lead free lead

Lead Free or Lead Substitute for LUDLOW and probably other typecasting machines, there has been some in depth and constructive discussions with related links, all helpful stuff, but why can t any body, put up a post stating as fact, (rather than myth) YES IT DOES WORK and Mr. Mrs. Miss X Y Z has done it and have run 50,000 impressions from it ??? “Make My Day* and possible score a few brownie points, with U.S.A. and U.K. Health and Safety Executives.>>>> AND JEEZ and O.M.G. Dick!! I generally say that I am nearly as old as the Pennines (The Backbone of England) and You must be able to quote, nearly as old as The Rockies, or you can justifyably say (in the first person, of course) “Bin There, Done That, Got The “T” Shirt) and probably forgotten more than some will ever know, nice one Buddy. >>> Still would love to see on line evidence of Lead Substitute that has printed even !,000 impressions. Monotype generally from 10/16 composition (10% Tin 16% Antimony obviously remainder lead) would hold up to maybe 50,000 imp. the only problem came, when the monthly (for example) periodical was stored, and the standing type was turned in, but had to have small corrections, the corrections appeared as light face against the worn type!!! How will Lead free compare???if it is a fact???>>>>>DICK, cross the “T”s and dot the “I”s its a racing certainty that a few would like to catch the picture, and learn. Regards Mick.

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lead free type, Mick i think you are on to something. Lets get together and see what we can come up with, we can work on my idea to cast type from polymer?? i think it might take off, what do you think?

I think the formula is a 50-50 mixture of ground photo-polymer plate material and mashed gummy bears cooked in a pressure cooker together for about 4 hours before pouring into brass-tube roller molds. Try it!


Bob, your talking rollers, i’m trying to make type, do you know how to stop the poly from smoking in my ludlow pot??

Maybe add a little pot to the pot? Then at least you can enjoy the smoke! ;-) Same formula should work for type, assuming you don’t want to smash it into the paper — it would be very similar to rubber stamps.


What ever happened to the Cub toy press?? The company used to sell that rubber type and some ornaments to use on their press. I don’t think you can cast type made from pot?? I’d have to get a medical card and that would get my son mad at me. It would make for some interesting forms, my luck i’d get arrested for it, i think i’lll just stick to inhaling lead fumes.

Early Russian type (16th сentury) was cast entirely from tin rather then traditional (Pb+Sn+Sb) type-metal. Likewise, plastic became a wide-spread substitute for wood-type in USSR from 60’s onwards.

A L P STOP IT!!!you taka da pee adding pee to da pee, Somebody/anybody, coast to coast (Atlantic to the Pacific) bring just ONE of you “good ole boys” out of the woodwork to state,YES I have witnessed type being cast, from any derivative of, or non lead based material, AND I have witnessed it, sustaining several thousand impressions, but the post must be ratified, with a hand on the Stars and Bars and then, the whole shooting match can be put to bed!!!>>>Dick can cross the “T”s and dot the “I”s with that newsprint expression???

Come on Mick, i bet if we put out heads together (if there is anything left in either head) we could come up with a way to get the lead out.

Oprion yes correct along with others I/We have still, some plastic faced or solid plastic poster type, from 6 line upwards, but it is/was cut and not injection moulded, the machining marks can be clearly seen on all 4 sides, the face to print was probably polished, but I believe when litho ink was used on plastic faced type it gave problems with skidding, which may be a pointer, to problems for lead free alternative,s. And Yes the Ruskies were using Tin but, it would have been with gravity, upside down hand moulds, and NOT injection moulded, It is believed the Chinese were doing the same!!! but Thank You, for that, that in itself may provoke a few probing enquiries and trains of thought.

Dick, would love to join you on the rostrum, and set the world on fire but there,s a little too much other c***p in my head, mostly to do with jarring off The Grim Reaper, I know he,s hovering The B*****.

ok… let’s stay focused…. (that’s what they always told me in school! ha!)

Anyway…. there are several metals that work fine as type metals in Ludlow and similar molds. Lead might not actualy be the BEST material…. it was just hte cheapest metal that would do the job.

If you go to the McMaster Carr catalog, they have blocks of both Tin and Zinc, both of which would probably work. Tim has a nice low melting point, and it casts well. They also sell special low temp alloys that might also work. You’ll have to experiment a little.

I’ve cast some of my own type, but I always used lin-o-type metal…. which may explain why i am what i am today!

re ingredients of type metal

to winking cat press and others:

Let’s get back to basics; do we know the history of the development of type metals? Some of the reasons for choosing the ratio of components of type alloys have been given, I had the idea (from my apprenticeship instruction) that linotype metal had the advantages of lower melting point than its constituent elemental metals, and it expanded on solidifying, thus forming sharp edges to the characters; there may have been an advantage in choosing ingredients which were relatively less costly. For some purposes, lino metal is OK, but if we had something which had to stand up to newspaper stereotype moulding for years, we had a cast made of that type, in stereo metal. In Brisbane, there was a fairly large stereotyping shop; some of its work was duplication, some was to make durable formes of type.

However, if you like to experiment, perhaps you will find a way. After all, Thomas Alva Edison allegedly said that he had experimented with 1000 ways of making an electric (incandescent) lamp, and proved that none were satisfactory, but he eventually marketed a system which worked well enough that people paid money for it, and others tried other ways, till now we are finding how attractive LED lights are. I saw dockets from circa 1930 which showed that to use one ordinary electric light for one ordinary night (about 4 or 5 hours) cost the same as a (imperial) pint of milk, delivered.

There are many ways of getting those magic marks onto the paper, if you find a better way (and if people hear about it) that’s to the benefit of all mankind.

We have a hazy idea of what kind of world we would have if letterpress (or other) printing had not been invented, and we were still waiting for it. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of writing a novel (like George Orwell’s 1984) about a world for which there was no printing industry?

It has been claimed that the experimenters around the world cooperated, writing to each other, and eventually mankind developed flying machines. So this forum is useful, experimenters can exchange their thoughts and perhaps they should start with what low-temperature melting-point metals are already known, such as the various alloys which are like Woods Metal.


alan… i think you said it quite well…. but nobody else could write a novel quite like 1984. It is both brilliant, and scary at the same time. The oddest part about it is how many things he got right!

Now…. about alloys: nowadays thanks to the internet, it’s pretty easy to find just about any sort of metal…. from low melting alloys, to rare-earth, to plain old pot-metal. I feel fairly certain that one could find a workable lead substitute without too much difficulty if they were willing to do some research and a few experiments.

I WOULD do it…. but my wife has pretty much put the kabosh on melting metal indoors nowadays. She always seems to bring up an unfortunate burned spot on the kitchen table. I’ve explained to her that it wasn’t my fault at least a hundred times….. but you know how wives are…..

Winking, so thats why Tim isn’t posting any more, you melted him down to make type? Wives are funny about things, they borrow your tools and when they break you get a sorry and its forgotten, but scratch or in your case burn down the kitchen table and they hold it over your head forever. Mick and I have been thinking about casting a lead free type and i think we have come up with a good solution, we are going to cast type from gold, so to get started with this project we are asking the list to send your scrap gold to us, i will post our addresses later, i know everyone will help out so we can finally be free of that nasty lead.

If any of you look at this seriously ,and i had this discusssion with mick last night I think it would be possible to do with a composite plastic ,if you can inject airfix models and the sprews are that intricate then you could probably get quick results utilising that formulae of plastic and lower pot temperatures , however someone who knows the exact process for the task may be able to answer the important question do aircraft models material shrink on cooling ????
That is in my thoughts the stumbling block ,shrinkage in order to get the cast ing out of the mould ,lead or any other material when injection moulded must shrink to release , too much shrink or inconsistent shrinkage renders the process useless .
Stand back and look ,casting lead IS injection moulding so why not?
Yes it might stink but lower pot temp means stink probably but it wont BURN ,thats adifferent stink and you dont want that degree of heat .

The Monotype Corporation did some experiments with using low-temperature plastics in their casters; I don’t know a great deal about it, but I can say that

a) a small amount of plastic type, cast from Monotype equipment, does exist (about a quarter fount, at a guess)
b) it wasn’t taken any further than the experimental stage.

I might see if I can dig up some more information, just to satisfy my curiosity.


ONE more last gasp and then I SECEDE from the Race and The Union (confederate of course), middle of our night last, bored cos it was too cold to be out turning on my lathe, so looked up lead free solder, akin to lead free, alternative for (allegedly) Typecasting Machines and surprise. surprise!!! some forms at least, contain, (as flow enhancing/hardness enhancing agents) addatives such as silver, tin, copper, still a tiny %age of lead and ANTIMONY!!! quoted as comparatively HARMLESS, in its inert/ unheated form , But look up the consequences of possibly, applying the same type of technology, for injection style typecasting/moulding, potentially more lethal than S A R S, A I D S and Plutonium combined!!! Dont take my words for it?? Look up just one site, in your neck of the woods, i.e.BOW SOLDER out of SAYERVILLE, NEW JERSEY, Follow one or two links, re safety or lack of??? What chance for any workable Compound being LESS Harmful than good old fashioned LEAD. >>>> I secede and Good Luck, Mick. (Mr. 10/16 and still around)

I have a sample of a Ludlow slug cast in plastic by someone in the Chicago area. Ward Schori of Evanston gave it to me and indicated that he thought it was cast on a Ludlow caster which had been configured for plastic injection molding.

Does anyone know about who did this experimentation?

I’ll try to dig it out and post a photo of it this weekend.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

The plastic Soviet type was indeed injection molded and produced in large qualities. In fact, after the war, manufacture of wood type was abandoned all-together in favor of plastics.

Translating from the 3rd volume of the “Techincal Dictionary”:

«Plastic type is made from a copolymer of Polystyrene with 15% Acrylonitrile, with additions of either 5% Paraffin or 5% Zinc Stearate and 0.5 Titanium dioxide. Acrylonitrile increases mechanical durability of the polymer, protects it from corrosion from oils and and cleaning agents. Such letters remain stable in terms of size, and hold a good sharp edge

During the manufacture of type from Copolymer of Polystyrene and Acrylonitrile, many complications can arise from the relatively low melting temperature of this polymer, it’s weak heat conduction, and the high elasticity at the wide temperature spectrum (amorphous solidity). This forces founders to pour the plastics at temperatures that create overheating.»

And from here: http://metalstaples.ru/p-materialy/702-plastmassovye-shrifty-i-probelnye...

«Currently type is manufactured from plastics based on Copolymer of Polystyrene and Acrylonitrile. The percentage of the latter is close to 15%, increasing resistance to cleaning agents. 0.5% Titanium Dioxide is added to increase mechanical strength, Calcium Stearate (about %5) and Paraffin for better pourability, as the letters are poured under pressure.

To ease the pouring process, it helps to keep the temperature needed to reach the melting stage - low, while at the same time, the curing temperature should be high to limit the dwell time during cool-down.

This plastic is rather hard (Brinell scale: 180 Newtons/mm^2). It pours at 140-150°C, glass transition occurs at 90—100°C. Due to elasticity, the plastic type is 4-6 more durable then metal.»

Not sure if it’s of use to anyone. Just adding my two kopeks.