Inspired by a new focus on using brass products and advancements in high speed machining and tooling, the Copper Development Association conducted third party machinability testing on both leaded and lead-free brasses using single point turning and drilling operations. What was found was fantastic! Anyone processing brass has an opportunity to decrease cycle times by as much as 94%. Who would have guessed that despite the reputation of brass’ machinability, of its capability has been underutilized, thus inflating the cost per part and decreasing potential profitability.

The CDA study was performed on 5 brass alloys machined at different speeds and feeds while measuring power factor values, tool wear and chip formation to quantify results. Using a ceramic coated carbide insert, cutting speeds as high as 4,000 surface feet per minute and feed rates up to 0.015 inches per revolution were explored.




The data showed that normal tool wear when running 6 times faster than traditional limits. These results indicate that pushing speed and feed limits has no negative effect on tooling and a positive impact on productivity. The CDA paper “High Speed Machining of Brass: A New Benchmark in Productivity” provides specific data on the test results.

Chase Brass produces ECO BRASS, which is a lead-free alloy with high conventional screw machine and CNC machinability ratings. We were pleased to find that this study shows that the machinability gap between the leaded and lead-free brass decreases when processing the materials at higher speeds, removing another barrier to entry for use of lead-free brass. Conducting this type of speed testing on existing equipment will help determine possible ROI improvements generated in any plant with this alloy.

To assist you with this analysis, the Makino white paper “HIGH-PERFORMANCE MACHINING CENTER ROI: HOW TO DETERMINE A MACHINE’S TRUE VALUE” walks through the questions required to compare current versus newer equipment. Using the results, you’ll be able to review the capabilities of your current plant and compare it to advancements in the machinery available now in the marketplace.

The CDA study findings demonstrate the value in developing new higher-speed equipment that can further exploit the intrinsic machinability of brasses. It also shows that brass, both leaded and lead-free, continues to provide a cost-effective solution for manufactured parts.


Machining faster, increases profitability.