Corian printing blocks

So being slightly less than gleeful about my cash situation for christmas towards the end of a recent holiday in Morocco, I decided to make some olive tapenade as a gift for friends. Olives are plentiful, cheap and very tasty in Morocco and I really like homemade tapenade, so I bought a few kilo’s back, got some Kilner jars off Ebay for them and made it up. It was completely tasty which was good.

I have made lot’s of produce at home in the past and bottled it or put it in jars to preserve, but one thing I always leave out, to my annoyance, is the labels. This time I decided I’m gonna make some nice ones, so I made a vector design in Illustrator, then converted it so I could mill it out on the MDX-15 milling machine at work. We had some Corian lying about so I used that very succesfully. I think Resinboard might have worked as well but we didn’t have any, even though I think it’s a lot cheaper. Once I had the board I went about printing with it. I did this in a similar way to lino prints, by rollering ink onto a tile and then onto the block, then pushing it onto the paper. This worked well for the small block I made but I think if you made a bigger block, you’d need a press.

I started by designing a label for the round Kilner jars.
I then merged the shapes into one and offset them a couple of times to a distance of 0.1mm which is roughly the radius of the engraving bit.
Next I offset from the original line by 0.5mm each step for cutting with the 1mm chip breaker.
The first thing I tried cutting was a piece of birch faced plywood. As you can see it doesn’t allow for very good resolution at all.
After trying the wood I tried Corian. It is an artificial stone made of acrylic and stone dust that machines very very well.
Here is a closeup image taken with a macro lens. You can see the pretty fine detail. This text is about 8pt font. One problem though - it's been cut the right way round so the print would be the wrong way round.
I made a final version in reverse with all the surround cut away as well as just around the pattern.
I then went and lost the nice stamp that I had made. Dang. Anyway I made another and decided to leave the bit surrounding the design there, so that when I rolled the ink on it would be rolled on flat.
To get ink only on the top layer of the corian, it is rolled out flat on a tile or piece of glass.
After trying a few different colour variations I settled on black ink on gold paper.
So I had my labels sorted but I couldn't just give them as they were, so, after the success of the process, I decided to make some tiled wrapping paper. I drew a 3D tree then made a sort of icicle pattern from it.
Here's an image of the block that I made from it. If I was to do it again, I'd probably make the design a little simpler and blockier.
Here is the finished wrapping paper. I went for a black and red chequered tile design. I found it was quite hard to align each tile to the next one but I think the print effect makes up for it.
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