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What is Die Sinking?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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Die sinking is a process used to machine or create a specific size or shape cavity or opening in steel blocks. The openings in the steel blocks can then be used to mold plastic into different shapes. Such openings may also be used when doing forging, either hot or cold, or for coining or die-casting.

Most often, die sinking is used to place names, numbers, and other sources of information onto metal. It can also be used to place such elements on a piece of wood, leather, or many other materials. The process for die sinking is fairly simple and something that anyone can do with a few simple tools. There are also larger machines that can help with the process, but these machines come with a price tag.

The process of die sinking begins by obtaining a piece of sheet metal and cutting out a shape. For instance, the shape may be a shield or name tag. When doing the process of die sinking, it is important to use a piece of sheet metal for the project that is at least 1/64 of an inch (0.4 mm) thick.

Once the shape has been placed on the piece of sheet metal, it will need to be cut out. To do this, a chisel and hammer or otherwise special piece of equipment for cutting sheet metal is used. Once the piece has been cut out, it is necessary to file the rough edges down.

After the shape has been completely cut out, next begins the process of die sinking to add letters and numbers. An outline must be created containing the information intended to put on the piece letter by letter. This outline can be created with a soft leaded pencil and using a group of 1/8 inch (3.17 mm) steel lettering.

Once all the lettering has been applied, it is necessary to sit the steel lettering on top of each of the outlined letters and then pound the letter down into the metal with a hammer. This process will create an indentation in the metal. This process is continued until all the lettering, numbers, and other designs are completed.

When done, the process should have created a piece where the indentation of the metal is personalized. It is possible to enhance the lettering by filling the indentations with some type of colored polymer. This permits the indentation to stand out against the metal.

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