Introduction: Sandblasted Steel Beer Pint

Picture of Sandblasted Steel Beer Pint

Nothing personalizes an item quite like etching or engraving. Whether it's a gift or just something you want to add your own special touch to, lettering or artwork engraving really adds to a project.

This summer, I picked up a stainless steel cup. It's great for camping, outdoor events, and festivals, as it is so durable. No worries about using disposable plastic cups or breaking glassware. However, the cup is a little plain-looking.

In this Instructable, I'll show you how I used SANDBLASTING to engrave a design on my stainless steel beer pint!

For more of my DIY projects, check out my blog at: EcoProjecteer.net!

If you like this instructable, please vote for it in the upper right corner!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Tools:
Computer with Vector drawing software (Illustrator, Inkscape)
CNC Vinyl Cutter (such as Cameo Silhouette)
Sandblaster
Tweezers/Exacto-Knife/Seam Ripper

Materials:
Adhesive-backed Vinyl
Transfer paper
Masking tape
Stainless Steel Pint Cup (such as this)

Step 2: Create Your Design

Picture of Create Your Design

Vector art
Openclipart.org
Modify - used Illustrator - convert fonts to outlines
Why Au?
Make real size
Print a paper version
screengrabs

CNC cutters usually make use of vector graphics. I wanted a sunburst, but didn't want to draw one from scratch. I'm not that good at designing from scratch, but pretty good at altering existing work. OpenClipArt.org is a great resource to get copyright-free vector graphics. I found a sunburst there that I liked and downloaded it. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was a great start.

I have Adobe Illustrator on my computer, but any other vector drawing program like Corel Draw or Inkscape will work just as well.
I deleted out all colored sections of the art. For sandblasting, we are only making a template - a shape that will be masked off. No colors will be used, just shape, so a black and white image is fine.

Next, I deleted out the face in the image, and tweaked some of the points of the suns rays.

I then added the letters A and u in the middle using the text tool.

Once happy with the artwork, make sure to convert fonts to outlines. Not all fonts are the same on different machines. CREATE OUTLINES makes the font into just the shape of the letters.

It's also important to make sure that the artwork is the right size for the object. I measured the cup and decided that round artwork of three inches in diameter was the right size. I scaled the art to 3"  square and printed it out on my inkjet printer. I then cut it out and taped it to the cup as a mockup to see how I liked the size and position.

The vinyl cutter uses .DXF files, so I saved my project and exported a file as .DXF.

Step 3: Cut the Vinyl Template

Picture of Cut the Vinyl Template

On the computer, open the software for the vinyl cutter and import the .DXF file.

Arrange the artwork on the cutting area. It might make sense to cut a number of stickers or templates all at once to make the best use of the materials.

Load the vinyl into the machine as per its directions and run the machine.

Once the vinyl is cut, cut out the particular piece of art, making sure to leave a good size border around it.

Step 4: Masking Off the Cup

Picture of Masking Off the Cup

The next step is to actually mask off an area on the cup.

This involves selectively removing parts of the vinyl to make a stencil, and applying it to the cup.

To start with, peel off the parts of the vinyl where you WANT the cup to be sandblasted. I found that it was helpful to pin the material down to the table with two pieces of masking tape. I then used detailed tools like an Xacto knife and a tweezers to carefully remove parts of the stencil.

Next, cut a piece of transfer paper just a little larger than the vinyl. Transfer paper is similar to sticker material or masking tape, except that it is in a big sheet. Peel the backer off the transfer paper and then press it down onto the vinyl. Rub it to make sure it sticks down well.

Flip over the transfer paper and vinyl.

Peel the backer paper off the vinyl. This needs to be done slow and careful to make sure the vinyl all sticks to the transfer paper.

You now have the vinyl image (in reverse) with exposed adhesive.

Apply the vinyl to the steel cup, making sure it is centered. The dark color of the vinyl shows through the transfer paper, making it easier to eyeball and align the artwork. Rub the transfer paper, making sure the vinyl is stuck down well to the cup.

Gently peel the transfer paper off.

You now have a nice vinyl stencil stuck on the cup.

Mask off the rest of the stainless steel cup with masking tape.

Step 5: Sandblast

Picture of Sandblast

The next step is to sandblast the cup.

Sandblasting isn't difficult, but it does require that you have a sandblaster, cabinet, and compressed air. I don't have any of those things, but am a member of the Milwaukee Makerspace. A makerspace, or hackerspace, is a shared workshop where individuals can pool their resources and share equipment for making cool projects. Try looking for one in your area. If you don't have one, maybe you and your friends can start one!

Sandblasting is sort of like spray-painting. You simply want to cover the area you are working on evenly. The stencil does all the hard work. Sorry, I don't have any good photos of me actually sandblasting, as it's hard for me to have both hands in the machine AND take a photo!

I did the blasting at 40 psi.

Afterwords, I removed the work, and peeled off the blue making tape, and rinsed it off in the work sink. I then peeled off only the OUTSIDE ring of the black vinyl template. That allows me to have three colors - brushed stainless, sandblasted stainless, and black vinyl all as part of the finished design. I really liked the contrast between the black and the stainless steel.

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!

After a little wash and dry, the project is complete.

I'm very happy with the results.

Sandblasting produces a really nice-looking, permanent finish. it's a great way to add your name, phone number, or other identifying marks to an item you would like returned if lost.

This is also a great way to make gifts for friends. Just pick up a stainless steel item (maybe recycle something from the thrift-store) create a design, and blast away! This same technique works great on glass as well!

Check out some of the other items I sandblasted at the same time. And of course, swing by my DIY blog to see what other projects I'm up to at Ecoprojecteer.net

Comments

Johnkaye (author)2013-12-31

I've been sandblasting using photo-resist for about 30 years. I also do a lot of papercrafts and got a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas. It's an amazing machine for cutting out paper and card stock. So dead on accurate that it can double-cut the same pattern to cut through thicker card stock. Thanks for connecting the dots between the Silhouette and sandblasting! I probably would not have thought of cutting vinyl for sandblasting resist. You have sent me off in a whole new direction with the Silhouette. Your project came out great! Good work!

ghaines1 (author)2015-06-29

Does the vinyl hold up to washing and such? I assume it's hand wash only. Looks KILLER.

firefightermeyer (author)2015-06-17

This is a great project. I'm going to give this a shot!

Raitis (author)2013-12-30

Thanks for the instructable, I'm was contemplating about these sandblasting things for a while since I started upcycling glass and all and this answered many questions.
Still, I'd like to know if it is necessary to use a different blasting medium when working on glass due to it being harder than steel?
How did you make the finished blasting two tone?
Sorry if any of these were answered, just jumped through to see main stuff. :)

Jo0Lz (author)Raitis2014-03-29

I've blasted a lot of glasses over the last 3 years and found 80 to 120 grade aluminium oxide as a perfect blasting medium that readily available from MachineMart in the UK. I've actually found it is harder to blast designs onto stainless steel than on to glass

bennelson (author)Raitis2013-12-30

I made the piece three colors - the original brushed stainless steel finish, the "frosted" sandblasted portion of the stainless, and finally, the black is from the vinyl that I used as a stencil, the outermost part removed, but the inner part kept for effect. I used whatever sandblasting media was already in the machine. It's sort of a purplish sharp sand. It worked great on both glass and stainless steel.

You can see a few examples of glass engraving I have done at: http://ecoprojecteer.net/2013/12/sandblasted-steel-pint-and-writable-glass/

Johnkaye (author)bennelson2013-12-31

It sounds like Aluminum Oxide blasting medium. This is pretty much standard for sandblast engraving.

daveculp (author)2014-01-01

Beautiful work; I love it. I have a problem with metal beer glasses, though. Unless the inside is polished to a mirror finish, the scratches create nucleation points and the beer goes flat instantly--all you get is foam. I've had OK luck by wetting the inside of the glass first (masks the nucleation points), but it adulterates the beer a bit. Now, if there were an easy way to polish the insides....

bennelson (author)daveculp2014-01-01

I've actually been very happy with the Klean Kanteen brand. It's the first time I've had a metal cup that didn't taste like metal. According to their web page, the cup has an "electropolished" interior.

I haven't had any issue with flatness/foam. 

daveculp (author)bennelson2014-01-02

According to Wikipedia, "To achieve electropolishing of a rough surface, the protruding parts of a surface profile must dissolve faster than the recesses. This process, referred to as anodic leveling, is achieved by a mass transport limited dissolution reaction. Anodic dissolution under electropolishing conditions deburrs metal objects due to increased current density on corners and burrs." Cool stuff! Polishing without scrubbing, I like it! Probably explains why brands like Klean Kanteen cost more than the cheap imports I bought. ;-)

anthonyfarrow1 (author)2013-12-31

A purplish sharp sand would indicate to that you used Garnet Sand. I usually comes in three grades of coarseness and is used by professional sanAbrasive Blasters (Sand Blasters). Also available are Glass Beads which are less aggressive, comes in a range of grades and is great for frosting glass. Also used by Abrasive Blasters

soilwork (author)2013-12-29

Very nice work,,,, try InkScape "free-opensource cross platform software" ,,, very ,very very powerful vector software and is fully free

chriskendall1 (author)soilwork2013-12-31

Inscape(http://www.inkscape.org/en/) and the Inkcut(http://inkcut.sourceforge.net/) plotter extension both work on my mac. I had a hard time finding a good free software for mac so Istalled refit(http://refit.sourceforge.net/)to dual boot unbuntu/OSX.

Works great and now I can import eps files into inkcut and cut them.

bennelson (author)soilwork2013-12-30

Yes, I found that Inkscape doesn't run great on my computer, but that it actually is much BETTER than Illustrator for exporting DXF files!

dcpyatt (author)2013-12-29

I was surprised that the vinyl held up so well to the sandblasting to remain a portion of the finished project.

A nice finished result, as with all of your projects!
Take care!

DaveP in Ohio

aceammar (author)2013-12-29

whats that sign stand for on the front of the cup

bennelson (author)aceammar2013-12-29

Au is the elemental abbreviation for Gold. Gold, the sun, and light all have strong historic and folkloric connections to each other.
I've always like sunburst patterns and the periodic table of elements, and it seemed like a good design for the solstice.

aceammar (author)2013-12-29

wowwwww

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Bio: Ordinary guy with no special skills, just trying to change the world one backyard invention at a time. See more at: http://300mpg.org/ On ... More »
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