What is Phosphor Bronze and what is it made of?
Phosphor Bronze is a Copper alloy which contains a significant quantity of Phosphorus. The alloy also contains 0.5% – 11% of Tin. It is historically one of the world’s oldest metal alloys, with its origins dating back almost 4,000 years.
The material is extremely well known for its strength, durability, low coefficient of friction and its fine grain. Owed to the presence of Phosphorus, the alloy has great fluidity when in a molten state and therefore offers good castability. The Phosphorus acts as a de-oxidant, reduces viscosity and therefore improves fluidity, while increasing stiffness and wear resistance. The introduction of Tin, on the other hand, results in a significant increase in the strength and corrosion resistance.
Is Phosphor Bronze magnetic?: Phosphor Bronze properties
Phosphor Bronze is a non-magnetic metal with excellent strength and resistance to corrosion and fatigue. It holds up exceptionally well to wear. It offers good electrical conductivity, low-friction and excellent elasticity. The fine grain size of the alloy allows it to have a greater degree of spring-back.
What is Phosphor Bronze used for?
It is used in a broad range of applications and industries, from aerospace, electronics and chemical to mechanical and marine engineering. Its innate properties make it suitable for products and situations where resistance to wear, fatigue and even chemical corrosion is needed.
For this reason, Phosphor Bronze is used for springs, bolts, bearings, fasteners and other products which need to be designed to withstand fatigue and high stress, while exhibiting high elasticity. The alloy is also highly common in marine based applications. The affordable, mouldable material can be designed into a multitude of shapes and sizes. Digital electronics, automobiles and automatic controls all rely on parts made with Phosphor Bronze due to their high performance and reliability.
The alloy is also very popular in the cryogenics industry. Due to its high electrical conductivity and low thermal conductivity, it can function efficiently as an electrical connection, even in extremely low temperatures. This is valuable, because the material does not need additional heat to function as an electrical component in cryogenic environments. Phosphor Bronze is also used in the storage of spent nuclear fuel, due to its high corrosion resistance.
The alloy is a popular material for musical instruments such as trumpets, saxophones and trombones, as well as acoustic guitar strings. In the case of these instruments, the durable, aesthetic material is used to achieve both a specific look and sound. In the case of the acoustic strings, Phosphor Bronze strings are known for their extended life, durability and warm, bright and well-balanced acoustic tone.
Phosphor Bronze in art and design
Phosphor Bronze’s qualities make it an alloy of choice for multiple aesthetic and functional applications. Since the metal boasts outstanding malleability for moulding processes such as punching, bending and drawing, and can be easily plated, it offers a versatile metallic medium for artists and designers.
Artists and designers have used the material to create intricate sculptures and meshes, even jewellery, as well as more robust kinetic installations. Since Phosphor Bronze displays no seasonal cracking or age-based hardening and is highly resistant to chemical and other types of corrosion, intricate and beautiful sculptures made from the material have been able to stand the test of time.
Creatives have the option of working with Phosphor Bronze in a number of formats, from rods, to sheets of varied thickness (which can be cold formed into varied shapes) and even wire. Each format has good mechanical properties – such as spring or flexibility – allowing it to be transformed in endless ways in the hands of an artist or designer.