Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good Times in Press Pass production land…

As the lone production guy here at Press Pass, I am frequently tasked with interesting and far out ideas by our product team. Memorabilia cards in general tend to command much of my time. Cards containing sheet metal swatches can be a real challenge. Case in point: check out these swatches from Kevin Harvick earlier this year.

These particular swatches are about ¼” thick! I kept these on my desk for a while as they make a good conversational item. As you can imagine, it would be tough to make cards with these. By the time you encapsulate them, the card ends up being much thicker than the rest of the batch. Obviously these have some significant bondo work. That’s the “X” factor with sheet metal. We typically obtain whatever the teams are willing to part with. Usually that means a tore up piece of a race car or a piece that has been used for a while. Nice fresh flat panels used for a race or two are a rarity especially in these economic times when even the race teams are being more frugal.

Another wrinkle thrown in recently is the Car of Tomorrow. Teams are now required to reinforce some areas of the car. The honeycomb structure in the picture is part of what some are using near the driver area. This is permanently affixed to the inside of the sheet metal, again making the swatch thicker than normal and tougher to punch acceptable swatches from.

The punching process is a slow one too. The punching press and dies are really intended for making very uniform pieces in a machine shop setting where thousandths of an inch are measured. The dies are made and calibrated for a specific thickness of metal. One can then imagine what happens when you begin punching sheet metal that is all over the board in terms of thickness.

You tend to get some strange looks when you walk into a machine shop with a truck full of race used sheet metal and say “Hey, can you punch all these into little squares? And oh by the way you have to keep everything separated religiously.” But that’s all part of making memorabilia cards with you, the collector in mind.