Can we have an infinite press?

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Offline Expectant_Philosopher

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Can we have an infinite press?
« on: 13/10/2014 08:17:52 »
Can we have an infinite press that can stamp out any form in metal or plastic or other malleable material and reconfigure itself on the fly?  I just saw an MIT idea on YouTube called Tangible Media,
It came to mind we could use similar tech in a press machine. 

In my youth I worked in a pots and pan factory and we had these huge heavy presses that would stamp oiled discs of metal into the initial form of the pot, then the pot would need to go to the next equally massive machine to stamp the protoform into the final form.  I had the idea swimming in my head for a number of years for an infinite press that would use concentric pins within pins in a press head to be able to stamp out any shape.  I thought of the enormous pressure brought to bear by the press head and how the pressure heated the metal disc and aided in its deformation and had the idea given my design that individual pin formations which normally would themselves deform under these pressures would be able to be employed after first contact of the stamp head and the heating of the metal.  My idea is that the stamp form and the stamp head would be composed of the same concentric pin design, and all the pins would be aligned at initial contact and would act as a normal press stamp head hitting a flat hard surface to heat the metal, then on next press by the machine the bottom form pins would reconfigure themselves in direct contradiction to the configuration of the pins in the stamp head to form any shape desired. 

I thought with such an infinite press consumers could self design their product and stamp out parts to their own configurations.  I even thought this process could extend to consumer design of the look of their car.  With extension of the idea to their car, as long as join points for the body pieces had a fixed configuration of join seems, guaranteeing parts would be able to be joined together properly, the intervening design could vary within parameters along the infinestesimal variations of the consumer.


Offline alancalverd

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Re: Can we have an infinite press?
« Reply #1 on: 13/10/2014 09:06:16 »
In principle, yes. But you are looking at the disjuncture between craft and mass production.

It can take a long time to make press tools and they don't always fit even then - the Mark IV Ford Cortina doors didn't fit the body shells until there was a mysterious strike over something trivial, that shut down the Dagenham production lines (but not the toolmaking workshop) for several weeks. Remarkably, the doors fitted afterwards! Anyway, the principle is that once you have invested a lot of skill and money in the tooling, you can bash out thousands of identical parts with no craft input.

Your infinitely adjustable press would require as much craft input (though nowadays it might be done by CAD/CAM, but it's still a slow and specialised process) to set up, but if it is only to be used for one-offs, it might be quicker to resort to manual metalbashing: make a steel widget directly instead of a wooden pattern for a casting for a press tool.

Neat idea, and a fun thing to have in the shed, but the economics look a bit marginal.
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