As you might remember from a few weeks ago, we looked at the anodisation of our aluminium dice. This time, we’re going to be having a look at the heavy metals. Why we use the metals we do – and what makes them so special.
As those who are familiar with our work know, a huge motivator for us with any of our metal dice is producing the most accurately balanced and longest lasting dice we can. As most people would know, different metals have all sorts of different properties that help or hinder their use in precision machining. Let’s have a look at the metals in our heavy metal dice range.
For starters, we’ll use our aluminium dice for comparison. Aluminium is one of the most common metals used in any sort of manufacturing, being used in everything from soda cans through to building frames and vehicles. This is owed to aluminium’s relative cheapness and its natural resistance to corrosion, while being easily shaped and molded. However, its this susceptibility to reshaping that presents a challenge in precision machining – our perfectly weighted die won’t stay perfectly weighted for long without some extra help. That’s why we use our hardened anodisation technique to make sure the dice are as strong as possible, and why we don’t do ‘raw’ aluminium sets of dice.
The next most common metal is stainless steel. Steel is a blending of iron carbon during the forging process and is one of the most common metals used in any sort of construction, finding applications in utensils all the way up to building struts, thanks to its strength and hardness. This makes it a perfect material for our precision cut metal dice. The one drawback of steel is that, given its high iron content, it’s susceptible to rust and corrosion. To combat this, we use a specially treated blend of steel with a higher carbon content than usual, commonly known as stainless steel, that is much more resistant to corrosion. This ensures the dice stay completely pristine (so pristine that we’ve been told our stainless steel dice also make great whiskey stones…)
Now, our most popular heavy metal dice set are our copper dice. Copper is one of the softest metals we choose to work with, making it one of the more challenging of the common metals. Special care has to be taken during the production process to make sure it remains perfectly balanced. But copper’s natural properties make it worth the effort. Given its naturally pink-orange hues, its an eye-catching material. But, its biggest appeal is its naturally high resistance to corrosion but susceptibility to extensive oxidation, which turns its pink-orange to a deep olive green, which happens so fast (in relative metal terms) that specific patterns can even end up being oxidised into the metal. That’s why we joke that if you use them enough you could even end up with your fingerprints permanently imprinted on them, making your copper dice entirely unique to you.
Brass is a cousin of bronze – both being an alloy of copper. However they have slightly different properties due to brass being a blend of zinc while bronze is a blend made from tin. Given that they both have high proportions of copper in them they’re both susceptible to oxidation just like copper is. However brass’s oxidation is much more noticeable, over time getting shiny almost black lustre to it, like the antique doorknobs in older houses. Brass is also more malleable than bronze, while still being quite durable, making it ideal for machining in precision dice. Given their similarities, but brass’ more unique properties and machinability, it makes sense that we would prefer to make brass dice over bronze.
The lightest of the ‘heavy’ metal range, titanium has the highest strength to weight ratio of any known metal, a being as strong as steel, yet almost half the weight. This makes it ideal in any construction that needs to be light yet durable – seeing applications in tennis rackets all the way up to aeroplane hulls. This obviously makes it an ideal material for precision cut dice, resulting in dice that are almost impossible to damage in any way, while only being marginally heavier than aluminium. This comes at a cost however; titanium is also quite a rare metal and in high demand, making it extremely expensive and often difficult to purchase in large quantities, which is why we usually only make limited runs of sets of titanium dice at a time. The other really cool feature of titanium is how readily it’ll change colour under extremely high temperatures. This heat treatment changes the properties of the titanium itself, making the colour changes permanent. (Be sure to check out our range of flame-touched titanium dice)
And finally, the last and most impressive of the heavy metals – Tungsten. Most people who have seen our booth at conventions will remember this material, and for anyone who’s yet to see us in person, be sure to get a look at the demo dice we have in these metals when you next see us at a convention. Tungsten is the heaviest of the metals we’ll readily work with, over twice the weight of a similarly sized piece of stainless steel. This is because tungsten is an incredibly dense material, being one of the heaviest ‘stable’ elements on the periodic table. This also means tungsten is incredibly durable and wear resistant. So durable, that it’s almost impossible to scratch or mark with anything other than the strongest of materials. We learnt that lesson the hard way when one of the tungsten die shattered the carbide drill bit of one of our CNC machines. After that, we had to upgrade our machines to be able to handle the tungsten dice. It was worth it though; they’re a true statement piece, and incredibly satisfying to hold and use, feeling like every roll in your game literally has serious weight to it.
That’s the full breakdown of all of the metals we use to make our metal dice. As you can see, there’s a lot of really cool properties in each material that made us choose to use it. Next time, we’ll discuss the metals we commonly get asked why we DON’T use and why. The answers are sure to be interesting!
If you’re intrigued by any of the descriptions you read above, be sure to check out the full range of our heavy metal dice, or browse our other collections for all sorts of unique dice options.
This article was brought to you by Dylan R