If you are interested in making rubber stamps and have investigated other rubber stamp making methods you should seriously consider polymer stamp production as a serious option.
What are Polymers?
Tiny molecules strung in long repeating chains form polymers. Why the chemistry lesson? Well for one thing, your body is made of them. DNA – the genetic blueprint that defines people and other living things – is a polymer. Proteins and starches in the foods we eat, the wheels on our skateboards, and even the tyres on our bikes and cars are polymers. In fact, we are surrounded by polymers every day, everywhere we go. Polymers also form one of our recyclables, which is good for the environment.
Polymer Curing – How stamps are made with chemistry!
In polymer chemistry and process engineering, curing refers to the toughening or hardening of a polymer material by the cross-linking of polymer chains; this is brought about by chemical additives, ultraviolet radiation or heat. Rubber stamp polymer is supplied as a liquid and is cured using ultraviolet radiation. Although natural sunlight can cure polymer, liquid stamp polymer requires precise exposure to UV light to make rubber stamps.
Polymer in a bag
The most exciting development of recent is a new innovation where polymer is injected into a flat rectangular sealed bag; this new product does away with backing sheets, foam tape and coverlay film normally required for stamp production. Processing times are reduced by about 50% when using these new bags; this reduced labour cost negates the extra cost of the bagged product. The bags are available in a range of sizes to suit production demand. Polymer in a bag has also eliminated the problem of air bubbles during processing; this common objection to polymer stamp making has now been overcome.
The Polymer Rubber Stamp Market
You have two distinct markets for rubber stamps. The first is the traditional business stamp market where stamps are affixed to handles and self inking units.
The second market growing rapidly is the craft industry; craft stamps are affixed to wooden or clear acrylic blocks and are used for card making and scrapbooking. Craft stamps such as an artist’s range of stamps that follow a theme are traditionally made using the vulcanizing process due to it being more suited to mass production of the same stamp. Nowadays card makers want custom designs and clear see through stamps of which polymer is making some significant inroads. It is not economical to offer custom made stamps using the vulcanising process as plates need to be made up each time designs change.
Be aware that some polymer stamps called ‘jellies’ are being sold to the craft industry, these polymer stamps adhere to an acrylic block without adhesives due to the back of the stamp being sticky after processing. In theory this works well, the problems are that the back of the stamp can pick up dirt and that distortion of the stamp can occur. In some cases the stamp can tear easily as it has no structural backing.
The development of a clear silicone mat has solved this problem, InstaGrip is a very thin mat that has ‘cling’ properties and clings to both the acrylic block and the plastic back of the stamp, if it loses it’s cling properties due to a dust build up you just rinse it under water. see www.instastamp.com.au/instagrip.php
So where is the polymer stamp industry heading?
Business stamping seems to be just as strong as it always has been, with the introduction of the bagged polymer many more manufacturers will be offering polymer stamps due to the bag’s labour saving benefits and the lower entry cost for polymer processing equipment.
The craft stamp industry will see much more polymer in the future for much the same reasons. The demand for custom made stamps through services such as stampsearch.com.au where you can select craft artwork online and then have that image made into a stamp will help the polymer stamp industry making craft stamps develop in a positive manner.