The copper alloy range containing 10–20% nickel, in addition to zinc, is known as nickel silver and can be regarded as a special brass. The metal has an attractive silvery appearance rather than the typical brassy colour. It is the base metal on which silver is plated to create quality tableware (on which you can read E.P.N.S, standing for electro-plated nickel silver).
In most respects nickel silvers show similar corrosion resistance characteristics to brasses, but the higher nickel versions have superior tarnish resistance and resistance to stress corrosion cracking.
They are available in all forms and are used for decorative applications, jewellery, model making, toothbrush anchor wire and pins, musical instruments e.g. ‘silver bands’, flutes ball point refills, ferrules for woodwinds, bagpipes and fishing rods, test probes, Bourdon springs and relay contact springs in telecommunications.
The leaded nickel silvers are used where machinability, attractive appearance, corrosion and wear resistance are required. Common examples are cylinder lock keys, screws, gears, pinions and other parts in clocks, cameras and musical instruments.