Why I Hate Aluminum Wire
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Joined: November 16, 2011
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Why I Hate Aluminum Wire
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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:09 am
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Why? Because it's too soft. Sure, it may look pretty when I make something with it, but later that great piece isn't so great anymore.

For example: I made a lovely blue dragonscale bracelet for a friend. The large rings were aluminum; the smaller rings were colored copper. After 6 months or so, I asked for the bracelet back so I could see how well it was holding up under normal wear and tear. I found at least 7 aluminum rings that were noticeably coming open. You can see an image of the problem rings here:

and my analysis of the bracelet here:
http://chainofbeauty.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/no-more-aluminum-wire/

In my experience, aluminum simply doesn't have the necessary strength to stay in shape over time.

Have you found this to be a problem, too?


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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:49 am
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It's more of an issue with rings of a larger AR, such as in this example, where the large ring in Dragonscale is 6 or above.


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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:28 am
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I'm not a fan of aluminum. But it's really personal choice. I holds up just as well as most other jewelery metals except for maybe stainless steel.

One reason for the opening of the rings is that it's a bracelet. Bracelets get a lot more abuse than necklaces and earrings. They get banged around and sometimes bent beyond the level of stress the rings can take, no matter what the metal.

Also, Dragonscale is a very stiff weave, and as Dave said, the larger rings need to be a rather high aspect ratio of around 5.6 to 6.2. That makes them weaker.


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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:39 am
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I have a E4-1 AA+EPDM bracelet I wear almost daily, and I haven't any problem with it, despite it takes a lot of abuse anytime I put it on and off (it's clasp-less).
Of course, the stress is taken up by the EPDM rings, not the AA ones.

In your case, I think your weave is too stiff, so abuse's energy will not be dissipated by the weave structure but by the rings themselves. Using a looser weave (with bigger inner rings for example) would help.
Or you could use EPDM rings for the inner rings, but the rubber feel may not be to your friend's taste.

Also, I'm surprised you choose to replace AA by Enameled Copper, while, according to TRL, EC (30 ksi) is weaker than AA (~60 ksi).

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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:58 am
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I find 16swg aluminum pretty tough as long as you keep the AR under 5.5 ish. I wouldnt expect much permanence out of thinner wire.

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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:43 pm
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I'm amazed it was the AA that opened, and not the copper...
That suggests to me that there may not have been a big enough difference between the large and small rings...

All things created equal, AA should easily be twice as strong as Enamelled Copper


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Posted on Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:14 pm
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I have what is possibly a dumb question (I am a total beginner, my knowledge is almost non existent) but could it have been something to do with the strength/tempering/whatever (see what I mean? I haven't a clue) of the rings you were using. rather than aluminium being weak in general?

I only ask because I picked up some jump rings quite cheaply recently that I was able to open/close by hand- they were 14AWG (I think, they were simply labeled '10mm aluminium jump rings, so I'm estimating) with an AR of about 5, so I figured it was a quality issue more than anything else.

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Posted on Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:31 am
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Louise wrote:
I have what is possibly a dumb question (I am a total beginner, my knowledge is almost non existent) but could it have been something to do with the strength/tempering/whatever (see what I mean? I haven't a clue) of the rings you were using. rather than aluminium being weak in general?

I only ask because I picked up some jump rings quite cheaply recently that I was able to open/close by hand- they were 14AWG (I think, they were simply labeled '10mm aluminium jump rings, so I'm estimating) with an AR of about 5, so I figured it was a quality issue more than anything else.

Not a dumb question at all. There are some alloys of aluminum wire that are very soft. Alloy 5356 is a good hard-tempered aluminum to use for jewelery.


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Posted on Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:48 pm
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My wife has been wearing an Inverted 4 in 1 bracelet made with 5356 constantly for about a year and a half now, and has yet to have any rings come open in the slightest. The AR is lower in hers, but the closures really are just as smooth as the day I made it.

I have had AA that was incredibly soft before, which must have been the 4xxx grade. Recently I bought some cut rings from someone who uses 5356, and they are very sturdy.


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Posted on Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:28 pm
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I'm seeing a thread here. Perhaps the problem wasn't the fact that I used aluminum but that the aluminum I used was very low grade.

This is quite possibly true. I purchased it at [sounds like Sloppy Snobby], which has mostly low-end materials. I might see if I can pick up some 5xxx AA, particularly if I can get it in cool colors.


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Posted on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:58 am
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I like Al for low-AR and small pieces. I like stainless for pieces that need some strength, but which have a higher AR (and thus less work hardening).

It's a trade-off. If you want strong and light, go with titanium or niobium or something. If you want cheap and easy to find, go Al or stainless. Smile

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aluminum wire
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Posted on Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:01 pm
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I find when I buy them pre-made they are fine. But actually getting aluminum wire that is good quality is almost impossible. Especially in colors.


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Posted on Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:23 pm
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I have to say I love the colours I can get with AA but personally the reason I don't like it as a metal is the weight. It's too light and feels a bit cheap because of it (and admittedly it is cheap but it's an annoying give away). I've not had any problem with rings opening like this but I've not been mailleing that long so none of my pieces have had to stand up to too much yet.

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Posted on Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:27 am
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ChainOfBeauty wrote:
I'm seeing a thread here. Perhaps the problem wasn't the fact that I used aluminum but that the aluminum I used was very low grade.

This is quite possibly true. I purchased it at [sounds like Sloppy Snobby], which has mostly low-end materials. I might see if I can pick up some 5xxx AA, particularly if I can get it in cool colors.


Yep, that's likely the problem alright. Next time buy them from The RingLord or another reputable ring supplier, you'll get much higher quality rings.


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Posted on Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:33 am
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Oh - they might have been those cheap Chinese AA rings which are VERY soft - I buy the 16ga 1/4" sometimes to add to a colour palette where they won't have too much strain on them, but they're rather horrible in quality. Colours mostly pale-ish and shiny, the black's kind of iridescent, the "red" is a kind of pink, "copper" is a kind of salmon pink, and "antique copper" is a kind of matte grey-pink?

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