Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hydraulic Die Forming Experiment

I did an experiment to see if I could make a die, which would blank and form an earring in one pressing, out of 6061 aluminum.

Milling the outline of the die.

The outline is the cutting edge.

The pattern engraved in the die.

Pressing some .01" (30 ga.) copper sheet. There is a rather thick 1/2" slug of 80 durometer rubber beneath. Containing the rubber in a shallow pressure vessel would certainly add to the force of cutting, although I didn't feel at any point that I didn't have enough pressure.

The die was able to cut and form about 5 pairs of earrings until the cutting edges and indeed the forming face of the die started to degrade. So the experiment tells me several things:
1) Steel would be better than aluminum for a die that cuts
2) This will work for one or two pairs of earrings, and certainly for a test of pattern before making a steel die.
3) I need to find some 7000 series aluminum and see if it works better for this than the 6061 that I used. I should also try some brass.

Copper and Sterling 30 ga. earrings

Soon to be on Etsy.


TrueMirage said...

Really interesting and excellent photographs.

Laura Bartlett said...

Very interesting. Working with metal has always fascinated me.

I like the idea of explaining a process and it's outcome. I will have to try writing about some of my experiments.

Thanks for the inspiration.