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
in 1961 for the purpose of remounting crowns and fixed partial dentures. Sincethen, the use of low fusing alloy has been documentedin fixed prosthodontics,
and implant prosthodontics.
In maxillofacial prosthet-ics, low fusing alloy is used to fabricate oral radiationshield prostheses.
Dental researchers who are famil-iar with the properties of low fusing alloy have also usedit creatively within their research methods.
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.
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.
Published binary phase diagrams
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.
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.
In a study by Toreskog et al.,
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,
Robert L. Schneider, DDS, MS,
and Steven A. Aquilino, DDS, MS
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.
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.
Assistant Professor, Sections of Restorative Dentistry, Prosthodon-tics and Endodontics, Department of Prosthodontics.
Clinical Director, Oral and Maxillofacial Implant Center, AssociateProfessor, Department of Prosthodontics.
Director, Graduate Prosthodontics, Professor, Department of Prosthodontics.
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.