There are four major processes for
producing rubber stamps. In the original process, type is set in
a bed of paper-mache that is then heated to form an accurate negative. This
negative is filled with uncured rubber. Heat and pressure are applied to
vulcanize the rubber to a strong elastomeric sheet of stamps.
Currently, the most popular
technique is to use liquid photopolymers. Typically, an A4 size negative is
filled with text (or graphics) from as many stamps that will fit. This is used
with UV light to illuminate the front of a planar cavity filled with a liquid
photopolymer while the entire back is illuminated. Where exposed, the liquid
polymer turns into a strong elastomeric rubber leaving a solid back and a front
with solid text. The unexposed liquid photopolymer between the text is washed
away with an aqueous solution.
About a decade ago, a method that
uses a medium power carbon-dioxide laser engraver was introduced. Under computer
control, a relatively large sheet of rubber (approximately 100 square inches) is
engraved with the information for as many stamps as will fit. Adoption of this
method has been retarded by the high price of the engraving apparatus and time
required for engraving one sheet which ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours,
depending on the text.
In the new so-called “flash
stamp” technology, the stamping layer is made from a microporous polymer which
is selectively sealed thermally using a powerful heat generating flash lamp and
a transparent positive. The sealed layer is backed by a pre-inked layer which
supplies ink and is capable of pressing the sealed layer uniformly.
The multi-billion dollar rubber
stamp business was once dominated by large companies. However availability of
liquid rubber stamp resin and desk-top rubber stamp making machines has resulted
in tens of thousands of small rubber stamp producers coming to the market
throughout the world. Liquid photopolymers used in making stamps are typically
urethane methacrylates which generally cure to 40 to 50 Shore A hardness.
Harder liquid or sheet photopolymer plate are also used as molding or pattern
plates to make conventional rubber plates or stamps. Suppliers of photopolymer
materials include those shown
© 2007-2008 Savla Associates
Free Stamp photo by Mary Ann Sullivan