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Etching Steel for Waffle Die


The goal is to incorporate a matched male & female conforming die set
into a pancake blanking die. This takes the form of a pair of thin
(1/16" and 3/64" ) tool steel plates etched with nitric acid , one
with the positive design , one with the negative design. One plate
attaches to the cutting face of the blanking die, the other to a
recess in a base plate that bolts to the blanking die down below the
bottom of their respective hinges. This will look like a donut hole
die to those of you famliar with pancake technology, but it functions
a lot more like a waffle iron , with the matching conforming plates.

To make a very long and often frustrating adventure easier to
swallow, I’ll post it in installments, and omit most of it. Because
most of it so far has been wrestling with a graphics program I don’t
know, struggling with iron-on etching masks that peel off half the
time, and hours and hours viualizing just how to put this together.

Today, after finally getting 3 sets of matched plates etched and
aligned with dowel pins at the corners, I thought I’d pass on some
hard won wisdom. “Don’t try this at home”. Really, anyone interested
in doing this is much better off doing it in two stages, with a
separate forming step, and a separate cutting step, like with a matrix
forming and blanking die operation. To incorporate both (forming and
blanking) into one die is fine when it’s just soldering wires or
whatever onto a regular pancake die, but this is complicated and
without good instructions it’s too easy to go wrong somewhere. I am in
my stubborn obsessive mode, so I am going to finish this and make it
work, but I’m not going to formulate instructions for human

The need to have this be a one-step operation is real, because this
is a project for the folks two doors down who make rustic iron home
decor .They want lots of parts, cheap. It is a small plate 1.25" by
1.75" in 24 ga. steel with their logo imprinted on it. I already
tried a single etched ptate former and tried forming with it and
various urethanes and plastics , but could not get enough detail.
Maybe it would work with a 50 ton press, but I don’t want to build or
buy one just for this, and I’d have to buy a big new expensive pump to
make my 50 ton ram go fast. The waffle iron forming aspect should
make this a quick, and relatively low pressure operation. So here I
am, working on the first , and maybe last, One-step Waffle Pancake
Die. More accounts and pictures to follow.