Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of interest in classic printing techniques like relief printing and letterpress, but the techniques involved in creating printing plates and moveable type have been out of reach for most people. Luckily 3D printing has changed this, making it very easy to create custom printing plates, moveable type, and stamps.
In this tutorial I want to show you how to create simple custom stamps directly from vector images using Inkscape and OpenSCAD — both of which are free. We will use Inkscape to edit the image and prepare it for printing and OpenSCAD to generate an STL file for 3D printing. The feature that makes OpenSCAD perfect for this project is that it can easily extrude 3D objects from 2D vector graphics, so we can generate a printable STL file from an SVG image with just a few lines of code.
First, you’ll need to download and install the required software programs if you don’t already have them installed on your computer. You’ll need Inkscape, OpenSCAD, and the Inkscape OpenSCAD DXF Exporter, which will allow us to export the vector image from Inkscape into a format that OpenSCAD understands.
Choosing an Image
When choosing your image make sure it works well as a pure black and white image and does not have too many small details. The thickness of your thinnest lines should be greater than nozzle size of your extruder. This ensures that the design will print cleanly and not get lost during slicing.
Since Christmas is coming up, I chose this image of a Christmas tree. If you don’t have a suitable vector image you can also use Inkscape to autotrace a bitmap image and turn it into a vector image.
The Handle and Other Materials
I’m using a 4×4×4cm wooden cube from a craft store as a handle for my stamp. You can also buy pre-made round and square traditional stamp handles at craft stores if you want a more traditional look. Of course you can always 3D print a handle for your stamp if you wish. In addition, you will also need glue, some sandpaper or a file, and an ink pad of your choice.