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Metal Art

Updated on January 30, 2012

Hydraulic Die Forming Metal Art!

Hydraulic die forming is a metalforming technique that is used to press metal into a die using hydraulic pressure, One Die forming technique is to use a conforming die, or a die that has a male portion and female portion to it. The metal is sandwiched in-between the two halves and the male half is pressed into the female half of the conforming die.The two halves are pressed together using a hydraulic press.

Which metal are you? Find out if you have a gold or silver personality!

Charles Lewton-Brain created the copper piece pictured here, which was made using the die forming technique from

Also, the metal can be pressed into a female half of a die by a pad of Flexane. Flexane has some of the same characteristics of rubber. The metal is sandwiched in-between the flexane and the die. The Flexane is pressed into the die with hydraulic pressure.

This is a technique similar to what is used to mass-produce metal articles used in just about every industry from the auto industry to the aircraft industry.

This technique is also used to produce jewelry and other art made of metal at a much lower cost than what it would cost to mass-produce something for the aircraft or auto industry.

If you are handy around the shop than a hydraulic press used for this technique can be made for about a hundred dollars or less. If you would rather purchase a hydraulic press you could pick up a very good one for around a thousand dollars. I've seen them for sale online on E-bay and at the Bonny Doon Engineering web site.

A great site that includes two plans to build a hydraulic press,one that is similar to the picture below, and the other is a bolt together option that can be put together without any welding.

Check this out for hydraulic press construction plans

and this page on the same site,has tips on low cost die forming

Here is the link to the Bonny Doon Engineering web site! Where you can purchase a Hydraulic press

Silhouette Dies

A silhouette die is just one of the ways to form metal using the hydraulic die forming technique. A Silhouette die of the yin yang symbol is

pictured below.

A Silhouette of the desired design is cut out of hard material like,plastic, metal or hard wood to create a" female" die,and metal is formed into the die with hydraulic pressure. A perfect material for a silhouette die would be a plastic cutting board. The same material would be perfect for

a punch also. Something that could be used to punch a design into the metal sitting on a pad of Flexane, using a hydraulic press.

Make sure to anneal the metal before pressing it into the silhouette die.

The metal that is going to be pressed into the die,is sandwiched in between a pad of Flexane on the bottom, and the silhouette die on the top.

When all of that is put into a hydraulic press and put under pressure,the Flexane forces the metal into the silhouette die.

If two halves are going to be put together to make a hollow form, just flip the die over once the first impression is made,and form the second half.

I purchased an Enerpac hydraulic pump along with a 20 ton hydraulic cylinder at a garage sale. I will also keep you updated on the whole process of using this hydraulic press.

Here is a pic of the press i just put together using the above hydraulic jack, on a 30 ton H frame shop press that I found for sale on Craigslist for 60 dollars.

And here is a sample of of a few thingsI created using the above press.

This press is working out great. A few weeks after I started using the hydraulic jack, I had to replace the gasket in it. Other than regular maintenance it's working great.

The plastic I made the die from, was originally the board portion of a clip board bought at a second hand store.


Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths! - by Susan Kingsley

Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsley

This is the person who taught me all about Hydraulic Die Forming.

This book, covers all aspects of the proccess including tips on pouring your own pads of flexane used in the process.

Post your Hydraulic Die Forming Experiences here! - A new toy!

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    • rparus profile image

      rparus 6 years ago

      @b4ndit: Thank you.

      You can also visit my blog :

    • b4ndit profile image

      b4ndit 6 years ago

      cool metal art, I love it

    • rparus profile image

      rparus 7 years ago

      @blue22d: Thank you very much!

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 7 years ago

      These are really cool. I am working on a lens of Metal Wall Art, but wow, I had no idea this type of art was going on. Great lens.