Embossing Die Steel

pmace

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I want to do some steel dies for printing or embossing stationery. The steel die stock Cronite sells seems to be 4140 or something close. Decarb free 4140 flat stock is quite a bit more expensive than 1018 cold rolled so my question is how much better is 4140 to engrave than 1018? I won’t be heat treating anything so that’s not an issue.

The surface of the die needs to be flat and polished so either CR 4140 or 1018 will have to be belt sanded. Decarb free already has the bark machined off, hence the higher price.

I was just wondering if anyone has thoughts on the engrave-ability of the two grades of steel. Thanks.
 

Jonathan.Silas

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Is the 4140 prehard or annealed? Because the only experience I have is machining the prehard and it was not a fun.(could also have been the skillset of the operator....)
 

Jonathan.Silas

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Annealed should be doable but of course the mild will cut easier with less wear on tools. Why not copperplate? I admit to having never done printing but it seems it would be easier than both you mentioned.
 

pmace

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Annealed should be doable but of course the mild will cut easier with less wear on tools. Why not copperplate? I admit to having never done printing but it seems it would be easier than both you mentioned.
Copper wears faster than steel especially in embossing where the pressures are higher and the counter is forced into the die. Plus the (potential) customer wants steel dies.
 

jerrywh

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I have engraved 4140 heat treated but not annealed. It was very hard to engrave but I also engraved it annealed and it was no worse than 1018. I still have some inb the shop.
 

pmace

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I have no experience engraving firearms so no experience with alloy steels. My experience with CR 1018 is that you have to file/sand quite a bit to get through the surface imperfections to get to a surface that can be polished. I would imagine CR 4140 to be the same or better.

Since 4140 is a gun grade steel (or close to it) with a higher shear strength it should take a little more effort to engrave than plain old mild steel. But since firearms are engraved every day it must be workable. Does the better grade result in a better engraved surface?

At $4.00 per die difference it’s probably a moot point. Just go with the higher grade steel and be done with it. I was just wondering if someone had some other insight.

Thanks.
 

pmace

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Chronite sells engraving or etching ready steel last time I checked shipped with a protective coating MTC
Thanks Dave. I'm hoping that annealed 4140 CR is pretty close and much cheaper. Of course it won't be ground and polished. I've got some 4140 plates coming today so we'll see how they work.
 

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