I am trying To create a list here of all the Wires that I have Tried and used, I will be describing their Bendability Their Availability and Their Springiness , this is for my own Reference as well as for the public, if you can add any information to the list or if you see any errors please Email me. I Am happy to receive any corrections or additions. Another Great Resource is McMaster.com which talks about alloys. Some Wire Stores online are WireSculpture.com Whimsie.com Parawire.com and McMaster.com
Alloy: mixture of metals (for example a Brass is an alloy made of Tin and copper)
Brittle: if an alloy is brittle then I can't bend it and it will break, I need an alloy that I can fold in half and crimp without breaking it.
Cold working: means squishing the metal like clay, for example bending it, compressing it, stretching it, Pulling a thick piece of wire through a smaller hole to make it thinner etc..
Crimpable: this means i can bend it in half and then squeeze the bend shut tight so it makes a full 180 without a gap, sometimes they break, sometimes they won't bend without a lot of force. if a thin wire can be crimped, a thicker wire might not be able too.
Ferrous Alloys: Any Alloy made mostly of iron, for example steel.
Gauge: this is one way to describe the thickness of a wire, 2Ga is about a 1/4 inch. The system is flawed however since there are different Gauge Systems. AWS, SWG and more, Here is chart if the size matters make sure you know it in inches.
Temper: An alloy may have different tempers but still be the same alloy, Each temper will generally be a different hardness and a different formability. The Temper of an alloy is produced by heat treatment and/or "cold working" (definition of cold working is above)
Springiness: means if I make a sculpture and it gets dropped or squished will it get bent up and destroyed, or will it bounce back? it is bad to have no spring, but if there is too much spring and you can't bend it into a sculpture.
Ferrous Alloys (Any Alloy made mostly of iron, for example steel)
|Mild Steel||Yes, it is firm, I tend to work in a 16 Gauge or below. It is not Especially brittle I can bend it back and fourth about 6 times||Easily available in every hardware store in 10 feet costs about $5||Mild steel has the perfect amount of spring,||I would still be using this if it didn't rust. i used it for 10 years exclusively, it's a good metal to learn on. and you can dip it in lacquer to rust proof it.|
|Carbon Steel||This is very Firm so if you work with it you need to work thin||McMaster.com||very springy||If a steel has more carbon, then it is more springy and hard to bend|
|Stainless Steel||This is very Firm so if you work with it you need to work thin||McMaster.com probably would have some 304 alloy or 316 alloy also it is used as a mig welding wire welding I||very springy|
|Low Carbon Stainless Steel||Yes it is bendable and Crimpable, not brittle||McMaster.com and many other wire suppliers||This Was rather mushy, If I remember right||if there is an L after the alloy name (304L) this indicated a low carbon stainless steel so it's softer. it will still be firm. There Is, I think, Stainless steel Tie Wire Which is Low carbon and therefore Soft it comes in a spool.|
|T316L 1/8 Hard||Bendable Crimpable Good to work with in the .040 size.||Malin Company. possibly I got it through McMaster, I can't remember||Springy||This didn't stay bright it says it arrived with mill scale and now there is a little rust on it.|
all copper alloys tend to be be bendable but not crimpable. As they bend they are being cold worked and they harden. Basically all the atoms slide around and then get into logjams and can't slide any further unless you heat treat it. When you go to crimp them you will find it very hard.
Copper mixed with Zinc is called Brass, Copper mixed with Tin is called Bronze
there is some great information here at Fisk Alloy
|Anchor Brand Copper (Pure)||Very Bendable 16 gauge and above. Not Very Crimpable Tends to round the corners||Local Hardware store||Mild Springiness||Copper is a great look, it can be rusted green with acid or blue with ammonia (as well as many other colors). without treatment it generally turns brown. Lacquer can preserve the shine of fresh copper.|
|Anchor Brand, Brass Wire||Very Bendable 16 gauge and above. Yes it is Crimpable Tends to round the corners but less than pure copper.||From Hardware Store||Mild Springiness||I'm using this now, but I would like to get one that is half hard. this seems to be dead soft.|
|Radnor R45 (or RG45)Copper Plated Steel, Gas Welding Rods.||Yes it's bendable and crimpable but it's stiff in 1/16" Does not Round Corners.||Welding Supply stores everywhere||Very Springy, too springy in the 1/16" but I'm coping with it.||this looks like copper but is steel, I've started using this a few days ago, it's very hard, but i like it.|
|Radnor R60 (or RG60)Copper Plated Steel, Gas Welding Rods.||this was firmer than the R45 so I didn't buy any||Welding Supply stores everywhere||Very Springy, too springy in the 1/16"||this looks like copper but is steel, i believe the number in the name refers to carbon content and therefore hardness.|
|Copper coated Mild steel||Much like copper, it's bendable but rounds the corners.||McMaster.com||Not springy enough for my taste in 1/16"|
|Radnor Low Fuming Bronze (Bare) LFBB||Bendable but not crimpable in the 1/16" size. Does not round corners.||Welding Supply stores everywhere||good Springiness||I was able to make a sculpture with one piece but the next piece was brittle, and so were the rest. i was using the welding rods.|
|Nickel Silver||bendable and crimpable it is a bit stiff, and it tends to round corners like all copper alloys and is more difficult to make sharp corners with compared to some stiffer wires such as steel, but most people wouldn't notice. it is not brittle||
jewelry supply places ..
|more Springy than steel, a good amount of spring||This is a very pretty wire it's used for jewelry bit it gives some people an allergic reaction, It's a bit expensive. I haven't used it much.|
|Silicon Bronze||Bendable not crimpable, too stiff. Work hardens, Not Brittle.||McMaster.com||very stiff and springy||I'm not positive that this is the alloy that I think it is, i have a sample and it's not labeled it may be Phospher Bronze|
|Aluminum 1100 (Pure)||Easily Bendable and crimpable, not at all brittle I prefer to work in 1/8" which is similar in stiffness to 1/16" steel|| MalinCo.com
Sculpt.com (armature wire)
|no spring to it, mushy||Also called Armature wire, or dead soft aluminum, This is a pleasure to work with, it's great stuff, and your work comes at looking great, unfortunately a sculpture made from it won't survive a fall and needs to travel in a a box.|
|Anodized Aluminum||Bendable and crimpable if the temper is soft, the hard temper breaks||East West dye
Servicio Estacio, Barcelona
|mushy or too springy||This is a surface treatment which allows the wire to be colored, generally it's sold pre colored. Barcelona Spain has an incredible supply source, but they don't ship internationally, as far as i know.|
|Aluminum 4043 Mig Welding Wire||This is too brittle to bend.||This is one of the two most common types of aluminum welding wire|
|Aluminum 5356 Mig welding wire||Bendable Crimpable, Breaks in as little as one back and fourth motion.||WeldingSupply.com or AirGass.com up to 1/16" and 3/32"||Excellent Springiness||This is my "full time" Wire now. It starts very shiny and ages well, you can't undo any tight bends without breaking the wire unfortunately|
|Aluminum 6061||Bendable once it's been heat Treated, also crimpable. I used a 1/4" sample and heat treated it and then bent it with vice grips. it did not break when crimped. It seemed very formable.||Available in 20 foot rods, not widely available in Spools. Spools are used for Chain link fencing, but unless you are buying literal tons of it, they won't bother with you. I Want a source for this stuff.||Yes Springy, and once it has hardened, it's VERY Durable and springy.||This is the most common kind of heat treatable aluminum. If you heat it to 1000 Degrees F for an hour or so and then drop it in water to cool it, it will stay soft for a few hours or days. Then it will "age harden" very hard. this is what those aluminum pipes at the hardware store are made of. when it's soft it's about twice as hard as the pure aluminum. This is all based on very little experience with this stuff.|
|Tungsten unknown alloy||Bendable, but not too far or it breaks. Not crimpable. Brittle||at welding supply stores in sticks||yes very hard||They use this for electrodes, I was able to get a few bend into it but it was difficult and it did fracture easily|
|Monel unknown alloy : soft temper||Bendable, but not crimpable in 1/16" it work hardens too fast. not brittle.||Mcmaster.com||yes springy||I have a sample of this it's labeled nickel, I'm not certain of what it is, so take this review with a grain of salt.|