at Amazon], 14th Edn., p. 970-971 (1997).

Search the Nickel Institute's website: for nickel silver.

Search the Copper Development Association's site for nickel silver and white brass.

Ken Vlach
- Goleta, California  

Ken received a special
"Contributor of the Year" award
from for his numerous
helpful and well researched responses

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