Engraved QR Code on copper

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Xaracen
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Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Xaracen » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:44 pm

As part of his Degree Show project for his final year at uni (Fine Art), my son wanted something to make his business card stand out from the competition, so he decided that rather than print his website address on it in the form of a QR Code, he'd blob some sealing wax onto it and impress the QR Code in the wax with a copper stamp. He's a traditionalist at heart. :D

This meant he'd need the QR Code engraved in reverse on a piece of copper. Who to turn to? We had no idea if this would work reliably or even at all, but we both felt it was worth trying.

The QR code is basically two-dimensional bar-code and can be readily generated from several online sites. My son's was a 25x25 pixel (more correctly called modules) square, with a clear border around it which would have to fit on a 22.44mm copper square, as this was the smallest I had to hand. I placed a screenshot of his QR on my drawing prog and generated a series of small discs of various sizes over the grid, and passed the results via svg to Inkscape, then via dxf to F-Engrave, but F-Engrave had real trouble rendering the QR correctly. Eventually we ended up with four small squares per module, with the overall 25x25 square being 19mm across. F-Engrave rendered this perfectly, so that was saved as Gcode and passed to Chilipeppr and its autoleveller to process and send to GRBL.
Ready to engrave.jpg
Ready to engrave.jpg (63.16 KiB) Viewed 1627 times
Engraved QR Code.jpg
Engraved QR Code.jpg (82.96 KiB) Viewed 1627 times
QR Code wax seal stamp.jpg
QR Code wax seal stamp.jpg (52.08 KiB) Viewed 1627 times
Naturally the question is does it work?

Yes, the copper stamp itself was scannable by a QR Reader without any real trouble if you got it in a good light, even though it is reversed, and could be any orientation as long as it was square-on. The wax impression also worked, but much less reliably. It was more finicky to get the lighting right. Perhaps some alternative colours of waxes would perform better, since it is basically an issue of good contrast for the scanner to read it properly. Was definitely worth doing, though. :D
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lordmundi
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by lordmundi » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:52 pm

very cool! thanks for sharing this.

WillAdams
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by WillAdams » Sun Apr 19, 2015 2:00 pm

Nice!

The digital process which you used has resulted in an interesting texture which makes the piece unique and personal, which evokes handwork which fits in really nicely w/ the use of a wax seal (which I’ve a real fondness for having been a big Dumas fan in my youth and having bought a wax sealing set at Hallmark....)

That said, (in case someone finds this w/a search) there are on-line services which will directly make a .svg of a QR-Code: http://keremerkan.net/qr-code-and-2d-code-generator/

(We use them at work to remake codes for print advertisements)
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Xaracen
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Xaracen » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:12 pm

One of the problems I had with the QR pixels was that in engraving terms they would result in very deep cuts in the copper at the size they would be on a 19mmx19mm grid, with a 60 degree v-bit. I only have one size of v-bit, and reviewing F-Engrave's Gcode showed that the cuts could exceed the thickness of the copper in places where several adjacent pixels (modules) merged. F-Engrave would treat those as large single shapes.

I chose the square sizes to leave a narrow gap between each square in the block-of-four making up each module so that F-Engrave wouldn't merge them, and they would be engraved independently, at just less than a quarter of the module size, and therefore resulted in a uniform depth for each sub-square. That was why I got such a clean texture, and I agree, Will, I think it is one of the most attractive pieces I've ever done.
QR engraving closeup.jpg
QR engraving closeup.jpg (62.4 KiB) Viewed 1596 times
You can see the four individual squares making each QR pixel.
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Gadgetman!
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Gadgetman! » Sun Apr 19, 2015 7:08 pm

How did you hold down the copper?

Wouldn't a normal endmill be a suitable tool for this work?
(A 1/16" or smaller, maybe)

Generally, I hate QR codes, but this piece is beautiful, so I'll forgive you...

Brainfart;
Copper is a good heat-conductor. Stick a battery and a heating element in the handle. Should make it easier to make marks in that sealing wax.
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Xaracen
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Xaracen » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:18 pm

The copper square was big enough that double-sided sticky tape was entirely adequate. I have a 0.5mm and a couple of 1mm end mills, but I fear for them on copper, and I am quite comfortable with v-bits at this level.

I appreciate your forgiveness, I'll try not to require it in the future. :D

Interesting idea about the heated stamp, but my son is a traditionalist.
Shapeoko v1 #????
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375mm dual X-axis gantry
150W DC ER11 Sable2015 spindle
conductive probe via spindle shaft/toolbit (can probe while spinning!)
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Gadgetman!
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Gadgetman! » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:16 pm

Did you see the discussion about the fixing wax?

http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5870

Should be less crud on the workpiece afterwards.
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Xaracen
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Xaracen » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:38 pm

Oh, that stuff looks interesting. I could use some of that. I'll have to look and see if it is available in the UK, transatlantic shipping is offputting. One of my problems with engraving copper held down with double-sided tape is that the WD40 I lubricate the engravings with gets under the copper and loosens it if I don't try to keep the WD40 in check, and candle wax dissolves/softens in WD40. I hope that machiningwax resists it.
Shapeoko v1 #????
500mm Y-slides with dual Y-steppers
375mm dual X-axis gantry
150W DC ER11 Sable2015 spindle
conductive probe via spindle shaft/toolbit (can probe while spinning!)
Arduino Uno running grbl v0.9i with grblShield v4.

twforeman
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by twforeman » Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:40 am

I just have to chime in and say that is really cool.

It always amazes me the different things that people come up with that I would have never thought of.
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Jimf
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Re: Engraved QR Code on copper

Post by Jimf » Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:16 am

That is nicely done. I made a few QR code keychain trinkets out of 1/16" aluminum a few years back. I use one of those websites to create a qrcode which embedded the name and phone number. I filled in the carving with black lacquer paint. I gave one to my sister. Hopefully someone would scan the plate if she lost her keys.

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