Here’s how to make your own big stamp rollers using acrylic paint markers and 3D printing.
I was inspired by these small stamping markers my friend Moxie sent me. The tips have little wheels with a design that repeats as you roll it across the paper. As the wheel spins, it gets re-inked inside the marker. This is an awesome idea that works super well, but the available designs are limited in variety and size.
Moxie asked me if I thought we could make them custom, and much bigger, and of course, the answer is hell yes we can.
3D Printing Files
Here are the files I developed for this project. I encourage you to download them, and print them as-is to make your own markers, or edit the files to create your own stamping designs!
Making the First Prototype
I started out by cutting the angled felt tip on a big Sharpie to be straight across, and then measured and sketched out the dimensions of the different parts of the marker in my sketchbook.
I’m designing something to fit onto the end of the marker, so I used that sketch and those measurements to create a 3D model of the marker in Tinkercad. That made it easier to visualize how the marker and the new stamping accessory would fit together. Basically, it’s a cap that fits over the tip of the marker, holding the stamping wheel in just the right position.
The stamping wheel has an axle that fits into a slot on the piece that fits to the marker. This way, the wheel can move closer to the marker tip when needed, and the user can adjust the pressure of the tip onto the wheel.
Finding the Right Marker
My first prototype worked sorta ok, but I wasn’t super impressed. And I didn’t love that I had to modify the marker tip before it would work at all.
So, I did a little more research and found a square-tip acrylic paint marker that seems to be widely available in a variety of colors, including an empty one you can fill yourself. The tip of this paint marker retracts a bit, which makes it easier to control the flow onto the roller, and it’s paint instead of ink, so it’s more viscous and sticks to the wheel a little better.
Designing the Stamping Wheels
So once I had a prototype that was working ok, I set about designing a few different stamping wheels. Here’s the part you’ll want to pay attention to if you want to modify my 3D files to make your own custom stamping marker caps.
Here are the different stages of the process all in a row.
First, I started out with a core of cylinders that make up the axel and roller surface. Then I’ve got a larger solid shape through which I punch a hole the shape of my stamp design. When these two things are grouped together, it makes a block with the shape punched out. Next I switched that solid to a hole, and grouped it with the roller surface cylinder. This blocks out everything but where the shape is.
Then I copied and rotated the resulting shape to repeat the design around the wheel, and finally grouped everything together and merged it with the marker cap base so that it can be printed all as one piece. If you’re using text, don’t forget to flip the letters or the finished wheel so it will stamp the right way around.
Printing the Prototypes
Remember those little dots that were often included around the more complex shapes in the commercial version? It’s starting to make sense why they are there now– my star stamp just would not spin freely. After I added some more filler shapes, it worked a lot better.
My name stamps don’t work as well in one direction as they do in the other– the wheel often gets stuck at a letter with a vertical line. So not all designs will perform to the same standards, and it’s smart to fill out as much of the roller as you can to get the smoothest performance.
I also tried printing my part in flexible TPU filament. The standoff arms were too floppy, so I tried putting a TPU wheel into a PLA base. I’m sure there are still a ton of things that could be done to improve this design, so I invite you to copy my Tinkercad design or use my STLs to bring into your other 3D software of choice– I’ve shared all of the files above and on Printables.