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I am making a sculpture with a pure copper wire wrapped with polymer clay. Will I have problems baking this in the oven with a temperature of 120-13 degrees Celsius/ 248-266 degrees Fahrenheit?

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Copper has a melting point of 1085°C/1984°F which is well above your expected temperatures. There should be no danger of losing structural integrity of the sculpture due to melting of the copper wire.

According to the chart at hyperphysics, copper has an expansion coefficient of 17x10^-6 per degree C. This is 0.000017 or 0.0017 percent per degree C. Only aluminum, brass and silver expand more than copper. If you consider an extreme case in which your copper was formed when the temperature was 200° cooler, this would make the expansion 0.34 percent (if my hasty math is correct). 33 percent is one third. 0.34 percent is one-three-hundredth and that's for a two hundred degree change.

There will be expansion, but I expect that it will cause no impact on the sculpture.

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  • Did you miscalculate using the Fahrenheit values, or where do “200 degrees difference” come from? Starting from room temperature, I would expect only a bit over 100 Kelvin, so 100 * 17x10^-6, leading to 0.17 percent expansion? The more relevant bit however is that the coefficient for polymers is typically higher than the one for metals, so the risk of the wire poking out can probably be neglected. (+1)
    – Stephie
    Nov 18 '18 at 6:20
  • I used a ridiculous starting point of 200° cooler than the expected maximum temperature as the forming temperature for the copper wire, to exaggerate the expansion dimensions. One can certainly expect to have normal temperatures for forming the wire, leaving the expansion dimensions even smaller.
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 18 '18 at 11:28

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