Handheld type for stamping

Hello, I am working on a project where I want to use metal type to stamp onto sheets of metal. I have found sites like infinitystamps.com that sell stainless steel type for punching letters into sheet metal, but is this possible with lead type? Or would the letterform degrade too quickly? Does anyone make stainless type in various typefaces? I want to do the work by hand so I am trying to avoid using a stamp machine or embosser. Ultimately I just need to indent the sheet metal with words and shapes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Lead type is not feasible for stamping steel. Faces without serifs will give perhaps a dozen impressions in leather before deforming, but not anything much harder.

The problem is that lead type ranges in hardness from 21-30 HB (Brinell Hardness Number). Only one person in the world is still casting commercially in the hardest type alloys.

Mild steel rates at 125 HB. Stainless is going to rate at 1200 HB, and tool steels tend towards almost 2000 HB.

Punching steel with lead type is going to be like trying to make holes in cinderblock with wet clay.

You are going to be limited to companies like infinity stamps, because the only type-founders cutting steel anything are doing so for the purpose of punching matrices. I’m sure that some of them would be willing to cut punches for you, but you would find their rates and process VERY expensive, as the punches are high precision (+/- 0.0002 inches) and intended to be gently and precisely used with brass, not hammered into steel sheet.

Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

Hardened metal die sets are available - generally 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4” sizes, all caps and figs. - with which to mark most soft metals. Inexpensive ($5 per set), the sets have been used to mark machinists’ tools for years. Because of the nature of the demands, they do not lend well to other than sans serif face. Other designs are chased with hardened sylus. Any hardware, automotive shop will carry them.
As for lead on steel? Splattt!

“…with hardened stylus”.

Sorry, by “sheet metal” I meant any kind of metallic sheet, it doesn’t have to be steel; could be copper or bronze, something softer. Thanks for the info!

I used to produce photoengravings in magnesium for a customer who made copper-covered postcards with line illustrations of famous landmarks. I think the copper sheet was about 0.003” thick. The engravings did a good job, but I don’t think typemetal would hold up for long. He would imprint the copper sheet then attach it to a piece of cardboard to make it mailable.

We emboss aluminum up to 0.016” with dies made of zinc and magnesium. We use steel die sets if the quantities are large or will repeat on a regular basis.