3D Printed Printing Plates Made Using Modern Tools

It’s widely accepted that the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in the 15th Century was the event that essentially enabled the development of the modern world, allowing access to knowledge beyond anything that came before, even if the Chinese got in on the bookmaking act some 500 years previously. Fast-forward a few centuries more and we’ve got the ability to design electronics from our arm chairs, we can print 3D objects from a machine on the coffee table, and 3D modeling can be done by your kids on a tablet computer. What a time to be alive! So we think it’s perfectly fine that [Kris Slyka] has gone full circle and used all these tools to make printing plates for a small press, in order to produce cards for her Etsy business.

Now before you scoff, yes she admits quite quickly that KiCAD wasn’t the best choice for designing the images to print, since she needed to do a lot of post-processing in Inkscape, she could have just dropped the first step and started in Inkscape anyway. You live and learn. Once the desired image was fully vectorised, it was popped into OpenSCAD in order to extrude it into 3D, thickening the contact to the base to improve the strength a little.

[Kris] demonstrates using the registration marks to align the front and rear side plates, and even (mostly) manages adding a second colour infill for a bit more pizzazz. The results look a little bit wonky and imperfect, exactly what you want for something supposed to be handmade. We think it’s a nice result, even if designing it in KiCAD was a bit bonkers.

For those interested in the OpenSCAD code, have a butchers at this gist. This project is not the first 3D-printed printing press we’ve covered, checkout the Hi-Bred for an example, and here’s the Open Press Project if you’re still interested.

15 thoughts on “3D Printed Printing Plates Made Using Modern Tools

    1. Gutenberg’s real innovation was the Protestant Revolution, made possible by Martin Luther’s embrace of the technology.

      “Printing is the ultimate gift of God and the greatest one.” – Martin Luther

  1. What would be really cool would be intaglio plates; something considered too difficult in the moveable type world but just as easy as making a letterpress plate in the 3D printing world.

  2. I did this for stamps in blocks of homemade soap from a local artists artwork. took the image, added a base plate and then overlayed the drawing before extruding the image out. 3Dprints came out great and worked as a logo stamp on the soap during the soap making process.

    1. Articles are written by a number of unconnected authors so it’s not like the site as a whole is intentionally doing this. I’m sure if we can get the attention of the author/editor they would have absolutely no issue correcting this. In the future it’d also be helpful for submissions to include preferred pronouns, I wouldn’t expect HAD authors to independently manage details of every creator for every submission. Now if the submission specified a preferred pronoun and the article author ignored it then yes I would be ticked off too.

      1. Indeedy, I meant no offense of course. Very rarely tips do include pronoun preferences, but invariably they do not. In the cases that preference as made clear, let me assure you that the editors make it very clear to the writing team! Unfortunately, lacking such information up front does make it a little tricky at times trying to get our articles correct. I will adjust my writing to avoid pronouns where possible, but in case I slip up, please do point it out and one of us will make appropriate corrections. In this case a HaD editor had corrected it before I even knew of it. We are all independent writers, with other jobs, busy lives and spread all over the world!

  3. “More than four centuries earlier, the Chinese inventor Bi Sheng (990-1051 AD) created the world’s first known movable type system for printing.

    His printing system was invented between 1041 and 1048 during the Song dynasty.”

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