Tips of Choosing Metal Alloy For Sculptures

Knowing the options and difference between metal alloys is the foundation to create beautiful sculptures.  The most three commonly used metal alloy in fine art foundry is bronze, aluminum and stainless steel, which features different mechanical property and application.

In this post, we’d like to introduce the major difference, as well as the upsides and downsides of each option so you can make achieve the ideal artistic appearance for your sculpture project at minimal cost possible.

Here are photos of sculptures named “infant heads” which are cast with these three alloys.

Tany Foundry

 

Tany Foundry -2

 

 

  • The left is stainless steel casting.  It looks silver like after proper surface treatment and finishing.
  • The middle is bronze casting. It looks more “traditional” .
  • The right is aluminum casting. Aluminum casting is more and more employed nowadays to replace bronze for a couple of reasons.

Below is the takeaway for this post.

Bronze casting is the most widely used traditional alloy. Highly flexible for patina, finishing and texture treatment. Bronze can be used for both miniature and monument with different casting technique: lost wax casting and sand casting. The cost of bronze casting lies between of casting aluminum and stainless steel. One of best upside of bronze is it can cast sculpture with the finest details and texture.
Aluminum casting is becoming more and more popular for a couple of reason: 1) It is cheaper than bronze casting. 2) It is highly corrosion resistance. 3) It is lighter than bronze and aluminum, which make installation easier, especially monumental sculpture. Downside of aluminum casting: 1) Its weldability is poor. Only very skillful welder can do it well. 2) The hardness of aluminum is not as high as bronze, making its strength not as solid as bronze too.
Stainless steel can be used for casting small sized sculptures. Its hardness and corrosion resistance performance is superior. The downsides of stainless steel casting is that 1) It costs more than bronze and aluminum. 2) Usually it is only used for small sized sculpture as the chasing and finishing on stainless steel is very difficult. 3) It is very heavy.

 

We suggest to take the following factors into consideration when choosing the specific alloy for your sculpture project.

  • Budget: Stainless steel casting costs most and aluminum cost less and bronze lies in the middle.
  • Artistic Appearance:  In most cases, the color of a piece of work is determined beforehand so the alloy has to match that color.
  • Scale of the project: bronze can be used from miniature; aluminum is more often used in middle or large sized works while stainless steel is for small sized works.

Feel free to let me know if you need any technical assistance for your own sculpture project by sending us an email.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi!
    I’m sending this more as a shot in the dark than anything. I have a series of sculptures that I’m planning to produce as miniatures, and I’d love to have them cast in metal. I’m incredibly worried about price, but I do realize that I’ll never know until I ask. The sculptures will be between eight and twelve inches high, and a lot like this: http://thmb.inkfrog.com/thumbn/thinkbronze/XN2251PAIR-4.JPG=600

    I haven’t begun producing the sculptures yet, which is why I can only send a picture of what they’ll somehow look like as opposed to an actual final product, but they are going to be book ends involving figures. Is there any way that I can have a ballpark quote of what a project like this would cost? Are the price differences when you order multiple castings? I’m asking so that I can decide if it’s feasible in cost for me to produce this series.

    Thanks so much!
    Dare

  2. Hello, i have a portrait that i would like to make in steel casting. I have it in plaster finish. How coukd you have it to make a budget? The face is hunane scale. Thank you

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