I came across the art of stamping with custom ink stamps while researching another topic: how to make and sell paper crafts. That is when I realised that this right here is a great opportunity for a starting a craft business.
You might think rubber ink stamps are not all that popular anymore. And you will be both wrong and right in your assumption. Yes, they might not be less common in households. But do they sell any less? Probably not. What has happened is that with the advent of laser imprinted and acrylic stamps, their usage has changed.
Ink Stamps Are Also ‘Craft Supplies’
All you have to do it see the sales figures of some of the online shops that sell customised ink stamps to gauge their current popularity. They are hot selling craft items, because of the simple reason that they are also ‘craft supplies’. And craft supplies are big sellers in this segment. We know that. And I will show you these stores in just a moment. Read on.
Much like watercolours, pencils, brushes etc. that are used as tools for creating other craft and art, stamps are also craft making tools. The difference is that this ‘tool’ is also a craft itself. Stamps can be made in various designs and creative patterns. So they are a craft for the person who makes them and tools for who uses them.
Present Day Uses For Rubber & Acrylic Stamps
So the first thing you will wonder is whether there is any demand for this craft at all. It might seem unlikely. But with a little bit of snooping around online, you will see ink stamps are, in fact, pretty popular.
Let us have a quick look at the reasons why people today are buying and using ink stamps.
3 Main Markets For Selling Craft Stamps
There are three major ways that stamps are used today – for business, for art & craft and for children’s activities.
1. Uses of Stamps In Art & Craft
For art and craft stamps are used in a wide variety of ways.
- They are used on stationary, notebook covers, letters, greeting cards, wedding invitations et cetera to decorate and personalise these items.
- Scrapbook makers use them enthusiastically.
- A stamp with a beautifully written family name and address is still used by many.
- Stamping is a popular hobby.
- Stamping is used my artists in their artwork, journals etc.
- Business often stamps on their packaging for various effects. To make their packing more attractive, warm, friendly, unique, nostalgic, classic etc..
- A lot of people use stamps to make invites for their special occasions welcoming and distinctive.
2. Uses for Stamps In Children’s Activities
- Paper stamping for children is a favourite recreational activity as it is fun, engaging and boosts creativity.
- Children are encouraged to create little works of art using stamps for things like houses, animals, nature et cetera.
- A very manageable of introducing even very young children to creating art.
- Stamps can also be educational and encourage the child to learn.
3. Uses Of Stamps For Business Branding
Businesses are one of the biggest users of ink stamps. They are not just the formal ‘business name and address’ kin either. Businesses use ink stamps to personalise and customise their packaging all the time. It’s what branding it all about. And stamps do it magnificently, conveniently and fastly.
Okay, that’s not a word. But you get what I’m saying. 🙂
Check out these online stores selling custom ink stamps.
And to give you a better idea of what I am speaking off, let share with you some of the online information I found, that encouraged me to share article with you in the first place. Check out these shops on Etsy right here:
Are you blown away by the number of sales these shops have? I certainly was. Very impressive for such a simple craft. To top that I ended up buying a few myself since they are just so appealing. So that big sales number doesn’t surprise me at all.
The next order of affairs is, if you are to sell these things, how are going about manufacturing these custom ink stamps? Which bring to the different kinds of ink stamps and how they are made.
Different Kinds Of Ink Stamps & How They Are Made
A stamp is made out of rubber, metal, wood or polymer. Rubber stamps are probably the most common although polymer ones are the most common now. That has a lot to do with the ease of making one. Stamps are also either self-inking or not.
How To Make Rubber Stamps
Rubber stamps are created by engraving or moulding a design onto the rubber. The rubber is then mounted on a block which is most commonly made out of wood. A handle may or may not be attached to the block to make the job of stamping a little more comfortable and easier.
The engraving can be done either by hand, or using a machine. I don’t think anyone does it by hand anymore. The two machine that can be used to engrave a rubber stamp are:
- Laser engraving machine &
- CNC router.
I will show you both these machines in action in just a bit.
Rubber stamps can be made in the conventional style and mounted on a block. Or there is a newer kind know as the cling stamp. To make a cling stamp, the rubber engraving part remains that same. However, they are not permanently attached to a block.
The other side of the cling stamp has an adhesive. Whenever someone wants to use them, they are stuck on to an acrylic block and removed when the use is done. In this manner various stamp ’strips’ can be used with the same block.
The acrylic block used is see through and therefore some people also call these ‘clear stamps’. However, ‘clear stamps’ are another variety of stamps and we will come to them next.
How To Make ‘Clear’ Acrylic Stamps
Unlike rubber stamps, acrylic polymer stamps are made from a polymer material that is colourless and transparent. The process of making clear stamps differs complete from the rubber counterparts. There is no engraving invloved and no complicated machinery like CNC and laser.
Clear stamps are made using a printout on a transparency sheet, some liquid polymer or a polymer sheet and a UV light box. We have spoken about the process in more detail later on in this post.
Clear stamps are much like cling stamps except that the latter are opaque. But like cling stamps they can be stuck and removed from an acrylic block. They are so popular now because the crafters can see exactly where the stamp is going, making the process much easier and accurate.
Machines Needed To Make Stamps
Stamps can be made in various ways using different materials which calls for different amounts of investment. At any rate, you can start the business of making and selling stamps for under $1000.
CNC Router Or Laser Engraving Machine For Making Rubber Stamps
Stamp makers use stamping machines to imprint the rubber. There are different machines that can do this. The one that is most commonly used in today’s date is a laser engraving machine. Another one is a CNC router.
These computer controlled machines use a software that guides the laser or the router bit to imprint the rubber with any design. Depending on which model you buy, the laser and the CNC router are capable of engraving other materials as well such as wood, metal, glass and ceramic. If it is powerful enough it can even cut in addition to engraving.
Let’s talk about these machines a little more in detail.
The CNC Router For Engraving Rubber Stamps
One of the machines that does automatic engraving on many kinds of materials is called a CNC router. You might have heard of a CNC router in relation to woodworking. But by changing the drillbit a CNC router can cut and engrave all kinds of mediums like rubber, ceramic, glass and metals as well.
I like a CNC router because of the fact that it used a drill-bit and not a laser. The main advantage of a laser engraver is that it can imprint more details with a very fine laser beam. A laser also has more functionality like imprinting letters with a buttress.
A CNC machine is computer controlled and uses a special software to function. Once you make the design on the computer, the machine is capable of engraving and cutting with full automation, without any manual intervention. You can create the most intricate pattern using a CNC machine and a fine drill bit.
This is a CNC engraver in action, making a conventional good ol’ fashioned rubber stamp. These CNCs are amazing machines. The original ones used to work will a metal bit, which were then replaced by laser.
The following is a link to a video that shows a very nice, capable and compact CNC machine that can make a rubber stamp. The machine is called BravoProdigy Mini CNC.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVVOS0_pvRY
Using A Laser Engraving Machine To Engrave Rubber Stamps
Today, most people will use laser engraving machines to make a rubber stamp. It is a very versatile machine, just like a the CNC we mentioned above with the difference that it uses laser to cut rather than a drillbit.
Laser engravers come in all sizes and price ranges
The cost will vary a lot between smaller models and larger industrial use models. If you are getting into a business of selling stamps you ideally need a machine that can handle bulk jobs and work reasonably fast. The smaller engravers meant for personal use are not built for heavy usage. Fully functional laser engraver can cost you anything from $500-$5000.
Small laser engraving machine are good for personal use and for practise. The complete newbie will have to go through a learning curve to operate these machines. Have some practise material at hand and you are going to have fun learning to operate an engraver.
Bigger laser engravers have more power, cut faster, have better build quality
The price difference is mainly for how robust, professional and powerful the machine is. The power of the laser is one of the factors determining the cost of the machine. High powered versions are capable of cutting as well as engraving. Higher power of the laser also means that it can do the work faster.
For commercial purposes you need something powerful enough to complete both jobs reasonably quickly. The build quality also comes with a cost. Ideally you want a closed unit that completely contains the impact of the the laser inside the unit while running. The laser is specially harmful to the eyes.
The cheaper models are either completely open units or if they are enclosed they are far from perfectly built. The body allows the light to leak from joints and the efficacy of the viewing glass for filtering the laser rays is also suspect. You are always advised to buy high quality eye glasses when working with laser.
Match the frequency of the glasses with the frequent of the laser. Even after wearing glasses it’s best to set up the project and then not look at the laser light while it’s working.
Where to buy laser engraver machines
Here is a listing online for laser engraving machines. Laser Engravers for under $200.
Depending on where you live you will have access to some well-known manufacturers of CNC machines and laser engravers. You can find this information online as well. Several companies have websites and demonstrations with does videos on YouTube. You can contact them over the phone and many of them participate in local trade shows to demonstrate the machines.
Laser engravers are capable of making both standard rubber and cling stamps. Clear stamps are made differently.
Here is a video of laser and a CNC doing engraving to make a rubber stamp.
Equipment For Making Clear Acrylic Polymer Stamps
The reason why clear stamps are popular is two fold. First, multiple stamps can be easily stored in a box and can be used interchangeably with just one block. Easy storage and saves space. This is true for the cling stamps too.
The second and perhaps the more important reason is that because both the block and the stamp are transparent they can be applied with a great deal of accuracy. You can see where you are putting the stamps something that doesn’t happen with rubber stamps.
In order to make clear stamps you need different equipment compared to making rubber stamps. The process is actually simpler and requires less specialised equipment.
You need an inkjet printer, transparency paper, ultraviolet light box and liquid polymer that the stamp is made from. This liquid polymer can be purchased in ready-made packs already prepared for imprinting, or in a bottle.
The process is simple enough.
- Choose the image/graphic you want to use to make the stamps.
- Convert the picture into a line graphic or negative using a photo editing software. You can use photo shop, CorelDRAW et cetera.
- Print out the image on the transparency with an inkjet printer. You can use a laser printer as well but you will have to use a special transparency paper. The regular transparency paper will melt with the heat of the laser.
You might have noticed if you use laser printers that the paper comes out warm after printing. This is because of the heat that is generated inside by the laser to fuse the toner with the paper. That’s how a laser printer works.
The second reason in favour of using an inkjet printer is that they print better on transparencies. Ink Jets also print better photographs but you are mostly going to be printing graphics which a laser printer can handle pretty well.
- The next step involves using the liquid polymer and the image transparency together. There are two ways to go about this. Either you use the liquid polymer from a bottle or you use a pre-made clear stamp kit. The latter is easier and cleaner way to do things.
Here is another video showing the making of self-inking polymer stamps using a machine called the StampMaker Pro. It is a very easy machine to use but the supplies are expensive.
While you are at it, watch a couple of videos on using a laser cutting machine to engrave a stamp. You can get a good idea about the difference in the two processes.
Making stamps is a good business idea provided a few processes are put into place:
- You should know your market and have a plan for marketing the stamps.
- Plan where and how you are going to sell from before.
- Have the manufacturing process and the order handling process figured out.
- Know or be willing to learn about basic image editing.
- You should be comfortable handling a technical and powerful tool like a laser engraver. It is an advanced tool and involves a learning curve. The more professional the machine, the more will be it’s capability and correspondingly the complexity of operating it. It usually has to be connected to a computer and controlled through the software that comes with it.
- Using an ultraviolet light box to make clear stems is a simple process but you will still need to have familiarity with image editing on computer.
Getting Into The Stamp Making Business
If you are getting into the business there are two ways to go about manufacturing the stamps. You can outsource the entire work or do it the awesome way, and do the engraving yourself.
The problem with outsourcing the work is that you stand to compromise your original digital content if you are making your own custom stamps. You also add an uncertainty, as well as dependability on a third-party which might hinder your workflow.
The overall order processing might take longer because whoever you are outsourcing to is not doing just your work. Your order will be just one of the many in the queue.
There might also be delays due to factors out of your control which will not be very good for business.
However, even if you do the rubber engraving yourself you might still want to outsource making of the mounting blocks and the handles whether they are made out of wood, plastic or metal. The reason is that this requires a very different skill set.
How To Sell Ink Stamps Online
One of the factors that makes all kinds of stamps a great business idea is the portability of the craft. The profit margin is also good, even while being priced at a reasonable cost. All these factors make stamps very well suited to be sold online.
Different kinds of stamps are in demand by different segments of people. Depending on Where you are, how are you want to sell and your personal interest you can sell to businesses or for crafting purposes.
Get yourself an online store on Etsy
Read all you need to know about opening a great store front on the most popular craft website in the world. How to start your business on Etsy.
There is a good demand for business stamps if you can set up an online shop and sell across the state lines. There are 2 kinds of stamps usually used by a business. One is the usual rubber stamp the is used alongside a stamp pad. The other one is the self-inking kind.
Making a self-inking stamps doesn’t call for much creativity as the stamps are mostly letters, numbers, and maybe a small company logo. However, these stamps are the simplest to make. You can buy ready-made blank stamps housings in wholesale along with a stamp machine created and sold specifically for the purpose of making custom self-inking stamps in minutes.
Self inking stamps are also used to make personal stationery, sending out cards, letters, invitations et cetera, although they have limited potential to be of a creative design. Which is why a lot of businesses who are looking to introduce some kind of branding in their packaging, bills, flyers, postal mail etc. use the regular rubber or clear stamps.
These block stamps can be made to depict virtually all kinds of graphics and are therefore the ideal choice for crafting as well as businesses looking to introduce some interesting branding. The demand for craft stamps is huge.
I strongly recommend selling online even if you are selling locally. People looking for stamps includes crafters, scrapbookers, children, parents, hobbyists, craft businesses etc.
All these people search online for things. I think most of us do that now.
Etsy is a great place to start selling though actually creating your own online shop is important and should be done alongside, if not before setting up online shop on Etsy and other digital marketplaces.
Setting up your own online shop has several advantages and is almost as easy as opening a shop on Etsy. It’s true.
Try Shopify for free and you will see how simple everything really is.
You don’t have to pay any charges for listing your items, no commissions for sales, you can design and customise your shop the way you want and you get to have your own www swanky domain name. The payment and order processing is also taken care off.
The rest of the process for setting up an online shop is the same as listing your products online elsewhere. You have to upload some good pictures, write helpful, brief product descriptions and be proactive in answering queries.
Read about 31 places to sell you crafts online.
Promoting your business online
Face it. If you are going to sell anything online, you are going to have to learn how to promote yourself online as well. So learn a little about social media accounts for businesses as well as paid search advertising on these platforms as well as on Google Ads.
Facebook and Instagram make it very easy to run paid campaigns. You can setup things in minutes. However, if you want the best results, figure out things like which demographics to target and how to create a good ad copy that reads well, catches people’s attention and converts well to sales.
The Learning Curve
The things you need to learn, depends on what kind of stamps you are making and the method used for them.
The most common equipment to use is a laser engraving machine also called a CNC machine, or a UV light box. A laser or CNC is operated using a software either on the machine console or attached to a computer, which it mostly is. It’s a technically advanced machine and you will have to learn how to operate it.
You will need to learn to work on image editing softwares like CorelDraw or Photoshop. Although many stamps will be about just text, the graphic one are also a huge market.
Graphics and image creation are one of the most important skills you can bring to this business. You can use someone else for this work if you want. But coming up with new concepts and shapes for your shapes, as well as catering to custom design requirements from people and businesses will make stamp making business flourish.
If you have any input, questions or queries about the stamp making and selling process, please do not hesitate to add your comments below. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.