Where do you get your links?-
I don’t, I make my own.
Do you sell your links?
No. The links I make are specifically adapted to my welding equipment and quite unsuited to butted mail. I am considering selling links for riveting but that is still under development.
I noticed you mentioned that the mail is assembled in Vietnam or the U.S. by unnamed parties. While I know you guarantee your work – do you still do assembly work by yourself at all? To be honest I don’t trust foreign mail work very much and I like to know who I’m working with.
My situation is quite different from what has happened with other vendors who deal with manufacturers in India. My wife is Viet Namese and my operation over there is run, and for the most part staffed, by her family and friends. I make the links here (by machine from wire I purchase from U.S. companies) and then ship them to Viet Nam for assembly and partial weld. What they send back are bands of mail about 5″ wide and 6′+ long. From those bands, and curved sections make and weld here, I assemble and finish weld my products. This is
not the most profitable way I could have structured my business but makes my mother-in-law very happy. It also limits unintended technology transfer and gives me fairly good quality control.
Where do you get your wire?
I buy 1.2mm round stainless steel wire from Gerard Daniel Worldwide. They have a 50 Kg minimum but I generally buy in lots of 500 or 1000 Kg. to get a better price. I have incorporated a small rolling mill into the link making machine so I can make my own flat wire as needed. I buy my titanium wire from Grandis Titanium. They deal in both new and recycled wire. I will buy recycled wire when they have it but mostly I have to buy new. They have a 100Kg. minimum for importing new wire.
What kind of wire do you use?
Mostly I use stainless steel, (either 302 or 304 spring hard) but I can also do Titanium (C.P. hard) and Silicon Bronze. I used to do mild steel but I haven’t had an order for it in about 10 years so I have dropped it from my list. I won’t even try to work with galvanized (I’ve had zinc fume poisoning just once. I won’t risk a repeat)
Do you use Grade 5 6Alv4 titanium?
I can get and work 6-4 if needs be but I do not use it for my flatwire mail. It’s rather impressive strength on paper comes at a price. It work hardens and / or fatigues more rapidly than the other Ti. alloys and far more rapidly than any of the more common ferrous alloys. Once it has become work hardened enough (and coiling it into a link is almost enough) it becomes liable to brittle fracture (stress it a little and it springs….stress it a little more and it snaps. sort of like glass). The only cure is a wickedly expensive
heat treatment. I have had much better results with Al2-V2 and would recommend that alloy.
I wonder about the inner diameter of the links and whether it can be customized. I prefer 6-8mm inner diameter and no larger.
My ‘standard’ link Id. is .312 (7.93mm) but springiness in the wire sometimes opens them up to .320 (8.1mm) or so. While My machines are theoretically capable of making links much smaller than that, tooling costs and setup times make it impractical to do so for a single order. Also, because there is an inverse geometric relationship between the link Id. and the number of links per unit area and my costs vary per link count, the overall cost rises quite rapidly as the links get smaller.
What gage wire do you use?
I don’t! There has been NO gage wire manufactured anywhere in the industrialized world since the late 1800s. All wire is made in millimeters or decimal inches (Brown and Sharp made its last ‘gage’ drawing die in 1887). If you ask for ‘gage’ wire today, you classify yourself with the immigrant mill workers of the 1870′s who were illiterate in their native language and couldn’t count much beyond ten without taking off their shoes. Modern manufacturers will either ignore you because they know your too ignorant to be worth doing business with or sell you whatever crap they are overstocked with at an exorbitant price because they know you don’t know any better.
OK what size wire do you use?
My flat wire is .030 x .055. I use round wire of .045 and .063 diameters. .045 is about average for medieval chainmail, and .063 is about as heavy as any that was used by people (horse armor was sometimes much heavier). As my link maker requires a different (and expensive) set of tooling for each wire and link size (probably why it was on the surplus market at a price I could afford), I tend not to experiment a lot. I do have tooling for .030 wire but that’s too light for anything but Bikinis and the like.
I have some wire I found in a scrap yard. Can you use that and make my ——- cheaper?
Probably not. Because I buy in large quantities, directly from the manufacturer, I get a price that is only slightly above what most scrap dealers are asking. Since the wire is usually about 7% of the cost of the finished piece, your savings would probably be less than what it would cost you to ship the wire to me. The exception is Titanium. Since it costs $40 to $50 a pound new and is quite light, it is well worth it. (The high point of my scrounging career was the day I bought a 15 pound spool of “dirty aluminum” welding wire for
$12 plus tax from a dealer who should have known better)
Do you have a —— in stock?
Except for stainless aventails, usually no. It has been more than 15 years since I have been able to get far enough down my back-order list to be making anything for ‘stock’ I try to keep a substantial inventory of unwelded ‘preforms’ which I can tailor and have ready for welding in a matter of hours.