With Steven Cochran
The Coin Explorer at Gainesville Coins ………
Today we’re visiting one of the mints that supplies Gainesville Coins with some of its best-selling silver rounds and bars.
I’ve brought along one of the 1000 oz silver bars we send to them, and today we’re going to follow this bar, from smelting to final product.
Right now, we’re in the die-cutting area. This is where the designs are translated onto the die to make the rounds. As you can see here, there are lots of blank dies here. The design will be cut into — engraved into the die, and then made into the silver rounds.
The old way this was done, and is still being used today, is with a “rotoscope”. The design is made on a great big clay disk, then transferred onto plaster. This is clamped onto the large wheel, and it has a little cylinder, which is tracing, in 3D, the dips and the valleys here. This is being transferred over to a tiny little drill, that is following this, that is converting it onto the die itself. This process takes about 24 hours. This has been used for many, many, many, years.
Today however, computers have transformed the die-making process, just as they have transformed many other things here. These CNC machines can take a very detailed computer model, and then using the tiny little different bits, can make a very detailed die, in slightly less time, but you get far more detail.
Here we are in the smelting room, where Good Delivery bars are melted down at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The large smelter holds 10,000 ounces of silver. The silver is poured into cylinder molds made specifically for the next step. You can see the cylinder here is heated up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and is used to pour the molten silver right into these molds. The 10,000 ounces of silver in each smelter load makes 24 cylinders of silver, which is used in the next step.
This is the extruder room. The furnace in here is reheating the cylinders back up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, so that they’re soft. The extruder machine is over here to the right. Think of it as a giant Play Doh machine for silver! The silver cylinders are reheated to 1000 degrees to make them soft, then squeezed through the extruder to make strips.
The next step is over here at the rolling station. Each strip is run through the rollers three times. This custom-built, computer-controller roller is dialed to the exact thickness the rounds or bars need to be. The thickness of the strip is measured to 1/10,000 of an inch — the width of a human hair. This is a very important step to help ensure the final product is the correct weight.
This is the blanking press. The strips you saw made at the extruder and roller go through here, and blanks for rounds or bars are stamped out of it. This thing does not waste any time. Look at the blanks just piling out of the bottom. The scraps are taken up to be melted to make more cylinders for the extruder.
After the blanks are stamped from the strips, they go through the rimming machine here. This is putting a rim around the blanks to get them ready for the minting press.
After going through the rimming station, it’s time to give our blanks a bath. The blanks are washed here, in a special solution, with tiny ball bearings that scrub the surface and smooth any sharp edges.
After a bath, they’re rinsed, then heated dry in this machine here.
Now it’s time for the main event. This is just one of the stamping presses here at this mint. The blanks for silver rounds are fed into this tube here, and then into the stamping press. As you can see, this is a high-speed operation, to meet the demand for these silver rounds. The actual press never pauses, as the blanks are fed into it, and the finished rounds are moved out.
And then it’s off to the packing room. Here’s where all the freshly-made “shinies” are bundled up and sent to Gainesville Coins, ready for you to add to your stack.
I hope you’ve had fun watching today’s show. We’ve certainly had fun bringing it to you. Don’t forget to enter this week’s “Spot On! Silver Giveaway”, where we’ll be giving away a 1 oz buffalo round that you just saw being minted, to the person who correctly guesses Friday’s closing spot price for silver
“The Coin Explorer” is part of the Gainesville Coins family. Like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for the latest specials in precious metals. We’re now on Google+, too.
Join us next episode when we review the 2013 gold and silver Somali elephant bullion coins.
Until next week, this is The Coin Explorer reminding you, it’s all about the shinies!