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Textured steel plates for hydraulic press

I’m planning on buying a hydraulic press by year’s end. It will
either be a Bonny Doon or Shark Bite. I notice that Rio Grande sells
machined 4x4 textured steel plates that you can use to press a
texture into metal. If so, can’t a press be used like a rolling mill
to transfer textures? Or does it have it’s limitations in terms of
functioning like a rolling mill?

Dana Evans

I often use my hydraulic press for texturing. The rollers on my
rolling mill are only 4 inches wide, and sometimes I want to texture
a piece that is wider than that. The hydraulic press handles that
size easily. Another advantage is that I don’t get any distortion of
the metal.

For texturing I use copper sheets that I have etched using ferric
chloride as my mordant as I prefer to make my own designs. I usually
make a deep etch for a good transfer of the design.



Rio Grande also sells 2" X 6" texture plates designed specifically
for texturing metal in the rolling mill. The rolling mill pattern
plates are a new addition to Rio’s catalog so you may have to ask for
Mark Nelson in tech support. The Link to the patterns is here:


Okay, in the subject line it says “textured steel plates for
hydraulic press” but in the body it says Designed specifically for
texturing metal in the rolling mill. The rolling mill pattern plates
are a new addition to Rio’s catalog…

Which is it? Hydraulic press for texture? Or Rolling mill for
texture. Hard to tell from the pix, but they do look a bit thick for
going through the rolling mill, but then what do I know? Please



The textured steel plates are for embossing. Embossing and
roller-printing are related processes, but they are not exactly the
same. Roller printing pushes the texture of the texturing tool into
the metal between the two steel rollers. The metal thickness
changes----the metal is thinner where the
lace/feather/mesh/ribbon/whatever has pushed into the metal.

When embossing with a hydraulic press, urethane pushes the metal
into the recesses of the embossing tool. Embossed metal nearly
maintains the original thickness----the metal looks sort of
corrugated in cross-section. (Urethane is a plastic that changes
shape, but then returns to its original form—as opposed to leather,
or some other rubbers and plastics that stay deformed after

Some materials work for both embossing and roller-printing. Others
are really better for only one or the other. For instance, a feather
works best with roller-printing. Most screens can be used for either
roller-printing or embossing. A coin would probably better for
embossing, which would be less likely to damage the coin (if done
carefully), and embossing could not only show the relief of the coin,
but also the thickness.

If you’d like to get an overview of working with they hydraulic
press, there are two spaces left in the 5-day workshop I’ll be
teaching in Door County in Wisconsin August 23-27, at Peninsula
School of Art.

Cynthia Eid

(catching up on Orchid posts while flying home from teaching about
microfolding and Argentium Silver in Birmingham, England—looking
forward to seeing my family, and my dog)

Thank you for this explanation Cynthia - the way the original text
was written I thought that they had been created with the hydraulic
press but were meant to be used in a rolling mill, albeit they
looked a bit too thick for that, but the text and the subject didn’t
match, that’s why I inquired. You have answered my question. Also I
did take the 2 week workshop originally held in Mendocino Calif some
years ago and almost bought a press. Glad I didn’t because with my
shoulder problems I wouldn’t have been able to use it and didn’t want
to spend the $$ for an electric one. Perhaps today they are better
made, but in the meantime I’ve grown older too, so don’t think I’ll
be getting it. Thanks for the explanation.


Please note the distinction between the two different styles of
texture plates. We make 4 X 4 texture plates (110-620/x)
specifically for the hydraulic press, and we make 2 X 6 plates
(110-619/x) for the rolling mill. The 2 X 6 may be used in the
hydraulic press, but once they are used in the rolling mill we
recommend that you do not use them in the press thereafter.

Cindy’s describes the two processes succinctly in the previous
message. I highly recommend taking a workshop to fully realize the
potential of these plates and more.

Hope this helps,

I had to look these up in the Rio catalog online, just to see what
the deal was, because my first thoughts were along the lines of
"watchoo talkin’ 'bout, Willis?!, 4" TEXTURE plates for the press
!!!??? “. The thinking line= that developed from many experiments
trying to press fine-resolution imprints into sheet metal with a
hydraulic press; plenty of experience that told me you just don’t
press 16 sq. in. of TEXTURE into metal --which, in my mind, at that
point, amounted to the same process as COINING. Not without about
100 tons , or a lot more, you don’t… and then I saw the pictures
of the plates onscreen, and was enlightened and relieved to find them
described as EMBOSSING plates, and the universe all made sense
again, because I know that Phil Poirier knows wtf he’s doing, and I
do know firsthand that you can EMBOSS with a plate that big in a
press that little. 50 tons is nice, and I use it all the time for
EMBOSSING larger blanked parts with wire designs on the order of
1/32” to 1/8" deep (with those spiffy one-step blanking/embossing
dies I make), but I suppose 20 tons is adequate for some
applications, and to smaller areas than 4" by 4" (as Phil knows what
he’s up to).

I am frequently surprised though, at how little 20 tons can do in
these and similar situations, when you really think it’s going to do
more. I’ve also become very aware of the difference between
embossing --which is effectively merely bending metal --, and
texturing – which is effectively coining, which is actually
displacing certain areas within a mass of metal from one spot to
another. The former forming method is relatively easy, and the
latter generally requires far more pressure. A 20 ton press is a
very powerful tool, but you may (or may not) be surprised at how
effective normal, manual tools are for certain things. Offhand , I
think of doing what a rolling mill does : you can’t put sheet metal
in a 20, or 50 , ton press and squeeze it thinner. Or what about
flattening metal?.. you really want the wrinkles out, you have to
hammer it. No, this does not mean it’s ok to use your BFH on your
pancake dies !!!..


I had the pleasure of testing these plates out yesterday. I have to
say, these are absolutely fabulous! They work amazingly well on
thicker materials and give a nice deep pattern, crisp lines and were
a snap to use. You can etch your metal, but, if you have a rolling
mill or a Bonny Doon, it takes just a couple seconds and it comes out
perfectly! What a great addition to your bag of tricks.

Phillip Scott G.G.
Technical Support
Rio Grande