Tag Archives: innovation center

The Stamp Situation

Jacob Motts

Jacob Motts,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 19 March 2017

What many people may not know about me is that I am currently carrying out an engineering design internship within the Innovation Center at Ohio University. The Innovation Center has many purposes, but one is to serve as a nest for startup companies in the Southeastern-Ohio area and provide many fantastic resources to transform peoples’ ideas into reality.

When an individual has a new idea or new design they bring it to us to be turned into a reality. My job is to transform those ideas into CAD models and produce high-quality 3D-printed prototypes utilizing our Stratasys Objet 3D-printer. Sometimes those prototypes even serve as a functional final product, as is the case with one client of ours named Susie Abramovitz.

Finished Mug

Susie is a local artisan who does absolutely amazing pottery work. One of her mugs can be seen above. One of the characteristics that sets Susie’s work apart from the rest is her use of 3D-printed stamps to imprint the clay. This is where I come in.

A typical process has Susie’s graphic designer make a 2D sketch of the picture and send it to me. I then convert the Adobe Illustrator files into a linear CAD drawing and later construct a 3-dimensional stamp form in Solidworks to be printed. In the past, no issues were happening as Susie used the stamps in her work. However, with the new School of Nursing stamps to be made, that was a different story.

No changes were made in the process, but for whatever reason, these stamps were just not pressing deep enough into the clay. We knew it wasn’t the design because it was made in the same way as prints had been in the past. Many attempts and several redesigns later, we were still no closer to getting a good stamp into the clay. To make matters worse, the due date for the mugs was fast approaching.

At 9:00 pm on a Friday night it hit me mid conversation. Chemistry. Chemistry was causing the stamps to fail. Susie uses canola oil as a releasing agent for her stamping. In the past there was never a problem because we had printed the stamps using the Vero plastic material. However, this set of stamps were being printed in ABS plastic.


In a flurry I went online to confirm my suspicions and sure enough; vegetable oils chemically attack ABS plastics. In other words, the canola oil was eating away all the details off of the stamp and leaving the clay surface marred. However, after a simple change in releasing agent to WD-40, it all fell into place. The stamps imprinted perfectly (pictured above), the mugs came out great, and the deadline was met. Another happy client.