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Low Fusing Alloy

Low Fusing Alloy

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540THE JOURNAL OF PROSTHETIC DENTISTRYVOLUME 80 NUMBER 5
ow fusing alloy has been used in a variety of den-tal applications for at least the last 36 years. Its first use was documented by Lucia
1
in 1961 for the purpose of remounting crowns and fixed partial dentures. Sincethen, the use of low fusing alloy has been documentedin fixed prosthodontics,
1-7
removable prosthodontics,
8
and implant prosthodontics.
9
In maxillofacial prosthet-ics, low fusing alloy is used to fabricate oral radiationshield prostheses.
9-16
Dental researchers who are famil-iar with the properties of low fusing alloy have also usedit creatively within their research methods.
17-19
Many low fusing alloys are available commercially (Table I), vary in composition, and display differentdesired properties. As its name implies, low fusing alloy melts at a low temperature, within the range of 117°Fto 338°F.
20
Low fusing alloy is easily cast into moldsand ready for use after a rapid solidification of less than5 minutes. The alloy may be easily recovered and recy-cled for reuse any number of times.This article presents a literature review that examinesthe physical properties and metallurgical considerationsof low fusing alloy and its applications within prostho-dontics and dental research. A safe, precise, and effi-cient method to use low fusing alloy is also presented.
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES ANDMETALLURGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
The chief elemental components of low fusingalloy are bismuth, lead, tin, and occasionally indium(Table I). Most low fusing alloys are composed of 3 ormore metals. Alloy systems that contain more than2 metals have not been developed to the extent of bina-ry diagrams because of the difficult preparation of thealloy systems.
21
Published binary phase diagrams
22
of bismuth, lead, tin, and indium illustrate some eutecticalloys in their microstructures. A mixture is identified aseutectic when the compositional metals are miscible inthe liquid state but separate into 2 phases in the solidstate. The 2 phases often precipitate as fine layers of one phase over the other.
23
The partial eutecticmicrostructure in the composition of low fusing alloy can account for its physical properties.Eutectic alloys are relatively brittle as the presence of insoluble phases inhibits slip in the alloy. At times, thestrength and hardness of these alloys may exceed theirprimary components, due to the composite structure of the alloy. In contrast, alloys composed of low fusingmetals with partial eutectic microstructure typically retain their expected high ductility.
21
In a study by Toreskog et al.,
24
a low fusing alloy (Cerrolow 136,Marmon Group, Inc., Belleforte, Pa.) was shown to berelatively soft. The alloy demonstrated a Knoop hard-ness of 9 but was too soft to be measured for Brinellhardness. However, these researchers reported a negli-gible relationship between Knoop hardness and abra-
Use of low fusing alloy in dentistry
Alvin G. Wee, BDS, MS,
a
Robert L. Schneider, DDS, MS,
b
and Steven A. Aquilino, DDS, MS
c
College of Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Statement of problem.
Low fusing alloy has been used in dentistry for remount procedures in bothfixed and removable prosthodontics, in implant prosthodontics for the fabrication of solid implant casts, inmaxillofacial prosthetics as oral radiation shields, and in dental research for its unique properties. Previously,the use of low fusing alloy was thought to offer a high degree of dimensional accuracy. However, multiplein vitro studies have shown that its presumed dimensional accuracy may be questionable.
Purpose.
This article reviews the physical properties, metallurgical considerations of low fusing alloy, itsapplications in dentistry, and a safe, simple method of using low fusing alloy. (J Prosthet Dent 1998;80:540-5.)
Supported in part by a Rotary International Foundation Multi-YearAmbassadorial Scholarship 1994-96.The authors have no connection with or conduct research for anycompany that is associated with low fusing alloy.
a
Assistant Professor, Sections of Restorative Dentistry, Prosthodon-tics and Endodontics, Department of Prosthodontics.
b
Clinical Director, Oral and Maxillofacial Implant Center, AssociateProfessor, Department of Prosthodontics.
c
Director, Graduate Prosthodontics, Professor, Department of Prosthodontics.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS
 Although many uses of low fusing alloy have been described previously in the dental lit- erature, the clinician/researcher must be aware of the accuracy of the material and  potential health risks associated with its use.
 
sive resistance for low fusing alloy.
24
This differs fromthe “apparent” positive correlation between hardnessand abrasion resistance associated with the majority of the other materials tested in their study.
24
The presence of partial eutectic microstructures in alow fusing alloy also contributes to its low meltingpoint. Solidification of eutectic alloys present similarcurves to their pure metals, with the exception thatsolidification temperature is lower than that of the puremetals. These eutectic alloys possess a melting point atthe eutectic composition, rather than a melting range. Any other possible combinations of the pure metals inthe alloy system will have a higher fusion temperaturethan the melting point of the eutectic mixture.
23
Thus,eutectic alloys have been used to lower the fusion tem-perature of alloys if desired.
21
In a eutectic alloy, a flow or creep may occur even at room temperature if therecrystallization temperature of the matrix metal (lead)is low.
21
 As one of the chief elements of low fusingalloy, lead causes the alloy to slowly expand over time(Table II).It is unusual for products with different trade namesto demonstrate similar composition and melting tem-peratures (Table I). Alloys that demonstrate such simi-larities most likely are provided by the same supplierbut marketed under different trade names. The oftenreferred to “Melotte’s metal” in the dental literature isactually Belmont alloy 2491 (Belmont Metals Inc.),
WEE, SCHNEIDER, AND AQUILINOTHE JOURNAL OF PROSTHETIC DENTISTRY
NOVEMBER 1998541
Table I.
List of low fusing alloys used in the dental literature
MeltingComposition*AlloyManufacturers nametemperatureBiPbSnInAgCd
Fusible metalWilliams Dixon, Inc., Carstadt, N.J.NANAPlumbers solderNANA0505000Metallomat alloyIvoclar, Schwann, LiechtensteinNA5304502B2OE2 alloyAlpha Metals Inc., Jersey City, N.J.NA52321600
Melotte’s metal 
Belmont alloy 2491Belmont Metals Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.136°F491812210Indalloy 136Indium Corp., Utica, N.Y.136°F491812210Cerrolow 136Marmon Group Inc., Belleforte, Pa. 136°FLikely to be similar to Belmont alloy 2491and Indalloy 136
Lipowitz’s metal 
Belmont alloy 2503Belmont Metals Inc.158°F5026.713.30010Ostalloy 158Arconium Corp. of America, Providence, R.I.158°F5026.713.30010CerrobendCerro Metal Products, Belleforte, Pa.158°F5026.713.30010
*Reported as percentage.
NA
: Not available.
Table II.
Percentage expansion of low fusing alloy
StudyAlloyReported expansion* (time)Actual expansion* (time)
Toreskog et al.
24
Cerrlow 136NAOcclusal = +0.42(Marmon Group Inc.)Cervical = +0.24 (24 h)Yoon et al.
26
Indalloy 1360 (1 h)0.00 (0 h)(Indium Corp.)0.05 (0.5 h)0.12 (336 h)Plumbers solder (NA)NA0.00 (0 h)–0.40 (0.5 h)–0.43 (336 h)Metallomat alloy+0.100.00 (0 h)(Ivoclar)0.01 (0.5 h)0.08 (336 h)B2OE2 alloyNA0.00 (0 h)(Alpha Metals Inc.)0.28 (0.5 h)0.024 (336 h)Wee et al.
27
Belmont alloy 24910.0 (initially)0 - High SD(Belmont Metals Inc.)0.02 (5 h)(at least 24 h)
*Reported as percentage.
NA
: Not available.
 
 which has been clarified by Pameijer.
5
Examination of the composition and melting temperatures of Indalloy 136 (Indium Corp., Utica, N.Y.), Cerrolow 136(Marmon Group Inc.) and Belmont Alloy 2491 (Bel-mont Metals Inc.) suggests that these alloys are similar(Table I). Lipowitz’s metal is also marketed under dif-ferent trade names, including Ostalloy 158 (ArconiumCorp. of America), Belmont Alloy 2503 (BelmontMetals Inc.), and Cerrobend (Cerro Metal Products).
7
Some manufacturers claim that low fusing alloy haslittle or no dimensional change when passing from theliquid to the solid state.
20
However, the properties anduse of low fusing alloy and its dimensional accuracy arequestioned.
24-27
It is not surprising, given the compo-sitional variation of these alloys, that low fusing alloysproduced by different manufacturers have a wide rangeof dimensional accuracy.Low fusing alloy, as examined by Toreskog et al.,
24
 was found to be completely compatible with all theimpression materials studied at that time, includingpolysulfide (Permlastic, Kerr Mfg. Co., Detroit,Mich.). However, it was found that dies produced by the alloy frequently exhibited rounded corners and pitsor nodules as a result of the collapse of voids in theimpression.
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS INPROSTHODONTICSRemount procedures in fixed and removableprosthodontics
 Although remounting fixed and removable prosthe-ses involves a number of additional procedures, theremounting technique permits the clinician to refinethe occlusion in a more controlled environment thancan be experienced intraorally. The decision to carry out a clinical remount is made by assessing the difficul-ties associated with refining the occlusion intraorally, ascompared with the process of remounting on the artic-ulator.The use of low fusing alloy to fabricate remountcasts for multiple fixed units has been recommended(Fig. 1).
1-6
 After fitting the castings intraorally forproximal contacts, marginal fit, and contours, it hasbeen recommended that the fixed restorations be stabi-lized with a mixture of temporary cement and petrole-um jelly,
6
or a multiform impression paste (LactonaCorp., Philadelphia, Pa.).
4
 After an interocclusal recordand face-bow transfer are made, an impression is madeover the seated castings. Several techniques have beendescribed to ensure the “absolute” accuracy of theremount impression.
4-6
Before pouring the remount impression, internalsurfaces of the castings are painted with a separatingmedium (petroleum jelly,
4
Rubbersep, or Mucolube
5
). All exposed external portions of the castings are cov-ered with either melted baseplate wax, reversible, orirreversible hydrocolloid material. A low fusing alloy ismelted and poured into the impression containing thecastings to cover and include the occlusal one third of the dental alveolar ridges. Walker
4
used a low fusingalloy from Dentalloy Inc. (Stanton, Calif.), whereasPameijer
5
recommended using a low fusing alloy called“Melotte’s metal/Belmont alloy 2491” (Belmont Met-als Inc.). Retentive components, such as pins or paperclips, are heated and placed into the cooled alloy, andthe remainder of the cast is poured in die stone. Thelow fusing alloy allows easy and repeated removal of thecastings from the remount cast.
5,6
If gypsum is used,abrasion and possible fracture of the die
5
can occur.Low fusing alloy has also been used to fabricate aremount cast for removable partial dentures (RPDs)(Fig. 2). Reitz
8
recommended making an interocclusalrecord and a face-bow transfer before making an intra-oral irreversible hydrocolloid impression of the seated
THE JOURNAL OF PROSTHETIC DENTISTRYWEE, SCHNEIDER, AND AQUILINO
542VOLUME 80 NUMBER 5
Fig. 1.
Low fusing alloy used in remount cast for multipleposterior single crowns in mandibular arch.
Fig. 2.
Low fusing alloy used in remount cast for mandibularRPD.

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