Name Stamp

Name Stamp

by scientiffic | updated June 10, 2014

I've always wanted to design my own rubber stamp, mostly to use on my books. I thought the Build Your Name Challenge would be a good excuse to make one! My plan is to design the stamp pattern, carve it out by hand, and then design a nice wooden handle for it.



I've always wanted to design my own rubber stamp, mostly to use on my books.  I thought the Build Your Name Challenge would be a good excuse to make one!  My plan is to design the stamp pattern, carve it out by hand, and then design a nice wooden handle for it.

November 30, 2013 at 5:04 PM
Comments (4)
This is awesome! I loooove linoleum block printing! I haven't done it since college art class because I don't have the materials and I'm a renter. I remember my art teacher warning us that the ink will NEVER come off if you get it on carpet. I opted to spend a lot of time in the studio instead. Maybe we were using oil inks. I like how you combined the tradition of linoleum block carving with 3D printing.
over 2 years ago
thanks a lot! at first, I was thinking of using a laser cutter for creating the rubber stamp, but I thought it would be fun to make it by hand.
over 2 years ago
*high-five* I'm hopelessly attached to the precision we can get with technology, but increasingly, I'm returning to the warmth and imperfections of hand-crafted work, too.
over 2 years ago
totally agree!
over 2 years ago

The first part of the process is creating the rubber stamp.  I plan to cut it out of some rubber material using a linoleum cutter.

November 30, 2013 at 5:10 PM
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I went to the art store to pick up some materials for building the stamp.  I bought a black ink pad, a rubber block, and a linoleum cutter.  The linoleum cutter has a nice set of different tips that you can switch out depending on the cut you're trying to make.  I used one many years ago in art class but haven't used one since.  

Actually, I just looked at the kit I bought, and they seem to be safety cutters rather than typical linoleum blades.  I've never actually seen these blades before, but apparently you cut towards you rather than away from you, and the cutting edge is recessed so you shouldn't cut your fingers.  I might end up returning them for the blades that are normally used, but it's cold outside and I don't really want to bike back to the store, so I'll try them out in the meantime!

November 30, 2013 at 5:17 PM
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I sketched out some potential designs in my notebook.  Since this the first time I'm making a stamp, I figured I'd go with some relatively simple, and if it turns out well, I'll do something more advanced next time.  One of the things I've always liked about my name is that I have double intials (TT).  While I was sketching, I came up with the idea of embedding one T in another, which I think I'll play around with some more.  I find it faster to play around with typography in Illustrator, so I'm planning to mock some of these designs up on my computer, print it out, and then trace over it by hand.  Then I'll transfer it onto the stamp!

November 30, 2013 at 5:21 PM
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I mocked up some of my designs in Illustrator, which gave me more flexibility over picking the font I wanted.  I ended up finding a type I liked on the site dafont.com, which I use a lot for finding free fonts.  I chose the font Postface, which has a nice, friendly look:


I also tried two other fonts, Symbol, and Arbutus Slab, but I think I prefer Postface.  I'm going to attempt to do the design with one t embedded in another.  First, though, I looked up some videos of the safety blades I bought, and I think it'll be harder to use them than the traditional linoleum cutters...so it's back to the store for me to get the right tool.  Always a good reminder to check what you're buying before you get it. ( :

November 30, 2013 at 5:40 PM
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I'm now equipped with the correct linoleum cutter.  Hurrah!  

November 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM
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After I dimensioned my stamp to be about 1.5 inches square, I printed it out and traced over the outline with a graphite pencil.  I then put it face down over the rubber stamp material and rubbed the back of the paper with a ruler to transfer the design to the rubber stamp.  It didn't turn out super clean, but I think I'll just go ahead and see how it goes!

Note: this makes it easier to make your stamp since the text on your stamp should be backwards; if I were to have drawn directly onto the rubber, I would have to draw a backwards "t" which would probably be pretty hard to do.

November 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM
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I can just hear my high school art teacher saying "you can always remove material, but you can't add it back."  Overall, I'm not fully happy with my first attempt; I wasn't sure whether I wanted the outline of the text to appear on the stamp, and I think after doing my test print, I want to invert the cut so only the letter.  Some things I learned from my first attempt:

  1. I started with the outer ring and realized that if I wanted to create the double ring pattern, I would need to trace both the inside and outside of the circle.  I didn't have space to do that in this version, but I plan to do it for the next one
  2. It's hard to do perfect circles!  I think I would definitely try not pressing as hard so the circle doesn't get wider each time I try to clean it up.
  3. I'm not sure if all stamp pads are like this, but my stamp pad is recessed so you need to cut the material so it all fits within the stamp pad.  I wanted to test out the stamp before cutting it out fully from the rubber piece I had, but I couldn't get enough ink on it that way.  Luckily, I did buy a big enough piece to do a few more tests.  

For the next version, I plan to incorporate the double circle around the letters and invert the material that I'm cutting away.

November 30, 2013 at 7:14 PM
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I actually just reused the stamp from before and just cut away the extra material around the "t".  I definitely prefer this look more than the first version, but there are some part of the stamp that I think are unsalvageable.  The main issue is that the circle around the stamp is pretty warped now, and parts of the outline around the "t" were accidentally cut away.  I'm going to try to cut this again from scratch, now that I'm a little wiser. ( :

November 30, 2013 at 7:29 PM
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Actually, before I recut from scratch, I decided to see what it would look like if I cut out the inside of the "t" so the stamp would produce the same design I had printed out.  I prefer the second design over this design as I think it's harder to cut things evenly, so producing a third cut makes the lettering look more inconsistent.  So I'm going to stick with the second design for my hopefully final attempt!

November 30, 2013 at 7:44 PM
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For my final stamp, I ended up with a much cleaner transfer.  I did just one pass with the pencil and was careful to erase any stray marks.  I then burnished the back of the piece of my paper with my fingernail, which I think ended up being better because the force was more concentrated.

November 30, 2013 at 8:48 PM
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Wow, this ended up taking me a long time, but I'm much happier with the result!

I'm especially happy with the circle border; what I ended up doing was doing two very careful passes with the #1 blade (for fine, shallow cuts) and did it in one continuous pass.  This helps give the circle a continuous look.  I also did not go very deep with the #1 blade because I found the deeper I went, the more extraneous material the blade removed.  After tracing the outline with the finest tip, I went and removed the extra material with a bigger tip.

One thing that I learned as I went is that it pretty much doesn't matter what the carved material looks like; it just matters what the material on the surface looks like.  This is obvious in retrospect, but it basically means that if you can do one clean pass, then you can remove the other material relatively messily.

I got a little too finicky at the end trying to fix bumpy curves, and I unfortunately removed a little too much material in one spot.  Otherwise, though, I'm pretty happy with it.

The last thing I realized was that I cut this stamp on the back of my original attempt, which means that the back of my final stamp isn't completely flat.  Luckily, there is some material around the corners that I can use to securely glue the stamp to the base I plan to make out of wood, but it would have been good to have done the stamp on a completely new piece.

Up next is creating the handle for the stamp.  I plan to make the handle out of wood.  I haven't decided whether to cut it on a lathe to get a nice circular holder or if I should just do it on a laser cutter.  Perhaps I can laser cut a handle that I can then sand down to have a more curved finish?  We'll see!

November 30, 2013 at 8:55 PM
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I think the lathe in the my lab is broken, so I plan to make a laser cut handle.  I still plan on having a curved profile so it's comfortable to hold.  Here's a sketch of what I plan to cut on the laser cutter.

  1. The base - this is what will connect the rubber stamp to the handle.  It'll have a cutout on the top of the base that the handle will key into.
  2. 3 support braces - these are circular pieces that will help provide structure to the handle along its cross-section.
  3. 4 side pieces - the profile of these pieces will be curved like a handle to make the stamp handle nice to hold.

November 30, 2013 at 8:59 PM
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My original plan was to sketch out a handle in Solidworks and then turn it into something I could cut on the laser cutter.  I came up with this design and thought it looked too long although it's dimensions to fit four fingers (everyone but the thumb).  I looked up stamp handles online and found some handles that were shorter and just had enough room for a thumb to grasp.  I thought it looked cute, so I'm planning to go in this direction instead.  And now that I realize that the part is fairly small, I'm going to try to 3D print it instead of laser cutting!

December 3, 2013 at 12:23 PM
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I went forward with the idea of 3D printing a handle rather than laser cutting it.  One thing I got excited about was the idea of putting my design on the top of the stamp handle!  I was able to export a .DXF from Illustrator and import it as a sketch into my Solidwork part.  After some scaling, I was able to get it to fit nicely on the top of the handle.  Now to 3D print!

December 3, 2013 at 12:38 PM
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One thing that I learned a long time ago is the usefulness of printing out a to-scale drawing of your design before you try to make it.  This helps to quickly identify any issues you might have.  I plan to edit the design slightly to be more comfortable to hold, and then I'm going to print it.

December 3, 2013 at 2:34 PM
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After adjusting some of the dimensions for the stamp, it's ready to print!

I've never used the new Maker Bot in our Media Lab shop, but I found their software to be easy to use. I had to import an STL file and then place it on the bed in the right orientation.  One thing I needed to do when exporing the STL from Solidworks is click the "options" button when saving the file and selecting "save all components of an assembly in a single file" (see highlighted part of image).  

Unfortunately, there's a job running on the Maker Bot right now, so I'm going to try to print out the handle later today.

December 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM
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Just started my job on the Makerbot!  Looks like the stamp handle is going to be bright blue.  The machine took a minute to heat up and is now printing slowly.  I'll check back on it in a few hours!

December 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM
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It ended up taking 42 minutes for my stamp to print.  To remove the 3D printed part from the bed, I first used a window scraper to pry the part out.  I then had to remove the bottom support layer, which I did by carefully pressing down along the edges and then working from the outside in to remove it.  I then took a file to remove some extra plastic material around the edges of the stamp.

The "t" on the top of the stamp is a bit hard to see, so I'm going to look into some options for outlining the design in black.

Does anyone have ideas for painting / drawing on 3D printed ABS? What type of paint works best?
What I decided
I decided to use sharpie!
December 10, 2013 at 1:48 PM
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After borrowing some scrap material, I tested how well sharpie worked on 3D printed plastic.  It turns out that it works really well!  You can wipe off the sharpie with your finger, but since the design is recessed, it is hard to wipe away.  You can see from the pictures that the stamp fits comfortably in my hand.  Please ignore the bloody band-aid, as I cut myself a little from the sharp edges of the 3D printed plastic.  I promise I'm ok!

The last thing for me to do is glue the rubber stamp to the bass of the plastic part.  I left the stamp at home, so I plan on doing that later today!

December 10, 2013 at 2:01 PM
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I wanted to attach the stamp to the handle in a non-permanent way, so I decided to hot glue it at the recommendation of a friend.  There are easy ways to remove hot glue–The best way I know of is to spread some ethyl alcohol onto the hot glue, which somehow chemically loosen the glue and makes it really easy to peel off.  

Anyhow, after hot gluing around the edges, the stamp was secure!

December 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM
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Here's a video of the final stamp.  It works pretty well!  I did find that the stamp needs to be pressed into the ink pad multiple times to ensure that it's fully covered.  I'm very happy with the final design of the handle in particular, which is comfortable to hold.  The only downside to using the Makerbot is that I'm not sure if it's very good at printing sharp corners, since the underside of the handle required some filing after printing.  

If anyone remixes this, I would definitely explore some different handle designs!  

Design Files
December 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM
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