What Is Bronze and How Is It Produced?
Overview of Bronze
Bronze is an alloy that is produced primarily from a mixture of copper and tin. In addition to these materials, other metals including aluminum, zinc or nickel is also used to make the product. Historically, the Bronze-Age refers to the time period when the metal was the hardest material available for use. Despite the widespread use of Iron at later stages in the human history, the metal remained one of the most important alloys. In fact, its variants, including copper and tin, are still used widely for a variety of purposes.
Bronze Discovery and Usage
The discovery of bronze was a major development in the history as it allowed individuals to create stronger materials that were easy to mold. It will also be justified to claim that the discovery allowed individuals to craft weapons and armor, which were not available earlier. Historians have also found artifacts stored in ancient dwellings, which means that the material was also used as a symbol of status. As suggested, it is still widely used for many important industrial projects. Perhaps, its significance is evident by the use of bronze bearings and bronze bushings in automobiles and modern factories, respectively. Similarly, ship propellers, electronic contacts and musical instrument are made from phosphorus-bronze.
Because bronze is mostly composed of copper and tin, its production is depended on copper and tin deposits. Interestingly, Chile accounts for nearly one-third of the worldwide copper production. Similarly, China has nearly half of the market share for tin. Nevertheless, the production of copper and tin is equally spread out between other nations. Fortunately, the metal can be completely recycled without any adverse effect on the final composition. Recycling includes the collection from processing residues and post-consumer waste. Afterwards, it is segregated for final processing before melting it.
The production is not a rocket science; however, modern industrial process can often make it look like a complicated process. Therefore, it is logical to describe the most common method of production, which is also widely used today. The simplest method is to heat both copper and tin to form a liquid. The resulting liquid is the simplest form of the metal. The next step is to pour the liquid in pre-made sand molds. Historically, these molds were used to make knives, swords and various other sharp objects. Once the mold is cold enough, the object can be used to craft the final shape. In fact, the final product can be melted again to remake other items.
Modern factories are often called foundries or bronze machine shop. These foundries have large furnaces and multiple molds to produce a number of bronze objects at any one time. Unlike fire furnaces, these foundries may also have electric furnace or induction furnace to create bronze bearings and bronze bushings. Sometimes, a smaller unit such as bronze machine shop can produce large amounts of bronze materials in a short time. Despite all the different methods of production, the alloy remains one of the most sought after industrial products.