The artist is Jenny Beard and her website shows other pieces of her work. We would like to thank Jenny for the chance to develop something different and exciting. You can see more of our work on our website ATAmorecreations.
Step 1: Selecting the Image and Creating the Digital Design.
It is important to always check drawings carefully particularly if you are producing them for a client! Anything that is going to be made into a stamp needs to be MIRRORED otherwise when it is imprinted it be backwards! If there is text involved always double check spelling and get someone else to check it too!
I tend to keep a record in a Moleskine sketchbook of any work I do for a client. This is the first page of development for Jenny Beard. You can see her original sketches and the first impressions from the stamps.
Step 2: Using the Laser Cutter
Safety: Laser cutters by the nature of the technology produce fumes, smoke and other contaminates. It is import ant to ensure that you are prepared for two major things, fumes and fire.
FIRE: burning with a laser is a fire risk so it is important to be prepared. Because my machine is in the house it is housed in a room with a smoke alarm and a good fire extinguisher. I also have a large extinguisher outside of the room just in case. NEVER leave a laser cutter working on its own!
FUMES: Extraction and ventilation are important. My machine vents outside through a filter system. There is little or no fumes in doors.
Outside the fumes are diluted quickly and don't pose a risk. The HEPA and carbon filter system removes most of the material effectively.
As each machine is slightly different I am not going into the detail but rather giving general steps and tips which I have gather from experience. I you are going to be working with some else's equipment make sure that you appreciate that it is their machine at their expense and they will likely know more than you about it! There is nothing worse than having a Mr Know-it-all wanting to just take over. If you are prepared to watch, listen and learn then you will get a much better service.
My laser is a 50w 400x600mm CO2 laser by Thunder Laser systems. It is excellent and I am very happy with the service and support that I get from them. The picture here is of my machine in the factory while it was being built and tested!
Settings that I used are as follows:
cutting: speed 6 power 90%
engraving: speed 200 power 40% scan gap 0.10 ramp engrave.
Step 3: Selecting the Rubber and Engraving
- standard which is a light grey colour
- low odour which is also light grey colour
- eco green rubber which is green in colour.
Standard laser rubber is easy to use but stinks of pot/weed when you engrave it! Low odour still smells strongly even through the filters. Both of these produce a lot of dust so the machine requires a lot of regular cleaning.
The eco rubber as with all so called eco materials costs three times the price! However unlike a lot of other eco products it seems to me to be much better to use and produces better imprints.
In the UK there are few suppliers of these materials but it all seems to come from the same source. I now go tot he source for my supply.
If you buy these materials it is important to store them carefully to prevent damage. They are not cheap materials to use.
I have also tried some silicon rubber sheet which seems to work very well too but I am going to compare prices at some point. The only problem with the silicon is that the supplier couldn't advise me of its suitability for using in the laser or as a stamp.
The software that I use is called LaserGrav which is supplied by Thunder Laser. The image in the form of an image file (jpeg in this case) was imported into the software. The it is mirrored (dont forget this step) then INVERT the image so that you will removing the background and leaving the image to be printed.
Next input the correct settings for engraving the image and cutting the outline of the final stamp. These settings will depend on your machine or the machine you are using and the material you are using. This where you need to experiment on small pieces first and record the successes for later use. I make a note in a Moleskine and also keep a sample piece of the material with the settings written on them. These are then my reference for later projects.
Step 4: Mounting the Rubber on a Suitable Backing and Inking for the First Imprint
The supports need to be of a substantial size to prevent any flexing of the stamp during printing. Mark the backing so it is easy to see which way up the image is.... ie which is the top!
The first loading of the stamp and creating the first imprint is exciting! Take your time and record what you do so that you can use the best combination. You will see in the images below a sample strip with my notes. Try different combinations of backing (felt/rubber/thick card/paper) to get the best print.
Inks: there a pads as used in offices and liquid ink which needs to be spread on a hard smooth surface and the picked up with a printers roller before being loaded onto the stamp.
Step 5: Conclusion
I hope that you have found this Instructable interesting. If you have any comments that would help me develop this project further then please post them.
If you dont have a laser cutter then please try the suggested locations which are given earlier.
Step 6: Update....
Standard grade stinks and makes a huge mess. (wont be using that again)!