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Best way to make basic shapes metal blanks


#1

I need to find the best way to have blanks made from metal sheet
(silver and copper). I need basic shapes such as circles, rectangles
and squares out of 22 gauge. One friend has suggested having them
laser cut. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thank you,
Sarah McCulloch


#2

For straight sided shapes you can cut them with a good guillotine
cutter. The better ones have an adjustable fence, so you can cut to
reproducible sizes. If there is any slight curling you can flatten
by whacking them while they are between a pair of bench plates.

If you foresee making a lot of them it could be a worthwhile
purchase. Otherwise there might be a shop in your area which would
let you use theirs, or commercial metalwork shops will cut them for
you if you provide the metal. Just make sure they’ll let you watch so
you can gather up all the offcuts.

Discs are available from the better metal and findings houses, in a
variety of sizes and thicknesses.

Elliot


#3

Hi Sarah,

I need to find the best way to have blanks made from metal sheet
(silver and copper). I need basic shapes such as circles,
rectangles and squares out of 22 gauge. One friend has suggested
having them laser cut. Does anyone have any other suggestions? 

You didn’t say how many you needed or how many different sizes &
shapes.

If you will be cutting a lot of each size & shape the fastest & most
economical way may be to have a de made for each size/shape. Then you
can use the die to cut them out. The die can be mounted in a press.

Lazar cutting or water jet cutting is also an option.

Lazar & water jet cutting usually requires a stl file of the design
to be cut.

Dave


#4

Have you thought of using pancake dies? Laser cutting isn’t going to
work for low volume parts, they are very large machines. You would
have a ton of waste.

Pancake dies are very efficient and inexpensive. I make a line of
pancake dies with lots of standard shapes.

Kevin
potterusa.com


#5

Pancake dies - Sheltech, Dar Shelton. Any shape you could imagine.
He will punch them for you. http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/lw

Standard shape pancake dies, Kevin Potter -
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/lc

Most basic shapes are available readymade. See all jewelry suppliers
for silver and enamel suppliers for copper.

Judy Hoch


#6
Have you thought of using pancake dies? 

Kevin – I have often been temped by your pancake dies, but have some
questions. What is the thickest gauge that can easily be cut? How
long do the dies last (presuming they are taken care of properly)?
What kind of force is needed to punch the metal?

Thanks, Kevin!!


#7

A few days ago someone wrote and asked how to cut a perfectly round
disk. {which, doing by hand just ain’t going to happen!)

If you look in the Rio Grande catalog you will find a really neat
disk cutter. And it really works! Perfect disks. It does about 6
different sizes.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/rio112509

Not inexpensive! But, then it’s not cheap, either. Well made. Costs
about $265 including shipping and handling.

Margaret


#8

I have several pancake dies made by Potter USA. They are great. They
work nicely on 16g silver. My press doesn’t have a pressure gauge so
I can’t say what the pressure is when the metal punches through the
die…but very easily done, not physically difficult at all. Has
saved a ton of time in my shop using these dies. Don’t know how long
they last~ have only had them 6 months but they are working great. No
affilation to Potter USA just happy with the product. :slight_smile:

joy


#9

How do you use a pancake die? Do you need a press??


#10

Thank you Kevin. I don’t have a press so I was hoping to outsource
this. Which press would I need for this? You have several.


#11

Hi Deborah,

My pancake dies will cut metal between 12 gauge on the thickest and
22 gauge, full hard - not annealed. metal thinner than 22 gauge will
leave a burr or get stuck in the die. My dies are made of 1018 mild
steel. They are good for cutting non-ferrous metals such silver,
gold, copper, brass and aluminum. They will cut steel, but they
won’t last very long doing it.

As far as the longevity of the dies, I have cut over 100 pieces with
a majority of them and I have customers who have done more than
that. They sell stamped parts and really use them alot. The simplest
shapes are always the easiest to remove from the die. The more
complex dies like the flowers area little more difficult. By that I
mean they don’t just fall out.

If you do manage to wear out a die, the good news is, you can buy
another. They are relatively inexpensive and they are all identical.
They are $18 and $22 each, which makes them very affordable and good
for production.

They can be purchased through me or Otto Frei. We also make
silhouette dies in matching shapes. I’m not really set up to do
custom work, but I am willing to take suggestions, but I can’t
guarantee they will get made.

Thanks,
Kevin
www.potterusa.com


#12

Pancake dies are a very good way to go, and are the best choice in a
lot of situations. I myself specialize in offering custom pancake
dies that will work on metal as thick or as thin as you want. They
are more expensive than Kevin’s (Potter) because they are made of
heat treated tool steel and are cut at the proper angle to have tight
clearence, which allows them to cut thinner metals, and they are
custom; your individual designs, not stock shapes.

The do not absolutely require a press, but it’s highly recommended,
and in fact non-press techniques only work on small, thin shapes. I
always discourage people from not getting a press, but some people
will do what they want to do regardless of advice. I’ve heard of
using a vise, a rubber mold vulcanizing machine, and of course, the
ubiquitous BFH (hammer). The absolute worst thing to put one in is a
rolling mill, because that only engages a small part of the die at a
time, which can quickly deform and ruin the die. Neither do you ever
want to strike the die directly with a hammer ; however, placing the
die between two steel blocks and striking the top block is not
nearly as bad as bad as hitting the die itself, or the rolling mill
insanity. Vises are ok for small shapes, but it’s critical to have
vise jaws (or modified jaws) that are smooth, and large enough to
cover the entire design, to engage it all at once. The main thing
lacking in all non-press approaches is power, and once the pieces
being cut are out of the small/thin/simple range, some sort of press
really is the only way to use the dies.

As far as other kinds of dies, there are steel rule dies (like
cookie cutters) which are good for very thin metal ; I’m not sure of
the upper thickness limit but it might be only about 28 or 26 ga
depending on the material. There are steel rule diemakers literally
all over, and they are widely used in industry for cutting paper,
leather, cardboard, plastic, etc. for all kinds of common items.
Then there are the hand-held punch and die sets (disc cutter sets)
which I never did like much ; those, and simple-shaped industrial
punch and die sets for punch presses can be had at fairly low prices,
but you obviously need a press and die shoe to hold the non-hand-held
sets. Custom die sets made the conventional way, where separate male
and female die parts are machined separately, can be very expensive
compared to pancake dies, hundreds or thousands of bucks, compared
to tens or hundreds.

So, for custom shapes, pancake dies are almost the only technology
inbetween hand cutting parts and expensive industrial setups, and are
certainly a very affordable way to make part cutting a breeze instead
of a royal pain.

Dar Shelton
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/lw

and more goodies at


#13

Hi Ann & Sarah,

I have tried many different ways to operate the pancake dies, but the
only method that works well, at least for me, is a hydraulic press.
I’ve tried arbor presses, vices, hammers and rolling mills, but the
most reliable, safest, is definitely the hydraulic press. I even have
a video on my website showing the various options I mention. I kind
of regret even showing it because it’s kinda clumsy and it required a
lot of effort with abig hammer. If all you want to do is pancake dies
and silhouette dies, no bracelets or deep drawing, then my 12 ton
press is perfect. They are $450, including jack, ready to use.

There are some less expensive hydrualic presses out there that are
designed for automotive type use. A lot of them are very big. My 12
ton is very small and could easily sit on a kitchen table.

I hope that helps.

Sincerely,
Kevin
www.potterusa.com


#14
So, for custom shapes, pancake dies are almost the only technology
inbetween hand cutting parts and expensive industrial setups, and
are certainly a very affordable way to make part cutting a breeze
instead of a royal pain. 

I have to agree with Dar Shelton on this.

When I designed my reusable BEADifferent’ findings I was facing the
need for production quantities of multiple shapes. I researched
various options and asked questions of this forum to find an
affordable solution. Dar was able to make one-step cut and emboss
dies to match the patterns I sent and also does the part punching
for me. I complete the work from this point and have been quite happy
with the set-up.

Nothing to gain by endorsement - simply a satisfied client.

Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com


#15
I have tried many different ways to operate the pancake dies, but
the only method that works well, at least for me, is a hydraulic
press. I've tried arbor presses, vices, hammers and rolling mills,
but the most reliable, safest, is definitely the hydraulic press. I
even have a video on my website showing the various options I
mention. I kind of regret even showing it because it's kinda clumsy
and it required a lot of effort with abig hammer. If all you want
to do is pancake dies and silhouette dies, no bracelets or deep
drawing, then my 12 ton press is perfect. They are $450, including
jack, ready to use. There are some less expensive hydrualic presses
out there that are designed for automotive type use. A lot of them
are very big. My 12 ton is very small and could easily sit on a
kitchen table. 

To which I say:

Right, hydraulics can’t be beat. Arbor presses can be faster for
very small/simple/thin pieces but they reach their limit pretty fast.
I had a 3-ton arbor set up as an auxiliary press for a while. but it
ended up being a doming press more often, once I had electric motors
for my hydraulic presses. I am quite spoiled as far as that goes,
since I do need to be able to zip through large punchout orders muy
pronto.

I’ve also seen people use kick presses effectively, and also
quickly, for smallish pancake dies. A 10-ton kick press can do quite
a bit, but I don’t like their high-impact delivery for hardened
dies, which can be somewhat fragile for certain applications. A die
that can be beat on with a sledge hammer and show no marks can also
fatigue and crack if it’s used enough. A few thousand, or tens of
thousands, of punches in thick metal will find any weak spots and
eventually exploit them.

But generally, hydraulics are the best way to go, and it’s rare that
I get a die made that takes more than about 12 tons. Bracelets and
large (4" by 6" ) ornaments, or super-thick buckles can work at
around that range, so anyone doing smaller designs will do fine with
12 tons if they are just blanking flat parts. If someone wants to
make these or similar larger designs, it is a good idea to go with
20 tons, so that there will be headroom, meaning that the press
isn’t operating near it’s full capacity. That isn’t actually an
issue with well made presses, but might be with the cheaper ones.

I have a lot of dies for one person who makes ornamental rusted “tin”
(Spanish tinwork" being made from galvanized steel for the most part)
pieces that are around the size of bracelets (some smaller, some a
little larger, plus a 9" tall cross). The steel sheet is 30 ga, so it
punches out easily, but there are lots of semicircular wires soldered
to the dies that make embossed edges around these pieces, and some
with more detailed wire designs added. At the time I stared making
their dies I only has 25 ton presses, which I thought would be
enough, but most of them only emboss well at 25-45 tons. These are
the kind of application where hardened tool steel dies are an
absolute must, and conventional two-part dies would probably be
prohibitively expensive for individuals. Pancake die technology to
the rescue…

But back to your original point, I agree completely that it is
(searching for some diplomacy for those involved in non-press methods
of using pancake dies) shall we say, primitive, not to use a press,
and if you’re gonna get a press, you’re gonna be able to do a lot
more with hydraulics. One more kind I’ve seen used are what they call
’clicker’ presses, which are big (huge) mechanical units that also
slam down violently. They are generally already setup with flat
platens, being most commonly used with steel rule dies for doing
things like punching out leather shoe blanks. Another reason to
choose the gentle, inexorable pressure delivered by today’s modern
hydraulic presses. (I should make a tv commercial, huh?)

Dar
http://www.sheltech.net