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Several No-Lead Copper Alloy Options for Water Components


Metalcasters have a variety of no-lead copper alloys to choose from to make cast components for potable water systems, and each alloy requires specifi c


practices when converting from leaded alloys. AMERICAN FOUNDRY SOCIETY COPPER ALLOY DIVISION 3, MARK ANDERSON, FORD METER BOX, MIKE BUYARSKI, FEDERAL METALS, GREGORY SVOBODA, I SCHUMANN & COMPANY.


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omponents produced by metalcasting are an integral part of water distribution, both in


the delivery systems as well as in- residence plumbing components. Traditionally, the copper-based alloys used in water works castings included lead as an alloying ele- ment. However, new regulations have been implemented that limit the amount of lead in materials used for potable water (water for human consumption) and many lead-free casting alloys have been developed and put into service to meet these new standards. Many in the water industry continue to search for that “single best no-lead alloy” to fit all


needs. However, it is unlikely that any single alloy will be able to make the wide variety of casting sizes and geometries needed for water distribution. Plumbing components currently in use in the marketplace are being cast in several different copper no-lead alloys. This alloy variety demonstrates that multiple metallurgical choices are available which meet current government regulations and can be tailored to provide the best performance for each specific component application. T e current regulations require


all products contacting potable water must be lead-free (as defi ned by the law). T e metalcasting industry began the conversion to lead-free alloys in


the 1990s in anticipation of the new regulations. T e conversion acceler- ated from 2006-2013 as the new rules began taking eff ect. T e fi rst laws started in California and Vermont (as of 1/1/2010), followed by similar regulations in Maryland (2012) and Louisiana (2013). T e laws became eff ective nationally with the passage of U.S. Public Law 111-380 (eff ective 1/4/2014). T e federal directive man- dates the use of 0.25% maximum lead content for products used in the instal- lation or repair of water systems and plumbing providing water for human consumption. T e lead percentage is determined by a weighted average lead content formula (based on the original California law), and supersedes the


These fi nished waterworks valves were cast in C89833 no-lead brass with bismuth replacing lead. 32 | MODERN CASTING September 2016


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