Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Stampin' Up! Stamp Sets are Made

One of the highlights of the Founder's Circle retreat this past week was touring the factory in Kanab and learning all about how the Stampin' Up! stamp sets were made.  What a fascinating process!  Not only did I watch the process, I actually got to have a hands-on experience!

Keep in mind that this is just an overview from what I remember (the longer I wait to write something down, the less I remember.  Anyone else have this trouble?).  I'm sure I'm leaving out something or maybe not getting things in the right order, but each step of the process is so interesting and it was like, "So that's how they do it!".  So I hope as you read the steps and see the pictures, you, too, might think this is a pretty cool and amazing process.

One BIG thing I did not realize or even think about before the tour, was how many steps in the process are still done by hand!  Yes, there are machines to help with the job but it still takes a live person to make it all happen!

First, a plastic "plate" or "mold" of the stamp set is created (I don't know how the plate is made so it must be magic!) and they create a die cut so the images can be easily cut out (I'll explain more when we get to that step).

Next, the rubber is cut into the size sheets needed for the stamp set.  This machine helps with keeping the rubber straight as it comes off the spool.

I was a little slow in cutting the rubber (I think I was more concerned with getting my fingers out of the way of blade).  When the guy above cut the rubber, he was flying!

My friend, Gen, getting a turn at cutting.

 The rubber is then placed face down onto the molds and put into an oven (4 plates and 4 pieces of rubber are baked at one time).  The oven "bakes" and pressurizes the rubber so it "melts" into the molds.  If I remember correctly, it only stays in the oven a few minutes.  The picture below shows the rubber once it's finished "baking" in the oven.

Once it's finished "cooking", the melted rubber with the attached plates is taken to a large work table where it is cut apart using a box cutter.

The rubber can then be pulled away from the plate and the excess along the edges is trimmed off.

Next, the stamp set is placed on a cooling rack for a few minutes and then it's ready for the sticky back to be applied.

Once the sticky back is applied,  the stamp set is ready for the die cut machine where the images are cut out perfectly.  I just pushed the buttons on the machine and in 2 seconds, the stamps are punched out.  Now that's power!

 The final step is packaging - putting the stamp set in the box along with the sticker sheet and the label for the outside.  (Don't ask me why I have my mouth open again!  Too much excitement for one day, I guess!)

Whew!! I think that's it!  What did you think?
What a process, huh? 

I will never forget this tour and all that I have learned about how stamp sets are made from the plastic molds to the melting rubber to packaging it all together.  It takes people - wonderful, dedicated people - to make it happen and I'm blessed to have seen firsthand how stamps are made!

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