Intro: Leather Embossing With a 3D Printer!
In this instructable I will be going over the steps to 3d print a very simple stamp to emboss leather with. This is a great way to make custom branded products like hats and other merchandise with your own unique logo.
Below is a video that goes through the process step by step. For a detailed write up continue into this instructable for more!
Step 1: 3D Design in Google Sketchup (Free Version)
For the 3D design of the stamp I will be using Google Sketchup, this is the free version of the desktop application for mac. The template ill be using is Interior and Production design - Inches.
The primary tool I will be using is the 3D text tool. Its very intuitive to set up your text using the option boxes presented. The variables your going to want to adjust are the text height, and the extrusion distance. In my case I set it at 1/4” text height with a 1/8” extrusion.
Once I get my text laid out I go ahead and add 2 borders to create some definition on the stamp.
Step 2: 2. Flip the Design to Make the Stamp
An important thing to do once you complete your 3D design is to flip it so its a mirror image of itself, this will create a correct impression once its in the leather.
Step 3: 3D Print Your Stamp
Im using a MakerBot Replicator to 3D print my stamp. This could likely be achieved on most 3D printers, but something to note if you want a good amount of Infill so the stamp has strength when its being pressed in the vise. I also recommend printing it to a raft and then LEAVING it on the raft once the print is completed. The raft will keep the letters oriented properly.
If you don't have a 3D printer you could have it printed by one of may internet 3D printing companies like Shapeways.
Step 4: Set Up Your Stamping Blocks
Once the 3D print is complete you can set up the block you'll use to hold the stamp in place for repeated use. In my case I like to use some pieces of 3/4” plywood. You really can use any material that will fit your stamp with about a 2” border on all sides. You want the 2 pieces of wood to be the same size.
Step 5: Glue Your Stamp Down
I use 5 minute epoxy ( West system G5) to glue my 3D printed stamp to the center of one of the blocks. Take care to make it nice and square in the center of the block, this will make lining it up with your material easier moving forward.
Step 6: Set Up Your Block in a Bench Vise.
I like to set up my stamping blocks to work on a specific vise in the shop, This helps with alignment down the road when you are using this stamp. I clamp the blocks in the vise lightly making sure that the vise jaws are lined up with the 3D printed stamp. Once this is lined up I take a sharpie maker and outline the vise jaws onto the wooden blocks. I also note the TOP of both of the blocks. This might seem like an unnecessary step but I can tell you it makes the setup of this SO much easier and in turn your more likely to use it.
Step 7: Prep Your Leather
I am using Veg Tan leather I get from amazon ( ). I cut a strip that slightly oversized to the stamp I am planning to make. I recommend this because if you try and make it exact you may have alignment issues when you do the pressing. Its very difficult to get exact placement because the blocks shroud your view. Once you have the piece cut I run it under some sink water for a few seconds to get it wet.
Step 8: Clamp Your Leather and PRESS
With the leather wet I head back over to the vise and using the alignment marks I made earlier get everything set up. I use light pressure at first to get everything set and then put as much clamping force onto the jaws as I possibly can. This will ensure a good impression. Once its clamped I wait 10 minutes before I remove it.
Step 9: Pull Your Leather From the Stamp.
After 10 minutes I release the vise and pull out the stamp to see how it came out.
Step 10: Trim Your Stamp and Continue.
With the stamp complete I trim it to the desired size. Once this is done there are many things that you can do with the stamp. I usually dye the stamps brown and glue them to merchandise like Hats and backpacks. Using leather adhesive you can get a permanent bond really quickly.
Step 11: Enjoy Your Newly Branded Stuff!
I really like the look of these leather patches and the fact that they can be made at home/in the shop opens up tons of possibilities to personalize goods and use a variety of designs. I really hope you enjoyed this instructable and don't forget to check out and share the Youtube video in the first step. If you have any questions please let me know in the comments! Thanks!!