Introduction: How to Customize Cardboard Boxes
We are prototyping a cardboard box to include our kits (PlotaboX is a subscription service that helps you become a maker, learning by doing). As we are prototyping we need a fast and cheap way to print the boxes, test and make modifications.
We decided to go ink stamping because it is a technology that can be easily applied and does not need a machine to be applied. The silkscreening would give us better results, but will require to make a screen and build some sort of tool to be able to silkscreen the boxes. Another option is to print stickers on a laser printer and stick them to the boxes, but the transparent ones always show some bubbles underneath and they are shiny.
Let's do some ink stamping!
- Carboard (recycle discarded boxes from a supermarket or shop)
- Silhouette Portrait (you can borrow one, or go to a maker space to use one)
- Silhouette Stamping Starter Kit (includes de mat, ink and rubber)
Visit out project's website. Plotabox: subscription boxes with learn by making kits
Step 1: Design
You can use any software and import the results to Silhouette Studio. The best results are if you save the files as vector ones .svg , but the free version of the Silhouette software does not allow to import such files. We are lucky to access a designer version which can import the vector files.
One thing to consider is the detail level of your design. When designing for plotter cutting, you must consider that the plotter will only cut the lines and you will have to peel the excess material. Usually, I tell people to think the plotter as a x-acto moved by a robot. This way they can imagine what work and not. The thinner the details you include, the more difficult it will be to have a clean result.
If possible, design the letters with the Silhouette software because they will be more precise than importing a vector or tracing an image.
Step 2: Cut the Stamp Material
Silhouette Studio Designer Edition allows you to import .svg files which makes this process easier, if you can't access this paid version look for an instructable that shows how to trace an image file.
When you open Silhouette Studio, the default mat will be the Portrait size, but for cutting the stamp material you need to select Stamp mat.
Then you have to import the .svg file to the library and generate the trace.
Place the Stamp material (rubber) on the mat taking care not to leave air bubbles, and load to the Silhouette using the "load mat" button (the alignment is different when using a mat than when using vinyl or transfer).
Go to cutting settings and select "Stamp material" and "Double cut". The rubber is quite elastic and if double cut is not selected, there can be places where it might not be 100% cut.
Adjust the blade to 9 and ...
Send to Silhouette
Step 3: Make the Stamp
Now that you have cut the rubber, you can use the thick polycarbonate that come with the starter kit or like us look for a more flexible support material. We have tested previously with thicker supports but cardboard is not perfectly flat, so it's better to have a support that can accommodate to the cardboard.
First thing to do is to remove all the excess rubber that you might have, using an x-acto and a lot of patience. It helps to cut individual areas so it's easier to work with small excess material.
We used a very thin and flexible plastic with double sided tape as a backing material. This later can be attached to a supporting stamp or whatever. We copied this idea from a youtube video from a box factory.
Step 4: Test It!
Cut some cardboard and place in a flat table.
Ink the stamp and place over the cardboard. Make some pressure on all the surface of the stamp to allow for a complete transfer of the ink.