Are you looking for an alternative to lead-based alloys? Many companies are moving away from lead and copper and tin alloys due to the regulations and toxicity associated with the heavy metal, and that often means choosing bismuth. The good news is that bismuth has a relatively low melting point, and it’s durable and malleable when combined with other metals.
Pros and Cons of Lead for Copper and Tin Alloys
Lead is used in copper and tin alloys because of its corrosion resistance, energy absorption, conductivity and malleability. When added to other metals, it improves the metal’s ability to be melted, cast, molded and manipulated. It’s often used in car batteries, bearings and electrical components, and it was once used in solder to join copper plumbing pipes. However, its biggest use is as shielding for radioactive materials, especially in nuclear plants.
Unfortunately, lead is toxic, and prolonged exposure to lead can lead to lead poisoning. Because of its toxicity, it’s been removed from many applications, including being used in solder for residential and commercial water pipes. In fact, many companies are switching from lead to bismuth for their metal alloys.
Pros and Cons of Bismuth for Copper and Tin Alloys
Companies that are looking to go lead-free with their tin and copper alloys often choose bismuth. In fact, when bismuth was first discovered people thought it was lead. The good news is that bismuth is non-toxic and diamagnetic. It also doesn’t transfer heat or electricity, and it has a low melting point, especially when alloyed with tin. The bad news is that bismuth is essentially a byproduct of lead mining. It’s also brittle and must be combined with other metals, like copper and tin, in order to improve its malleability and tensile strength. Bismuth is most often used to make lead-free solder and glazes for ceramics. It’s also been tested for use as ball bearings, but bismuth alloyed bearings appear to have poor fatigue resistance and are prone to failure.
Why Companies Are Switching from Lead to Bismuth for Their Copper and Tin Alloys
The use of lead in manufacturing is being increasingly regulated due to the fact that lead is a toxic, heavy metal. Lead is no longer allowed for use in commercial or residential plumbing pipes, and it can no longer be used in paint. It also has strict waste and cleanup regulations. In order to avoid these regulations and provide safe metal alloys for use in manufacturing, many companies are switching to bismuth copper and tin alloys.
Bismuth Alloys from Belmont Metals
Here at Belmont Metals, we offer 99.99 percent bismuth in slabs, shot and bars for your alloying needs. If you are looking for a low melting alloy, we offer bismuth-based eutectic, which is great for making tubes. We offer bismuth-based eutectic in cakes, capping bars, down shot, solid wire and cast strips.