Lasercut linoleum stamps

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Project date: August 2014

Design made by: Halla Kolbeinsdóttir

Design made at: Fab_Lab_Reykjavík with the lasercutter.


To create stamps from original line drawings for a line of greeting cards.


  • Linoleum “SoftCut” by Educational Art & Craft Supplies, bought at Litir & Föndur (cost around 1200kr. for a A4 sheet)

Softcut Lino-crop.jpg


I started by drawing my images on paper, taking a picture of them and putting into Illustrator. I then drew them again using the pen tool, with the original image as my guide.

At FabLab Reykjavík I was instructed on how to use the lasercutter machine (Epliogue Laser Mini Helix 4.22.10) Note that from this point on I used Inkscape to adjust my images and Adobe Acrobat to send to the laser cutter.

Test 1 - sanity check

I started with a test on cardboard. It came out ok, but I see that I need to make the dot in the eye bigger. With the size so small the ink will bleed and cover up the dot when I stamp. I also need to tidy up some of my lines in my vector.

Fish matcardtest crop.jpg

Test 2 - fence option

This time I selected “fence” in the print options because I want to cut out the stamp to its correct size. However, when I select that option, the printer won’t print. The printer just says “done” straight away. Off to the internet for some troubleshooting….

I found out that to use the “fence” option one needs to have a closed polygon shape in 0.025mm size.

From the epilog laser pdf guide: “The fence defines the outer boundaries of the area to be engraved. The fence must be .001 inch (.025 mm) thick. The fence can be any closed polygon or ellipse. Rectangles, circles, ovals, etc are all acceptable fences, but they must be closed. Multiple stamps, with multiple cut lines can be placed within a single fence. There can only be one fence on the page that is sent to the engraver. Multiple fences will cause unpredictable behavior. The following drawing shows three different types of acceptable fences for engraving stamps. The fences are all closed geometric shapes. “

Following all the instructions, checking it many times, I couldn't get the fence option to work. Abandoning this for now, and will cut my stamps by hand during the next step (material testing).

Test 3 - material test

Some tips I found in the manual when looking for info on linoleum printing (there is no info on line, but I’m looking at stamp and rubber printing)

“Engrave Direction (pg. 79)

This feature applies to Raster engraving only and allows you to engrave your project either from the top down, or the bottom up. This is very helpful for some materials like plastic or rubber stamps. In standard top-down engraving there can be a large amount of engraving debris generated. As the debris moves towards the exhaust plenum, some of it collects in the area that has just been engraved. Bottom-Up engraving prevents the debris from collecting in the freshly engraved spaces. “ I didn't actually end up following this tip, and seemed to be fine, but then my images are very simple.

Using settings guide for “Rubber & Rubber Stamps” , 600pdi: speed/power 30/100

The first test came out well, although the cut wasn’t quite deep enough. When the stamp is used I am getting too much of the removed areas onto the paper.

First fishstamp test2-crop.jpg

Test 4 - engraving depth

I used the same settings as in test 3 but did it twice in a row without moving my material in between. This way the laser cutter cuts exactly the same area twice so that it creates a deeper engraving. This came out well.

Second fishstamp test-crop.jpg

Test 5 - new day, new image - Talk bubble

Same settings as yesterday: 600pdi: speed/power 30/100

Cut it twice.

Made a mistake though: my document setting was too big so I wasted loads of material. Should've done a sanity test first on cardboard! The stamp is usable though, I just cut the excess material away manually.

Test 6 - new image, fence attempt, sanity check - Birdie

This first test is on mat cardboard material to figure out placement & get the machine to cut the stamp out too (aka fence):

Offset image path with fence

I tried offsetting the image path, expanding it and making it 0.02mm so that the lasercutter would cut through that line and not have to engrave so much material. Tested on paper card material. Selected “fence” and it only cut through the 0.02mm line. It didn't engrave the image.

Offset image path without fence

When I unchecked the “fence” option the laser cutter engraved the image (mirrored) and cut the 0.02mm line (but this line wasn't mirrored!)

Note: In the printer properties, I had set the piece size as the correct size of the material I had in the machine, but the image is much smaller. The result is that the whole card got etched. Remember to only denote the area you want engraved so that you don’t waste material!

Manually mirrored, offset image path with fence

I unchecked the mirror option and checked the fence option. The machine etched a square area and cut the offset line. So, the fence didn't quite work like it should (with fence checked, it should only etch the area inside the fence, but this will do for now).

Test 7 - cut through material test

Testing settings to cut material: Lino “soft cut” with fence.

I made a small box with line thickness of 0.002mm in Inkscape. Saved as PDF and opened in Acrobat Reader.


  • Job type: combined
  • Piece size: 20x20mm
  • Raster: 30/100
  • Vector: 15/100/100

Result: the cut didn't quite make it through the material.

Testing settings to cut material: Lino “soft cut” with fence

  • Raster: 30/100
  • Vector: 15/100/200

Result: the cut got through on one side

Testing settings to cut material: Lino “soft cut” with fence

  • Raster: 30/100
  • Vector: 15/100/300

Result: I got the shape out by pressing fairly hard on it.

Testing settings to cut material: Lino “soft cut” with fence

  • Raster: 30/100
  • Vector: 15/100/400

Result: basically same as with frequency of 300Hz

Softcut lino lasercutter material tests-crop.jpg

Test 8 - the whole shebang

Manually mirrored, offset image path with fence, on lino material

I unchecked the mirror option and checked the fence option. The machine etched the full document size (a square area) and cut the offset line.

  • Job type: combined
  • Piece size: 69mm x 54mm
  • Raster: 30/100
  • Vector: 15/100/300
  • Engrave direction: Top-Down
  • Vector sorting: Optimize
  • Advanced
  • Raster type: stamp
  • Shoulder 25
  • Widening: 1
  • Mirror: no
  • Fence: yes

Result: it only cut the offset line.

Without moving the material, I changed the following:

  • Job type: raster
  • Advanced
  • Fence: no
  • And etched the image 3 times.

Result: I have a really nice stamp that has been cut out correctly by the machine, although with some unnecessary waste material. Success!

Softcut lino lasercutter tests.jpg

So, I think what is happening is that the software I’m using must be one of those mentioned in the laser cutter manual that doesn't recognize closed outlines, which is why the fence method doesn't work.

“Some software programs do not recognize closed outlines. For these programs (Illustrator and some third party custom stamp packages) you need to use the page size to define the area that will be engraved away. This is not as efficient as the fence method, but it works just as well.“

[pg. 212 in the manual]

Test 9 - Text mirrored

Make text as outlines before saving as PDF since there is not guarantee that the FabLab computer has the fonts needed. Using the same settings as before I cut out some text stamps. Forgot to check "mirrored" :/

Photo gallery Endresult