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Thread: Where to start with making your own pickup covers and bobbins ?

  1. #1
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    Where to start with making your own pickup covers and bobbins ?

    Hi Guys,

    just starting to research vacuum molding for making PUP covers and maybe some custom bobbins.

    How hard is this to get started (ie. I know nothing in this area) ?

    Is making your own going to work out financially better, I'd like a custom logos moulded into/on my PUP covers ?

    Any advice on equipment, materials, methods etc etc gratefully accepted


    thanks
    Steve

  2. #2
    Member captcoolaid's Avatar
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    I have priced both and the cheapest I could find for the injection molding was around 10 grand, as far as the stamping for the covers I think it was around 5 grand or so. It is pricey but if you want your own stuff that is what it is. Also you can screen print your logo on the bobbins for cheaper.
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  3. #3
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    There are some threads here which show vacuum molded covers.

    I can say from experience that pickup covers and bobbins for anything remotely different is a big thorn in the side.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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    I found about the opposite- injection moulding is around 3 to 5 grand and deep draw stamping is about 12 grand just for the tool. There is a gingery book about making a table top injection moulder.
    I just build my bobbins for any non available designs out of pieces and there are ways to make built up plastic covers. You can also make metal covers by soldering them together out of sheet stock but its not worth doing unless you are just making one or two really pricey items- really pricey.
    I have seen someone here pound out thier own metal covers with a wood form- not deep drawn but something more like 1/4 inch deep.
    if you do have a stamp made it can take months from the time you get started untill the final product is finished and you have to buy a shit pile of covers. One mistake on your drawing and you can be screwed. You have to know how much angle to build in to the sides among other things.
    I had three deep draw dies made this year and I am still waiting on the last cover- probably wont get the final product untill feb or longer, I just got samples two weeks ago.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member JGundry's Avatar
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    I have had 6 metal dies made and 7 injection mold dies made and the quotes for each of these parts ranged from $1,000 to $15,000 for the same USA made part! You just have to shop around and find places you feel you can trust and that want to do smaller runs. My advice for injection molded parts is to pay for a universal MUD base that has a couple of cavities that are bug enough for the biggest plastic part you might need. Once the MUD base is made it is just a matter of tooling individual inserts different parts which in the long run is cheapest.
    They don't make them like the used to... We do.
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    Thanks all ... I'm in Australia so I have slightly limited options to shop around for gear.

    My best guess is it will cost about $5 k to get going with this , which isn't viable for the volumes I need.

    A 3D printer comes in at less than this ... anyone made bobbins on one of these ?

    Thanks again
    Steve

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    Your other option is to pour-cast polyurethane covers and bobbins in silicone molds. It's easy if you can make an accurate plug of your part. One plug can make many molds, each mold will last for hundreds of parts. The more molds you make the more parts you can cast at a time. The stuff hardens in 20 minutes to an hour depending on the formula you use.
    You pay to have someone engrave your logo on the plug once and all your parts will look engraved.
    There are several threads about cast poly here and probably dozens of youtube videos you can watch.

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    David,

    thanks for that suggestion ... this will do very nicely thank you

    Also, my brother in-law is pretty good at carving models (he was in the garden ornament business for a long time) and is handy with making latex and silicone molds

    Cheers
    Steve

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    Steve, if you end up making PU parts, it would be fantastic if you could document the process you used and post it around here. I know the bobbins will need at least a three piece mold if you intend to cast the screw or slug holes down the center.

  10. #10
    ken
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    I tried the 'Santa Claus Machine' (3D printer) method of making bobbins, and they didn't work very well because the finished part's resolution wasn't fine enough.
    The finished parts weren't smooth enough, so the coil wire would catch on the bobbins.

    ken

  11. #11
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken View Post
    I tried the 'Santa Claus Machine' (3D printer) method of making bobbins, and they didn't work very well because the finished part's resolution wasn't fine enough.
    The finished parts weren't smooth enough, so the coil wire would catch on the bobbins.

    ken
    That depends on the printer. I did some a couple of years ago because a friend of mine has one where he works.

    This one wasn't fine enough for bobbins you would want exposed, but it worked fine otherwise. We tried a pickup cover, but that didn't have a good surface texture.

    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyrebird Steve View Post
    A 3D printer comes in at less than this ... anyone made bobbins on one of these ?
    I had a good hookup for stereolith work for a few minutes and had some prototype bobbins cranked out, which I loved. Any tiny little changes I wanted to make were almost trivially easy to do.

    For covers I might investigate vacu-forming this year; I just had a meeting on Wednesday with a builder on the East Coast who had really good experiences with thermo plastic, routed wooden forms, a heater & a vacuum pump.

    Bob Palmieri

    Bob Palmieri

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    Pickup Maker Arthur Dent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    That depends on the printer. I did some a couple of years ago because a friend of mine has one where he works.

    This one wasn't fine enough for bobbins you would want exposed, but it worked fine otherwise. We tried a pickup cover, but that didn't have a good surface texture.

    Hey, those are mine!

    I've been looking into building a 3d printer recently, and it's a whole lot cheaper and easier than you might expect to get a small desktop-size one working. I've seen kits that have pretty much all you need for under $600. Sure, the surface texture won't be great, but it's nothing a little elbow grease can't fix.
    Sine Guitars
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  14. #14
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Dent View Post
    Hey, those are mine!
    Is that you Andy?
    I've been looking into building a 3d printer recently, and it's a whole lot cheaper and easier than you might expect to get a small desktop-size one working. I've seen kits that have pretty much all you need for under $600. Sure, the surface texture won't be great, but it's nothing a little elbow grease can't fix.
    Well the one I used didn't leave a very good texture either. They have upgraded it since then, but I haven't tried it. It was good enough for bobbins though.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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    Pickup Maker Arthur Dent's Avatar
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    That's me alright. How have you been, David?

    I figure I'd sand the outsides of covers and tops of bobbins, then take them to a buffing wheel. You could also torch it. A tumbler with some sort of abrasive media might work too.

    I've thought about making a 3d printer out of parts from old printers and scanners (of the 2d variety). The old dot matrix printers often use exactly the right kind of stepper motors. Some people have even managed to repurpose much of the control circuitry, although I probably wouldn't go quite that far.
    Sine Guitars
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    Hello,
    I am new here and very new to making and winding pickups. I started making a winder to make pickups for an electric mandolin project I am doing at the school where I teach. We have a laser engraver at school. The bobbin material I used was cut easily on this engraver. Since sign making/awards/plaque making is pretty common in most areas and they have laser engravers, getting some materials cut this way shouldn't be too expensive especially if you supply the art work. Here is a video of the pickups I started making with kids.

    Pickup_Winder.wmv - YouTube

    In addition to the comments other's have said about injection molding, yes it can be expensive, but there are small hobby machines that should be large enough to do the job and they are in the $2000 price range. I've built four hobby injection molders from scratch and it can be done for a hundred dollars or so if you have access to the machinery to make them. The first one I built was from plans from Home Shop Machinist magazine. I've also used the Gingery plans but don't like that machine as well. Molds are probably the tough part. I plan to make some for the next iteration of my school project.

    Thanks for the great info on this site. I've learned a great deal already.

    Matt

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    Injection molding

    Quote Originally Posted by JGundry View Post
    I have had 6 metal dies made and 7 injection mold dies made and the quotes for each of these parts ranged from $1,000 to $15,000 for the same USA made part! You just have to shop around and find places you feel you can trust and that want to do smaller runs. My advice for injection molded parts is to pay for a universal MUD base that has a couple of cavities that are bug enough for the biggest plastic part you might need. Once the MUD base is made it is just a matter of tooling individual inserts different parts which in the long run is cheapest.
    Long time ago (seventh, eighth grade) I made a plastic extruder as a science fair project. My father spent most of his working career in the plastics industry. It consisted of a thick walled pipe, the heating element from an electric stove, eighteen inch bit that fit the ID of the pipe (ground the groove deeper so more of the pellets would run through), an old washing machine motor and a reostat. Worked like a charm. Even got me to States. If this would be of interest, and with the understanding that he now has Alzheimers, I will talk with him and see if the injection process is something that can be stepped down to the 'cottage industry' level.

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    Greetings,

    Interesting thread ... always something new to work on. My experience with poly casting resin is quite positive, except for some issues with painting that seems a bit tricky but I believe doable.

    Below is a picture of my efforts using this method to make a DeArmond lookalike. It was made off a silicone-rubber mold taken off a DeArmond pickup that came in for a rewind.

    Cheers,

    --JBF
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails dearmond-001.jpg  

  19. #19
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    Its not so hard- i have been making P-90 bobbins since the 70's like gibson made in the 40's with built up parts, you make a couple jigs and making a bobbin takes a matter of minutes. At this point i have made well over 10,000 P-90 bobbins if not 5X that many- seriously. i was making my wide range bucker bobbins that way too for about a year but finally got them moulded because making 2 bobbins per pickup is a bigger savings to have them made. Right now alot of USA companies are willing to work for less than they did but i cant think of any kind of bobbin you couldnt make by hand- some might take too long but most once you set up - its not difficult at all. It can help immensely to see it done if you dont have much experience with tools or making anything and thats why I wrote the book on it but there is nothing difficult about making parts. I think too many guys use -"i gotta have a mould made" as a way to hold themselves back or "I dont know how to use a tool". I can think of one guy that has a reputation as a pickup guru that cant make a bobbin which i find really odd but typical.
    Most of the old 30's and 40's pickups were handmade bobbins crudely done. You can make a bobbin by hand that looks machine made if you pay attention.
    David Schwab likes this.

  20. #20
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    Well Jason, some folks just don't want to mess with it. When someone asks me for something different, I normally recommend they contact you. I don't have the time right now to branch out into anything/everything bobbins. I even gave up on P-90s because most of the available parts are crap. It's obviously an easy bobbin to make, but I have enough to do. Hope you don't mind me sending folks your way though.

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