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  1. #1
    Curt's Avatar
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    Metal camera parts Ti

    I'm getting ready to get ready to build my 5x7 field camera and only have one last choice to make, probably the most important. What metal to use for hardware.

    Brass, Aluminum, Steel, Titanium, not a metal but plastic or carbon fiber.

    For me Brass is the most enjoyable, it mills, drills, brazes and finishes well.
    I have worked with Aluminum but it is not as nice to work with, not that it won't mill, drill or finishes but it can't be brazed together if necessary.
    Steel, no it rusts and is too heavy. There are steel parts on old cameras as springs and fasteners etc..
    Plastic or Carbon Fiber, my last choice, maybe Carbon Fiber but there are special techniques and I don't want a long and expensive learning curve.

    Brass adds weight, Titanium doesn't but is a harder material.

    So, does anyone have experience working with Titanium? What does it take to cut, slot, and finish it and what tooling is needed to drill. I have a Titanium drill set but only high speed steel taps and dies.

    Any ideas on the materials for hardware?

    I like the looks of the Ebony cameras. They probably have Flo Jet cutters or have the parts made for them.

    If I use Brass what's best, plating, lacquering, or powder coating?

    Thanks, all comments appreciated,
    Curt
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  2. #2
    paul_c5x4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    Brass adds weight, Titanium doesn't but is a harder material.

    So, does anyone have experience working with Titanium? What does it take to cut, slot, and finish it and what tooling is needed to drill. I have a Titanium drill set but only high speed steel taps and dies.
    Titanium untreated, is really soft and very easy to ding. From the few parts I've machined, it turns real well and gives a good finish straight from the tool. However.... Cutting tools must be kept sharp and lots of cutting fluid should be used. As soon as the tool starts to rub, the surface will work harden and become a bitch to machine. Also helps if you can run at high speed and take heavy cuts.

    The alternative is Stainless Steel - Not as heavy a plain steel, not as bad as titanium for work hardening, and readily available.

    Oh, did I say titanium burns very easily - Flood the work with coolant, keep the work area free from swarf, and don't let it get red hot.

  3. #3

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    Do you need to braze or weld the stuff? Aluminum can be welded especially if you keep it all to the same alloy, it's easy to machine, and you are probably going to paint it anyway. It is also way cheaper than everything but cold rolled steel.

    What parts are you going to make? The amount of material and the shapes you need to make might very well be the needed thoughts behind the material to use.

    I would probably go with aluminum in 6061 and then either anodize or have it nickel plated. Since I always buy in small sizes for specific projects, I use http://www.onlinemetals.com who will sell stuff buy the foot, they have just about every material you might want to try and prices so you can compare. But as I said you kind of need to know what the parts need to look like before you can chose a material.

  4. #4

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    You can hard-anodize aluminum too which might be fun

  5. #5
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_E View Post
    I would probably go with aluminum in 6061 and then either anodize or have it nickel plated.
    Can you nickel plate aluminium directly or does it need a copper plate or some other surface treatment first?


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  6. #6

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    Another rec for onlinemetals.com. And Micromark has some home plating kits available that run around $40.
    Maybe something for anodizing too.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  7. #7
    Curt's Avatar
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    I ran across this last night, it looks good but might be slow and thin. A nickle finish on aluminum would get my vote but I have the same question as Steve, can it be plated directly. Has anyone sent the parts out to be finished?

    http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/plugnplate.htm
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  8. #8

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    The electroless nickel that Caswell sells says it needs an intermediate step of some kind. After that I don't know since I've never done this. http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/electroless.htm
    This system will plate aluminum if the metal is primed with Zincate first.

  9. #9
    Ralph Javins's Avatar
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    Good morning;

    Electroplating metals can be a challenge. Several years ago, I wanted to have a small stamped mild steel reflector for AG-1 bulbs chrome plated. It took a little more than that.

    After the cleaning of the reflector in an acid bath to remove the stuff that was on it, they copper plated it first, then nickel plated it, base chrome plated it, and finally lustrous chrome plated it. To gain about one and one-half stops out of my AG-1 bulbs, I paid a lot of money for the work on this two inch diameter reflector.

    This does show that metal working and metal finishing may be more involved than our original concepts of how it will work.
    Enjoy;

    Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington

    When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
    just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."

  10. #10
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    As an engineer (not a machinist), I've worked with them all. Aluminum or Ti would be my choice. If I were doing it (bad machining skills) and felt rich, I'd design the parts in CAD (2D or 3D) then get them FloJet (high pressure water with abrasive) cut. The FloJet cutting might run $100 and the material maybe $75 but there would be no finishing needed. If I machined it myself, I'd do aluminum and hard anodize or nickel plate it. Nickel required some sort of strike coat on aluminum to deal with the nearly immediate oxidization on the surface. I seem to remember that brass is not particularly easy to plate due to the lead content that brass has (even low lead content brass).

    You didn't mention stainless. 304 or 316 would be a great choice too. It would be a little lighter than brass (lower density and could use a little thinner piece).

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