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Wear resistance of brass and bronze in dry applications

16-08-2019, Wonnie van Beek, Tags:

We regularly receive questions about the wear resistance of brass and bronze product parts in dry situations (no lubrication allowed), like ball-and-socket joints. Our metals expert Wonnie van Beek explains.

The first thing about wear resistance that you should consider is that it is a system property, not a material property. The wear resistance of a part depends on many factors including shape, movement, environment, surface properties, surface pressure and very important: its counter (wear) part. All mentioned parameters (and more) result in the wear resistance or performance.

Bronze is often used for wear resistant parts, e.g. quality CuPb20Sn or CuSn7ZnPb. Both qualities have very good wear properties, but the first quality has a better dry wear property than the second one.

The downside of these materials is the low maximum service temperature, because of the lead content. Because of the lead content, they are also softer than their phosphorus-brass ‘sisters’.

Brass, in general, has a poor wear resistance in comparison to bronze. An alloy with a few percent of lead increases the dry wear resistance a little, but it remains poor. There are no brass alloys with a very high percentage of lead. It’s only alloyed for better machinability, not for improving the wear properties.

To evaluate the wear performance, wear tests need to be carried out. If you want to know more about this subject: there are wear specialists (tribologists) who can help you in more detail.

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