About Strip-Casters

Mostly Elrod & Monotype Material Making Machines

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Typographic "material" consists of several kinds of things:

(I don't really know if non-cast brass and steel rule would be considered "material"; I suspect that this is a fine semantic distinction that nobody has ever bothered making.)

Ordinary linecasting machines such as the Linotype/Intertype and Ludlow can cast individual slugs and rule up to the limits of their mold size. (As could, I believe, various Monotype machines when suitably equipped with a Rule Attachment but not casting in fusion mode.) However, often it is useful to have this material in longer strips.

Traditional hand and machine typefounding can also produce this material, but with the advent of machine composition without distribution (the Linotype and Monotype), it became desirable to have this material cast from the same alloy as the type, so that it might all be remelted together. Foundry-cast leads, for example, must be separated by hand from Linotype slugs before remelting the slugs.

Both the Elrod and various Monotype machines can produce strip material in a fashion which appears to be continuous from the point of view of the user (a continuous strip emerges from the machine, to be cut to length as desired). Of these machines, only the Elrod (and its later and less successful copy, the Universal) is a "true" continuous stripcaster, producing solid material directly and continuously from a crucible of molten typemetal. By way of contrast, the various Monotype machines produce their material by fusing together successively cast pieces.

The Elrod had the advantage that there is no possibility of air entering into the casting process. Material cast on the Elrod must, in thoery, be very solid. Its disadvantage is that because its strip is drawn from a mold it cannot create strip material with any typographic pattern on it other than straight lines.

The Monotype material making machines' advantages and disadvantages are just the reverse. Because it casts discontinuously into a mold, the material can be porous. This material can, however, be cast with arbitrary typographical patterns. It is also possible in some of the Monotype machines to operate both in a "fusion" mode to produce strip material and in a "non-fusion" mode to produce ordinary types.

Note: For literature on metal feeders used with thes Elrod and Monotype machines (the Margach and Star are mentioned in Elrod documentation, and my Elrod was equipped with a Monomelt), see the Metal Feeders subsection of Notebooks in the Common Casting Equipment section.

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