Soon, you may see your Quarters in a new way. The US Mint is working with a new 3-D modeling technology to design circulating and collectible coins. The Bald Eagle half dollar and James Monroe dollar are a couple coins that will be created using the FreeForm 3-D modeling system from SensAble Technologies.
The coins will be more curved, organic and non-geometric using this new method. They are being created using a “Haptic” technology. This will enhance the feel of a coin, while creating a coin in a faster, more efficient method. Before, coins were duplicated using wax or clay models.
The new process would take the 3-D computer scan of the coin to the CNC machines in which they are then engraved. The end result is precise detail and textures on each coin. It will also give the artists the ability to put more contour and design into a coin.
Even the Penny will benefit from this new low-cost technology. The penny has been reported in the past to cost more than a penny to make – in 2007, the penny production cost 1.7 cents. There is no report that this new process will bring the cost below 1 cent. Nonetheless, it will still have the same 2.5% Copper, Balance Zinc combination as the current penny. In 2009 the US Mint will produce 4 commemorative pennies (one every 3 months) highlighting Lincoln’s life.
The coins are displayed on the US Mint’s website. Here is the Ultra-High Relief Gold Coin which will be available next year.