Maybe $100 or $150, assuming it's a small, simple and suitable shape
(no small pentagon holes or stuff like that). You'll probably want
stripper rubber installed.
In the old days it was done with bandsaws and such like, but I think
the industry is mostly laser cutters these days.
You could also look at chemical machining (etching from both sides)
which can produce extremely precise and intricate shapes.
The two methods are almost complimentary rather than competitive.
Is there a die maker that caters to small, one-off, hobbyist type die
fabrication? I have a simple part shape I want to cut from 1 mil metal foil
tape and need 60 of them. I could cut them with scissors, but was wondering
what a rule die would cost.
Your question piqued my curiosity so I just talked to a big steel-rule die
supplier; they can't answer without a drawing but they can give you a quote
in 5 minutes. Look up "steel rule dies" on Google and you'll find a number
of them who offer a similar service.
The guy I talked to also does laser cutting, but he says that 60 parts is
too small a run -- the costs for setup with eat you up.
That's regular commercial services. You may, as you suggest, find someone
who does it part-time or as a hobby, or who caters to hobbyists.
I've made my own dies for cutting felt parts for a local crafts event, held
for kids. My method was crude but it worked. I bandsawed the shapes (a
pumpkin and a bat) out of a piece of 1/4" hardwood plywood, saving the
scrap. Then I bent some scrapped steel carton-strapping stock to shape using
pliers and a vise, fitting it around the inner plywood shape. I then epoxied
the strapping and both the inner and outer pieces of 1/4" ply to a piece of
3/4" birch ply.
I filed across the top of the strap to flatten it and to make it bright;
marked it with red Magic Marker; and then ground the edge sharp with a small
wheel in a Dremel. This was a royal PITA, by the way, but it was not hard.
It was just slow and tedious. There's probably a better way to do this.
I laid the die edge-up. laid two layers of felt on top; covered it with an
old plastic kitchen cutting board; and whacked gently around it with a
plastic mallet. It cut the felt pretty cleanly. I cut several hundred of
Anyway, it worked for felt, but it may not be flat enough to metal foil.
'Just thought I'd pass that on, in case you're adventurous. d8-)
There is commercially available cutter material like you used steel
strap for. I remember a small leather working mfg. in my bldg who made
their dies with it. You might google leather working tolls or gasket
"Randal O'Brian" wrote
I haven't used them to make dies, but I've seen
a bunch of their dies in use for small quantity,
short run items.
The Steel Rule Die Company
It probably is. I've re-ruled a die or two when needed. We formed package
trays (that thing in the rear window) out of wood molding media. Our die
maker had to develop the 2d outline that our 3d forming dies turned into the
finished product. A bit of art in that.
We get custom steel rule dies made at work for special gaskets and such. A
small one, say one that cuts a shape of around 2" x 4" runs about $150 but
that's the price our die cutter charges us and he subcontracts the streel
rule die itself to Lorain Steel Rule in Ohio. The steel rules themselves
can be ground with different types of edges so it may pay to find a good die
maker that is willing to discuss your needs.
I'm told that they have a tolerance of around 0.015" on the position of
features, but they generally seem to come closer for the dies we've had