August 2017

Developments in Red Metals

Scrap Challenges Increase with Alloy Variations

Compiled by the Staff of Metal Center News

The increase in the number of alloys being produced compared with the recent past has made the management of scrap returns a much more challenging process for manufacturers and scrap dealers.

“Education and training is the first line of defense. Many manufacturers and scrap dealers are not aware of the need to keep certain types of copper alloy scrap separate from each other. With proper training, cross-contamination issues in scrap returned to brass mills after manufacturing, called primary scrap, can be managed effectively,” says Thomas S. Passek, the president of the Copper Development Association.

Secondary scrap, on the other hand is more difficult to control. Passek says composite materials such as copper-clad aluminum and copper-clad steel are hard to distinguish on a visual basis, ultimately causing sortation difficulties.

While the use of handheld spectrometers help examine sample quantities of incoming scrap for impurity detection, Passek says there are limitations, as it is impractical to analyze entire batches of scrap.

“Segregation becomes more difficult as the scrap accumulates into larger batches like a truckload of brass water meters or a Gaylord box of wire chops. As small concentrations of impurities can cause issues, detecting scrap components or fragments comprised of incompatible alloy types can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” Passek says.

To battle this ongoing problem, the CDA has formed an industry working group in hopes of creating a broader dialogue across the value chain. The working group consists of representatives from brass rod mills, ingot-makers, plumbing component manufacturers, scrap dealers, standards bodies and allied trade organizations.

“The results we expect are a better understanding of the problem, increased awareness, practical and consensus-driven solutions, and a viable scrap stream for future generations,” Passek says. “We are encouraged by the high level of engagement from our strategic partners who are committed to addressing this common issue effectively and efficiently.”

Though rejection rates for primary scrap shipments decreased after training and education were deployed to customers back in 2010, contamination issues with end-of-life scrap has the potential to get worse. With that fact in mind, Passek believes action needs to be taken before the issue accelerates further.

In addition to the working group, the CDA is taking steps to survey the industry to develop better quantitative and qualitative data on scrap contamination and how it is affecting the industry.

Chase Forges Ahead to Improve Demand
Chase Brass is expanding its forged parts capabilties in an effort to return more production to the United States from Asia.

“That is one of our imperatives, ‘how do we grow demand,’” says Tom Christie, who heads up sales and marketing efforts for Montpelier, Ohio-based Chase Brass.

“Strategically, this is the best means to do it. We’re vertically integrating to add more value to our products that, hopefully, makes them more competitive globally.”

New forging equipment featuring next-generation technology was purchased to begin the effort. The new operation starts with Chase Brass bar stock, heated, cut into slugs and forged into near-net shapes. Once forged, it is capable of being machined.

“Our niche is smaller dimensional fitting and valve bodies, under 2 or 3 inches in diameter,” he says. “It’s typically considered a high-volume, somewhat commoditized product coming in from Asia.”

The next phase will be partnering with customers to help them develop the ability to machine the forged products, followed by generating demand from the end consumer. “We’re getting pretty nice traction there as well,” Christie says.

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Cambridge-Lee Adds Coated Copper Coil

Industries that specifically require corrosion resistance and identification for installations will benefit from Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC’s recent purchase of manufacturing equipment from CuPRO, a Canadian copper manufacturer. The purchase of the copper coil coating equipment will allow Cambridge-Lee to produce Readi-Protector material at its facility.

The factory-coated plastic protection over copper tube core makes the CL Readi-Protector Coated Coils corrosion-resistant, which allows the product to be used for a variety of purposes, including the installation of fuel oil lines, natural gas and propane equipment for companies in the plumbing, refrigeration, HVAC and burner service trades, among several others.

“We are excited to add this product to our existing lineup of copper-focused products and bring its manufacturing operations to the USA,” says Andi Funk, CEO of Cambridge-Lee Industries, Reading, Pa., where the new equipment has been located. “We are committed to finding the right solution for all industries that rely on copper to get their job done and we are very proud of our American brand especially as we enter our 75th year of operation.”

Cambridge-Lee has been selling the product for several years, purchasing it from the British Columbia-based producer and distributing it. Now, it will handle all of that on its own. “We’ve been producing copper tubing for 75 years, so this was a natural next step,” says Sean Fitzgerald, new product manager for Cambridge-Lee.

Currently, Cambridge-Lee is selling just to customers in the United States, but hopes to expand delivery into the Canadian market, he says.

For more on Readi-Protector, visit

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Monday, January 22, 2018