How do I print Braille onto metal?
October 9, 2012 2:05 AM   Subscribe

How would I go about printing Braille on to metal?

I've found old Dymo Braille printers on ebay - but I'm guessing that they won't be nearly strong enough to print onto metal even if it is really thin, can anybody recommend anything?
posted by hitchcockblonde to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
I'd suggest printing the Braille in reverse onto the back of the metal, then using some sort of punch to carefully emboss the metal dots. I think there are Braille printers that will print onto thin metal, but they're likely to cost serious money.
posted by pipeski at 2:29 AM on October 9, 2012

Just thinking out loud, but perhaps you could laser-print the inverse of your Braille text on a "Press-n-Peel Blue" transfer film, where you use a mask to protect the Braille text, while etching away non-text areas of metal with an acidic chemical reaction.

I don't know how readable the text would be, i.e. how deep the etching goes, relative to the text left behind. Presumably you could control this through a longer or stronger acid treatment. Take appropriate safety measures, of course.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It would help to have an idea of what you mean by "metal." What are you trying to do?
posted by jon1270 at 3:35 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

A search on Etsy for "braille metal" brings up 111 results right now. Zahour and Darediva Designs both appear to make custom pieces and surely must have the equipment to do so. I've had very good luck in the past with emailing Etsy craftspeople and asking them about equipment and techniques.
posted by Mizu at 4:33 AM on October 9, 2012

National Braille Press in Boston has a punching machine exactly for this; they often do brass plaques for awards given out by blindness organizations.
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on October 9, 2012

I seem to recall reading on the Make blog awhile ago a hack to some sort of embossing machine like those label printers to be able to work on strips of metal. Maybe check their archives.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2012

Dymo makes metal tape for their label machines, here. And here's a Braille Dymo machine to print on it.
posted by Marky at 4:33 PM on October 9, 2012

I use a Dymo M1011 (with letters not braille) regularly and it works as well as the plastic tape version except the results are in Stainless Steel. A hundred bucks for the one Marky linked to is a decent price; the regular M1011 is about that (not surprising considering it's only a different letter cartridge).
posted by Mitheral at 8:13 PM on October 9, 2012

Thank you all for those useful suggestions !
posted by hitchcockblonde at 12:35 AM on October 10, 2012

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