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Casting copper recommendations?


#1

Hello all,

I am wanting to have someone cast small forms in copper for small
production. I looked on the site and saw nothing about casting copper
(for enamel application). It is possible isn’t it? If so, does anyone
have a good recommendation? I probably need a reasonably priced
operation since I am just getting my stuff out there. I live in the
San Francisco bay area.

Thanks
Jenn


#2

Copper is considered to be uncastable by the book, by conventional
methods. That doesn’t mean it actually, really is - I’m sure some
will say, “Hey I did it.” Well I did too, with mixed, mostly bad
results. It has lots of oxide problems, and resists flowing it’s
"sticky".

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#3

Check the archives. I remember James Binnion and I discussing this
at length several years ago.

Think inert atmosphere. Copper also goes from molten to solid very
fast, making pouring and filling difficult at best.

There was a collection of cast copper pieces found in a cave in
Israel(?) years ago, crowns, animal figures, and such. (The book is
at the studio, I am not.)

Apparently they did sealed mold/crucible combinations. Carles Codina
has a chapter on this technique in his second book…the one with
metal spinning and ceramic shell casting.(Also at the
studio…dang.)

Hope this helps a little.

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#4

I think you should look into electroforming copper shapes. Jenn,
call me if you have questions.

Alana Clearlake


#5

I have done casting with berylium copper, Belmont metals has it, I
would call and get info from them about using it. I did it 30 years
ago.

http://www.belmontmetals.com/products

Richard Hart


#6

Dear Richard and fellow Orchdians:

I strongly encourage you to check out the MSDS for Beryllium Copper
before you melt it, and take appropriate protective measures.

http://www.brushwellman.com/EHS/MSDS/A18.pdf

Be well;

Linda Weiss
www.lindaweiss.com


#7
I have done casting with berylium copper, Belmont metals has it, I
would call and get info from them about using it. I did it 30 years
ago. http://www.belmontmetals.com/products 

The element beryllium, is very hazerdous when ingested or inhaled.
It causes a wide range of problems. Do not under any circumstances
work with the copper alloys containing beryllium without full
knowledge of the safety precautions necessary for its safe handling.
It is used extensively in the nuclear industry and they have
developed a long sad list of problems it causes. It is a known human
carcinogen and causes a chronic pulmonary disease Here is a link to
the MSDS for beryllium
http://www.mhatt.aps.anl.gov/dohn/msds/Be-solid.pdf

While there are industrial solutions that require its use it has no
place in a metalsmiths studio.

Jim

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#8

If you are looking for someone to cast copper for you, GM Casting
house does it. I have gotten very fine detailed pieces cast there and
they do a beautiful job. And that way you can leave the hazards to
someone who has especially set up their studio to handle.

Good Luck


#9
The element beryllium, is very hazerdous when ingested or inhaled.
It causes a wide range of problems. Do not under any circumstances
work with the copper alloys containing beryllium without full
knowledge of the safety precautions necessary for its safe
handling. It is used extensively in the nuclear industry and they
have developed a long sad list of problems it causes. It is a known
human carcinogen and causes a chronic pulmonary disease Here is a
link to the MSDS for beryllium
http://www.mhatt.aps.anl.gov/dohn/msds/Be-solid.pdf 
While there are industrial solutions that require its use it has
no place in a metalsmiths studio.

Folks…Underscore what Mr. Binnion is saying…

Even though the metal is Beryllium Copper…and, as an alloy it
binds itself pretty much up… If you play with melting or grinding
and polishing the stuff…

Beryllium even has it’s very own disease condition…beryliosis…
A horrible, and ugly way to go… Usually takes high level or long
exposure to develope, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to take the
chance…

Industrial uses I’ve seen is for tools that are impervious to high
strength magnetic fields, or where you can’t have a tool causing a
spark, in it’s use…

Think you also find it in some ceramics, and other, high tech
stuff…

As a wrench or hammer…BeCu…is not as safe as, say, Ampco
Metal (Al-Bronze) tools, to use…but there are cases where the
tool rquirements are such that one can’t get away from the BeCu and
have a durable, functional tool…

BeCu tools are considered “safety” tools…with a warning…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#10

On the topic of cast copper, refer to " The Jewelry of Ken Cory:
Play Disguised"…Ken was one of the most talented metal artists to
grace our field. Not only was he a man who knew the medium and
nailed it in so many ways, he had a sense of humor that always gave
me a reason to grin like a Cheshire cat. His work sang the songs of
ART JEWELRY., a topic that has been so bantered about on this forum.
You will see many examples of the pieces that he created that were
cast in copper.

Enjoy!
Carpe Diem


#11

If there is anything there is anything I’ve learned in my long
metalsmithing career, it’s that Jim Binnion is “the man.” His
background is much different from the trial and error methodology
utilized by most non-science based artists like myself. So if Jim
Binnion says that beryllium is dangerous that’s good enough for me.

I’ve been told a number of times that electrical copper wire is a
very pure, clean copper wire for melting. Does anyone know if that’s
true? If it is, heavy gauge copper grounding wire is relatively
inexpensive and easy to find at any hardware store.

I’ve found pure copper to be an awkward metal to cast, but if you
add a little silver to it and make Shibuichi, it flows much better.
You can add as little as 10% silver, which keeps it at almost a
normal copper color.

I haven’t read this entire thread, so I apologize in advance if this
has already been said.

Hope to see many of you in Tucson.

Jeff Georgantes
Hanover, NH


#12

Hi Jeff,

I've been told a number of times that electrical copper wire is a
very pure, clean copper wire for melting. Does anyone know if
that's true? 

That’s true. The copper used in electrical wire is made using an
electrolytic process ha leaves the wire about 99.99% pure copper.

Dave


#13
I've found pure copper to be an awkward metal to cast, but if you
add a little silver to it and make Shibuichi, it flows much
better. You can add as little as 10% silver, which keeps it at
almost a normal copper color. 

Does this mean that 90/10 cu/ag will make a good copper solder?

Noel


#14
I've been told a number of times that electrical copper wire is a
very pure, clean copper wire for melting. Does anyone know if
that's true? If it is, heavy gauge copper grounding wire is
relatively inexpensive and easy to find at any hardware store. 

Yes, at least in the US, solid copper wire is pure to the 99.3 to
99.9% ballpark, mostly in the higher range. The ones in the lower
range tend to be specialty wires that have very specific uses, and
you are very unlikely to find them in a typical hardware store.
The one thing that you must be aware of, is for various fabrication
reasons, they do oxygenate the copper in the smelting process before
drawing it into wire, so you may need to take that into account for
alloying purposes. I often use the scrap from my job as an
electrician to make my own bronze alloys, and have had little or no
problems with it.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


#15

Here is a link to the Copper Development Association ( no vested
interest or connection with them other than info.) that verifies the
purity of electrical wire. This site is a “gold mine” of information
to the copper fans that have been posting as of late. Maybe the
start of a new thread: The metals we love? Hey Valentines day is
coming, or so I’m told. Copper is routinely refined to 99.98% purity
(even more pure than Ivory Soap) before it is acceptable for many
electrical applications.

http://www.copper.org


#16

Noel

Does this mean that 90/10 cu/ag will make a good copper solder? 

In my experiment it did not.

I used 26 grains Copper and 2.6 grains Silver, rolled it out to a
small sheet and cut palions. For soldering it was different. I could
not get the mix to melt into the joint unless lain on a reflective
surface when using propane/air. In the third hand, it just would not
do it with a propane/air torch. Tried butt joining a copper and brass
strip, used the Oxy/Acet and the brass melted before the
copper/silver mix. When you do get a joint, it is very strong, even
stronger than the copper brazing rod, the joint is not as bright
silver as the rod, but it is lighter than pure copper when it comes
out of the tumbler.

One thing I noticed is that the silver started coming out of the
copper like it will on Sterling.

Positive things are that it pours well, gets really hard, retains
the copper color, and polishes well. It is a very successful medium
as described by the poster, but as a solder for copper, I am still
looking.

Terry


#17

Hi Jeff; et al.;

Try to contact the manuf of the copper electrical wire, they
should tell you the % & purity of the copper. High quality, with very
controlled manuf. electrical wire can be .9999 % pure

But I do not think it is safe to assume all copper electrical wire
is that pure - there are always cheaper, poor quality

selections in most every market. Even without the beryllium, you
should avoid breathing fumes from molten copper. -20

It really is advisable to obtain and read an MSDS for every
substance you use- if you make a habit of purchasing with a written
P.O. document - it is easy to have a line permanently imprinted at
the bottom that states “all products ordered should be shipped with
an MSDS”. Try to Fax or e-mail written P.O’s for everything - if
you do place a phone order, request an MSDS at that time, and follow
up with a faxed written PO./.

Most MSDS are available somewhere on the web - it really is not that
hard to pull one up and check out if there are any potential
hazards.

Linda Weiss
www.lindaweiss.com


#18

Hi, I have not been following this thread, but today, as I was
scanning my digest’s titles, I was reminded of something that Peter
Johns mentioned when he spoke in Boston last week. (Forgive me if
someone has already mentioned this.)

Peter Johns mentioned that the reason he thought of trying germanium
in Sterling Silver as a firescale preventive was that he’d noticed
that when he cast the copper/germanium alloys that he’d been
experimenting with, the germanium acted as a great deoxidizer. So, my
suggestion is to use some pure copper (BTW, I think that is alloy
#101, if you order it from McMaster Carr or MSC…) and add a bit of
germanium.

My 2 cents, for what they may be worth…

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#19

The “best” consistent and cheap source for copper to melt is scrap
copper tubing it will always be high grade and OFC ( oxygen free) .
You don’t “need” the OFC. Wire is next but insulation is a pain. Pure
copper will be hard to handle in small quantities. It needs to be
"corrupted" ( alloyed) A good basic source for is
"Pirotechnia" By Birnguccio (1540) the first printed book on
metallurgy. Inexpensive translations are easily available. It is very
good even today. Fun to study and learn from.

jesse