What you will need for this instructable:
Soft support for paper (rubber, cork, etc)
Step 1: Create the Design You Want to Deboss
The first step is to model your design. For my plate, I decided to use catenary curves to create a simple network with thickened nodes where each string meets.
Step 2: Create the Toolpaths to Machine the Part
For my project I had access to a Haas VF2ss mill, which would allow me to machine the debossing plate out of aluminum. Therefore, I created several toolpaths in Inventor 2015 HSM that would incrementally remove material at smaller and smaller intervals. The bits I used were a 2" face and .5", .25" and .125" end mills.
Step 3: Machine the Part
Load your stock material and machine it.
Step 4: Clean the Deboss Plate
Once machined the part needs to be cleaned to remove any debris and coolant in order to be able to use with paper. I used de-greasing, heavy duty hand soap which worked perfectly in a single washing.
Step 5: Press Your Debossing
Finally, set up your machine and press your paper. I used a Dake hand pump press, which allowed me to manually apply the pressure I needed to deboss. I found .5 ton pressure to be plenty and going over tended to sheer the paper leaving undesirable marks, rips, etc. I also placed a rubber sheet under the paper to allow the deboss to occur. I sourced 100# Pure White cover stock from French Paper Co.
Step 6: Final Thoughts
When using the Dake with different patterns, I quickly realized that simply placing the press cylinder in the middle and pressing didn't always produce the desired effects. Depending on the design, various pressing locations and order of pressings need to occur in order to get a consistently even deboss on the paper. It was actually quite fun figuring this process out for each design that was produced.