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Metal molds


#1

Thanks for your reply, Jeffrey I am still having problems with email.
Do you have the modelmaster system with Art Cam?

    "I just made a platinum ring with prongs that cross over each
other (like the Tiffany Lucida design, or Jeff Cooper's style). I
made the prong assembly by engraving a metal mold then cast into
platinum." 

Wow, this sounds cool! got any pictures? Can you send me your phone
number and address again I don’t know what I did with them. What do
you think an approximate range of cost is for flatish metal molds if
you do the CAD file and if I do the CAD file? Thanks John


#2

I have been approachedd by a customer who is very serious about
having a religious ring made. He loves the look of the NFL Super Bowl
rings and would like his piece to emulate that look. The ring will
have three panels with religious images such as the Vatican emblem
and various words written in relief around those images. However,
this is well beyond my ability to carve and I understand that the
same companies that make class rings will create metal molds for the
trade. Or could this be a project for someone who uses CAD CAM. Any
advice would be greatly appreciated.

John Sholl
J.F.Sholl Fine Jewelry
Littleton, Co
(303)738-9554


#3

Contact B & B Craftsman in Dallas, the gentleman there has a CNC mill
that has the capabilities of doing this. This is not an easy job, so
it will take some time, but he turns out some fantastic work, not
only by hand but with the mill also. His number is 972-661-2044, or
you can e-mail him @ bbcraftsman@airmail.net. Hope that this helps.
Catherine


#4

John, You should perhaps try Christian Grunewald, located in Hawaii,
who is a member of this list. He is a awesome modelmaker, is a rep for
Modelmaker, DelCam, and several other Cad/Cam companies, does EDM
work, and a heck of a nice guy! I believe his email is
cgrunewald@aol.com. HTH Heads up, Christian…are you there?

Ricky Low


#5

There is a huge misconception regarding the fact that many
individuals view the task of producing a metal mold as a rather
daunting task. The underlying fact is that many individuals have
invested in such technologies such as CNC and Rapid Prototyping
technologies but are really only scratching the surface as to what
their potential really is. The main dilemma is that individuals feel
that a metal mold has to made by machining directly into metal. This
is most definitely not the case. Rapid prototyping has a much broader
connotation than just creating a model on a Rapid Prototyping machine,
or machining a wax on a CNC to cast, it also includes such
technologies as Rapid Tooling. You do not have to machine into
Aluminium or Brass to create a metal mold, you could machine into
plastic or wax and convert this into metal cores and cavities, but
that’s another story for some other time. The fact of the matter, is
that individuals are so engrossed in their systems that they forgot
that it does not end there. When it comes down to production, metal
molds cannot be compared to rubber molds. The underlying fact is that
it all depends on your setup equipment wise. A small table top unit
that shoots into a 3" by 2.5" mold base will never keep up with a
series of rubber molds, but on our machines which are industrial size,
then these will put a rubber mold to bed on any given day of the week
on the type of work we are contracted to do. Our interchangeable MUD
units will hold 12 cavities and will cycle every 15 seconds. If you do
the math, you will see that we can produce 48 pieces a minute which
equates to 2,880 per hour un-attended. This is a typical run time for
logo/charms etc. Rings that require slides and cam actions run about
12 per minute but still gives me 720 pieces per hour. Therefore a
general assumption of comparison cannot be taken without taking into
account the equipment. Yes the final product might be a metal mold, but
it is important to note that it does not need to start out in the
metal.

If anyone would like to discuss this issue on the phone, then give me
call and I will be glad to answer your questions. Best Regards. Neil
George
954-572-5829


#6

Dear George, My imagination was stimulated by your description of
"rings with slides and cam actions" then boggled by your production
of these items at 720 per hour. I am left totally in awe of the
marketing expertise that convinces 120,960 people per week, over three
and a half million people per month, and forty three and a half
million people per year, to purchase and wear the same identical piece
of jewellery.

OK, OK, I know I’m exaggerating. Of course production runs are
limited to demand. But still, isn’t jewellery essentially an
after-everything-else type purchase where a measure of exclusivity is
an attractive element for the purchaser? I’m flat out making
individually hand-crafted pieces of jewellery for my clients and
loving the challenge to my design and making skills as I interpret
each person’s widely varying requests. One of the most common
responses I hear is that “most retailer’s jewellery looks all the
same”. I wonder why? Best wishes, Rex


#7

Dear Rex,

    Dear George, My imagination was stimulated by your description
of "rings with slides and cam actions" then boggled by your
production of these items at 720 per hour. I am left totally in awe
of the marketing expertise that convinces 120,960 people per week,
over three and a half million people per month, and forty three and
a half million people per year, to purchase and wear the same
identical piece of jewellery. 

Thank god I have nothing to do with the marketing side of things:-)
The numbers as you point out are very high production rates, however,
the important factor to relize is this. It is not the volume of pieces
that can be manufactured that is the issue as far as my business is
concerned, but how fast I can accomadate and excecute the order. I can
guarantee you that we will never have those kinds of numbers being
written up as through put, but the numbers that we do are extremelly
profitable because for one, there is minimal manual intervention, and
secondly the higher the production rate on an hourly basis equates to
higher profits at the end of the day. The difference is like taking
the Concord rather than a commercial airliner. You will travel the
same number of miles but the time factore will vary dramatically. What
this means to me, is that for every hour saved, means an extra hour of
play, and still make the same money if not more. Your questions
regarding the marketing of many items is explained in this way. I have
no marketing strategy to sell my product other than creating a sample
of the item they wish to purchase. The number of pieces are
pre-determined, therefore I have no inventory. The no inventory
situation is a very nice way of doing business and it is based on the
Just In Time production methodology. Therefore the conclusion for me is
more speed so I can get the hell out of here, and not necesserily for
higher production rates.

    OK, OK, I know I'm exaggerating. Of course production runs are
limited to demand. But still, isn't jewellery essentially an
after-everything-else type purchase where a measure of exclusivity
is an attractive element for the purchaser? I'm flat out making
individually hand-crafted pieces of jewellery for my clients and
loving the challenge to my design and making skills as I interpret
each person's widely varying requests. One of the most common
responses I hear is that "most retailer's jewellery looks all the
same". I wonder why? Best wishes, Rex 

I totally agree with your thoughts on the customers interest in
finding and purchasing something that is unique and original. Further,
I might add, that your thoughts on most retailers merchandise looking
the same also has merit. Yet, here on Orchid you will find many
retailers that for sure carry bread and butter items, but in the same
token, they are designing and producing their own unique lines and
specializing in custom orders with tremendous success. We cannot
compare each and every business or artistic interpretation in the same
way. Part of my business focuses on large organizations that require
commemoration pins, pendants, rings etc as part of their promotional
package with their sales and marketing teams. These equate to hundreds
of pieces per order which are all the same except for a diamond here
or a diamond there. I prefer this route, because I really got tired of
taking an order, making the piece, getting paid for the piece, and
then starting from scratch again on the next piece. I prefer to make a
master, and produce as many pieces as is requested for that piece. If
new orders come in for that same piece again, well hey, I am not
starting from scratch, but merely continuing along the path that was
intended.

Best Regards.
Neil George
954-572-5829


#8

Dear Rex, Your assault on mass produced jewelry brings to mind one of
the quirkiest realities of the jewelry business…the dichotomy
of mass produced versus “original” Many very well informed persons
assert that there is nothing that is really “new”…that all
designs are derived from the previous or are a composite of the old.
The infinitely variable designs of nature spring from common patterns
that are seemingly immutable and are, thusly, "variations on a theme"
Another reality is the fact that many jewelry customers don’t give a
whit about originality and much prefer the “tried and true…the
classics !” In my business I do both…but, I don’t cherish any
delusions about originality. Design variations are merely variations
on themes. The fundamentals of good design are ancient. Nonetheless,
I do enjoy straying from the “tried and true” if for no other reason
than to enjoy the challenge of solving new problems of RE creating
OLD variations. ( Wait just a moment while I put on my bullet proof
vest ) Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


#9

Dear Ron, thanks for the response. Apologies if what I posted looked
like an “assault”. It was intended to be a plug for "traditional"
jewellery (whatever that is these days). I’ll have to agree to
disagree with you about originality. If I design a ring with my
client, drawing sketches and finding out what it is my client wants,
then make it, set it, and finally stamp it with my personal hallmark,
both my client and I regard that as pretty original. I agree totally
with you that the fundamentals of good design are ancient and a lot of
the fun is finding fresh applications for those immutable principles.
Being a good draughtsperson helps and certainly a lot of my colleagues
who have completed my design courses over the last 18 years have
agreed. No need for the bullet-proof vest, I’m sure we agree on more
than we don’t… Kind regards, Rex


#10

Dear George, thank you for your response. Your area of business is a
valid and important element in jewellery manufacture. (Where would I
be without the excellent mass-produced roller catches, findings and
tiny settings from my good friends at Precision Jewellery!)

I guess that’s the beauty of being a jeweller - there are so many
places and niches where we can survive. I do respect what you are
doing and the expertise you clearly have. Thanks again for such a
clear and thoughtful response. Ain’t Orchid great? Kind regards, Rex


#11

Dear Rex, Just to give you a little insight. I also was a custom
jeweller and specialized in Platinum and 18k until it started to
become a grind. As the business grew, it lost for me the essence of
enjoyment and excitement, and it primarily put me in the position of
not looking forward to going to work anymore. I needed a challenge,
with something that would stimulate some excitement and I found that
by studying automation and adding my own flavor of how to do things
really fit the bill for my needs to be a happy camper. The least
expensive piece my ex-partner and I did where in the $5,000 price
range, but a good percentage rate of work we did was in the $100,000
and up price range. The conclusion is that you have to find what makes
you happy, and I was not happy. Money and showing off my skills was
not the bottom line for me any longer, and those were extremely good
years for me financially, but like I said I lost the will or
motivation to continue. Many said I was crazy to just walk away from
the business and start again in 1994, but I was happy. The important
thing to remember, is that regardless of any individuals craft level,
as long as you enjoy it, then go ahead and have fun, but if not, then
change direction and find what does make you happy, because you will
be doing it for a looooooong time. Best Regards. Neil George 954-572-5829


#12

I am looking for on metal molds for fairly dimensional
pendants with attached bails and hollowed out backs as opposed to
flat coin-like items. I am interested in knowing who makes them,
where to order them, how much they cost, and what their design
limitations are. We are having to produce a lot of these pendants
and were wondering if it would be worthwhile to invest in plastic
injectors and metal molds.

Please contact me offline. Thank you.

Donna
@Donna_E_Shimazu


#13

The metal mold/plastic injection thing is one of those big
conspiracies in the jewelry world. Nobody offers this service. If
they do, it is done by CAD-CAM and for 10k each. Not even the
manufacturer of the injection machinery can recommend a source for
the molds. Basically you are right back where all metal-mold
technology ends, with tooling shops that specialize in injection
molds for the plastics industry, which is a completely different
scale than we work on. It’s not the sort of home-grown
do-it-yourself product development-in-the-kitchen we’re all used to,
it’s the real deal. You might as well be tooling up for progressive
deep-draw dies and a transfer-press, or designing chain-making
machinery. Metal molds ‘done’ by anyone in any easy, simple way is a
complete myth. It’s a process used for class rings, etc. die-casting
and high precision/mass production and is not cost-effective for
under 10k-unit runs.

I once heard of a metal mold system of press-in variety, using soft
metals and a metal model, but that’s another enigma-- nobody does
it, nobody supplies the metal, it’s just a big frustrating loop.
There is no simple way to do this, might as well work on cold
fusion.

BUT of course I challenge all to prove me wrong, and to divulge your
sources. (I hear you all snickering up there in Attleboro… as your
coining-presses put even metal mold/castings to shame…)


#14
I once heard of a metal mold system of press-in variety, using
soft metals and a metal model, but that's another enigma-- nobody
does it, nobody supplies the metal, it's just a big frustrating
loop. There is no simple way to do this, might as well work on cold
fusion. BUT of course I challenge all to prove me wrong, and to
divulge your sources. (I hear you all snickering up there in
Attleboro... as your coining-presses put even metal mold/castings
to shame...) 

While few people do metal molds outside the class ring crowd, they
ARE still used, especially with specialized wax injectors that can
inject the wax at higher pressures, like 60 psi or so, while also at
lower temps so the wax is slushy, not fully melted. The result is
almost zero shrinkage in the wax, and high fidelity.

metal molds have to be made from metal models, and good ones at
that, and not all models are suited to it. But that’s no reason you
can’t do it. I.Shor sells a mold frame that looks suspiciously
similar to the The Castaldo moldmatic mold frame the one where one
part of the frame is this plunger that presses down on the stack of
rubber, however many sheets of it you decided to use, that is also
useable for making metal molds. The metal used to make the molds can
be pewter, and an ordinary vulcanizer is used for heat and pressure.
You also need some other stuff like plastecine modelling clay, and
dental stone, or similar investment. The needed stuff can be
purchased from I.Shor, and they’ll send you written instructions to
make the molds too, if you wish, especially if you buy the materials
to make them, but perhaps even if not. The web page lists the
instructions as “free”… http://www.ishor.com/model.htm They offer
seven day a week phone support for their products, and have always
been helpful when I called, even when it didn’t result in my placing
an order. Good company to deal with, in my experience.

Have fun.

Peter Rowe


#15

WE DO IT ! Depending what the Item is. Molds start around $150 and
we inject in plastic.

Larry Paul Casting Co.
740 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215.928.1644


#16

Jordan,

The metal mold/plastic injection thing is one of those big
conspiracies in the jewelry world. Nobody offers this service. If
they do, it is done by CAD-CAM and for 10k each. 

So why do you call it a conspiracy? It sounds totally un-deliberate.

Michael Knight


#17

Jordan & All,

I made metal mold in the late 70s as a small one person operation.
At the time I was charging about $350.00 per mold because they were
all hand made and took over a day to make. The material was also
fairly expensive as well as being mostly lead. I could never do it
now because of the lack of interest and knowledge about the benefits
of their use. I could also not get a reasonable price for the time
and materials with today’s economy.

You won’t see many of these because of the time and expertise needed
to put them together. I only know of two people left that would
consider doing them any more.

It’s more of jobs going overseas than anything else. These molds are
being made in Hong Kong and else where now days. And I can guarantee
you there is no one able or willing to teach this process probably
because there are so few left.

It’s not that it’s that hard, it’s just trade secrets that have kept
it away from the general bench jeweler. Sure Jostens & Balfor do it
with automation, but they aren’t even jewelers. More tool makers than
anything else.

I introduced a new mold process a few years ago that streamlined the
metal mold system and lost a fortune. Never again.

Bla… bla… bla… bla… rant… rant… rant…

Best Regards,
Todd Hawkinson
Minneapolis Comm & Tech College


#18
So why do you call it a conspiracy? It sounds totally 

LOL! Thank you all for your advice-- much is now clarified…

In reply I offer that jewelry design-for-production, and domestic
manufacturing of same is forever fraught with challenges that seem
rather backward for such a technologically advanced country. Perhaps
it’s a reflection of our apparent domestic market’s taste for
’perceived value’ over profound passion-- passionate design powers
advancements in available technique (as opposed to vice-versa),
while reliance on the safety of tired forms tends to stifle
technical progress.

One need only to look to Vincenza, where passion for design creates
an inventive approach to materials that allows daring, bold strokes
of inventiveness: Techniques for mechanization, hollow-worked
components, fibers, filaments, etc. Domestically our production ethic
is centered on ‘perceived value’ and often seems mired in rehashing
antiquity-- hardly fertile ground for technical progress.

Those of us committed to remaining ‘closely held’ and keeping our
crews cared for as co-partners, face on one side factories overseas
with whole villages of help at .70 cents/day, enabling impossible
manual fabrication befitting some Muglai emperor, while on the other
side mass-machine mechanical monstrosities spew out meticulous parts
for mass consumption.

None of this is necessarily a problem for artisan designers, for
there remain plenty of inventive tricks to employ in service of our
most impossible-sounding design ideas–But the cutting edge of
creativity has long left our shores, or so it appears to this
artisan-designer. Hats off to the Italians, where metal molds,
etched clad hollow components, electroforming, etc. etc. are common
tools employed in the pursuit of passionate design progress, while
we here remain utterly deprived of such options lest we learn
Italian and become expatriates.

Conspiracy? Maybe a bit of an extreme term, but certainly old-school
and stodgy-- at least in my experience, with a seeming insistence on
remaining so, decade after decade. Consider the hearsay that the one
domestic production electroforming outfit remaining, actually
purchased a used set-up at auction for the sole purpose of keeping
it off the market in order to keep their niche cornered-- That would
demonstrate the value of the system, yet for the most part
rubber-mold castings remain the only production option for the
masses around here…

We are grateful to Castaldo, and the fabulous castings made from
their amazing rubber molds-- certainly a great boon to us all-- but
castings from rubber are certainly not castings from metal, and
neither of these are an electroform–

If we wish to be able to remain domestic and local in the production
of progressive designs, suggest it’s time for contract-manufacturers
to take a break from buying this year’s latest computer-controlled
vacuum-casting machine and wax injectors, and instead invest in a
few common tricks to enable us to keep the now exorbitant cost of
precious metals down to thicknesses our markets can afford–
concepts per the common practices of our Italian colleagues in their
extremely well-run small shops.

We don’t need whole third-world islands of slaves, nor do we need
factories full of stamping-dies, but just a little bit of progress
in domestic contracting set-ups. Rubber mold castings are great, and
getting better every year, but definitely not enough to do the
designs that need to be done, to reinvigorate the progressive
concepts artisan and production jewelry once had in this country.

But many thanks for the rare insider leads! In gratitude, I offer
these discoveries to the group:

1: For pliers, the orthodontic industry is WAY ahead of jewelry
catalog stock (lindstrom notwithstanding), check it out.

2: For wax tools, keep an eye on discount surgical/dental supply–
some of these tools seem creepy when you think about their intended
use, but put all present wax tools to shame (Wolf of course
notwithstanding, her tools are fab!)

3: Keep an eye on eBay for those old-time dental-pulling pliers,
they are the ultimate for holding small parts and rings, etc.

4: While on ebay, pick out one of those old cast-iron grill-register
covers to use as a plier-rack-- they work great, and provide the
added bonus of reminding us each time a tool is reached for, that
hand-eye was once the way everything was done, and while victoriana
may not be to everybody’s taste, those guys were good-- not long ago
everybody could draw and sculpt, etc. The hoop is now utterly broken
in the realm of hand-eye, so we need these artifacts to remind us
how essential sculpted hand-eye is to jewelry, whether production or
otherwise (think what the Belvedere torso meant to the
renaissance…)

Cheers everyone.
J.