Brass Makers Dying Out?

Economists are predicting a bleak outlook for the British manufacturing industry. Statistics have shown that manufacturing output has fallen by 2.1% from the output surveyed last year and the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has noted below-trend growth for 2012. This fall in production has been attributed to firms of all sizes attempting to shake off the effects of the recession, the financial crisis and the eurozone situation. Experts predicting a triple-dip recession have ascertained that manufacturing output will continue to fall in 2013, providing a gloomy production picture across all industry sectors.

An industry particularly affected by the current state of manufacturing is the production of brass and brass items. Countries like Malaysia are reporting that brass makers are a dying breed, which is particularly newsworthy as the Malaysian state of Terrenganu is famous for its beautiful brass items. Brass crafts have existed in the country since 500 B.C and have become part of the nation’s traditional legacy. However, the director of the Terengganu Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (TMHDC) has noted that there are just 13 brass manufacturers in the region. He argues that the younger generation, who are without brass making skills, are reluctant to join the industry because of the time-consuming process of brass casting. The TMHDC has put forward that it is rather a lack of brass crafting skill than a lack of demand for brass products. From January to August 2012, the brass handicraft industry counted for approximately 1.2 million out of the 42 million craft industry.

Demand for brass products can be attributed to the variety of uses the metal can be put to. It is often used for decorative purposes because of its bright appearance, which is similar to gold. Brass table utensils, jewellery and interior decorations are common because of its aesthetic quality. Brass is also beneficial as a building material as it does not rust easily and is a good thermal conductor, meaning it is often used in harsh outdoor conditions as well as in radiators. Furthermore, the metal plays a significant role in the manufacturing of musical instruments because of its acoustic properties. Trumpets, hand bells, saxophones and horns all benefit from the reverberations that brass allows.

Brass is clearly an essential metal in modern society, which is demonstrated by the Malaysian case study and the huge range of uses that the metal encompasses. Unfortunately, the economic downturn for all manufacturing industries as well as a lack of crafting skills in brass making has meant that producers of brass items are a rare breed. It has been suggested that government support and an investment in training new craftsmen is the only way to revive the brass casting craft.

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Author – Adam has been writing articles for a number of years now with great success in many different sectors.