Recently, I had a need to apply some quick identification markings to various objects. A normal person would have thought “yeah, I’ll just make a quick paper stencil and use that”. That sounds like a delightful solution, but when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and I have several 3D printers, so…
One drawback of a traditional paper stencil is needing to use bridges to secure ‘islands’ in the stencil – letters like A, B, D, O, P, Q, and R. So for fun, I decided to build overhead bridges into the stencil so that they wouldn’t show up in the end result. Unnecessary and frivolous? Absolutely! Cool and interesting? Affirmative!
I first determined the ‘printable’ area and laid out 1″ high letters on it, which gave me a 0.025″ thick stencil. Then I made 0.5″ high ‘plates’ over each of the islands and made cutouts so that the stencil could be sprayed from all sides and not leave any shadows from the overhead bridges.
The finished result is not perfect – the porosity of the 3D print (being only .025″ thick) allows a few spots of paint to spray through the mask (and there’s a bit of edge bleed in a few places). Still, I’m happy with the results as a quick and dirty 3D printing application.