Lead is a very weak metal. Therefore various other metals are often considered for the perimeter of the panel to strengthen the whole.
Zinc is a metal often used for strengthening the perimeter of panels. It is stronger than lead – by about 8 times. It is relatively easy to solder. However it is subject to more rapid corrosion than lead.
So an alternative is aluminium which is about about the same strength as zinc. However it does not accept soldering, so professional joining or cold fixing solutions are required to make the frame.
Copper is over 10 times the strength of lead and can be considered as an alternative to zinc. It accepts solder well, but as a came is extremely expensive. It does corrode to a verdigris unless protected and maintained. However, because of its strength, copper wire - as a single strand or several twisted - can be used inside other came such as lead or zinc to provide strong support.
Brass is about 19 times stronger than lead. It is available in came profile as well as “U” and “L” profiles. It accepts solder well and resists corrosion. It is more expensive than lead, but similar in price to zinc.
Mild steel strength varies but is at least 27 times stronger than lead. It does not accept solder easily, and does corrode without painted protection, but is a less expensive option than aluminium, zinc or copper. As an angle or “T” shape, mild steel and iron have been used for centuries to support leaded glass panels.
Stainless steel is at least 37 times stronger than lead. It is difficult to weld and does not accept solder at all. It is very resistant to corrosion.
When considering framing solutions for panels, the main factors to consider are relative strength, corrosion, and joining methods possible.
Brass, Copper, Lead and Zinc all can be joined by solder. Aluminium and stainless steel cannot be joined with solder. Although mild steel can be joined with solder, a good strong joint is difficult.
The stronger the metal, the thinner profile required, which can make metals that are more expensive by weight an economical solution, as metal prices are most often by weight rather than shape.
It also is possible to combine a stronger metal with a weaker metal, such as including copper wire or steel rods in the lead came.
It is not absolutely necessary to solder the panel to the framing material. A frame can be made and the panel fixed within it by other than hot soldering methods. In this case the frame takes the whole weight of the panel.