BRANDING HOW TO:
Important factors in branding a mark of uniform quality include design of the engraved die; die temperature, thermal capacity of the branding tool, pressure during branding and dwell time for each brand.
Die Design, Materials & Artwork
A clean, crisp engraving with the proper draft, face and depth for the material being branded makes for a clear branded impression. Hexacon's branding iron distributors are engraving craftsmen and expert in reproducing the most effective design for your application.
Standard size dies in high conductivity, scale-resisting, cast bronze alloy are available in round, square and rectangular shape to accommodate up to 12 square inches of engraved copy. Custom dies are also available in larger sizes. Interchangeable character dies for 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2" character sizes can also be supplied. Dies are threaded for insertion into the branding iron and can be interchanged.
The die engravers at our distributors prefer camera-ready artwork of the exact size you require. Reduction or enlargement of your art is practical but final dimensions must be clearly and unambiguously shown. Supply your art unfolded and in dense black on a white background (no smudges please.)
Clean, simple designs work better and have more impact than "busy" art having much detail. Do not use lines closely spaced or thinner than 1/64". Avoid broad lines, or solid areas, next to fine detail. To add interest, consider reversed or negative designs.
The proper die temperature varies depending on the material to be branded. Many plastics, rubber and leather are branded successfully at 325 to 400F. Softwood brands well as low as 650 to 750F but hardwood and thermoset plastics normally brand at 750 to 850F.
The proper working temperature for branding is often determined empirically along with dwell time and pressure but if necessary, it can be measured using a surface pyrometer or wax indicator stick. The die-idle temperature of Hexacon's branding irons is usually well above the recommended branding temperature. A voltage regulator of suitable power rating is used to adjust the idle temperature to a suitable level for the work piece and extends the service life of the element when the branding iron is used intermittently.
For continuous branding in high-speed production the branding tool needs an adequate heat reserve or thermal capacity. A larger power rating than that chosen for tools used intermittently is recommended. Hexacon's branding iron heater-heads are burned-in before final assembly for stable and reliable long-term power performance.
Pressure must be applied uniformly during the branding process to make deep, even impressions. Seasoned hardwood, in particular, requires pressure for quality branding. Equally important is that the line spacing of the branding die be sufficiently distant. The tool should normally be held perpendicularly to the workpiece - "rocking" can be helpful to correct an uneven impression.
The dwell or contact time between die and workpiece depends on the die temperature relative to the melting or burning temperature of the workpiece material. Hard wood may require 10 seconds or longer depending on depth of impression and darkness (color) of brand desired whereas a softer wood or the plastic of a computer enclosure needs only a brief contact. Use of a test specimen, representative of the workpiece material, is recommended to establish a control schedule for all branding parameters - temperature, pressure and dwell time when using a specific branding tool.
Depth of Brand
Longer dwell times and added pressure create a deeper mark which may be desirable if the pattern is large and characters are 3/8" or larger. Longer dwells reduce the die temperature more and the iron temperature should be set higher if repetitive branding is to be performed. A deep brand in wood is usually accompanied by a brown halo around each character. A bolder, thicker appearance results.
When small characters are used or maximum detail is desired the brand should be made shallower using light pressure and shorter dwells to avoid the halo effect. Careful alignment of tool to work piece is vital. A drill press mounted brander is effective here.