An often overlooked and subtle design tool, custom dies can provide both perforated metal and embossed metal with unique aesthetics. On projects of larger scale, custom-dies can provide a more cost-effective method of perforation or embossing on metal surfaces. When compared with laser-cut metal, punched metal can be up to five times faster.

Dies can range in size from less than an inch up to three inches around, and in some cases go larger depending on the surface area. Custom dies that are very small will need to be replaced more often on a job. Larger dies may cause greater warpage and rougher edges on a metal surface. 

Many designers create patterns which punch the metal at regular intervals, but this is not a limitation. Zahner punch machinery can be programmed to punch the metal with atypical spacing or regular spacing as needed. Zahner punch machinery use a rotary system, making it possible to have many unique die punches across the surface of a single sheet.

Custom die cut metal
Custom dies for perf-punched metal.
Embossed letters metal
Custom embossed metal for Legacy Books.
Embossed metal letters
Custom embossed interior metal for Legacy Books.
Irving detail custom punch
Detail of the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, Texas.
Irving detail pattern
Detail of the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, Texas.

Designing unique dies is a pattern-making art. There are many designers who have developed this medium. Zahner worked on the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas. Its facade design by Studio Hillier uses a custom die, which creates an illusion of circular solids across many of the building's faces. In addition, the metal surfaces were stacked, which created diamond-shaped moire patterns across the surface.

As a medium, perforated metal is still in its infancy, and there are many avenues for designers to explore. To learn more about developing a custom punch, contact a member of the Zahner sales team.

Featured Custom Die Projects