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Simple shoe brush
Dish brush, punched with plastic bristles

A brush consists of a base made of wood, metal or plastic, the top of which forms the back of the brush, a brush set made of natural fibers, synthetic fibers or wire and a handle or a clamping device. While brushes have their trim parallel to the handle, the trim of brushes is arranged at right angles to the body.

Designs and manufacture

Wood engraving from 1568
Round brush

Today most brushes are manufactured industrially. There used to be a separate guild of brush binders . The German craft regulations Annex B still lists the brush maker / brush binder as a craft profession . For industry and trade there has been a brush maker apprenticeship since 1984 .

Various basic designs are used to manufacture brushes and brooms. Construction elements are always a base body, the brush set and their connection. Brushes are further classified according to their design. There are many materials as trimmings : pig bristles, horsehair from the tail and mane, goat hair, human hair, mexikofibre , basin , coconut fibers , piassava , arenga , rice roots, abrasive bristles and plastic fibers made of polypropylene , polyester and various qualities of polyamide , depending on the purpose , while PVC always more is pushed back, as well as smooth and corrugated wire made of steel, stainless steel , brass , phosphor bronze and nickel silver , for very special applications also silver or platinum wire.

Bound brush

In the case of tied brushes, the trim is tied together with wire or cord without a body. You can also have a stem. This archaic design of brushes no longer exists today, but some broom shapes such as sticks or sorghum brooms are still made by hand using this method. This type of construction does not play a role in industrial production.

Weighted brush

In this outdated manufacturing method, the individual bundles of bristles or animal hair were dipped in hot pitch and placed in the pre-drilled body. Brushes produced in this way were unsuitable for use in wet areas, as the pitch came off the brush body on contact with hot water. Some brush shapes are still made using this method, but instead of pitch, vulcanizable adhesives or two-component adhesives that are not attacked by water and solvents are often used.

Forehead or manual feed

This construction method is very old and is now almost only used for particularly high-quality products, luxury designs or for individual items. The body is drilled conically for the trim. The tufts consist of a shorter and a longer side (beard), are drawn in by hand and held on the back by a wire, often a copper or brass wire. This connects the individual holes with each other, so that a real mesh is created. Once all the tufts have been drawn in, the wire is cut off and the wire ends twisted. Finally, a lid can be put on, screwed or glued for a better look and a smoother and more hand-friendly surface. Hand-drawn brushes can be distinguished from punched brushes on this cover. Such brushes are manufactured in workshops for the blind and in institutions for the disabled.

Punched or stuffed brush

In this design, the base body is drilled with CNC machines and the trimmings are mechanically introduced and anchored in clusters. Anchoring options are wire clips made of stiff wire or special anchors made of sheet metal. Strictly speaking, the term punched is not appropriate, but it has become common. The punched brush is a very flexible design with the disadvantage that the filling density is limited by a minimum hole spacing. The body is often made of beech wood or plastic and can have a variety of shapes, accordingly the designs and applications are extremely diverse, since almost any combination of materials for the body, trim and geometry is possible. The mass of hand or nail brushes, stick brushes, toothbrushes , brooms and scrubbers is manufactured using this process . Most of these brushes are for manual use and universal use. A cylindrical body results in round or roller brushes. Strip brushes have wooden or plastic strips as a body, which are filled with one or more rows of bundles. Plate brushes are made from flat, round discs as a twill. Round, roller, strip and plate brushes are used as technical brushes.

Twisted brush

Twisted brushes
Name derived from the brush: the lemon bottle brush

In this design, which has been known for a long time, the trimming material is inserted between two strong wires as a body and these are then twisted, thus holding the trimming in place. Galvanized steel, plastic-coated wire, stainless steel or brass can be used as the twisted wire. Since the wire is deformable, the twisted brush can be adapted accordingly to the intended use. Often the free end of the wire serves as a handle, but additional handles can also be attached. In some designs, the brush is bent into a triangle shape or loop shape and both ends are brought together in the handle. The stocking is often cylindrical, but can also be conical as in a Tüllenbürste or Schnaubenbürste be cut or in other specific forms. The design allows the brush to be inserted into very narrow openings. Typical applications are bottle brushes, pipe cleaners, hose brushes, inner brushes, test tube brushes, pipe brushes, cylinder cleaners, brushes for chimney sweeps, brushes for cleaning the barrels of handguns . With this type of brush, strips of textiles, different yarns or foam are occasionally used as trimming material. If the bristles are very soft, it is also called chenille . Some designs are combinations of twisted brushes with tapering brushes or tassels on the tip. If the trim is brought in at the tip and then tied to the front with a ring or wire, the result is a brush z. B. a drilling water brush or soldering water brush.

The hub cleaning ring or hub cleaner is a twisted brush that has been brought into a ring shape and rests loosely on a hub . The hub is cleaned by the slight but permanent friction with the ring that occurs during rotation. This is used in particular on bicycles and motorcycles, where the spokes sometimes make cleaning access to the hub difficult.

There are plants whose name is derived from the uniform twisted brush, such as the cylinder cleaner or the lemon bottle brush.

Braided brush

This brush type consists of a perforated sheet metal blank . Wire bundles are inserted into the holes on the edge and then twisted . The design is always round. Knotted brushes are aggressive tools for use in heavy cleaning work and for processing large areas. They remove slag, paint, rust and scale. Metal surfaces are thus prepared for subsequent coatings.

Strip brush

Strip brush with trimmings made of corrugated stainless steel wire

The basic construction of the endlessly produced strip brush is a U-shaped bent sheet metal strip made of galvanized steel, stainless steel or brass, in the fold of which the trim is fixed by a retaining wire. Strip brushes are traded as standard goods with a length of 1 m and can be lined up or shortened with a bolt cutter, but they can be produced in almost any length and bent into different shapes. In contrast to punched strip brushes, the trimming is complete. As a flexible form, the basic construction of this type of brush is also made of plastics. Designs are straight, freely shaped or helical. A strip brush wound helically around a shaft results in a roller brush with a very narrow, gapless trim. Individual sections of a helical strip brush can be processed into ring brushes, whereby the trim can point inwards or outwards. Depending on the design, a strip brush can be designed very flat; it is available in standardized spine widths, with the most common formats being between 2.5 and 5 mm wide. The brush can have a metal flag for fastening or is inserted into a groove or an aluminum profile. Almost without exception, the strip brush has technical functions for sealing cable ducts, doors and gates, for cleaning, as a roller brush designed for special surface shapes. In a ring shape with inward trim, it is used in filler necks of fuel tanks on vehicles and has the function of a valve that allows air to escape and prevents fuel from spraying out. In a spiral shape or as a ring brush attached to a handle with trimmings made of phosphor bronze wire, it serves as a cannon brush for cleaning gun barrels.

Ring lock brush

Cup brush
Conical brush

With this always round brush, the trim is pressed between a tube and a ring. The design is always round, arranged in segments also as a roller. Applications are wire round brushes or synthetic brushes for heavy mechanical loads, for example for deburring , processing solid or hollow rods, profiles, weld seams, cut edges, gears, grooves and narrow surfaces. By lining up individual brushes, large working widths can be achieved. Special designs are cup brushes for processing large surfaces, weld seams and metal plates. The brushes are also known as flat brushes. Tapered brushes are used to work on corners, edges or hard-to-reach areas and to clean surfaces.

Roller brush

Roller brushes are mainly used as rotating technical brushes. These brushes can be constructed very differently according to their design principle. In terms of design, punched brushes and strip brushes wound on shafts and welded on dominate, more rarely are several disc brushes in a row. In most cases, they are constructed and produced from a wide variety of materials and trimmings for a special purpose and used in a wide variety of machines. They are used for washing, conveying, structuring , cleaning, transporting, deburring, dedusting, pressing, powdering, sweeping and much more. In household use there are e.g. B. Roller brushes in the brush head of vacuum cleaners.

Constructive properties

Technical brushes can be manufactured quite precisely on the body, but the properties of the trim material require a high tolerance for the length and lateral spreading of the trim material.

Diameter and trim length

With rotating brushes, the brush diameter can be used to control, among other things, the circumferential speed and thus the performance of the brush. The diameter of the brush and the length of the respective trim are decisive factors for the result of the machining process. The combination of a smaller brush body diameter and a longer trim length results in soft and flexible brushes that are suitable for processing structured workpieces or for light, gentle surface processing. A larger brush body diameter and short trim lengths of the trim material result in more aggressive brushes that can be used, for example, for deburring applications and the removal of heavy contaminants.

Stocking density

The stocking density depends on the number of wire tips per surface unit. High fill densities are the basis for high cutting performance and service life of the brush as well as optimal results (for example during deburring work). Lower fill densities increase the flexibility of the brush and form the prerequisite for processing strongly profiled surfaces. With round brushes, for a given diameter, the density of the material can be influenced by the body size.

Working and clamping width

The working width describes the contact area of ​​the brush on the workpiece. The maximum specified working width may be influenced by the speed of rotation of the brush during the machining process. To measure the working width of a brush, the facing area is therefore slightly compressed. The clamping width of the brush is measured between the cover disks and usually deviates from the working width.

Positioning to the workpiece

The contact pressure of a brush is defined, among other things, by the depth of immersion of the brush on the workpiece. The recommendation is 3 times the filament diameter, i.e. 1.0 mm immersion depth with a wire thickness of 0.35 mm. Improper positioning of the workpiece and brush can lead to increased wear.

Working speed

The optimal working speed for machining workpieces is defined by the factors peripheral speed and brush diameter. The optimal speed in use is therefore often well below the safety speed. Heavy pressure on rotating wire brushes leads to fatigue fractures in the wires and premature wear.

The guide values ​​for safe peripheral speeds are around 30–35 m / s for brushes with corrugated wires, 18–22 m / s for brushes with abrasive bristles and plastic-bonded trimmings.

Brushes for household use

Radiator brush, a twisted bust

In the household, brushes are mainly used for cleaning. There are brushes for cleaning shoes or for cleaning sinks and toilets (see the separate article toilet brush ). With a dish brush , stubborn encrustations by scorched or be dried food can be removed from the dishes. A radiator brush can be used to remove dust from the fins of a radiator , which can increase the efficiency of the heating. In dance sport, the leather soles of dance shoes are roughened with a roughening brush . With a hairbrush are hair maintained. With the coarse root brush you can brush off earthencrusted root vegetables such as carrots or celery . The body is made of metal, wood or plastic, the bristles from the roots of the common couch grass . There are also root brushes without a handle. The trimmings are attached to a wire that is tied into a tight loop. This type of root brush is larger so it is easy to hold in your hand.

Brushes for industry and trade

Round brush with trimmings made of corrugated stainless steel wire for deburring cut edges

The processing industry today uses the technical brush with a wide variety of variants. In contrast to hand-held brushes, technical brushes consist of a basic body (made of wood, metal or plastic) that holds and stabilizes the brush set (natural fibers, synthetic fibers, synthetic fibers with abrasive material, smooth or corrugated metal wires). The shape and characteristics of the base body and the dimensions of the trimming are based on the respective use of the brush and the drive machine.

The most important industrial applications today are:

  • Deburring of mechanically processed components
  • Treatment of surfaces (rust removal, paint stripping , polishing and changing the surface structure)
  • Clean
  • Sealing (of edges, doors and pipe openings)
  • Transporting (sensitive objects)
  • Dissipation of static charges
  • Stripping of cables and sheathing of coated pipes
  • Processing of welds, etc.

Other forms


  • Ernst Bock: Brushes and Paintbrushes; The diverse products of the brush and paintbrush making trade and their most important components . Bechhofen, Berlin 1983.
  • Kirsten Ulrike Maaß: A brush maker in the 20th century in a Westphalian mid-town . Dissertation , University of Münster 2004, (about the brush maker Karl Suppe in Soest)

Web links

Commons : Brushes  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Brush  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Bristles without any further designation must always be from pigs and have no tips like other animal hair, but can be slit at the end (flag). Pig bristles are traded in different qualities z. B. as boar bristles, China bristles in light or black or the very stiff Calcutta bristles. Other animal bristles such as keel bristles made from slotted goose quills, horn bristles made from cow horn, whale and whalebone bristles no longer play a role today. Bock: Brushes and paint brushes . P. 126.
  2. The name does not come from rice but from "Raiz de Zacatón" as the roots are called in the country of origin. The undemanding plant that provides these roots grows wild in Mexico and Guatemala to great heights and forms roots up to 30 cm long, which are harvested during the rainy season, then processed, bleached, sorted according to length and quality and bundled. Bock: Brushes and paint brushes . Pp. 159-161.
  3. Top Hair International Business , 10/2010