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need some advice on engraving brass please?

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Post Wed May 28, 2003 6:23 pm

need some advice on engraving brass please?

At the moment i work mainly with perspex,acrylic, Foamex, timber and so on with the engraving side of things but not yet engraved Brass. Can anybody through some do's and don'ts at me .And maybe a supplier for the brass. Thanks in advance :wink:
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 7:16 pm

hi mate..
well ill start by saying, we do engraving. using a AXYZ router.. we do the usual other stuff that comes with using a router. we did not buy it to get into a new feild.. more the case of.. speeding up production and improving on the finish of our, "until now" hand cut signage.

we dabble in engraving.. not somthing we do daily. other than buying a pack of assorted engraving bits from AXYZ.. BUYING SOME BRASS SHeets and away you go.. assuming you already know the ins and outs of engraving..
when engraving it we lubricate it with a spray of turps.. not water or oil.
its much cleaner and easy to wipe down..
cost of brass sheets i havent a clue. havent bought in many lately as we normaly buy in about 5 sheets at one go...
there is good money in brass plaques but also exspensive with mistakes..
its a soft metal so it cuts/engraves easy.. not much ware and tear on blades..

tell me a bit more on what your unsure about and what your using and know.. ill try help if i can.

there is a company i saw about a week ago called "carlisle brass" big place.. maybe worth calling them for a price. :wink:
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 7:56 pm

Hi Rob
I am using a small Pacer Cadet at the moment for the engraving. I know that i have to use a coolant when engraving brass and at what feed and plunge rates to use. What i am thinking of doing is the brass plaques as i have been asked for a couple recently. But i have no idea if there is a certain grade of brass i should be looking to use for engraving or how to paint infill them. Or if you can buy layered brass with a coloured middle layer to engrave. What i have done is learned the hard way and started the business without any knowledge of cnc work and i am learning as i go. So far so good all happy customers and i must admit i enjoy doing the programing with the 3-d software. So i was just after any info really as this is a new area for me and knowledge saves money. :wink: How do you rate the AXYZ by the way as i am thinking of purchasing an 8'x 4' bed and they may be in the running along with Rye.
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 9:39 pm

what i would suggest is to call someone like "tremar" sure thats the name :roll:
anyway.. they do all types of laminates and are more than willing to send samples and offer advice. im not body swerving answering you.. i would just like you to get a proper reply rather than me guess from the multitude of differnt materials that there is for engraving.

yes there is a laminate for brass.. but its not somthing i would use for the opening of a hotel etc..
it does go down well for trophy plaques and that kind of thing.
its basicaly alloy with a brass'ish colouring.. its brass, black pastic core then brass again.. great for work when you cant be bothered filling the milled out areas.

there is lots of other laminates.. marble with coloured centres, metals, plastics etc etc..

AXYZ yeh great routers.. i have to say the thing im most impressed with is the after sales service.. if they cant fix it over the phone they dont think twice about a visit and im in scotland :o
saying that i am under the warranty.. 5 years i got when we purchased it.

look at their demo range of routers.. you get much better deals, oh and dont jump at the first fax that comes through.. more follow.. so sit tight :wink:
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 10:28 pm

Thanks Rob
I will check out Tremar over the next few days. I have done engraved signs in layered laminates but i wasn't sure if there were brass ones. Axyz could well get a call from me. I have had a couple of problems to sort out with the cnc and in the end had to sort some of them out myself.Ranging from software problems mainly exporting files and loosing info or not coping with the info aswell as machanical problems. Touch wood since these were sorted i have had no more problems to be fair.The machanical problems were a sheared bolt that holds the casing on the worm which meant that it had no idea where the datum was and therefore the work position on the bed, this was just bad workmanship when it was assembled. And a problem with doing 3-d work where it would machine the first pass then move the job somewhere else on the bed. That they did fix by replacing the complete guts as they could not find the fault.After sales is only OK if you can get through to them (hot)
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Post Wed May 28, 2003 11:50 pm

what software do you use to do your 3d work.. how complex a seign can it cope with.
what kind of costs does this software come i at for the full version..?

see... now your helping me :wink:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 7:56 pm

Hi,

Well here's my two peneth on engraving brass,

1st. Dont use lubricant, its very messy and not needed!!

2nd. Ensure its clamped very well, as it will warp very easly when cut and this can ruin a plaque if your only engraving 3mm letters.

3rd. A sharp cutter is vital, we re-sharpen after big(A4) plaque.

4th. Cutting speeds of about 500mm a min seem to work best for us.

As for material, try either Engravamet or Suregrave, if i remmeber correctly 1.5mm polished brass is about £65+vat a sheet.

Hope this helps.
Simon
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 9:08 pm

Hi Simon

I don't know about the coolant but evry one seems to think you need it to stop burring on poor quality brass.Clamping is not a problem as i have vac bed that sticks anything down.What type of cutters do you use, i have to use 0.5mm cutters on a few things.Speed of 500mm per min is cool . Thanks for the suppliers they will come in handy.Another question do you paint infill the plaques and if so what type of paint do you use and how do you go about it. Excuse the ignorance but i know very little about this subject as you can all tell :wink:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 9:43 pm

Hi Rob
I sent you a mail today regarding the software that i use as i am having major hick ups with being logged out everytime i try to do anything. But at the moment, and being on a different comp it seems i can post. So just incase i use Rhino software that handles just abut everything in 3-D. Not sure how much it costs as i had a package deal but if you look on thier site it's full of cool stuff to try out and no doubt a price tag too.
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 9:45 pm

Ill get back to you on what paint we use. I can’t remember off hand exactly the type. Nothing special i don’t think. we bought in various colours when we first got the router and never have had to buy in more.. Hense the reason im unsure exactly what we are using.

Applying it isn’t a problem. Steady hand needed though.
What i do is this.
Take a small amount of the paint to apply, pour it into an empty can of coke, cut in half. Then take two fingers and pinch the can so it comes to a point round the sharp cut off part. Then open the point a little to leth the paint to flow through easy.
Just pour a little into the milled out letters. Once done. Rock the brass plate and watch the paint fill the routered areas of the letter. Its better you make the coating a little thick as it shines nicely when dry.

Anything that spills over the edge or wherever don’t worry. Just use a finger with soft cotton rag wipe away excess and then once it’s all dried proper. Take your finger again with a soften cotton rag and meths on it. Wipe gently round letters and it comes away easily.
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 10:00 pm

Thanks Rob
It's a bit different from the house name plates in hardwood that i do but still the same general idea. Sounds a bit more time consuming though i just splash the paint on the hardwood then once dried i plane the excess off to leave a top finish, quick and easy. I had a brass plaque made by a company in Chester when i first started out they charged me £117 when i costed the job to do it myself several months later i could have made a profit on £70 and they were not too fussy on the finish either. This is why i am looking in to this i think if people have to pay that much then they deserve the best quality you can give them for thier money.
Cheers Rob you have been a big help as usual :D
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 10:16 pm

thanks mate.. any time!

the mark up is good , i agree..
the best type of plaque to make for the money is the hotel entrance signs, receptions and awards etc..

most engravers can only do single line engraving.. if your router can run an imported logo as well as mill out the work your laughing. i know you can and we can also.. but lots of engravers cantt. they are restricted to several fonts and logos are very hard for them. most of them do the logos by hand. so mark-up for them is high but very time consumming.

ive seen us easily get £150 in the past for an A4 plate with company name and logo only on it. :wink:

its like most sign work though, finding the proper customers for this kind of work.. because its solid brass though.. most expect to pay through the nose.

the £65 sheet of brass fozzy spoke about.. that im sure will only get you about 36x 24 inch sheet.. im sure its higher than that though nowadays..
i could be wrong though.. if not ill have to call his suppliers for a quote. :wink:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 10:41 pm

Tha's it (-) start a suppliers page Rob affiliate them all at £50 squid a year and tell them to bid on our jobs . That will get the materials price down :wink: .IF it works i want commision though :wink:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:09 pm

The sheet size we get is 48X24 and i'm positive we paid £65 a sheet when we buy 2....about 2 months ago if i remember correctly.

As for paint filling, just slap it on and then squeege of the excess let the paint dry and clean of the rest with a rag and thinners, its a breeze. Use almost any paint. Suregrave do an engraving filling paint in about 5-6 colours.

As for cutters we use V shaped engraving cutters with tips down to 0.1mm and use good quality brass then no coolant is needed, only tend to use coolant(paraphin) when cutting aluminium and stainless.


And talking of software, considering Artcam Pro, does anyone use it and if so what do you think?
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:15 pm

Thanks fozzy mate.. ill check my prices again mate..

stone.. the forum you speak of is something im considering but at the moment im trying more to get the shop off the ground..
i do agree with you.. i think it would work.. but ide hate to have the boards strewen with bickering from suppliers about prices.. it may end up in tears :cry: :cry: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:22 pm

Artcam is cool software Fozzy Delcam have put years of work into it. If it's the same one i am thinking of and the full version i would not pay £4/5000 for it as most of it you will never need if you buy the full package . I am not sure but i think they do moduals that work out a lot cheaper.There are a lot of special effects and things that can make life a lot easier for 3-D work and you can manipulate just about anything. Contact a guy called Colin Muse at Delcam if you want a demo he's a down to earth guy that won't give you a load of hard sell and he knows what he is talking about he helped develop the software.
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:33 pm

Hi Rob set up a page with the job details on it materials required etc. but without any contact info then just tell them for annual fee that they only have access to our e-mail then send us the quotes that way they have no idea who else is bidding for the job and they can't get in to my product is better than your product conversations. less work for you too. :wink:
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:38 pm

most user freindly i have seen is TYPE-3.. saw it 3 years ago at sign uk.. well impressed but not at cost.. £5000 of full 3D package. modules available but not worth it.. AXYZ comes with its own software and its free..
only thing it doesnt do is the 3D work

MasterCam now let that software sit on the top shelf and never be used.. over priced i think... but then again i dont really know what extras it has to type-3 and artcam.. im guessing not much if any.. comes in modules..
total cost for software only 18 thousand!!! yeh right! :o :o :o
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:47 pm

I could set up another business for eighteen thousand (!)
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Post Thu May 29, 2003 11:53 pm

I Agree... 18 thousand is a lot of cash.. i mean.. for that kind of money you could buy a franchise... well maybe not :o :wink: :lol: :lol:
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Post Fri May 30, 2003 8:57 pm

It's been a busy week so I'm joining this discussion a little late.
I use V-tip cutters and if it's cloggy or I'm cutting Silver or Gold I use cutting oil from Suregrave and run a finishing cut at the same depth as the last cut which can help produce a cleaner finish.
I've tried demos of a few CAD/CAM packages and ended up writting a plugin for 3DS MAX so I could do 4th and 5th axis work without taking out a 2nd mortgage as that's when Mastercam and the likes start to get expensive :D

Rab
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Post Fri May 30, 2003 10:41 pm

Hi Rab
I found that running a job in reverse can give a cleaner cut aswell some times. I wish i had the brains to start writing plugins for my software espescially optimization of g code every thing that i have used wastes so much time travelling around when it doesn't need to. I have a mate that used to write g code for me on certain jobs mainly guitar necks but he is up to his neck in other work now so i am left with the slower option. I know what you mean about Mastercam and the others being expensive.I'm sure they could reduce prices and still make a wad.
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Post Sat May 31, 2003 12:02 am

Hi Stone,

If I'm running a part a number of times I'll spend some time optimising the toolpath manually so it goes from one cut straight into the next cut without a retract where the design will permit. Saves a lot of cutting time.
Are you still doing guitar necks ? There's a guitar maker in the States trying out my plugin script just now. You're welcome to use it if you want, see http://www.rainnea.com/cnc.htm for details.
What's the going rate for house signs and what's the best way to weather proof them ?

Rab
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Post Sat May 31, 2003 11:37 am

Yeah still playing about with the guitar parts that's what i set up in business to do but everything else took over and i don't have as much time to produce them now.I run the business on my own except for a receptionist and i am split in two as it is :roll: You can see acouple of standard bodies i have run off at http://www.stonewood-precision.com Thanks for the use of the plugin i will have look at that with interest. as for for the house nameplates i have a few standard sizes and prices on the web site. But most people want something different so i end up quoting per job.They can range from around £18 upwards. the best way to finish them i have found is pure tung oil. It's expensive but all you need to do is wipe the board over once a year to look after it instead of sanding flaking varnish of it. It's a waterproof treatment that has anti-mould properties as well, cool stuff and you use very little per sign so it's very cost effective.
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Post Sat May 31, 2003 2:02 pm

Thanks for the tip on the tung oil, interesting to see your website as well although your prices seem far lower than I'd expected for house signs.

Rab
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Post Sat May 31, 2003 2:24 pm

No problem with the oil just remember that it must be pure there are loads on the market that say pure tung oil but they are mixed with nasties and these will leave a white clouded effect on the sign and cause spotting. Prices for the signs are cheap but they are a real easy job for me and the profit is nice enough. Remember these are just standard sizes when people ask for bespoke they get quoted per job this can run a lot more expensive.
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Post Mon Jun 02, 2003 1:39 pm

Hi.
brass engraving feed rates 500mm a min. at 18000 rpm
depth of cut .2 to .25mm clamp securely or use self adhesive to stick it down with. can paint fill with cellulose or stove enamal, surgrave sell little pots of paint as well as the brass, brass costs £42.00 plus vat for a 4x2 sheet. price out for a standard type A4 opening plaque is £80.00 plus vat
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Post Mon Jun 02, 2003 2:18 pm

Hi t-winks

thanks for the info i need all the help i can get at th minute do you ever have one of those weeks when all anybody wants is quotes and you can't get around to the work that is actually being paid for. I am looking forward to my first attempt at engraving the brass thanks to all the info i should mange to avoid any major (oh i swore !) ups. :P
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Post Mon Jun 02, 2003 2:33 pm

good reply t-winks... :D where is it you are buying your brass sheets 4x2x 2mm mate?
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Post Mon Jun 02, 2003 5:47 pm

brass sheets are bought at suregrave, but you can get the same deal at enravamet, we do get a good discount. The names Tony
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Post Sat Jun 07, 2003 2:51 pm

engraving brass

2 types of brass available , 1/2 hard (the normal stuff) and engravers brass - most non ferrous metal merchants have engravers brass and a 1mmthick x 2 meter x 600 sheet (1.2 sq meters) is normally in the GBP 70 range . (im in SA so dont know the UK market)
Engravers brass is the way to go , it is free machining and far better quality alloy wise and working wise then normal brass which tends to clog cutters (its a lot harder and might nead annealing if bending)
With engravers brass you engrave or cut dry , at about 1/2 the speed you cut or engrave plastics. Lower powered spindles (under a kw or so) will have to take 2 or 3 passes to cut 1mm.
For the engraver , the schlep of working with normal brass is not worth it for the slightly lower cost
Tungsten carbide single flute D , v or engraving cutters are the best to use to engrave or cut , set you plunge rate a little slower if taking deep cuts , something like a CnC router with a 2.2 or 3kw motor can do 3-4 mm deep in a single pass when cutting , a 7kw can do 10 mm , dont go too slow as you tend to heat the brass and actually anneal it and make it softer and more difficult to cut. (applies to engraving too)
In engraving as the cutting edge of the tool hits the metals , 2 things happen , a shear and a chip , you can see this clearly on a guillotined metal edge , a bright bit and a dull bit - the bright part is the shear

A shear is not desireable when macining , it creates heat , a short shear and a large chip is the best. slow feed speeds are not desireable either in any metal engraving - you must use a speed and feed calculator , feed is dependant on the type of bit , type of metal , rotational speed , power of the motor etc . You can sort of guestimate and with experience you get very close , but go by the book for predictable results, most tool suppliers supply feed tables. Engravers brass is forgiving , stuff like stainless is not ands unless you stick to the tables , you may get disasterous results with it
Cutters for brass must have a large back clearance for chip removal , end mills , slot drills etc are not recomended.
Single flute cutters - single flute cutters - single flute cutters - repeat the mantra ;)
For 1/2 hard brass (the soft normal stuff) use parafin as a lubricant or , if you arent afraid of youf facilty going up in flames , methylated spirits(which is wonderful as a lubricant for aluminium)
Shell dromus or BP dihatsol water soluable cutting fluid , undiluted is also an excellent lubricant
Other tips:
If using a fill to hog areas away , use a stepover of about 1/2 radius to get a smooth floor if needed
Use a vacuum system or a chip removeable system
Dont engrave thru any coverings , remove them
If you get burring then your cutter is wrong , it has nothing to do with speeds and feeds
If cutting , those who have serious routing software and machines , use your web or bridge feature , take a large cut with a bridge and then a final to pierce and remove , especially with small parts
Brass swarf is normally needle like , be very careful with splinters and NEVER inspect the cutting without safety glasses
Most of this also applies to aluminium engraving , for aluminium try get the harder graded , 50xx or the like , soft commercial grades dont machine well

Also look at my post re engraving brass without an engraver for other methods

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