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Work Bench Detail at George H. Lilley Regalia Melbourne

To digress from our exploration of the meaning and significance of regalia, this blog will focus on just some of our manufacturing processes here at our factory in Thornbury, Melbourne.

Hard-core fans of George H. Lilley Regalia will have noticed that our most recent Instagram contributions include photos of grungy work benches full of metal pieces, gravers and well-worn surfaces, not to mention gnarly hands and fingers of those who have worked with metal for many years!

What you’re looking at are details of some of our manufacturing processes here at our Melbourne factory, and now we will explain a little more about our craft.

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Dies at our Melbourne factory. Notice letters in designs appear back-to-front?

Dies

Let’s begin with dies. Much like a mold, a die will have the desired shape or design for the metal item embossed into it. Obviously in our case we are dealing with metal items such as insignia, jewels, badges and components for our regalia.

Dies are made by hand cutting or machine cutting where possible. It’s a bit like drawing onto, or should we say into metal. The design is hand or machine cut into a block of tool steel.  This is hardened after completion once the die has been cut. The die needs this strength because as we will explain, it will then be put into a high-pressure press.

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Metal Stamping at George H Lilley Regalia Melbourne factory using our 500 tonne press. Georgia Haynes Photography.

Metal Stamping

The die is utilized in the process of metal stamping. Metal stamping is just that – we put a piece of metal into a high-pressure press which then stamps a design onto, or rather into, the piece of metal. The pressure of the press is created hydraulically, and it has a capacity of 500 tonne per square inch.

Once activated, the press literally squashes the flat piece of metal into the cavity of the die. The result is we have a flat piece of metal transformed into a component. The pressure is adjustable in the press as different sized components will require different pressures.

The transformed piece of metal typically requires trimming. This is done by guillotine where possible, by clipping tool or saw-piercing.

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Saw piercing at our Melbourne factory. Georgia Haynes Photography.

Saw piercing

When one cannot use a clipping tool or trim by guillotine, we use a process known as saw-piercing. This process is done by hand and requires considerable skill.

Saw piercing is how we craft our intertwined monograms. It is also used for curved and intricate edges and shapes that require more detailed hand work. When internal cut outs are required (hollow shapes inside the design), saw piercing commences by drilling a hole into the component piece of metal.

...and here you have it - a finished component made using these methods -

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Masonic emblem for N.S.W. Grand Craft regalia

There's plenty more manufacturing and hand-crafting processes we look forward to showing you in future posts!