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Thin Metal Discs with Shapes Cut from the Center

I'd like to find someone or some company capable of making thin metal discs with shapes cut from the middle. Both the circumference and the shape - which must be centered - would need to be sized within reasonable limits (one to two millimeters). These discs could be made of something like aluminum and really don't need to be thick - the thickness of a credit card or so would be fine. The thickness of an aluminum can is too thin - some level of rigidity is a must.

Many of the shapes might be from things like a wingdings or symbols type font, and could be exported in a variety of formats. Though that may not matter, as I don't suspect a CNC machine cares much about TIFF, PDF, PNG, or an EPS or Adobe Illustrator file. 😉

I've looked a bit locally, and I'm certain it's possibly very easy to do, but may require a little imagination on the part of the operator. Do you know how I might find something capable of doing this?

6 Responses to "Thin Metal Discs with Shapes Cut from the Center"

  1. Check with Don Lancaster at http://www.tinaja.com. He has a helpline # on which you can contact him.

    Seriously. If anyone knows of a way to get this done, it will be Don.

  2. What quantity are you talking?

    It sounds like something that would be easiest to do with a laser cutter, but converting from some sort of raster or vector image to a path will knock you a setup charge-- although they might be okay with it.

    Are you making gobos for ellipoisdal spotlights? There's several companies that'll make those in steel (litho, then etched) or glass (just litho'd). No aluminum b/c it melts, warps, or sublimates.

  3. BLP said on February 16, 2007:

    What quantity are you talking?

    Small, small quantities.

    BLP said on February 16, 2007:

    Are you making gobos for ellipoisdal spotlights? There's several companies that'll make those in steel (litho, then etched) or glass (just litho'd). No aluminum b/c it melts, warps, or sublimates.

    No, I'm talking about making these, actually. So, a similar idea as a gobo, but much smaller.

  4. How about the Lensbaby Creative Aperture Kit. Not metal, just metallicized plastic, but you can cut them to shape yourself.

  5. James Balnaves said on February 16, 2007:

    How about the Lensbaby Creative Aperture Kit.

    The problem with that is that you're cutting the shapes yourself. It's tough to be intricate, it's tough to get sharp corners and straight lines, and it's tough to get them the correct size. I imagine anyone that can laser-cut or water-jet-cut or otherwise cut thin pieces of metal could do so cleanly, which is a major plus for this application.

    I could go to the store and buy the material like the Lensbaby stuff. In the article I linked above, you'll see Josh and I made these things out of heavy card stock. The edges are soft, the shapes can't be very creative, etc.

  6. Very cool.

    Apparently some laser cutter guys can work from raster images (heard from a friend who has that kind of work done often), so you may just want to call around.

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. Copper or tin etching, like for circuit boards/offset printing?
    2. Smallest standard gobo size is 36.7mm OD (E-size), if your holes can be from standard gobo patterns (check out the usual Rosco & GAM patterns), you can get really nice looking steel plates that way.

    That's all I've got. Best of luck!


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