You Bring It, This Blings It: Retrofitting A Hot Foil Stamping Machine

Hot foil stamping is a method often used to embellish and emboss premium print media. It’s used on things like letterhead and wedding invitations to add a touch of luxury. The operation is actually quite simple, where a custom die is heated, pressed into a heat transfer foil, and then transferred on to the print media. Some of the very first manuscripts used gold leaf embossing to decorate intricate calligraphy. You can also see it often used to decorate the sides of religious texts.

Professional foil stamping machines are often pricey and the cheaper ones you can get from eBay are usually poorly made. [Lindsay Wilson] found this out when he purchased a low-cost hot foil stamping machine that was too difficult to use reliably. It got shelved for years until he had another hot foil stamping project. This time he was prepared. He took the machine apart and robust-ified it by attaching it to a heavy-duty arbor press. He also retrofit the heating assembly with his own temperature controller to improve the accuracy for the foils he wanted to use.

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Arbor Press Modded For Applying Specific Force

Arbor presses are simple and effective tools made for a particular task: exerting force in a specific spot. A 1-ton arbor press fits on a desktop and is very affordable, but doesn’t offer a lot of particularly fine control over the ram beyond lowering and raising it. [concreted0g] got to thinking about ways to gain more control and knowledge about the amount of force being applied, and made a simple modification to combine his press with a torque wrench.

He removed the spindle which raises and lowers the ram, and drilled and tapped it to fit a bolt. Now, by attaching a torque wrench to the bolt and using the wrench as the handle for lowering the ram, he can take advantage of the wrench’s ability to break at set amounts of force. As a result, he has a repeatable way to accurately apply specific amounts of force with a tool that usually lacks this ability. It looks like this mod is limited to lower forces only (too much could shear off the bolt head, after all) but it combines two tools in an unusual way to gain an ability that didn’t exist before, which is great to see. Mods and presses seem to go very well together; don’t miss this DIY thermal insert add-on for an arbor press, and 3D printed dies for a press brake turned out to be remarkably durable and versatile, not to mention economical.

DIY Thermal Insert Press

You might not know what a threaded insert is, but chances are you’ve seen one before. Threaded inserts are small metal (typically brass) inserts that are pressed into plastic to give a strong point of attachment for bolts and screws. These inserts are a huge step up from screwing or bolting directly into tapped plastic holes since the brass threads are very strong compared to the plastic. The only major downside to these inserts is that the press to install them is incredibly expensive. Thankfully, [Alex Rich] came up with a cheap solution: a modified soldering iron mounted to an Arbor press.

Commercial threaded insert presses typically use ultrasonic welding or heat welding to fuse inserts with plastic. [Alex] chose the simple route and went with heat welding, which (as you might imagine) is way simpler than ultrasonic welding. To provide the heat, [Alex] mounted a 100W Weller soldering iron to the press, which he says handles the impact with no problem. Unfortunately the copper tips of the Weller just wouldn’t hold up to the impact, so [Alex] made his own tips out of some brass he turned on a lathe.

If, like most people, you don’t have the capability of making injection-molded cases, let alone an Arbor press on hand, you’re not out of luck! Using this same technique people have successfully added thermal inserts to 3d-printed parts using a soldering iron and much smaller DIY presses. Have any ideas on how you could use thermal inserts in your 3d prints? Let us know in the comments.