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Tombac (14134 views - Material Database)

Tombac, as it is spelled in French, or tombak, is a brass alloy with high copper content and 5–20% zinc content. Tin, lead or arsenic may be added for colouration. It is a cheap malleable alloy mainly used for medals, ornament, decoration and some munitions. In older use, the term may apply to brass alloy with a zinc content as high as 28–35%.
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Tombac, as it is spelled in French, or tombak, is a brass alloy with high copper content and 5–20% zinc content.[1] Tin, lead or arsenic may be added for colouration.[2][3] It is a cheap malleable alloy mainly used for medals, ornament, decoration and some munitions. In older use, the term may apply to brass alloy with a zinc content as high as 28–35%.[1][4]


The term tombak is derived from tembaga, an Indonesian/Malay word of Javanese origin meaning copper.[citation needed] Tembaga entered Dutch usage concurrent with their colonisation of Indonesia. Likely, the term was used generically to describe Indonesian high-copper brass items, including gamelan gongs. It is one of the very few Indonesian loan words used in English, German, or Dutch.

Common types

  • Modern CuZn15 (DIN: CuZn15 ; UNS: C23000 ; BS: CW 502L (CZ 102) ; ISO: CuZn15) - tombak with a gold colour, very good for cold forming, suitable for pressing, hammering, or embossing
  • modern CuZn12 (not standardized) - same characteristics and applications as CuZn15, slightly different colour
  • modern CuZn10 (DIN: CuZn10; UNS: C22000; BS: CW 501L (CZ 101); ISO: CuZn10) - similar characteristics and applications as CuZn15 und CuZn12, noticeable reddish colour
  • modern white tombac - CuZn10 that is zinc content 10%, with trace arsenic
  • modern enamel tombac or emailler tombak - an alloy of 95% copper and 5% zinc, suitable for enamelling, therefore the name.

Ure notes the following forms of tombak in widespread use during the time the text was published (1856):[5]

  • "Gilting tombac":
    • Copper 82%, zinc 18%, lead 1.5%, tin 3%
    • Copper 82%, zinc 18%, lead 3%, tin 1%
    • Copper 82%, zinc 18%, lead, tin 0.2%
  • "French tombac for sword handles", pommels and fittings: copper 80%, zinc 17%, 3% tin
  • "Yellow tombac of Paris" for gilt ornaments: copper 85%, zinc 15%, trace% tin
  • "Hanover tombac": copper 85.3%, zinc 14.7%
  • Chrysochalk: copper 86%, zinc 14%
  • "Red tombac of Paris": copper 90%, zinc 7.9%, 1.5% lead
  • "Red tombac of Vienna": copper 97.8%, zinc 2.2%

Piggot states the brass used for machinery and locomotives in England was composed of copper 74.5%, zinc 25%, and lead 0.5%- which would make it a tombac according to Ure.[6] Piggot's own definition of tombak is problematic at best: "red brass or tombak as it is called by some, has a great preponderance of copper, from 5 ounces of zinc down to 1/2 ounce of zinc to the pound [sic: copper?]"[6]


Typical tempers are soft annealed and rolled hard.


Tombac is easy and soft to work by hand: hand tools can easily punch, cut, enamel, repousse, engrave, gild, or etch it. It has a higher sheen than most brasses or copper, and does not easily tarnish. Historically, it was used by the Javanese as a faux gold finish for objects d'art and ornaments.

  • Most commonly, tombac in modern society is used in medals and awards of lesser importance, such as the Dutch Oldensburge Long-Service Medallion for their Gendarmerie (Oldenburgse Onderscheiding voor Langdurige Dienst in de Gendarmerie).
  • The Pickelhaube and cuirass of the Imperial German and Prussian Army were at one time made of tombac.
  • German, particularly Prussian, field uniforms (which were also sold to equip the White Russians), had buttons and decorative fittings made of tombac.
  • Currently, tombac foils are used in arts and crafts for decorative articles, especially as an economic alternative to very expensive gold leaf.
  • Industry uses tombac foil for heating foils and etch applications.
  • Gilding metal is a type of tombac which is one of the most common jacketing materials for full metal and hollow-point jacketed bullets.
  • The 1980 Olympic 'Bronze' medals were actually tombac.
  • During World War II, Canada minted 5-cent pieces, aka nickels, in tombac in 1942 and 1943.
  • The German military used it for some combat medals during World War II.
  • The Swedish armed forces adopted a special-service round for the Carl Gustav m/45 submachine gun with a tombac-plated steel jacket surrounding the lead core of the bullet loaded in the cartridge. While the lands of the barrel can cut into the tombac, the steel jacket resists deformation and thus causes the gas pressure to rise higher than the previous soft-jacketed m/39, giving the 6,8-g (106-grain) bullet a muzzle velocity of 420 m/s (1,378 ft/s).[7]

See also

Alnico알루미늄알루미늄 합금Aluminium-lithium alloyArsenical copper베릴륨베릴륨구리Billon (alloy)BirmabrightBismanol비스무트황동Calamine brassChinese silver크로뮴Chromium hydride코발트구리두랄루민Dutch metal갈륨Gilding metal유리HiduminiumHydronalium인듐ItalmaMagnalium마그네슘Megallium머큐리Muntz metal니크롬니켈Pinchbeck (alloy)플라스틱Plexiglas플루토늄칼륨로듐Rose's metal사마륨스칸듐나트륨스테인리스강강철StelliteStructural steel주석 (원소)타이타늄우라늄Vitallium우드 합금Y alloy아연지르코늄청동알루미늄 청동Arsenical bronzeBell metalFlorentine bronzeGlucydurGuanín (bronze)GunmetalPhosphor bronzeOrmoluSpeculum metalConstantanCopper hydrideCopper–tungstenCorinthian bronzeCunife백동Cymbal alloysDevarda's alloy호박금HepatizonManganinMelchior (alloy)양은Molybdochalkos노르딕 골드ShakudōTumbagaAlGaGalfenolGalinstanColored goldRhoditeCrown goldElinvarField's metalFernicoFerroalloy페로세륨FerrochromeFerromanganeseFerromolybdenumFerrosiliconFerrotitaniumFerrouraniumInvar주철Iron–hydrogen alloy선철Kanthal (alloy)KovarStaballoyBulat steelCrucible steel41xx steel다마스쿠스 강MangalloyHigh-speed steelMushet steelMaraging steelHigh-strength low-alloy steelReynolds 531Electrical steelSpring steelAL-6XNCelestriumAlloy 20Marine grade stainlessMartensitic stainless steelSanicro 28Surgical stainless steelZeron 100Silver steelTool steelWeathering steelWootz steel땜납TerneType metalElektron (alloy)아말감Magnox (alloy)AlumelBrightrayChromelHaynes InternationalInconelMonelNicrosilNisilNickel titaniumMu-metal퍼멀로이SupermalloyNickel hydridePlutonium–gallium alloy나크Mischmetal리튬Terfenol-DPseudo palladiumScandium hydrideSamarium–cobalt magnetArgentium sterling silverBritannia silverDoré bullionGoloidPlatinum sterlingShibuichi스털링 실버Tibetan silverTitanium Beta CTitanium alloyTitanium hydrideGum metalTitanium goldTitanium nitride배빗메탈Britannia metal퓨터Queen's metalWhite metalUranium hydrideZamakZirconium hydride수소헬륨붕소질소산소플루오린메테인Mezzanine원자

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