laser cut rubber stamps

my friend R and i played with the laser cutter in the woodshop at our school and made our own rubber stamps! our engineering teacher had some old laser cuttable rubber lying around, and let us experiment with it. we had to play around with the settings and run the process multiple times to finally get a good result. after we figured things out though, we were flying through the process (3 stamps in 1.5 hours) and taking requests from many of our teachers. i’m still amazed at how professional these stamps look and how well they work!

there are four overall steps to the process. first is designing the stamp and preparing the design in illustrator. second is cutting out the stamp on the laser cutter. third is reversing the design and cutting out the wood backing for the stamp. and fourth is gluing all the pieces together. that’s a rough summary, so here’s a more detailed look at our process in case i ever forget and need to look at it again:

how to make personalized stamps:

materials:

  1. iPad and apple pencil
  2. adobe illustrator
  3. rubber and foam
  4. laser cutter
  5. wood
  6. glue adhesive

this example is walking you through our process of creating some stamps for our maths teacher to make grading easier. we had her write what she wanted on a stamp in procreate on my iPad with the apple pencil. we saved the file as a .png and brought it into illustrator, making the document the same size as the stamp would be. next, we prepared the lettering for the laser cutter program. we had to vectorize the lettering using image trace, make the lettering white, add a black rectangle behind the lettering, and add an outline of a rectangle in red around the black rectangle. *note: the red rectangle, in with point size .001, is very important, because that’s the area the laser cutter will cut out instead of raster! i kept forgetting this step lol. and finally, reverse the lettering. make sure everything is sized correctly and then send to the laser cutter program.

so we opened up the document we prepared in illustrator on our school’s computer. then we adjusted the settings to raster then vector. it took a while to find the right settings, but now we’ve found a set that works, and if you zoom in closely, you can make it out. i feel like every laser cutter is different though.

then we position our rubber, run the job perimeter, and print away! here are some crappy shots of the laser cutter in progress. also, the rubber stinks when you take it out, even with the blowers on, and there’s a lot of white powder, so be careful of spreading that everywhere!

once you’ve cut out the rubber, it’s time to cut out the wood backing of the stamp. we pulled up illustrator again and reversed everything we had just done so it looks like the images below. again, don’t forget the red rectangle!

you’ll need to readjust the laser cutter to the height of the wood.

here are the settings we used, make sure it is raster then vector again. and cut!

once you have all your pieces cut out, it’s time to assemble the stamp. take some of your foam and cut them to the same size as the rubber pieces. then, take strong adhesive, we used a spray one, and over a covered, well-ventilated surface, spray the backs of the rubber and foam and attach them to each other. then, spray the back of the foam and the back of the wood, make sure the pieces are oriented correctly, and stick them together.

and that’s a wrap! here’s what the final stamps look like.

some things to remember: don’t make the design too thin or else the stamp won’t stamp clearly. make the red rectangle around the wood piece a little larger than your actual stamp. and have some really good ventilation when working with the rubber!! we may have accidentally stank up the woodshop… all in all, these are really fun to make, and teachers love them as gifts!

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