Introduction: Make a Custom Bic Brander

Picture of Make a Custom Bic Brander

In this Instructable I will show you how to 3D print your very own custom Branding Iron that snaps onto a Bic lighter!
You don't need a 3D printer, just an image, an image editing program like Pixlr and to print your brand in real steel.

Yes, this is a branding iron, they get hot! Don't do anything stupid with one of these, like burn yourself or an animal! If you do, please don't blame me! :)

Second Disclaimer:
I am the designer of the branding iron, I 3D modeled the base file that your custom image gets extruded from on Shapeways, as the designer of the brand I get a bit of the profit for the sales on Shapeways ;) Don't hate me, your dollar is like a high five and makes my day more awesome :)

Step 1: Find Your Image

Picture of Find Your Image

First of all you will need to find or create a black and white image for your branding iron.
When you upload your image the black areas will be extruded by 1mm, the white areas will stay in place. You should avoid any Gray scale or color images as they won't produce as clean of a final brand but you can experiment if you want!

Step 2: Use Autodesk Pixlr to Reverse Your Image (your Iron Should Be a Mirror Image of the Final Brand)

Picture of Use Autodesk Pixlr to Reverse Your Image (your Iron Should Be a Mirror Image of the Final Brand)

Almost every image will need to be reversed before uploading, that way the brand comes out the right way

This is super easy with Autodesk Pixlr, a completely free online photo editing program,
Navigate to and choose to open an image on your computer or by inputting a URL

Then just click "Image" and then "Flip canvas horizontal"

Step 3: Use Pixlr to Invert Your Image and Crop It If Needed

Picture of Use Pixlr to Invert Your Image and Crop It If Needed

If you found the perfect black and white image but it's backwards, you'll need to Invert it in Pixlr

To do this, just duplicate the background layer and change the new layer's mode to "invert", that's it!

If you need to add white space around your image, just increase the canvas size by a few pixels with the center as your anchor. (do this if your brand gets distorted at the edges, you'll know what I mean later when you go to make your branding iron)

If you need to remove space around your image just use the crop button in Pixlr.

If you have a rectangular shaped image then you may need to rotate your image in Pixlr as well.

The 3D base models all have the longest edge of the rectangle running left-right, so if you have a tall skinny image, you'll want to rotate it by 90°.

Step 4: Upload Your Image to Shapeways

Picture of Upload Your Image to Shapeways

If your image is mostly circular or square shaped follow this link:

If your image is mostly rectangular shaped follow this link:

If your image is a skinny rectangle follow this link:

Next just click on the "Choose File" Button and pick the image you made earlier!

Step 5: Order Your Brand, Wait and Burn!

This step is easy! Just click the "Add to Cart" button on the right and follow the process to order your Custom bic branding iron!

Shapeways will then 3D print your custom brand in Stainless steel and it should arrive in about 14-18 days worldwide!

After it's arrived you just attach it to a Bic World Class lighter and then light it up for about 60 seconds or so (every brand is different)

Be sure to practice on some scrap wood first! Getting a good brand takes practice and you don't want to mess up your 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie bat with a sloppy batman brand. (really though, that's a dumb idea, if you have a Mickey Mantle bat just don't brand it at all).

Have fun!


serial-fanboi2154 (author)2016-09-29

A Zippo brander would be nice, too...

ewbray (author)2016-09-04

Simple SOLUTION to the whole "flaring" problem. Use the BIC lighter to ignite the wick on a candle to heat the branding iron to the desired temperature to "brand" the item. When the branding iron reaches the correct temperature the BIC lighter could be used to maintain the proper temperature until the task is completed!!

patdoherty (author)2015-09-06

when lighters melt and "explode" (I use quotes because the rate at which the volume of gas expands lands it on the lowest end of low explosive) it is because the plastic became soft and let gas out which then ignites thus there is minimal compression and no shrapnel. I would be and would like to see evidence of a lighter doing any damage. I personally have had a lighter i was holding melt and "explode" and only had a very small burn on one finger tip.

Rimwulf (author)patdoherty2015-10-11

The word your looking for isn't "explode" but "flair" the lighters will flair up when left on too long.

MK1Jack (author)Rimwulf2016-09-04


bcraun (author)2016-09-04

Another solution to achieve the same effect would be to use a laser/water cut stencil made from a small piece of non-galvanized sheet-metal or thin steel plate. Place stencil over object and use a small butane blowtorch to burn the image on to the object. Understandably, though, you're not burning the design "into" the material, but rather "onto" it.

Joejh77 (author)2016-09-04

Excellent ! Can't wait to try

J.j.K made it! (author)2016-02-21

This is a really cool instructable! It melted the bic lighter when I tried it and it never really got hot enough to leave a mark, so I just took a propane torch and heated it while holding it with a pair of vice grips. Works fine and looks great. Really easy to upload your own image as long as you follow instructions. I had someone design me a logo with my initials on it for my woodworking projects.

IvanT40 (author)2016-01-18

Hello James,

We are a medium size manufacturing company that makes belts out of different kinds of leather/skin (bison, alligator, python etc...) We often order stamping die to stamp the back of our belts. I do like you products for our smaller clients who can't offered the larger dies. What is your turn around time for you to make one of these heat stamps if we supply you with a pdf or image file of what we need to stamp on leather.

Email me at

SamsonM2 (author)2015-12-28

this along with many others from MTG would probably sell big, maybe even the Skyrim Shadow Marks if you are so inclined X3

JamesH76 (author)2015-12-25

Actually, that's not entirely true, Shapeways profits when they 3D print your brand, pixlr makes a profit for serving ads while you're adjusting your image, then instructables makes a profit by serving ads while you read the instructable. Thats actually how the internet works, people put things out there for people to use and then they make a bit of money for their efforts. I worked hard creating and setting up the base file so other people could use it to make branding irons and a lot of folks have done just that and are pretty happy I did, I'm sorry you think its inappropriate :)

JamesH76 (author)2015-11-24

Just FYI all customizeable models are 20% at Shapeways until Thursday the 26th at midnight...

Here's where the customizeable branding irons are at:

HariKarier11 (author)JamesH762015-12-20

James you did a nice job on your branding irons, I hope to be able to use one someday. What I don't understand is why don't people read the ible before they ask a question about the ible, it's not like you didn't explain every question they asked, besides what's the matter with a little capitalism. Keep up the good work.

MichaelAtOz (author)2015-09-01

I know we are meant to be nice, but.
Reading between the lines of the comments, I believe you are the owner of that Shapeways store. If so, you should declare that and that you are likely profiting from every order. And it is not a new idea, you can get similar cheaper.

tutur09 (author)MichaelAtOz2015-12-09

Hey Micheal_oz,
I'm another shapeway designer like James (& I made custom iron like this in the past)
As it's fair to say he should be rewarded for his automation work in Shapeways by getting a small markup it is true he is mainly advertising for his product on Instructable and not really upfront about it.
I'm actually glad someone did finally automate this good for him.

In the instructable spirit he should have shown how to use a 3d modeler as an alternative to make the model yourself and upload it to the site.

You can find the original model from shapeway here:

Download the base model here:

And use you favorite 3D modeler software to build on top.
you can look at one of my comment earlier in the thread - you might want to review the design to reduce heat transfer and allow easier install.

Then upload it on Shapeways to be printed for your own use without the markup fees :)


JamesH76 (author)MichaelAtOz2015-09-01

Hi Michael_oz, I don't think that's "not" nice, you're right! I am the designer on Shapeways and I do make a bit of the profit off of new orders, as does Shapeways :) that's how it works on their site.

They just introduced the ability for designers like me to create 3D models that can be customized like this a few weeks ago and as far as I know I am the first designer to make a lighter branding iron that can be customized.
Up to this point you could get pre-designed brands but not ones that could be user customized, as far as I know this is it, but if another designer sets one up they should totally make an instructable of their own :)

I'm sure I'll make many more customizable objects that require an instructable in the future too. Best

Ward_Nox (author)JamesH762015-09-05

yea but you should have mentioned that in the ible

chromium (author)JamesH762015-09-01

Hi, JamesH76. I thought that your instructable is really great and convenient. But how can you make this, do you use milling machines and input data and do it, or you use like salt water to erode it? I really like to know how to diy it myself? (I mean the methods, not steal the thing from you)

Khord (author)chromium2015-09-05

Shapeways is a 3D printing service. The printers extrude the design layer by layer out of metal printing filament, not a destructive method like milling or eroding. The author of this 'ible simply designed the models to be readily available to order through Shapeways.

tutur09 made it! (author)2015-12-09

Nice use of the shapeway customisation feature!
How long did it take you to heat the branding Iron to dig into the wood like on the picture?

I tried to optimized the original model they had on shapeways to reduce heat transfer few years back - never got a conclusive result:
It takes few minutes to heat the branding iron and after few usage it start to melt the lighter.

It's perfect to brand bananas tho! :)

Tips: you can use different Thickness to burn less some areas.
See the "like" sleeve on the banana pic.

ChrisF68 (author)2015-11-27

What resolution are you able to print to? :) Love this!

BrentP9 (author)2015-11-12

I've done everything step by step. less than 2000px by 2000px. when I upload it, its just a blank preview

JamesH76 (author)BrentP92015-11-12

Did you get my private message, if you want you can email me the image and I'll see if it works for me, or you can reply and add it here if want to.

BrentP9 (author)2015-11-03

when I upload it, it doesn't show the design?

JamesH76 (author)BrentP92015-11-09

Did it ever work for you? The image has to be under 2000px by 2000px and sometimes it's just slow to process the image.

gothycdesigns (author)2015-09-18

This is awesome for a small branding, but I would convert it to use with a pen torch from HF or torch in general. I have seen a lighter cause damage before. So I wouldn't trust a lighter for too long. Even if you have to do several brandings in a row. Great idea though and be about the right size I would need. You should add a file fun or use with a torch to cover options. Thanks for sharing your project.

xXnocturnusXx (author)2015-09-05

whatt, lost limbs from the tiny amount of fuel in a hand lighter? I seriously doubt it. Check the mythbusters on lighter explosions, the explosions from more severe conditions weren't even that bad,

Lost Limbs you read it well. Its not a tiny amount of fuel. A good brother of mine lost an eye because a BIC lighter explosion in his hand. The hand take many stitches and the nerves of two fingers were damaged.

Rimwulf (author)xXnocturnusXx2015-09-06

I saw that one too, the scary part it is having it in your pocket when it catches and while not explosive the thought is scary as hell. Pants on fire, lol.

LoopyMind (author)Rimwulf2015-09-07

that's why they now come with that metal "lip" over the wheel and the wheel needing to be pressed down in order to work. chances of a "lighter, lighter, pants on fire ;)" happening is remote.

DougG11 (author)xXnocturnusXx2015-09-05

10 deaths? 100's of injuries? Sorry, I'll trust coroners before reality TV.

patdoherty (author)2015-09-06

also just checked LexisNexis on all the court cases mentioned in the
article you posted and of the ones that seem to be real court cases (it
was hard to find some because the article didnt list case #s) Bic (or
any lighter manufacturer) has never been found guilty of any injury caused
by a lighter exploding. the deaths that have been positively attributed
to lighter are because the lighter was defective (or tampered with) it
then leaked butane which saturated the persons clothes and was then
later ignited when the person went to use the lighter. The people who
have died, died from burns not explosions. I cant find any evidence
anywhere of anyone with a "lost limb" due to a lighter exploding, if you could find any, please post I would be really interested to read about it.

Rimwulf (author)2015-09-05

It would take more that 5 minutes for that to happen and it would flair up not explode. For it to explode it needs to be heated hotter than its "flash point" assuming the fire doesn't melt the plastic releasing the gas first. Butane otherwise will burn slowly and it will burn for about a minute while the rest escapes the fire. best to use it in short burst 30 seconds and prolly with a nearly spent lighter.

DougG11 (author)Rimwulf2015-09-06

There is no point in refuting ignoant statements like this, when the link that explains the failure mode in detal has alreay been posted.

pdu toit1 (author)2015-09-06

People have lost limbs to explosions caused by this problem... even me too... this photo was taken just after i had a small bic lighter blow up near my face while i was trying to smoke some tnt... look at my beard there is nothing left... but i was being stupid... but on the other hand i still have my left hand

LONIandANDY (author)2015-09-05

These are great! I'm a wood worker and have been looking at brands but I just wanted a small butterfly and the ones I've found are crazy expensive for something so little. I have to say your freaking brilliant and I can't wait to see what else you come up with. Can't wait to get one too.

Ward_Nox (author)2015-09-05

@xXnocturnusXx is completly right i just checked Snopes:

DougG11 (author)Ward_Nox2015-09-05

Snopes disproves the unlikely scenario of a welding spark igniting a bic lighter. Not remotely relevant.

antagonizer (author)2015-09-05

When I read the line, "I will show you how to 3D print your own custom branding iron", I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't 'really' an instructable so much as directions on ordering from your site. Not to steal your thunder, but perhaps you can remix it so that others are able to replicate the process on their own, as is the spirit of instructables. Show 'how' you make them, as well as directing on where to purchase them should they prefer that. I could replicate it with a little brass sheeting and some brazing gear, but I'd really love to see your process. Sounds very interesting.

De Curtis (author)2015-09-05

OMG, un bronyyyy

Dashing Rainbow Dash (author)2015-09-05

Would this work better with one of those blowtorch lighters?

begole (author)2015-09-04

This is awesome. I have wanted a brand for my woodworking for years. I just placed the order and cannot wait to try it. I'll report back after I try it out. Thank you for this shapeway design. You rock.

printrbot932 (author)2015-08-30

About how much do these cost?

JamesH76 (author)printrbot9322015-09-02

Yeah, it says over at Shapeways, but $22 :)

taj1994 (author)printrbot9322015-09-02

Click the Shapeways link and find out

dollarseed (author)2015-09-02

Another free image program that will allow you to do everything you need, is called irfanview. I use this one all the time to make thumbnails for my websites, and so much more. As for you getting a cut, that is only to be expected. If they want to do all of the work to take credit, let them figure out the 3d modeling of it :) (author)2015-09-02

Cool Idea, and yes you deserve a cut for inventing it! Why wouldn't one just click "mirror image" instead of rotating, that way no matter the shape of it, you don't have to figure out how far to rotate or any thing.


herbk98 (author)2015-09-01

I just ordered one. No matter if the author gets a little profit from it, $22 is a decent price if it does what it claims to do. I just got into woodworking in retirement (small things, not furniture) and have been looking for a way to burn my initials into my creations. If this works as advertised, I'll be one happy woodworker! ;-) I'll come back and leave additional feedback once I get it and try it out. Fingers crossed...

ViktorV1 (author)herbk982015-09-01

What's even easier (but not as professional looking) is to use a magnifying glass and go out on a sunny day and "draw" your symbol/initials by burning them into the wood with the focused light.

herbk98 (author)ViktorV12015-09-01

I'm sure that would be an interesting thing to do - maybe once or twice - but I've got dozens of things to 'brand.' Also, I put in a lot of time on my creations and I want the 'branding' to look just as good. I also want it to be the same on each piece and I doubt the solar branding would result in the desired uniformity. But thanks for the suggestion! Maybe that would be something to do with my grandkids when they visit.

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