The manufacture of medals and decorations: know-how combining new technologies and manual work
The production of medals or decorations is above all a team effort. This requires calling on several trades or know-how. For example, a bad engraving cannot be caught up with stamping. Likewise, if the typing is not performed perfectly, the final rendering will not be worthy of the initial model. The final quality of the medal depends on each link in this chain.
The good manufacture of a medal or decoration will always result from a good balance between mechanical work (computer-assisted engraving, pantograph, lathe to reduce…), mastery of new technologies, and manual work carried out with dexterity.
With an ever-increasing concern for perfection, the craftsmen of medalschina.com perpetuate know-how of more than 200 years while using the most modern industrial and computer techniques. The work of the engraving workshop, where the human hand and the computer come together, is the best proof of this.
Here is an overview of the different operations to be carried out for the manufacture of medals or decorations.
The engraving technique consists of printing on a still malleable surface (e.g. clay) the medal or decoration in negative using a special hard tool (punch, stamp, etc.).
The “matrix” is a “tool” in hardened steel that presents the effigy of the medal, hollow, and “mirror”. When the medal is to be stuck on “obverse and reverse”, one die is required per side, with a grooved “guide” to properly adjust them face to face. For more information visit this site: f95zone
Then, there are 3 manufacturing processes for medals and decorations:
- The foundry
- The lost wax foundry
- One or the other of these methods will be chosen, depending on the complexity of the model and the quantities to be reproduced.
This is the main Custom Medals manufacturers technique used for medals and decorations. It consists in striking a piece of metal between two pieces of harder metal, and therefore to trace the imprint of what is called the tool (or the wedge) on the medal.
The stamping of the medals is done on a press capable of providing up to 200 tons of pressure. Each medal should receive between three and five “passes” to ensure perfect reproduction of the shape.
The foundry technique consists of introducing hot metal into a mold and then debarring, polishing, and patenting the part thus obtained.
The lost wax foundry
- Lost wax fabrication was already practiced by the Egyptians for the work of certain metals at low melting temperatures (bronze, silver, gold, etc.).
- This manufacturing method spread after the Second World War due to the discovery of noble refractory materials allowing the manufacture of shells resistant to high temperatures.
- The principle consists in making in a fusible material (wax) the exact replica – called model – of the final medal.
- The model is then covered with refractory materials (ceramic); then, it is eliminated by fusion or combustion in order to leave in the ceramic a cavity strictly identical to the shape of the model.
- The ceramic mold then undergoes high-temperature firing while the metal is melted. Then the liquid metal is poured into this hot mold, allowing it to replicate the tiniest details of the mold.
- After cooling, the ceramic mold is destroyed to reveal the medal which will be the faithful replica of the model.
- This technique is particularly suitable for producing parts of complex shapes, requiring excellent surface condition and very sharp relief precision.
Once the Custom Medal is melted or stamped, the craftsman’s work is not finished. He still has to transform the raw piece thus obtained into a real object worthy of the one who will become its holder.
Medal making: the lost wax foundry medal making: the lost wax foundry
In the case of stamping, after each strike, the metal “chases” off the sides and must be trimmed. Medals that do not have a cutting tool to their size must be trimmed with hand shears.
Once the medal or decoration has been cut out, its surface condition is said to be “raw”. It is now a question of giving it its final appearance:
- Satin or brushed appearance
- Gloss polished or mirror polished
At each stage of polishing, it is necessary to control the roughness, geometry, and aspect of the surfaces.
The polishing work consists of:
- Gradually remove the roughness left by the tools, using grinding wheels and brushes
- Sand the parts or parts to be matt
- Polish, using a lathe, to obtain a smooth and shiny appearance
- Satin with emery cloth
- Stripping precious metal objects
- Medal making: polishing metal making: polishing
The enameling consists in bringing the notes of color desired by the artist who created the medal.
Once the piece is melted, stamped, cut out, polished, the craftsman prepares its enamel (grinding and washing), then applies it to the metal using a special syringe.
Thanks to the use of new, more resistant materials, the technique of grand feud enameling has gradually disappeared.
Finally, according to the models, the craftsman will have to weld a bail to the medal (the bail is the small ring in which the medal is held to the chain).