Crafting with Ultraviolet Radiation

Baleful Eye StampA few weeks ago I was looking over the vast array of artsy rubber stamps at A.C. Moore. I was unimpressed by the selection, and since then I’ve wanted to make my own custom rubber stamp (see right). I learned yesterday that adding the manufacturing or industrial keyword to your search will get you past the usual consumer-oriented results. Boy, did that work out well!


BEHOLD! The Martronics MARK 560 U.V. EXPOSURE UNIT!

Make Stencils You can create a pattern on your computer and transfer it to photosensitive film, which you develop in a chemical bath and fix. This becomes a stencil that will be used to control where the ultraviolet light (from the Mark 560) falls on a liquid photopolymer resin. This resin hardens when exposed to U.V. light. After a few minutes, you wash away the unexposed resin leaving only the raised stamp pattern. Voila! You have a stamp! The process is pretty straightforward.

313-1024-unicorn.jpgOh look, a unicorn! Art-Rubberstamps.com has plenty of examples of the “inspirational rainbow, animal, and flower” school of crafting. The Rock ‘n Roll implications, though, should be clear to all!


I know, I know…even the subversive potential of custom rubber stampmaking will not earn you points in the men’s locker room. Frustrated man-crafters will be pleased to know that the same stencils can be used to mark your tools permanently with something called the Etch-o-Matic. Apparently Wilson Combat (a custom manufacturer of tactical pistols, shotguns, and rifles…it doesn’t get much manlier than that, guys) uses it too:

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The pictures (taken from the Martronics website) show the stencil taped onto the metal surface. The Etch-o-Matic box then zaps it with electricity…I bet it’s dangerous! Awesome!

Cool!Here’s the result. The site says you can etch either black or clear, up to a depth of 0.003 inches. So next time you loan that circular saw to your neighbor, you can be assured that your property has been indelibly marked by the Etch-o-Matic. Check out these other examples.

And if that still isn’t enough to get you interested, these same stencils can also be used to etch glass.

The various kits will set you back $150 for the most basic kit, and $299 for a decent one that can do both rubber and metal. The Martronics price list lists everything, though there are also other deals listed on the various other subpages. The site itself is a bit confusing.

I’ll have to see if any of my buds nearby are interested in fooling around with this stuff. I’ll be able to mark my metal gear, make obnoxious rubber stamps, and throw my own awards ceremony complete with etched glass plaques! And theoretically, I could make my own knife & holster and then etch my maker’s mark into the blade! Wow. This is going to be the best holiday season ever! Or the worst, depending on your proximity to me and your point of view :-)

UPDATE: Just was browing granthams.com, which describes how to make you rubber stamps with home-built materials for cheaper. The UV box is the most specialized unit, I would imagine.

UPDATE: Reader Amanda sent in these two informative links: TC Punk’s Rubber Stamps 101 how-to article. Uses regular UV bulbs in cheap lamp holders. And a possibly-cheaper UV unit from Econo, a company based in Rochester, NY.