Zinc is a brittle metal and has a relatively low melting point of 419 °C (787 °F), resists corrosion, is ductile and malleable, and is highly soluble in copper. Zinc and zinc alloys are used in the form of coatings, castings, rolled sheets, drawn wire, forgings, and extrusions. Other uses of zinc are as a major constituent in brassesm nickel-silver alloys, typewriter metal, soft and aluminium solder, and commercial bronze.
Alloys of zinc with small amounts of copper, aluminium, and magnesium are useful in die casting as well as spin casting, especially in the automotive, electrical, and hardware industries. Zinc alloys have low melting points, require relatively low heat input, do not require fluxing or protective atmospheres. Because of their high fluidity, zinc alloys can be cast in much thinner walls than other die castings alloys, and they can be die cast to tighter dimensional tolerances. These zinc alloys are marketed under the name Zamak. The name zamak is an acronym of the German names for the metals of which the alloys are composed: Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper). The low melting point together with the low viscosity of the alloy makes possible the production of small and intricate shapes.
Zamak – Zamak 3
Zamak is a family of alloys with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium, and copper. Alloys of zinc with small amounts of copper, aluminium, and magnesium are useful in die casting as well as spin casting, especially in the automotive, electrical, and hardware industries. Zinc alloys have low melting points, require relatively low heat input, do not require fluxing or protective atmospheres. Because of their high fluidity, zinc alloys can be cast in much thinner walls than other die castings alloys, and they can be die cast to tighter dimensional tolerances. These zinc alloys are marketed under the name Zamak. The name zamak is an acronym of the German names for the metals of which the alloys are composed: Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper). The low melting point together with the low viscosity of the alloy makes possible the production of small and intricate shapes.
For example, Zamak 3 (ASTM AG40A), or Zinc Alloy 3, is the most widely used zinc alloy in the zinc die casting industry and is usually the first choice when considering zinc for die casting for a number of reasons. It provides the best overall combination of strength, castability, dimensional stability, ease of finishing, and cost.
- Excellent physical and mechanical properties
- Excellent castability and long-term dimensional stability
- Excellent finishing characteristics for plating, painting, and chromate treatments
- Excellent damping capacity and vibration attenuation in comparison to aluminum die cast alloys
Typical applications include die castings such as automotive parts, household appliances and fixtures, office and computer equipment, building hardware.
Brass is is the generic term for a range of copper-zinc alloys. Brass can be alloyed with zinc in different proportions, which results in a material of varying mechanical, corrosion and thermal properties. Increased amounts of zinc provide the material with improved strength and ductility. Brasses with a copper content greater than 63% are the most ductile of any copper alloy and are shaped by complex cold forming operations. Brass has higher malleability than bronze or zinc. The relatively low melting point of brass and its fluidity make it a relatively easy material to cast. Brass can range in surface color from red to yellow to gold to silver depending on the zinc content. Some of the common uses for brass alloys include costume jewelry, locks, hinges, gears, bearings, hose couplings, ammunition casings, automotive radiators, musical instruments, electronic packaging, and coins. Brass and bronze are common engineering materials in modern architecture and primarily used for roofing and facade cladding due to their visual appearance.
For example, UNS C26000 cartridge brass alloy (70/30) is from the yellow brass series, which has the highest ductility. Cartridge brasses are mostly cold formed and they can also be easily machined, which is necessary in making cartridge cases. It can be used for radiator cores and tanks, flashlight shells, lamp fixtures, fasteners, locks, hinges, ammunition components or plumbing accessories.
Properties of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Material properties are intensive properties, that means they are independent of the amount of mass and may vary from place to place within the system at any moment. The basis of materials science involves studying the structure of materials, and relating them to their properties (mechanical, electrical etc.). Once a materials scientist knows about this structure-property correlation, they can then go on to study the relative performance of a material in a given application. The major determinants of the structure of a material and thus of its properties are its constituent chemical elements and the way in which it has been processed into its final form.
Density of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Density of typical brass – UNS C26000 is 8.53 g/cm3.
Density of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is 6.6 g/cm3 (0.24 lb/in3).
Density is defined as the mass per unit volume. It is an intensive property, which is mathematically defined as mass divided by volume:
ρ = m/V
In words, the density (ρ) of a substance is the total mass (m) of that substance divided by the total volume (V) occupied by that substance. The standard SI unit is kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3). The Standard English unit is pounds mass per cubic foot (lbm/ft3).
Since the density (ρ) of a substance is the total mass (m) of that substance divided by the total volume (V) occupied by that substance, it is obvious, the density of a substance strongly depends on its atomic mass and also on the atomic number density (N; atoms/cm3),
- Atomic Weight. The atomic mass is carried by the atomic nucleus, which occupies only about 10-12 of the total volume of the atom or less, but it contains all the positive charge and at least 99.95% of the total mass of the atom. Therefore it is determined by the mass number (number of protons and neutrons).
- Atomic Number Density. The atomic number density (N; atoms/cm3), which is associated with atomic radii, is the number of atoms of a given type per unit volume (V; cm3) of the material. The atomic number density (N; atoms/cm3) of a pure material having atomic or molecular weight (M; grams/mol) and the material density (⍴; gram/cm3) is easily computed from the following equation using Avogadro’s number (NA = 6.022×1023 atoms or molecules per mole):
- Crystal Structure. Density of crystalline substance is significantly affected by its crystal structure. FCC structure, along with its hexagonal relative (hcp), has the most efficient packing factor (74%). Metals containing FCC structures include austenite, aluminum, copper, lead, silver, gold, nickel, platinum, and thorium.
Mechanical Properties of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Materials are frequently chosen for various applications because they have desirable combinations of mechanical characteristics. For structural applications, material properties are crucial and engineers must take them into account.
Strength of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
In mechanics of materials, the strength of a material is its ability to withstand an applied load without failure or plastic deformation. Strength of materials basically considers the relationship between the external loads applied to a material and the resulting deformation or change in material dimensions. Strength of a material is its ability to withstand this applied load without failure or plastic deformation.
Ultimate Tensile Strength
Ultimate tensile strength of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is about 315 MPa.
Ultimate tensile strength of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is about 268 MPa.
The ultimate tensile strength is the maximum on the engineering stress-strain curve. This corresponds to the maximum stress that can be sustained by a structure in tension. Ultimate tensile strength is often shortened to “tensile strength” or even to “the ultimate.” If this stress is applied and maintained, fracture will result. Often, this value is significantly more than the yield stress (as much as 50 to 60 percent more than the yield for some types of metals). When a ductile material reaches its ultimate strength, it experiences necking where the cross-sectional area reduces locally. The stress-strain curve contains no higher stress than the ultimate strength. Even though deformations can continue to increase, the stress usually decreases after the ultimate strength has been achieved. It is an intensive property; therefore its value does not depend on the size of the test specimen. However, it is dependent on other factors, such as the preparation of the specimen, the presence or otherwise of surface defects, and the temperature of the test environment and material. Ultimate tensile strengths vary from 50 MPa for an aluminum to as high as 3000 MPa for very high-strength steels.
Yield strength of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is about 95 MPa.
Yield strength of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is about 208 MPa.
The yield point is the point on a stress-strain curve that indicates the limit of elastic behavior and the beginning plastic behavior. Yield strength or yield stress is the material property defined as the stress at which a material begins to deform plastically whereas yield point is the point where nonlinear (elastic + plastic) deformation begins. Prior to the yield point, the material will deform elastically and will return to its original shape when the applied stress is removed. Once the yield point is passed, some fraction of the deformation will be permanent and non-reversible. Some steels and other materials exhibit a behaviour termed a yield point phenomenon. Yield strengths vary from 35 MPa for a low-strength aluminum to greater than 1400 MPa for very high-strength steels.
Young’s Modulus of Elasticity
Young’s modulus of elasticity of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is about 110 GPa.
Young’s modulus of elasticity of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is about 96 GPa.
The Young’s modulus of elasticity is the elastic modulus for tensile and compressive stress in the linear elasticity regime of a uniaxial deformation and is usually assessed by tensile tests. Up to a limiting stress, a body will be able to recover its dimensions on removal of the load. The applied stresses cause the atoms in a crystal to move from their equilibrium position. All the atoms are displaced the same amount and still maintain their relative geometry. When the stresses are removed, all the atoms return to their original positions and no permanent deformation occurs. According to the Hooke’s law, the stress is proportional to the strain (in the elastic region), and the slope is Young’s modulus. Young’s modulus is equal to the longitudinal stress divided by the strain.
Hardness of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Brinell hardness of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is approximately 100 MPa.
Brinell hardness of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is approximately 82 HB.
Rockwell hardness test is one of the most common indentation hardness tests, that has been developed for hardness testing. In contrast to Brinell test, the Rockwell tester measures the depth of penetration of an indenter under a large load (major load) compared to the penetration made by a preload (minor load). The minor load establishes the zero position. The major load is applied, then removed while still maintaining the minor load. The difference between depth of penetration before and after application of the major load is used to calculate the Rockwell hardness number. That is, the penetration depth and hardness are inversely proportional. The chief advantage of Rockwell hardness is its ability to display hardness values directly. The result is a dimensionless number noted as HRA, HRB, HRC, etc., where the last letter is the respective Rockwell scale.
The Rockwell C test is performed with a Brale penetrator (120°diamond cone) and a major load of 150kg.
Thermal Properties of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Thermal properties of materials refer to the response of materials to changes in their temperature and to the application of heat. As a solid absorbs energy in the form of heat, its temperature rises and its dimensions increase. But different materials react to the application of heat differently.
Melting Point of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
Melting point of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is around 950°C.
Melting point of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is around 385°C.
In general, melting is a phase change of a substance from the solid to the liquid phase. The melting point of a substance is the temperature at which this phase change occurs. The melting point also defines a condition in which the solid and liquid can exist in equilibrium.
Thermal Conductivity of Zinc Alloy vs Brass
The thermal conductivity of cartridge brass – UNS C26000 is 120 W/(m.K).
The thermal conductivity of zinc alloy – Zamak 3 is 113 W/(m.K).
The heat transfer characteristics of a solid material are measured by a property called the thermal conductivity, k (or λ), measured in W/m.K. It is a measure of a substance’s ability to transfer heat through a material by conduction. Note that Fourier’s law applies for all matter, regardless of its state (solid, liquid, or gas), therefore, it is also defined for liquids and gases.
The thermal conductivity of most liquids and solids varies with temperature. For vapors, it also depends upon pressure. In general:
Most materials are very nearly homogeneous, therefore we can usually write k = k (T). Similar definitions are associated with thermal conductivities in the y- and z-directions (ky, kz), but for an isotropic material the thermal conductivity is independent of the direction of transfer, kx = ky = kz = k.