The Manufacturing Process:
Infull Cutlery production begins with rectangular, flat blanks of stainless steel, sterling silver, or in the case of plated flatware, Large rolls are stamped in individual blanks, which are flat pieces roughly the same shape as the piece to be produced.
(The First step in stainless steel cutlery manufacture involves blanking the stainless steel or sterling silver to the proper shape.)
Through a series of rolling operations, these blanks are graded or rolled to the correct thickness and shapes required by the stainless steel cutlery manufacturer's flatware patterns. First the blanks are rolled crosswise from left to right, right to left, and lengthwise, then trimmed to outline. Each spoon, for instance, must be thick at the base of the handle to resist bending. This gives graded pieces the right balance and a good feel in the hand. Each piece is now in the form of a cleanly finished shape in the rough dimension of the utensil.
(A series of rolling operations then gives the piece the correct thickness. After heat treatment and trimming, the piece has a pattern embossed on it in a stamping operation. Finally, the piece is buffed and polished.)
Between operations, the blanks must pass through annealing ovens to soften the metal for further machine operations. The annealing, done under great heat, must be very accurately controlled so the final piece will be resistant to bending and to nicks and dents when in use. The last annealing is the most important, because the pieces must be just the right degree of hardness when they are embossed. Then the metal can be forced easily into all the tiny details in the dies and the ornamentation will be faithfully reproduced.
Cutting To Outline
The rolled blanks are placed in the cutout press by an operator, to remove the excess metal and to fashion the shape of the piece. This process is similar to cutting shapes from rolled dough. The shape of the piece is cut out of the metal and the excess metal is remelted and transformed back into sheets of metal to be used again. This trimming must ensure an accurate fit of the pieces into the dies when the design is applied.
Forming The Pattern
The next step is the forming of the pattern. Each pattern has its own hardened steel dies—two dies for each piece, one with the pattern for the front of the piece, and the other with the pattern for the back of the piece.
Special Steps — Knife, Spoon, And Fork
Special steps are necessary for the creation of knives, spoons, forks, and holloware pieces. To make the hollow handle for the knife, after two strips of metal are formed to shape, they are then soldered together, buffed and polished until the seam is no longer visible. The blade and handle are permanently joined by means of a powerful cement, which bonds with great strength and durability.
With the spoon, after the pattern has been embossed upon the front and back of the handle, the next step is the forming of the bowl. The forming is done again under the same powerful drop hammers from accurate steel dies. Each bowl requires two hammer blows. Surplus metal around the outline of the spoon is removed by clipping presses. A small burr still remains to be removed at a later operation.
The forming of fork tines is a similar process to that of the forming of the spoon's bowl, but the operation takes place before the pattern is applied to the handle. After a fork is cut to outline, it is pierced and tined: the tines are pieced out, and the small piece of metal that holds the tip of the tines together is removed in another operation after the pattern has been applied.
This shows how a fork looks after each operation is performed. Although the tines are pierced before the pattern is applied, the strip of metal that connects the tines together isn't removed until after the pattern is embossed.
Buffing And Sand Polishing
The knives, forks and spoons are now buffed, then polished. Depending on the pattern, special finishing processes can give silver-plated and sterling silver pieces a bright, mirror-like finish, a soft, satiny glow, or a brushed or florentine finish.
After finishing all these processes, cutlery will be carried to ultrasonic automatic cleaning machine for cleaning and drying.
For the silver/gold plated pieces, the electroplating process is an additional step. The pieces are first prepared by being buffed so that the edges are smooth and the surfaces are free from small holes. When the buffing is completed, the pieces are given a thorough cleaning with as many as 12 different chemical solutions. Finally, they undergo electrolysis, in which a layer of silver is electrically deposited over the base metal.
Inspection & Packing
Final inspection checks the pieces for chafes, scratches, rough spots between a fork's tines, discoloration, or any other flaws that might have occurred when the pieces were stamped, shaped and polished.
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