Rubber Stamps From the 3D Printer

In recent Christmases I've enjoyed making some gifts, decorations, and gift-wrapping components myself, often employing some of my desktop fabrication machines: the laser cutter, 3D printer, etc. To satisfy 2018's “Esto Blue and Lion Gold” theme I used that 3D printer to make some custom stamps featuring a lion face, suitable for use with blue or gold stamp pads.

The final design ended up very different!

After sketching a lion with a magnificent mane to serve as some kind of guide, I designed the final artwork in Adobe Illustrator, then imported that 2D vector drawing into CAD to extrude it into a 3D block. I've been trying to do my more hobby-oriented CAD work in Onshape so that it's easily accessible and modifiable by readers without a lot of resources. Generally I've been very pleased by how complete this product is, but vector import in Onshape is still a pain, so I did this one in SolidWorks instead.

I printed the resulting STL file using some flexible TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) filament from SainSmart. I'd had a spool of this in the shop for a while and was looking for a reason to try it out. The flexibility of the part depends very much on the infill density; I printed mine at 100% because this TPU prints a little more stringy than PLA on my machine and the top surface (the stamping surface) wouldn't quite fill in over the voids in the internal structure otherwise. I would have liked it slightly more flexible and will probably tweak my print settings if I make any more stamps in the future. Some light sanding of the stamping surface improved the quality of the impression.

To make these stamps more usable I designed a handle and printed it in rigid PLA (blue, naturally). Because the fit is pretty tight, the glue area is large, and the loads are low and only in compression, rubber cement did a decent job bonding the two together.

If you'd like to make some of these for yourself, here are the files you'll need:

I used these stamps to make custom name tags for the gifts we were giving this year, stamping gold ink on blue paper. I also made some extra stamps for the young kids in the family and gave these along with appropriately colored stamp pads; these gifts were enthusiastically received by the kids, somewhat less so by their parents. Merry Christmas!

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