The leaded brass they are a strategic production for the copper alloy industry at European and global level. The exceptional workability of these alloys has made their widespread diffusion. Italy is one of the main producers, thanks also to the close cooperation between the metallurgical and mechanical industries.
Over time, lead brasses have become essential materials for the production of faucets and valves, components for civil plant engineering and for the automotive industry, among others. But today the whole sector is called to face a new challenge. And the main players, such as Baitelli heirsare revolutionizing their way of working by looking at environmental sustainability.
Zero lead objective in brass alloys: requested by the European Union
Lead has always been added to brass alloys in order to improve cutting, create good chip breaking and wear less machinery. However, lead reduction has become a priority in recent years to protect both the environment and public health. In particular, the European Union directive known as the drinking water directiveor DWD, has introduced minimum requirements for materials that come into contact with water intended for human consumption.
The EU legislation entered into force on 12 January 2021 and requires each member country to adapt over the next few years, by reviewing its national legislation. However, eliminating lead means that it will no longer be possible to produce brass materials and components as today. Lead-free alloys, in addition to lower workability, make it difficult to continue operating in the virtuous cycle ofcircular economy that distinguishes the metal industry.
The critical issues of the transition to zero lead in brass alloys
The goal is to reach a lead concentration of 0.1% in the next few years. There are already alloys that meet the requirements imposed by the European Union. It’s about the CW510L and of CW724Rwhich involve longer production times e higher costs. And above all a serious problem of disposal immediately.
The “scrap”, understood as residual scrap from processing, should be thrown away or sent outside Europe to be further processed, with huge losses for the entire brass supply chain, starting with a deficit of raw materials, which would reduce the circularity of economics of the sector.
This would have a devastating impact on the exploitation of natural resources such as the copper and it zinc, needed to produce 95% of brass, and on an increase in energy consumption, and therefore the carbon footprint needed to transform these natural resources. To pass from the current range of lead which goes from 1.5% to 3.5% to that envisaged by the legislation of 0.1%, it will therefore be necessary to proceed gradually and replacing the alloys little by little.
Baitelli heirs on the front line for the environment and transition: commitment
Baitelli heirsborn in 1945 in Bresciano, with 200 million pieces produced per year, with a process carried out internally and entirely Made in Italyaims to create high quality and customized turned products for any type of application and in full respect for the environment, of health and the market. Sustainability is the key word of this Italian excellence, which exports as much as 70% of its production to all continents.
To develop innovative products for every type of sector and application, the company from Zocco di Erbusco continuously focuses on the acquisition of new technologies and skills. During the years Baitelli heirs has carried out constant technological updates aimed at preventing and reducing any negative effect on the environment and rationalize the use of non-renewable resources.
After the systems for the abatement of fumes, energy consumption, noise emissions, the controlled management of the waste produced and the control of atmospheric pollution, the company in recent years has been preparing for the transition towards lead-free brass alloysinvesting large amounts of money in new technologies, especially in lathe CNC of various models, single and multi-spindle.
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