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Materials Data

We have numerous materials all with various strengths, corrosion resistance, uses etc. This page should help you wade through all the data and compare the materials.
In general, we have selected alloys and tempers that are best suited for making chainmail while still being reasonably priced. The alloy and temper of a wire is extremely important, it can make the difference between chainmail that cannot hold its own weight and chainmail that will give years of service with only minor repairs.
Please note: All of our products on our site - rings, wire, jewelry findings are Lead Free. They are also mercury and cadmium free. For nickel info see the chart below.
Recycled Content: All of our metal can and does contain recycled content. This is just how the metal industries work now. People return metal for recycling and it will end up in our wire. All metal that doesn’t leave our facility as finished product is recycled. We recycle, brass, bronze, copper, stainless… all of it. For more info on our TRL Environmental Initiatives have a read here.
This chart is split into 2 for display clarity. More materials are below. You may also click here to get this chart as a PDF.
*Term Definitions Below Chart Bright Aluminum
(AB)
Bright Aluminum
Anodized Aluminum
(AA)
Anodized Aluminum
Stainless Steel
(SS, SH)
Stainless Steel
Niobium
(NO, NA)
Niobium
Titanium
(TI, TA)
Titanium
Silver
(ST, SFN)
Silver
Gold Fill
(GF)
Gold Fill
Hypoallergenic Good Good Contains nickel Excellent - perfect hypoallergenic choice Excellent - perfect hypoallergenic choice Good Yellow, Rose = excellent.
White contains Nickel
Will Tarnish or Change Color Over Time Stays same Stays same Stays same Stays same
Anodized keeps brighter colors longer than TI.
Stays same
Colors fade from skin oils - clean to renew.
Sterling: TRL uses an anti- tarnish alloy made just for us - it tarnishes slowly.
Fine silver tarnishes very slowly.
Stays same
Cleanliness Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Most Appropriately Used As jewelry, armor, costume costume jewelry, armor, costume any jewelry, armor, costume high end jewelry any jewelry, armor, costume high end jewelry high end jewelry
Cost Per Ring $ $$ $$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$$ $$$$$
Pairing Suggestions Great with anodized aluminum, rubber rings and enameled copper Great with bright aluminum and enameled copper Great with almost anything - good with costume and high end materials. Beautiful with silver, gold fill, stainless and titanium. Beautiful with anything. Best with niobium, silver, gold fill and stainless Beautiful with niobium, gold fill and titanium Beautiful with niobium, silver and titanium
Bendability / Workability Easy Easy Difficult (spring temper is very difficult) Easy Very difficult Easy Easy
Saw Cut-ability Easy - Difficult Difficult Difficult Easy Easy
TRL Alloy 5356 - H18 5356 - H18 304 100% pure niobium Grade 5 is Ti-6Al-4V 6% aluminum, 4% Vanadium Sterling: 92.5% silver Fine: 99.9% silver 14k 5% by weight gold tube over 1/2 hard brass
TRL Temper and UTS H18 = strain hardened to a level of 8/9
~60ksi
H18 = strain hardened to a level of 8/9
~60 ksi
Regular stainless: 1/4 hard, ~125 ksi
Spring temper stainless: 3/4 hard, ~250ksi
Hard
~60 ksi
1/2 hard
130ksi
Sterling: 1/2 hard, 56ksi
Fine: full hard, ~45ksi
Strength of 1/2 hard sterling = full hard fine.
Core is 1/2 hard jewelers brass
~70ksi
Weight Compared to Steel 1/3 the weight of steel
(66% lighter)
1/3 the weight of steel
(66% lighter)
- ~6% heavier than steel ~60% the weight of steel
(40% lighter)
~33% heavier than steel ~8% heavier than steel
Magnetic ? no no varies from no to slightly no no no no
AR for Armor Quality Strength >=14g AR<5 >=14g AR<5 SS>=16g AR<5.6
SH>=16g AR<6.1
- >=16g AR<6.1 - -
Cleaning Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes. Hot soapy water like dishes - don't use strong acids/ bases on AA it will affect the coating. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes - even for anodized. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes - even for anodized. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water; dry quick to prevent corrosion. Chemical cleaners available. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes
Shining Tumble to increase shine It is what it is - polishing can't help and can only hurt the coating You can tumble to increase shine but it takes lots of tumbling. To make really shiny research steel shot finishing techniques. You can tumble to increase shine but it won't get super shiny like AB or SS. You can tumble the anodized and you won't destroy the color layer - the color may change. You can tumble TI to increase shine but it won't get mirror finish. Anodized layer is not as durable as niobium - test before tumbling - you might affect color. Tumble to increase shine Tumble to increase shine
Special Notes: Drawn to super smooth surface with little to no imperfections = little to no rub off. Reacts to strong acids/bases - changing appearance.
As close to silver color as a non-plated base metal gets - white undertone.
We make this using 2 techniques - 1 is shinier than the other. See pics and notes in category for details. Reacts to strong acids and bases - changing appearance of the metal. We don't carry Surgical Stainless because it an undeserved reputation. It's alloy 316 and contains more nickel than the alloy we use. Nickel is usually what people react to as a piercing. Niobium is an element on the periodic table. Nb 41. It's called a reactive metal as you can change its color with heat and electricity. Titanium can be brittle - if you repeatedly open/close the same ring it can snap. It's called a reactive metal as you can change its color with heat and electricity We use a special alloy of sterling silver made just for us that is anti-tarnish. Fine silver is a great competitor to the proprietary alloy Argentium. It tarnishes at a similar rate and can be fused. It is highly unlikely you will ever wear thru the gold tube - this is a thick tube of gold not a plating. I have never had anyone wear through it.
*Term Definitions Below Chart Raw Aluminum
(AL)
Aluminum
Carbon Steel + Galvanized Steel
(MS, HC, GA)
Mild and Gal steel
Black Stainless
(SB)
Black Stainless
Copper Alloys
Brass, Bronze, Copper
(BJR,BZ,CU)
BrassBronzeCopper
Nickel Silver
(NS)
Nickel Silver
Rubber Rings
(EPDM)
Rubber Rings
Enameled Copper
(EC, ES)
Enamelled Copper
Hypoallergenic No No No No Contains nickel Good - latex free Good
Will Tarnish or Change Color Over Time Stays same Mild & High Carbon: rusts red
Galv: rusts white
Can fade to very dark gray Darken with age Darken with age UV resistant but may fade in full sun Stays same
Cleanliness Very dirty Mild & High Carbon: powdery or oily rub off
Galv: has rub off and smell
Dry oil sealant film can rub off dirty Certain skin chemistries react turning metal or skin green. No other rub off. Good Excellent Excellent
Most Appropriately Used as armor armor armor jewelry, armor, costume jewelry, armor, costume costume jewelry costume jewelry
Cost Per Ring $ $ $$ $$ $$ $$$ $$
Pairing Suggestions Ok with copper alloys Ok with copper alloys Great with all copper alloys including nickel silver and stainless steel Great with all copper alloys including nickel silver and stainless steel Great with all copper alloys including nickel silver and stainless steel Best with anodized and bright aluminum or stainless steel Great with bright aluminum and copper
Bendability / Workability Easy Difficult Difficult Copper: easy
Brass / Bronze: medium
Medium - Very easy
Saw Cut-ability Easy DON'T
Mild & High Carbon: too cheap a metal not worth it.
Galvy: deadly poisonous zinc fumes when heated.
- Medium Medium - Easy
TRL Alloy 5154-H18 Mild Steel: 1018
High Carbon Steel: 1062
Galvy: Mild steel with Zinc layer
304 Copper: C110 (solid copper)
Brass: C226 (Cu-Zinc alloy)
Bronze:C510 (Cu-Tin Alloy)
C745 (CU-Nickel-Zinc alloy) 100% EPDM or silicone
latex free
Soft copper coated in a layer of colored plastic. Silvered ES has a layer of silver to make brighter colors.
TRL Temper and UTS H18 = strain hardened to a level of 8/9
~60 ksi
Mild and Galvanized: 1/4 hard 90-100KSI
High Carbon Steel: 200-250ksi 2-3x stronger
1/4 hard
125ksi
Copper: full hard, 50ksi
Brass: 1/2 hard, 70 ksi
Bronze: 1/2 hard, 75-90ksi
1/2 hard ~90 ksi 70 durometer for most (good wear resistance rating)
3ksi
dead soft
30 ksi
Weight Compared to Steel 1/3 the weight of steel
(66% lighter)
- - Brass:~8%
Bronze ~12%
Copper ~14%
All heavier than steel
~11% heavier than steel 1/6 the weight of steel
(83% lighter)
~14% heavier than steel
Magnetic ? No Yes Varies from no to slightly No No No No
AR for Armor Quality Strength >=14g AR<5 >=16g AR<5.6 >=16g AR<5.6 >=16g AR<5.6 >=16g AR<5.6 - -
Cleaning Chemical Etch - but it wears off and makes it white; can wash but it will get dirty again. Mild & High Carbon Steel:tumble it with abrasive like sand; Galv: its plated and you can't clean it without damaging the coating If you clean with water the black will go to dark grey. The oiled coating is making it darker. Test first - magnetite rusts so dry fast. Ultrasonic cleaner or chemical like Brasso; dry quick to prevent corrosion Ultrasonic cleaner or chemical like Brasso Hot soapy water like dishes; any white powder is a mold release agent used in casting the rings - this can be washed off. Ultrasonic cleaner or hot soapy water like dishes
Shining It will never be shiny Galv: can be shiny when new but fades to matte gray as it ages, can't be made shiny again without abrasive tumbling which would eat a layer of zinc coating off of it. Can be polished to a nice hematite with a DRY tumble. DO NOT wet tumble as this is washing. DO NOT tumble agressively with steel shot as this is burnishing not tumbling. Tumble to increase shine Tumble to increase shine It is what it is Is what it is - polishing can only hurt the coating
Special Notes: Reacts to strong acids and bases turning the metal white Zinc fumes on galvy are deadly poisonous - do not heat it. The black layer is Magnetite = Fe3O4 - its black rust. All 3 are varying amounts of red starting with jewelers brass then bronze then the most red in copper. You can patina to make them various colors. aka German Silver - do not confuse with real silver Can be used to add stretch to maille - like a bra or clasp-less bracelet. Enameled copper is mis-named - it has a colored plastic coating.

Definition of Comparison Terms

  • Hypoallergenic: By our definition this means that if you wore it as an earwire you shouldn't react - i.e. swell up. It is unlikely that you will react to a metal in the form of a necklace or bracelet - even if you would react to it as a piercing. Most people who are 'allergic' to metal react to nickel. I also didn't recommend anything that can be dirty as hypoallergenic. I'll use myself (Bernice) as a good example for this term. I can't wear any metals except titanium, gold and niobium as piercings. I can't even wear silver - as it corrodes and I react. I CAN wear every metal as a bracelet, necklace belt etc without any issues.
  • Will Tarnish / Change Color Over Time: This property both describes if a material corrodes (rusts) and if a surface finish will change.
  • Cleanliness: This property describes how clean a material is while handling - this covers both while wearing and while weaving the rings. It is important to note that ALL materials when worn for a period of time like necklace will gather dirt on the skin under them. This is not rub off. It is also important to note that some products from us are not washed before packaging and may have cutting lube on them. All of our saw cut rings are ultrasonically cleaned and they are as clean as they can get. For scales, machine cut rings and wire this means cutting lube can be left on the product and that can make your hands dirty while handling. All materials we sell can be washed in hot soapy water like doing dishes. You may choose to do this before using the product or after you have made the final piece. This property is mainly used to discuss the result - after any cutting lube is off of a product - how clean can it get?
  • Cost per Ring: This is a simple comparative of the cost of each of the materials.
  • Most Appropriately used as?: If you want to make a sterling silver and niobium hauberk I will not stand in your way! It will be amazing and I want to see pics! If you want to make a galvanized steel wedding dress however we need to chat… For the most part certain materials are best used for certain applications. This recommendation is really a guideline based on all of the qualities of the metals. For example enameled copper is soft and the color tones very even - this means it is best for jewelry but it would be very difficult to make it look like high end jewelry.
  • Pairing Suggestions: Similar to wine - some materials go well together. This is similar to the "Most Appropriately used as?" property - it is also a subjective opinion based on all the properties of the metals. You may disagree and create a masterpiece, but for the most part this guide suggests what materials look and play well together. For example: If you want a bracelet in silver and color - pairing niobium with sterling make a beautiful piece of art. If you choose enameled copper and sterling you may find the colors are not quite suited for the high end silver look.
  • Bendability/Workability: This property describes how hard the material is to bend and how much it springs back. Ratings are relative, the real workability of a ring will depend on the ring size used. For example in the same material, a large ring make from thin wire will be much easier to bend than a small ring made from thick wire. To word this another way a large AR ring is easier to bend than a low AR ring in the same material. You can also compare across materials too - a large AR hard to bend material may take the same effort as a low AR softer material. Stainless 16g 1/2" is as easy/hard to close as bright aluminum 16g 3/16". Please see the picture below to illustrate the relative bendability of materials if the rings are all the same size.
    PLEASE NOTE: Image will not show on small screens due to mobile compatibility - click to see image.

    Bendability Comparison

  • Saw Cut-ability: This property basically comments on how easy it is to saw cut this material. Harder materials require special low speeds, some materials gum up a blade. This is not a complete discussion of this subject - just a general loose guide.
  • TRL Alloy: This is the alloy used for the most part by TheRingLord. We may from time to time get a special deal on a similar alloy. In most cases this would be noted in the product description. We choose our alloys carefully as a balance of appropriate characteristics for maille and cost. What is an alloy? Definition - A homogeneous mixture or solid solution of two or more metals. Eg Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Basically the alloy defines what is in the metal. The alloy controls the resistance to corrosion and the color. Together with the temper the alloy also affects the strength and workability of the material. The alloy defines the price of the material - using non-standard alloys is very expensive. Specific alloys have standard names. For example alloy C510 defines a specific bronze material. There are many types of bronze and each has slightly different properties.
  • TRL Temper: This shows the temper used. What is Temper? No its not how mad we get making the rings :) Definition - To harden or strengthen by heating and cooling. The temper is extremely important. Have you heard "copper is too soft to make chain mail"? This is because most copper wire is used for electrical wiring and is a dead soft temper. You can take the same copper and temper it into wire that is excellent for chain mail. You can have copper chainmail that is as strong as titanium chainmail if the copper is a hard temper and the titanium is dead soft temper. In the wire industry the temper is defined by certain heat treating numbers. For the chainmailer it is enough to use the following terms (from softest to hardest): dead soft, 1/4 hard, 1/2 hard, full hard, spring temper. The harder the temper the stronger, springier and more brittle the wire. Soft tempers are weaker but will bend instead of breaking. Hard tempers are stronger but more difficult to work with and are subject to breaking. It is important to select tempers that maintain a balance between workability and strength. This temper is different for each metal. A 1/2 hard silver is much easier to bend than a 1/2 hard stainless would be.
  • Weight Relative to Steel: Each metal has a different density and is therefore heavier or lighter for a given size ring. We chose to discuss this by comparing everything to the weight of steel.
  • Magnetic?: Only iron alloys are magnetic - but some are not magnetic or only slightly magnetic. You can use this info to help you sort or identify rings if you accidentally mix them.
  • Aspect Ratio for Armor Strength Maille: You can find a discussion of the term AR at this link. As we've stated how hard a ring is to bend (strength) depends on the material, the wire size and the inside diameter. See details under "Bendability/Workability". What we term "Armor Strength" is a subjective rating based on how well the rings when woven in to European 4-1 would hold up to being hit by a blunt weapon - think SCA heavy fighting. If you need another type of armor this is not what we're discussing here. For example stab proof armor might involve welding the rings and making it from thinner wire. We gave each material a thinnest gauge at which we we call it worthy of the being called "armor" and a largest aspect ratio at which the ring is strong enough to be called armor. For example ">=14g AR<5" means 14g and fatter wire in an aspect ratio no larger than 5.
  • Cleaning: The comments under cleaning are intended to assist you in making the finished product as clean as possible. Some materials will tarnish and can be freshened up. Others may just have cutting lube on them as discussed under 'cleanliness'; You can tumble with clean dry walnut and it will clean the rings - this is like taking a cloth and wiping them.
  • Shining: The comments under shining are intended to assist you in making the finished product as shiny as possible. Some materials can only get as shiny as the material starts. So if stainless steel rings are the color of a kitchen sink - getting them to a mirror finish is a super amount of work. The scope of this isn't covered here. General notes on getting them shinier are only listed. The most common method of shining a material is to tumble it with appropriate tumbling media. A popular choice is crushed walnut shell - this is sold as bird bedding at pet stores. Please note that some batches of rings in some materials can appear shinier than others - a tighter ring might look less shiny that a looser ring. If you need to make them the same, tumbling them is about your only option.

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