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My wife wants me to use an FFM 3d printer to make custom stamps for her to use on paper (scrap books, letters, etc.). She is convinced, however, that they will be too rigid to make good stamps. A quick google search showed ones made from PLA and ABS. Logically, though, a TPU or similar would address her concerns. A good quality stamp needs to hold ink and make good, even contact with the paper. It would probably need to be able to be sanded or smoothed in some way.

I am supposed to receive my printer next week or so and am trying to get some filaments, STL files, and accessories I will need ready in advance so I can rapidly learn how to use it.

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  • $\begingroup$ So even if you show your wife the results on those pages, she won't believe it? Well, you can lead a horse to water, etc., ... just go ahead and print a few -- these won't take long to produce, and let her try them herself. There are flexible materials but the reviews I've seen say they're difficult to work with (in the 3Dprinter). $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Sep 29 '16 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft Those examples have quality issues (uneven images and drops of ink on paper) and I don't know if using a different filament would give better results. I was intending to wait to experiment with TPU because it is harder to print. I might need to order it now before I get the printer, however, if I need it to give her what she wants me to print. Happy wife happy life. $\endgroup$ – kaine Sep 29 '16 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ There also exists flexible PLA filament which is somewhere in between TPU and PLA in hardness. Easier to print, and might be suitable for this. $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Sep 29 '16 at 16:23
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I see three options...

1. Print with a flexible filament:

  • Many options: TPU as you pointed out, the flexible PLA that Tom mentioned, and others. Here's an article with a few options from Matter Hackers
  • I'd suggest printing the stamp side down so you get a nice flat stamp with no post processing. For any wide gaps, mind your bridging...use fillets or chamfers so the "roof" of the gap is an upside down V or U shape.

2. Print with any hard filament, but use a rubber mat under the paper.

  • The idea here is to use a semi-flexible surface under the paper to help get uniform contact pressure between the paper and the hard stamp. As long as your stamp holds ink, this should work okay.

3. Print your stamp shape, then use it to make a rubber stamp.

  • Making a model and then copying it with your desired non-printable material is a common manufacturing technique that can be used in many situations. Use of molds for casting and related processes can really expand your possibilities. Check out Smooth On. They have several rubber and flexible compounds that you could use for stamps.
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Recently I've experimented with printing some Nylon 618 filament after reading stuff online about it. I'm using a Craftbot original with the stock hotend, keeping the Nylon dry in a ziploc bag. It prints really well, just tricky to get it to stick to the bed (I'm still working on that), but otherwise it's great.

Once printed, the main difference from PLA prints is the nylon remains more flexible. If you bend a thin nylon print, it tends to just spring back to the shape that came off the printer. That's very different from my PLA prints, which will either stay bent or break apart.

I believe that nylon would be a good material for you to try for stamps, because of this flexibility and shape-preserving quality. The comments show some other materials to try, but I'm limiting my answer here to my own personal experience.

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  • $\begingroup$ looks cool...but is 6 times more than ABS! Fortunately i should only need a small amount for each stamp and misprints of something so simple should be minimal (once I get the filament working right). $\endgroup$ – kaine Sep 30 '16 at 15:56

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