Custom die rules for arcade game artwork

Many differenet pieces of arcade game artwork need specifically punched holes, most of the time this artwork is on the control panel for the game. Some holes are standard, but when they aren’t then a custom ordered die is needed for that run of artwork, which can add up to $100 per piece. Ever seen one of these dies? I had a general idea of what they looked like, but nothing specific. Here are some photos, explanation, and identification of which die is for what piece of artwork – Including Star Wars, Agent X and Pole Position.

Die Rules in Profile

Wood Foam and Metal – Tools of artwork finishing

This past summer, Rich at This Old Game picked up an oversize printer and a whole mess of blank film. At that time we knew that was good for the collector, less time waiting for positives and greater capabilites in house in the range of artwork sizes that could be printed.

Sometime later this summer Rich also picked up a die press (10-20 tons), a pretty hefty investment but necessary for diversifying print work and the ideal tool to have for custom jobs like arcade game artwork. The company that Rich bought the printer from recommended a die company out of Vancouver and on the first run of custom dies for current print projects they didn’t disappoint.

For most of these pieces of artwork, no prior films exist, so drawing are made with specific measurements and specs for where the die rules should be setup. In the case of the Star Wars artwork, Rich does have the original Atari films for the yoke. But a drawing was still done, little hard to replace those films yeah? Not to mention, they are Scott Evans…smart move not to relend them out.

Here are two of the drawings for the punch specs for the Star Wars Yoke artwork;

Die Rule Drawing for Star Wars Yoke 1Die Rule Drawing for Star Wars Yoke Detail

Here’s the resulting die punch. If you look at this closeup detail, the rectangular squares are foam pads to protect the artwork as it is pushed into the hidden metal.

Die Rules For the Star Wars Yoke OverlayDie Rules Detail with Foam Pads

You get the idea, the foam is there to protect the artwork, the metal that is mounted into a 1.5″ plywood board is roughly surrounded by foam. Here are photos of the other die punch templates, the Pole Position first, the Agent X second, and the three of them together in the last photo.

Die Rules For the Pole Position OverlayDie Rules For the Agent X OverlayDie Rules For All Control Panel Artwork

Here are some photos to give you some context of using these die rules on the press. The first shot show the press. You can see the top plate is a little smaller than the wood board, but that doesn’t matter for the size of the pieces here.

Die Press Large View

The bottom plate slides in below to press against, the bottom side is lined so that the top punch doesn’t damage the bottom plate. Here we have one of the Pole Position overlays setup to be punched. Once the setup is made, you just slide in another piece of polycarbonate into the press and go, the setup is the most time intensive part of the process. Plus, multiple pieces can be cut at once which is a huge time saver.

Die Press Detail View

Prior to this, any cuts that had been needed were done using the plotter. But now that Rich has gotten into a number of polycarbonate control panel overlays, it was time for the press. Such an amazing opportunity for us collectors that he has this in house and doesn’t have to farm it out. In the future, Rich will have die rules made for your standard joystick holes and push button holes so that those can be reused on most pieces.

Final Notes – Agent X artwork out for review

At least that is what I’ve been told. Francis M. had a brand new control panel fabricated, it was quite the long in depth story that I may repost here. Anyway, when Francis gets that artwork he’ll be fitting it to the control panel to make sure everything is correct. The Pole Position overlays are already for sale and the initial color matching on the Star Wars yokes is wrapping up, so all of these artwork pieces are almost done…


Here are some similar arcade posts

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