Monday, March 30, 2015

Seal the Deal: digitally fabricated personal seal using 3D printing, laser cutter, and CNC milling

Seal the Deal: digitally fabricated personal seal using 3D printing, laser cutter, and CNC milling

since young, yours truly always wanted a personal seal. The reasons for a personal seal? it looks cool to "chop" (native colloquial for stamping) a document.

A personal seal consist of 2 parts, the structure of the personal seal aka the body, and the calligraphy used as the seal's signage.

the cost of owning a traditional personal seal is exorbitantly prohibitive. Firstly, the cost of the material for the personal seal. Usually semi precious stones such as jade is used. the choice of materials do affect the cost of the personal seal. Artistic impression on the body of seal. from blanks to simple engraving of philosophy quotes , and some went all out to have complicated sculptures carved on the body of the personal seal. Well, the cost will escalate accordingly too. Lastly, the calligraphy for the signage used in the personal seal.

Luckily, yours truly have access to FabLab@SP, an arsenal of digital fabrication machines to choose from. Designing and fabricating a personal seal is a breeze with the availability of machines, tools, software, and expertise.

equipment needed
1. 3D printers
1a. CNC milling machine
2. laser cutters

software needed
1. inkscape
2. tinkercad
3. cura

parts needed
1. stl file of the personal seal structure
2. dxf file of the caligraphy
3. basswood (balsawood is too soft; after several stamps, the engraving gave way)

the methodologies to digitally fabricate a personal seal:
1. download a model of choice from thingiverse as the body of the personal seal.
2. edit the model using simple cad modelling tools such as tinkercad. Here, a hallowed out base is created. This area hallowed out is to be inserted with the signage

3. send the edited STL file to be 3D printer. we have the stl file 3D printed using ultimaker2 at the highest resolution eg 20microns. Perform some final finishing moves such as acetone bath (if using ABS filament) or THF (if using PLA filament) on the 3D printed parts if desired.

3a. the STL file can be used for CNC milling too. more about that in a future post.

4. engrave the calligraphy on basswood with a laser cutter. several passes are needed to achieve atleast a 3mm deep engraving. note that there are 2 styles, the positive engraving (阳刻) on the surrounding of the calligraphy, and the negative engraving (阴刻) on the calligraphy itself.

5. insert the engraved basswood into the hallowed out spacer of the 3D printed part.

6. the final outcome

next up: cnc milling of the personal seal on aluminium!