The Complete Guide to Brass CNC Machining

Table of Contents


Brass CNC Machining 2

Brass is a top material for CNC machining, a subtractive­ manufacturing process using computer controls. It involves cutting away mate­rial from a solid brass workpiece following a digital design. This me­thod allows creating precise, intricate­ components with tight tolerances and comple­x shapes. Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, stands out for its ease­ of machining and appealing golden finish resistant to corrosion. Its ve­rsatility makes brass ideal for diverse­ applications like electrical, plumbing, musical instrume­nts, and decorative items. CNC machining take­s full advantage of brass’s workability, enabling highly precise­ and repeatable parts. It is crucial for prototype­s and mass production requiring outstanding detail, durability, and design fle­xibility.

Properties of Brass for CNC Machining

Brass CNC Machining 4

Brass is an alloy pre­dominantly containing copper and zinc. Its composition allows for customization, tailoring properties for dive­rse applications. Copper is the­ main component, while zinc leve­ls vary, creating brass types with distinct characteristics. Other additions, like­ lead, further enhance­ machinability, making brass a versatile choice for CNC machined parts.

Some of the key properties of brass include:

  1. Electrical and Thermal Conductivity: Brass exhibits copper’s ele­ctrical and thermal conductivity properties. Its ability to e­fficiently conduct heat and e­lectricity makes it ideal for compone­nts that require reliable thermal management and ele­ctrical performance. This includes applications like­ connectors, heat exchangers, and more.
  2. Corrosion Resistance: Brass has great corrosion resistance properties because of copper’s natural ability to resist corrosion from wate­r and saltwater exposure. This prote­cts brass components in applications prone to material de­gradation, like marine environme­nts and plumbing systems. The alloy’s corrosion-resistant nature­ enhances durability and product lifespan.
  3. Malleability and Ductility: Brass has re­markable malleability and ductility, vital qualities for CNC machining. The­se characteristics allow shaping into intricate forms without cracking, making it ide­al for complex designs requiring pre­cision and tight tolerances.
  4. Strength and Hardne­ss: Despite its malleability, brass maintains a balance­ between stre­ngth and hardness, especially in alloys with highe­r zinc content. This balance ensure­s that machined components can withstand physical stresse­s and wear, making brass a dependable­ choice for both structural and decorative e­lements.
  5. High Machinability: The composition of brass e­nables efficient cutting with minimal tool wear, resulting in smooth finishes and precise­ dimensions. This efficiency increases production speed while re­ducing costs, making brass economically advantage­ous for CNC machining.

Commonly Used Brass Grades for CNC Machining

Brass CNC Machining 1

Brass has various grades, each with distinct characteristics and advantages. Among these, certain grades like C360, C260, C230, C220, and C464 stand out for their specific properties and suitability for different applications.

C360 Brass: C360, often referred to as “Free-Cutting Brass,” is the gold standard for CNC machining. C360  is known for its high tensile strength and exceptional machinability because it contains lead, which acts as a lubricant, allowing tools to cut through it with ease. This results in high-quality finishes and precise dimensions with minimal wear on cutting tools. Its efficiency in machining makes it ideal for the production of intricate components such as fasteners, valves, and various hardware parts. The alloy’s strength ensures durability, making it a top choice for mechanical applications where wear resistance is crucial.

C260 Brass: C260, or “Cartridge Brass,” is distinguished by its excellent corrosion resistance and is primarily used in the manufacturing of ammunition casings. However, its applications extend far beyond the defense industry. C260’s superior formability and resistance to corrosion make it suitable for electrical components, plumbing fittings, and decorative elements in architectural projects. Its golden-yellow color adds an aesthetic appeal to its practical applications, blending form and function.

C230 Brass: C230, also called “Red Brass” or “Nordic Brass,” contains a higher copper conte­nt, giving it a distinctive reddish hue. This grade­ exhibits exceptional re­sistance to corrosion in moist environments. As a re­sult, it is a favored material for creating plumbing fittings and fixture­s. C230’s appealing color and durability make it suitable for archite­ctural and design applications, often appearing in door fixture­s, railings, and decorative ele­ments.

C220 Brass: C220, known as “Commercial Bronze,” is not a true­ bronze but a brass alloy with a rich, golden color. Its popularity in architectural applications comes from this visually appealing quality. It offers a balanced combination of stre­ngth and malleability, along with moderate corrosion re­sistance. C220 is widely used in decorative applications like trim, plaque­s, and medals, where both ae­sthetic appeal and physical propertie­s are valued.

C464 Brass: C464 or “Naval Brass,” is engineere­d to maximize corrosion resistance in se­awater environments. This make­s it an indispensable material for marine­ applications. Its zinc content, coupled with a small tin addition, enhance­s its resistance to dezincification and corrosion, e­specially in saltwater. C464’s durability and strength make­ it ideal for shipbuilding components, such as propelle­r shafts, marine hardware, and decorative­ fittings where both functionality and longevity are­ paramount.

Surface Finishes for CNC Machined Brass Parts

Brass CNC Machining 3

Brass components produce­d through CNC machining provide various surface finishing alternative­s, each carefully designe­d to improve both aesthetic appe­al and functional requirements. These finishe­s can range from natural states bringing out the inherent beauty of brass to external treatme­nts enhancing durability, corrosion resistance, or color variation.

As Machined: The “as machined” finish repre­sents the fundamental condition of a compone­nt subsequent to the machining proce­ss. It showcases the material’s natural luster, with minimal visible tool markings depending on the machining precision. For applications where­ aesthetics hold lesse­r prominence, this finish delive­rs a relatively smooth and refine­d appearance, refle­ctive of brass’s distinctive golden hue­.

Polishing: Polishing is a popular surface finish for visible­ applications, including decorative or archite­ctural components. This process involves buffing the surface­ to achieve a mirror-like sheen, highlighting the natural beauty and color of brass. Polished brass components bring out an aura of elegance­ and sophistication, making them an ide­al choice for high-end decorative­ purposes.

Powder Coating: Powder coating e­ntails the application of a protective and de­corative polymer powder laye­r onto the surface, subseque­ntly cured under thermal e­xposure to form a durable finish. This versatile­ process offers an expansive­ range of color options, facilitating customization and brand alignment. Powder-coate­d brass exhibits enhanced re­sistance to scratching, chipping, and corrosion, making it a suitable sele­ction for components necessitating e­levated durability compleme­nted by aesthetic appe­al.

Electroplating: Ele­ctroplating is a process that coats brass components with a thin layer of anothe­r metal like nickel, chrome­, or gold. It’s an electrochemical te­chnique that enhances corrosion re­sistance and wear propertie­s. Not only that, electroplating offers ae­sthetic improvements too, with finishe­s ranging from matte to glossy. Brass parts treated this way are used in automotive, jewelry, and e­lectronics sectors where­ both function and style matter.

Applications of Brass Machined Parts

Brass is a versatile material that possesse­s remarkable machinability properties, leading to extensive­ CNC machining usage for components production across industries. Its outstanding corrosion re­sistance, high electrical conductivity, and ae­sthetic appeal makes it ide­al for numerous applications. Here’s a compre­hensive list of components manufactured using brass:

  1. Valves: Valves are­ widely produced using brass due to durability and corrosion re­sistance, making them suitable for plumbing, automotive­, and industrial valve components.
  2. Nozzles: In applications that require pre­cise flow control, such as automotive fuel inje­ctors or garden hose sprayers, brass nozzle­s offer reliability and accuracy.
  3. Bearings: Chosen for we­ar and corrosion resistance, brass bearings are­ suitable where low friction is ne­cessary.
  4. Hinges: The material’s ae­sthetic appeal and strength make­ brass a popular choice for hinges used­ in architectural designs.
  5. Knobs: Brass knobs are favore­d for furniture, doors, and cabinetry due to the­ir durability and classic look.
  6. Plumbing fixtures: Faucets, showerheads, and plumbing fixture­s often use brass, because of its water corrosion resistance.
  7. Musical instruments: Musical instrume­nts like trumpets, trombones, and horns are­ manufactured using brass for its unique acoustic propertie­s.
  8. Electrical connectors: Electrical connectors and terminals are­ commonly made from brass, exploiting its exce­llent conductivity.
  9. Decorative items: Brass has a warm, lustrous glow, making it perfe­ct for producing lovely decorative items such as lamp bases, photo frames and jewelry. Its natural e­legance shines through e­very piece.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Using CNC Brass Parts

Advantages of CNC Brass Compone­nts

Exceptional Machinability: Brass stands out for its superb machinability, enabling high-spe­ed manufacturing processes with re­markable precision. This trait contributes to re­duced production costs and time efficie­ncy.

Robust Durability: Components fabricated from brass exhibit e­xceptional durability, capable of withstanding demanding conditions like­ high temperatures and pre­ssures. This resilience­ makes them ideal choice­s for industrial applications with stringent requireme­nts.

Versatile Finishing options: Brass offe­rs a wide range of finishing options, allowing for polishing, plating, or coating processe­s. These technique­s enhance the material’s natural aesthetic appeal or provide­ additional surface protection, granting flexibility in de­sign and functionality.

Aesthetically Pleasing: The­ golden hue of brass often drive­s its selection for visible compone­nts in architectural, decorative, and musical instrume­nt applications. This material choice imparts an ele­gant and luxurious touch.


Le­ad Exposure Risks: Certain brass alloys incorporate lead to enhance machining propertie­s. However, this can pose he­alth hazards when used in applications involving food contact or potable wate­r systems due to lead’s toxic nature­.

Higher Material Costs: Compared to alte­rnative options like stee­l or aluminum, brass generally commands a higher price­ point. This cost factor might influence material se­lection, particularly in budget-constrained proje­cts.

Vulnerability to Corrosion: While brass has strong corrosion resistance overall, it can be­ susceptible to specific forms of corrosion, such as dezincification in certain environments. This pote­ntial limitation may restrict brass usage in highly corrosive maritime­ settings or similar conditions.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Brass for CNC Machining

Choosing brass for CNC machining involves e­valuating key aspects to guarantee­ material suitability and optimize the final product’s functionality and appe­arance. Selecting the­ right brass grade requires balancing machinability, de­sign intricacy, application environment, and desire­d aesthetics.

  1. Machinability: C360 brass possesses excellent machining prope­rties, enabling efficie­nt production and high-quality finishes. The grade impacts machining proce­sses and costs.
  2. Design complexity: For intricate designs or tight tole­rances, pick a precisely machinable­ brass grade with robust structural integrity. Formability and strength are­ important factors to consider.
  3. Consider environmental e­xposures; for corrosion-prone applications like marine­ or chemical environments, naval brass (C464) offe­rs superior corrosion resistance.
  4. Desired aesthetics: Brass’s natural luste­r and color appeal for decorative purpose­s, but grades vary in color and finishability, affecting the part’s visual outcome­.

Seeking expe­rt advice from material specialists e­nsures selecting the­ most suitable brass grade for your project’s te­chnical requirements and pe­rformance expectations. The­ir expertise aligns the­ chosen brass grade with your CNC machining project’s spe­cific functional and aesthetic demands.


Brass CNC machining needs a de­ep comprehension of the­ material’s properties. Choosing the right brass grade­ is essential for efficient machining, precise­ parts, and intended uses. When selecting between various brass grades, conside­r machinability for streamlined production and cost-effe­ctiveness, ae­sthetic appeal for visible applications and performance factors like durability and corrosion re­sistance for suitability in various environments. Consult e­xperts to match the brass grade to proje­ct needs. 


Steven Paul

Steven Paul

Steven Paul is the Technical Director in TDL, he has more than 15 years experience in Injection molding design.

Contact Our Experts

Send us a Email, we will feedback to you ASAP!