Making the $6 Branding Iron, Step-by-Step

In the A $6 Custom Branding Iron post, I showed off a branding iron I had “printed” in stainless steel by Shapeways.com for US$6, after using the free vector image editor Inkscape, and parametric modeling software Alibre Design, which also has a free version called Alibre Design Xpress.

This tutorial requires a working knowledge of Alibre Design (or other 3D parametric modeling software) and Inkscape (or other vector graphics editing software).

$6 branding iron

$6 branding iron

Here are the steps I took to make it happen: (I’ll add more detail over time.)

  • Design in Inkscape
    1. Convert all text objects to paths (Path > Object to path)
    2. Convert all stroked lines to paths (Path > Stroke to path)
    3. Ungroup all objects
    4. Union all objects (Path > Union)
    5. Select object
    6. Save As… Type Desktop Cutting Plotter (R13) (*.dfx) – Output will be in mm
  • Import into Alibre Design (File > Import, type DXF)
    1. Select mm for file units
    2. (It imports into a drawing)
    3. Select everything and Explode (Edit > Explode Symbol)
    4. Activate the sketch
    5. Analyze (Sketch > Analyze…)
    6. Heal all problems
    7. While activated, select the figures
  • Copy to a Alibre Design Part
    1. Open a new part
    2. Activate a design plane and Paste (the figure may appear far from center)
    3. Select the curves, shift-left-click to drag to better location
  • Model the branding iron
    1. Extrude sketch 1.25mm — this is the depth of the brand.
    2. Select *top* face and insert a plane. (right-click > Insert Plane…)
    3. Select the new plane, Project to Sketch (if necessary), to create a foundation for the brand.
    4. Extrude 2mm for foundation
    5. Insert another plane on the back of the foundation
    6. Extrude a mounting hole, 4.9mm is 0.1375mm larger than 3/16″
    7. Cut a set screw hole in an accessible location if necessary. 3.048mm is 0.12″, the tap size for #6-40 set screw.
  • Export & Upload
    1. Export as *.STL file
    2. Upload to Shapeways.com
    3. Order in stainless steel
  • Finish
    1. Tap the mounting flange for a 10-32 screw
    2. Thread a 3/8″ steel rod with 10-32 die or use a 10-32 screw
    3. Build a handle
    4. Sand down the surface of the branding iron to make it nice and flat

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  1. Norm in Fujino’s avatar

    Looks like you have the beginning of a side business there 😉
    Nice work!

    Reply

  2. Natalie’s avatar

    Hello,

    Since I have no working knowledge of Alibre Design (or other 3D parametric modeling software), I was wondering if you would be interested/willing to make me a custom brand for a fee?

    Thank you for your time,
    Natalie Kee

    Reply

    1. Natalie’s avatar

      Feel free to reply directly to my email. Thanks!

      Reply

      1. Kelvin’s avatar

        Hi Natalie
        I wanted to brand chess piece images onto wooden disks but cannot find brands. Would you be interested in designing i guess 6 brands? Again for a fee. I have images in Jpeg form to work from.
        many thanks

        Kelvin

        Reply

        1. admin’s avatar

          Kelvin, Natalie was looking for the same thing you are. I’ll send you an email and get an idea of what you’re looking for…

          Reply

        2. admin’s avatar

          Sure, let’s talk about what you had in mind and we can see if we can make it happen. I sent you an email. Thanks for posting!

          Reply

        3. Azerty’s avatar

          Hello,
          I was looking for an inexpensive branding iron, and here is a tutorial.
          Thanks a lot, just have to change the mounting hole and hook it up on my soldering iron, perfect for plastic marking.

          Reply

        4. James’s avatar

          I also need someone to do the work for me as I have no idea how to proceed. I have an image and need to create a brand from it. Please advise if anyone would like to do the 3d work for me.
          Jaqmes

          Reply

        5. James’s avatar

          I should look at what I type sorry…James

          Reply

        6. Nate Scott’s avatar

          Great info! How are the brands holding up? I just ordered my first one for branding some projects — excited to receive it.

          I plan to design some more soon, and I’m wondering about getting the price down. Mine is approximately 1″ x 1/2″ with a 3/4″ mounting collar and the price in stainless came to about $25 plus shipping (not a bad price, but still not $6!). Did I overbuild it (too much material) or are there steps to take with the model to reduce production costs? Or maybe Shapeways has just increased their rates since your post?

          Thanks for your thoughts.

          Reply

        7. Dan’s avatar

          I, too, have ordered a brand for myself. And like Nate, I did overbuild it a bit. Not too terribly much, but I made my signature and there are lots of spindly bits that needed some support.

          Total came to $20, but still extremely reasonable compared to what I’d pay elsewhere. Rather than put the collar on the brand, I just added a 1/4″ rod on the back and will add the collar on the handle I mount it on.

          This was a great idea — thanks!

          Reply

        8. Dwight Rutherford’s avatar

          As others have stated, I have no expertise with any 3D modeling , would you consider helping me for a fee? I am a woodturner and want a small brand for the bottoms of hollow forms, platters and bowls. You have come up with exactly what I am looking for.

          Reply

        9. Melvin Collier’s avatar

          Is anyone making these. The price looks reasonable. I have a design in mind and need it for stamping small carving projects.

          Reply

        10. Dave’s avatar

          I was about to order a custom branding iron, electronically heated with a 175 Watt element. I plan to do a LOT of branding, all on HARDwood product. Do you have any experience/opinions regarding electronically heating -vs- a torch? Also – will branding work if the hardwood is painted (actually, opaque stained)?

          Reply

          1. admin’s avatar

            Hi sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this. I haven’t used the electric ones, so I can’t really comment on them — but I used to mark wood projects with a soldering iron, so I imagine it would work okay. I also haven’t tried to brand stained wood — I brand the projects before I apply the finish.

            Reply

          2. Don’s avatar

            Would like to see if you could design a brand for me have no knowledge in this application

            Reply

          3. Shane’s avatar

            We are in need of a custom branding iron for wood and leather
            Would you be interested in making one for us.

            Reply

          4. steve desprez’s avatar

            Can you make a brand that said beavers woodshop with steve desprez below it? Thanks for your time!

            Reply

          5. Ron Sites’s avatar

            I would be interested in a small initial stamp for a maker’s mark for canes and small wood projects.

            Reply

          6. Matt’s avatar

            Howdy, neat branding irons and great tutorial. I was following along and working step-by-step through the tutorial (i am not a techy but figured i should try), downloading the open-source software as I went along. I encountered a problem because I am a mac user. I couldnt download a trial version of the 3d software. I tried finding another free program but struck out. I am wondering if anyone can help me create the 3D design from my 2D logo. I have the 2D logo made already just need it turned into a 3D format ready to be sent to the shapeways sight. I have the concept and design figured out just need someone to take a few minutes to make it real. thanks for any help.

            Reply

          7. Dawn Boles’s avatar

            HI Alex!

            Just saw your video on YouTube. Great work! Are you currently making brands to order?? Was looking for a branding iron for our company.

            Thanks!
            Dawn

            Reply

          8. sid kincannon’s avatar

            I would like a mini branding iron for wood projects. rocking sk

            Reply

          9. Bruce Stewart’s avatar

            This is amazing. I wish I knew how to do this, but too old to mess with all the technology. I would like to hire you to design a branding iron for woodworking projects for me? Might be more than one design and/or logo.

            Thanks!
            Bruce

            Reply

          10. Roshaan’s avatar

            This type of branding iron would be perfect for my needs! Is there any possible way to order one from you, since I have no knowledge on how to do it myself.

            Thanks so much!
            Roshaan

            Reply

          11. nick’s avatar

            I”m sure I could follow your instructions but it would be faster and better quality if you did it for me. Please contact me if this is something you can do (I just need the software Piece and the design) I can probably build it like you did.

            thanks

            Reply

          12. Jarred M’s avatar

            Hi, like most everyone else, I am looking for someone to create the file for me (for a fee) that I can upload to shapeways.com. Please email me and I can send you the logo I am looking for. Thanks!!

            Reply

          13. Carl Bigmore’s avatar

            I require a small branding iron consisting of a single line outline of A dragon with my name underneath. The dragon outline would be a Welsh Dragon supplied by me.
            Can you give me a price for computer work and supply of branding iron
            Size not greater than 2 inches x 1 1/4 inches approx
            Please email me and let me know how we proceed
            Many thanks
            Carl Bigmore
            Wales
            UK

            Reply

          14. mike’s avatar

            I too am looking for a branding iron for wood depicting a Welsh dragon approx 1-2 square inches. Can you help?
            Mike

            Reply

          15. Bob’s avatar

            Hello, another talented woodworker here with no computer programming ability. Have a rather simple logo design I need of being transposed into the magic of digital directional computer commands. May I also enlist your assistance ?
            Thank you…… Bosharkskins

            Reply

          16. Brett’s avatar

            Can I send you my logo and have a branding iron created? I have logo in high quality file

            Reply

          17. Chris’s avatar

            Hello, I’ve been struggling for hours as well with getting a file to upload to Shapeways. Please let me know if you can help me get the file ready. Please email me the details of your fee for doing this. Great idea by the way!

            Reply

          18. Josh’s avatar

            I am a mechanical engineer and have the capability to create 3D models from 2D logos. I am very reasonable priced and can work very closely with you to help you make a custom brand! Please email me at jbay_2011@hotmail.com if you are interested! I will typically charge about $20 for a 3D model of your logo that you can take to Shapeways to have them 3D print.

            Reply

          19. EMM’s avatar

            Hi, are you able to take on another project? I know this post is a few years old, but I do see some newer comments. I have a logo that I would like made into a leather brand, about 2″ wide, 1″ high. Is it possible for you to do that for me? And what is your fee? Thank you!

            Reply

            1. admin’s avatar

              No, I’m sorry — I only did a very limited run, and I’m really not set up to do this as a business. I have the instructions here on my website if you want to try it yourself.

              Reply

            2. Del Satterfield’s avatar

              I’m a sculptor and I would like to create a brand of my signature and of the copyright mark. While I have talent with my hands it is not with a computer keyboard. Could you respond with some advice and possibly with costs for completed brands?

              Reply

            3. Christine M’s avatar

              I am good right up until “select the top face” and insert plane.
              I’m just not seeing how to select the top face. Can you assist?

              Reply

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