Small pieces of steel Sheet.

I have a project I am working on that could use a fair number of small pieces of steel sheet. Mild steel is just fine.
1/16" 400 units 3/32" 300 units 1/8" 200 units
Thickness is nominal. Closest sheet gage thickness is fine.
Length is 4.5" Width is 1/4"
Tolerance for length and width is +/- .01" and if they were all under 0.01" it would be no big deal if somebody wanted to save a couple square inches.
Flatness needs to be "looks pretty flat" but no tight tolerance is required.
I am not really setup to cut these myself, so I went looking for a vendor. Midwest Steel & Aluminum seemed to be the best (only) option. They offered the dimensions I needed (to nearest gage size) at a reasonable price in those quantities. Cheap enough I could make money on the project. I placed the order along with some other stock and forgot about them. Their lead time for anything is absolutely terrible. I knew this going in so I was prepared to wait. (I dropped Midwest in favor of Coast for my bulk aluminum due to their attrocious lead times.)
I have one customer already champing at the bit for the end product, but I told him it was going to be a long term solution, so he was prepared to wait as well.
After about five weeks I contacted Midwest to ask if my order was close to being processed. They replied they were unable provide my cut parts, but they would refund that part of the order and ship the rest. They didn't, and I immediately told them to just cancel the whole order. I had to contact them twice more before they refunded any of it. They did finally refund it today. Well, they sent me an internal credit memo, but its not hit my account yet.
I'm still looking for a source for the pieces and I still am not setup to cut them efficiently. A burr from a tight fitting sharp shear might be ok, but twisted up like a potato chip would not be. I could toss them in a tumbler and probably not add to much processing cost. Plasma cut would probably not produce a cost effective part. To much hand work and mill work, and I am still a one man shop. I don't know how well it could be laser cut, but that's a lot more expensive machine, and I expect most laser tables would eat all those narrow parts.
Yeah I know most metal vendors are loaded with orders and just don't give a shit about a small customer who only orders about $10+ a year, but I am still looking for a source. I might be able to job it out, but a job shop would certainly charge as much for the parts as I would retail the net product for.
Ah, well. The headaches of a small business.
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On Tue, 11 May 2021 10:05:52 -0700

<snip>
Sounds like you could use an Ironworker machine. Buy some 4.5" wide stock, set up a length stop, feed lop, feed lop... Expensive machines but maybe you can keep an eye open for a used one to turn up...
https://www.clevelandsteeltool.com/ironworker-machines/cst-40-ton
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Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI
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"Leon Fisk" wrote in message wrote:

<snip>
Sounds like you could use an Ironworker machine. Buy some 4.5" wide stock, set up a length stop, feed lop, feed lop... Expensive machines but maybe you can keep an eye open for a used one to turn up...
https://www.clevelandsteeltool.com/ironworker-machines/cst-40-ton
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Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI
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On 5/11/2021 6:42 PM, Howard Beel wrote:

Not a horrible idea. Those small jobs provided my main source of pocket money in high school. Piece work grocery marking and stocking. Chopping cotton. Working on the grape packing sheds.
I recall most of us were thankful for the opportunity to make some money, but I'm skeptical of most around today. I just don't know many youngsters willing to work these days who don't already have jobs or their own "hustle" going on.
Couple high school cowboys across the street, but they work all the time when they aren't in school already. Work, rodeo, and practice. They also roll out in the middle of the night if somebody has some livestock get loose.
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On 5/11/2021 6:42 PM, Howard Beel wrote:




I've been looking at iron workers (still out of my budget), but they sure do seem to be some awesome purpose specific machines.
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On Thu, 13 May 2021 10:29:52 -0700


I've only seen them in use via youtube. One guy was punching ~1 inch holes through 1/2 inch plate. Ker-pop, reposition the piece, ker-pop... sure looked slick.
Oh well, keep your eyes open and one will turn up. Hard to find stuff you're not watching out for ;-)
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"Leon Fisk" wrote in message wrote:

I've only seen them in use via youtube. One guy was punching ~1 inch holes through 1/2 inch plate. Ker-pop, reposition the piece, ker-pop... sure looked slick.
Oh well, keep your eyes open and one will turn up. Hard to find stuff you're not watching out for ;-)
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Leon Fisk
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On 5/13/2021 4:01 PM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

While I am a home shop hobby hack shade tree wannabee button pusher I do operate my shop as a business. The single most precious resource I have is time. There are a lot of things I can make that I choose not to just because I can make other things more profitably for the time invested.
For example I make a lot of hand injection fishing tackle molds. I can make hand injectors that are decent and very usable, but instead I send my customers to my competitors for those because they are better setup to make them efficiently. I only make a few for my own use for testing, and my favorite ones were made by somebody else.
This is for a product that I am not going to make and sell unless I can make it efficiently. Midwest bailing on me after holding my money for 5 weeks and then letting me know ONLY after I prodded them that they couldn't do it was a bit annoying. I can make the parts a number of different ways. I did one complete tool by roughing the plates, and then putting a stack in a mill vise to finishing to size. Very hands on time consuming. That's time I'm not getting CAD/CAM work done for custom molds. I could glue a sheet down on a CNC router or to a pallet in one of the mills, but that's also a tedious process, and that level of precision is not required.
A shear might work, but if I have to spend time on the anvil with a hammer for every piece it starts to push the hands on time budget I am willing to dedicate to the product.
FYI: I have had employees in the past (was a contractor for 23 years) and I really do not want to have employees again. I made my most money years when I chose to not have any and only accept as much work as I could do by myself.
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"Bob La Londe" wrote in message
On 5/13/2021 4:01 PM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

While I am a home shop hobby hack shade tree wannabee button pusher I do operate my shop as a business. The single most precious resource I have is time. There are a lot of things I can make that I choose not to just because I can make other things more profitably for the time invested.
-----------------------------------
I'm only a hobbyist retiree now but I built custom and prototype equipment for a living, usually with small general-purpose machine tools that weren't ideal for the specific task so I learned to improvise, at least enough to make the prototype work if not look perfect every time. I think the largest batch I ever made was 12, 10 to deliver to the USAF plus 2 spares.
I could hope that my ideas would fly but I never expected to manufacture anything myself, I took my prototype and drawings to local job shops for quotes. The closest I got to high volume production lines was building and installing test stations in them.
https://www.iqsdirectory.com/metal-stampings/arizona/
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"Jim Wilkins" wrote in message
https://www.iqsdirectory.com/metal-stampings/arizona/
----------------
Different search terms brought up this: https://www.mapquest.com/us/arizona/barco-stamping-co-10464460
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On 5/14/2021 10:01 AM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

Barco Metal Stamping has a facility right here in Yuma, but my unit quantity is likely not enough to interest them. I quoted a video system for them when I was a contractor. (Didn't get it.)
It would take them longer to change the dies then it would take to make my typical order.
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On 5/14/2021 10:13 AM, Bob La Londe wrote:



... and with the current construction boom they are probably running 24/7 knocking out pre-construction and cutin light cans.
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"Bob La Londe" wrote in message On 5/14/2021 10:13 AM, Bob La Londe wrote:

Barco Metal Stamping has a facility right here in Yuma, but my unit quantity is likely not enough to interest them. I quoted a video system for them when I was a contractor. (Didn't get it.)
It would take them longer to change the dies then it would take to make my typical order. ... and with the current construction boom they are probably running 24/7 knocking out pre-construction and cutin light cans. -------------------------
This is the classic manual sheet metal shear: https://www.machineryvalues.com/inventory/pexto-137-k-foot-shears-or-hand-powered-shears/155570/26
but it's rated only to 16 gauge steel. You set the back gauge to the desired width and then push the sheet in, stomp, push, stomp, ..... If it's sharp and properly adjusted to cut paper there's minimal burr. I don't know of a comparable small machine that shears 1/8" steel as precisely. You saw what I think of the 8" Enco shear.
I had one in my model shop at Mitre and would own one if I had the space and need, along with a finger brake. The 3-in-1 I bought instead has only the virtues of low price and small footprint.
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On Fri, 14 May 2021 18:21:43 -0400, "Jim Wilkins"

I've used those 52" shears a fair bit for various soft materials. Do you think consistent 0.01" tolerance is practical with a hand shear?
I have one of those little 12" shear/rollers from China that used to be pretty cheap ($200-ish, IIRC). They're now not so cheap
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/hck-sp3-1-12?seid=srese1&gclid=Cj0KCQjw4v2EBhCtARIsACan3nxCzfgXgmh70_zvbI0TL04RpDu93QqUy9z5micOhzUIxqpWLmuYBBMaAoF6EALw_wcB
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"Spehro Pefhany" wrote in message wrote: ......................... I've used those 52" shears a fair bit for various soft materials. Do you think consistent 0.01" tolerance is practical with a hand shear?
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On 5/11/2021 3:02 PM, Leon Fisk wrote: > On Tue, 11 May 2021 10:05:52 -0700
> >> I have a project I am working on that could use a fair number of small >> pieces of steel sheet. Mild steel is just fine. >> >> 1/16" 400 units >> 3/32" 300 units >> 1/8" 200 units >> >> Thickness is nominal. Closest sheet gage thickness is fine. >> >> Length is 4.5" >> Width is 1/4" > <snip> > > Sounds like you could use an Ironworker machine. Buy some 4.5" wide > stock, set up a length stop, feed lop, feed lop... Expensive > machines but maybe you can keep an eye open for a used one to turn up... > > https://www.clevelandsteeltool.com/ironworker-machines/cst-40-ton >
A decent powered iron worker is probably out of my budget unless I find a good used one somewhere not to far away. I was rather surprised to find there are manual ones. (to small for my application) I bet those have to be well anchored and require judicious use of a cheater bar.
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"Bob La Londe" wrote in message
I have a project I am working on that could use a fair number of small pieces of steel sheet. Mild steel is just fine.
1/16" 400 units 3/32" 300 units 1/8" 200 units
Thickness is nominal. Closest sheet gage thickness is fine.
Length is 4.5" Width is 1/4"
Tolerance for length and width is +/- .01" and if they were all under 0.01" it would be no big deal if somebody wanted to save a couple square inches.
Flatness needs to be "looks pretty flat" but no tight tolerance is required. ......... ---------- I've worked with/in several small metal fab shops that could do this easily, and my stock of 1/8" (11 gauge) steel is from one that closed. Some of the local metal vendors can shear or plasma cut to specifications. NH has enough aerospace industry to support many small shops that can do excellent work. They don't advertise so you may have to look and ask around to find them, often in out-of-the-way places where the rent is cheap. "Sheet metal fabricator" is a good search term.
At my noncommercial hobbyist level this shear is enough to cut what I need and I flatten the curled cutoffs with a planishing hammer on an anvil, or curve it on water pipe, which is one of today's projects. https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/00919282
Strips cut on a large industrial shear will be either straight or only lightly twisted, you could look at the scrap cutoffs behind the machine to see if they would be straight enough for your use. The 6" x 27" sheared cutoff of 3/8" HRS plate I bought to splice channels into the 16' gantry track wasn't visibly twisted. jsw
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wrote:

....

A garden variety Trumpf CNC punch would make short work of those, I think.
Lots of places have them- my local guy (Scarborough, Ontario) is fairly reasonable on runs of a few hundred pieces (I get fairly complex parts cut and bent to shape), but I'm sure you can find someone more local to you. There isn't much programming in a flat piece of steel. I would expect a lot of waste material, maybe more than half, since 1/4" is pretty narrow.
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...

...
What is your per-part target price? At some point between 29 and 229 cents each, probably someone on the newsgroup would step up. You could have an auction. Do you already have some #16, #13, and #11 sheet -- the gauge numbers for 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8" -- on hand to supply to someone with a good mill or shear plus time or greed?
Coremark Metals <https://www.coremarkmetals.com/hot-rolled-steel-sheet would be glad to cut your parts out, for about $15.07 each. ($15 for the cut, 7 cents for the metal.) The tolerances they show for shearing are +- .063. Another approach is to have them cut strips that are nominally 5/16" wide (leaving enough material to mill to size later) and say 10' or 12' long, from which you could cut 26 or 31 pieces to your 4.5" length. For example, 5/16" x 10' #11 cold rolled at $2.64+ $15/cut gives a cost of 68 cents per item, while 5/16" x 12' #11 hot rolled at $2.26+$15/cut gives a cost of 56 cents per item. (Coremark says contact them directly for large quantities.)
Anyhow, given long strips of about 1/4" wide sheet, you could cut off a bunch of pieces each 18.4" long or whatever your vice size or mill travel is, then clamp bunches of say 20 pieces on your mill table and face them down to 1/4". (If the shear cuts are clean enough you'd face one edge, else two edges.) Then use a slitting saw to cut off 4.5" long batches of 20 at a time.
I have 10 or 20 feet of 0.259" wide laser-cut #13 cold rolled sheet which is between-parts scrap from a prison-furniture manufacturer. (#13 seems to be a popular gauge for such furniture.) An advantage of laser cutting is excellent finish and accuracy, which would remove the need to face strips to width. You would just need to cut them to length, in some convenient batch size.
Regarding laser cutting, McNeilus Steel Inc. is a small distributor that probably would handle your job efficiently. Don't know any costs, but at <https://mcneilus.com/contact/ they have an online quote request page. The Fargo ND plant processes about a million pounds of steel and aluminum a week, if I recall correctly, via a couple of metal stretcher (flattener) lines, lots of big presses, big laser cutters, big and small CNC machining centers, 50 ton overhead crane, etc, and a whole bunch of Big Ass fans on the ceiling. <https://bigassfans.com/ . A railroad siding comes into the building for receiving rolls of steel. McNeilus also has plants or warehouses in MN, WI, TN.
- jiw
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"James Waldby" wrote in message
What is your per-part target price? At some point between 29 and 229 cents each, probably someone on the newsgroup would step up. You could have an auction. Do you already have some #16, #13, and #11 sheet -- the gauge numbers for 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8" -- on hand to supply to someone with a good mill or shear plus time or greed?
Coremark Metals <https://www.coremarkmetals.com/hot-rolled-steel-sheet would be glad to cut your parts out, for about $15.07 each. ($15 for the cut, 7 cents for the metal.) The tolerances they show for shearing are +- .063. Another approach is to have them cut strips that are nominally 5/16" wide (leaving enough material to mill to size later) and say 10' or 12' long, from which you could cut 26 or 31 pieces to your 4.5" length. For example, 5/16" x 10' #11 cold rolled at $2.64+ $15/cut gives a cost of 68 cents per item, while 5/16" x 12' #11 hot rolled at $2.26+$15/cut gives a cost of 56 cents per item. (Coremark says contact them directly for large quantities.)
Anyhow, given long strips of about 1/4" wide sheet, you could cut off a bunch of pieces each 18.4" long or whatever your vice size or mill travel is, then clamp bunches of say 20 pieces on your mill table and face them down to 1/4". (If the shear cuts are clean enough you'd face one edge, else two edges.) Then use a slitting saw to cut off 4.5" long batches of 20 at a time.
I have 10 or 20 feet of 0.259" wide laser-cut #13 cold rolled sheet which is between-parts scrap from a prison-furniture manufacturer. (#13 seems to be a popular gauge for such furniture.) An advantage of laser cutting is excellent finish and accuracy, which would remove the need to face strips to width. You would just need to cut them to length, in some convenient batch size.
Regarding laser cutting, McNeilus Steel Inc. is a small distributor that probably would handle your job efficiently. Don't know any costs, but at <https://mcneilus.com/contact/ they have an online quote request page. The Fargo ND plant processes about a million pounds of steel and aluminum a week, if I recall correctly, via a couple of metal stretcher (flattener) lines, lots of big presses, big laser cutters, big and small CNC machining centers, 50 ton overhead crane, etc, and a whole bunch of Big Ass fans on the ceiling. <https://bigassfans.com/ . A railroad siding comes into the building for receiving rolls of steel. McNeilus also has plants or warehouses in MN, WI, TN.
- jiw
------------------------
That's interesting. I only put on the production engineering / purchasing agent hats when the project manager didn't want to, mostly for ordering printed circuit boards. It's a job I'd rather avoid.
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