Two years ago a fellow Davidson student started a charity called Earth’s Kids Foundation. The model of his non-profit is to buy hand-made purses and bags from two communities of women in India and Kenya then resell them in the US to raise money to help children affected by trafficking networks. It is a double charity, so to speak. It provides a source of revenue for the women who make the purses then donations are made to select partners who help the children.
Recently, the foundation moved beyond local resale and began shipping their bags across the country. This created the need to be able to cheaply brand their packages that are mailed directly to the consumers. Custom-printed boxes would be expensive and it turns out that ordering a large custom-made stamp to brand boxes by hand is also fairly expensive; that’s where the Makerspace was able to help!
I offered to build a stamp for the foundation that would be much cheaper than the alternatives. This project was a big milestone in my maker career. It was the first time I felt that I was using Studio M to its full potential by incorporating multiple tools and machines to crank out a final product. In the end, this is what I came up with.
To make the stamp I started with a digital image of the EK logo. This logo needed some adjustments before it could be sent to our OtherMill machine and cut out of a linoleum pad. First, I used Adobe Illustrator to trace the art and ‘vectorize’ the logo. This just creates a scalable logo that can be blown-up to any proportions. Second, I made the logo black and white then took the inverse of the image. This ensured that all the whitespace of the original logo was now black and would be cut away by the CNC machine. The third transformation was a horizontal reflection. This last step is key, as it ensures your stamp reproduced the logo rather than a mirror image of the logo. On the left is the original and on the right is what was sent to the OtherMill:
While the actual pad was being milled, I went to Thingiverse and found a model for a 3D printed stamp handle. After downloading the .stl file for the handle and changing the scale a little bit, I sent it off to the MakerBot to be printed:
Once my handle was complete, I took its measurements and made plans to create a large circular base that would ensure even pressure was applied to the stamp while in use. In the end, I used our laser cutter to remove 5 circular pieces from a sheet of ⅛“ birch plywood to bolster the 3D printed handle:
I now had all the pieces ready to put together the custom-made EK stamp. I used wood glue to sandwich all the pieces together, then clamped the stamp and left it overnight.
The next day I came back to put the final two pieces of birch on (the one with the EK logo etched into the plywood goes on the very top and faces the user when they use the stamp). The last step was just to use some rubber cement to adhere the linoleum to the stamp base. All told the raw materials for this project were less than $10 – not too shabby. The funds that Earth’s Kids saved can be sent as donations to help children and the stamp will help build their brand as they expand their market.