Customizable 3D printed BrandingIron

The Shapeways 3D printed Stainless Steel BrandingIron Co-Creator is one of the more creative and insane things we’ve ever done. 

You type in your text or send us a link to a logo and we model and 3D print a mini branding iron for you. The branding iron clicks onto standard disposable lighters. You simply turn the lighter on for 30 seconds until the branding iron is hot and then brand away. A text branding iron costs $25 including shipping . A logo BrandingIron costs $25, also including shipping. (several days after this post went live we increased the price of the Branding Irons by $20. You can see our explanation for why we did this here.)

The branding irons work well on many surfaces such as wood and we are currently looking at testing out skin but have not been able to find a volunteer with nice enough arms.

Do not try this at home. Never ever do this. This is dangerous. The lighter could explode, you might hurt yourself with the brand. You could easily set things on fire. Feel free to have us create your own logo or text 3D printed BrandingIron but do not ever ever use it. Just put it on a cabinet and stare at it in dumbstruck awe.

These photographs were created under strict supervision by trained professionals (namely Peter Paul, Product Manager & Mathijs, intern).

P.s., Dear Matt, remember when we wanted to make something for the Digg shop? Remember when we said we wanted to remove Digg’s main limitation by allowing people to Digg offline also? Yeah, this is what we came up with. Yes, it is rather literal. Hope you like.


  1. Boing Boing

    Joris sez, “Turn any logo or words into a custom metal 3D printed branding iron. It snaps on over a lighter, you turn on the lighter for 30 seconds and presto you are ready to leave your brand anywhere.” I once sat in on a Bunnie Huang presentation about labor conditions in South China, and he described the factories where rubber logos – the Nike swoosh on the side of a shoe, the rubber designer’s logo hanging from the top button-hole of a shirt — are made. The workers lack basic safety clothes and often end up with several companies’ logos branded into their skin by the hot metal. Since then, I’ve found it nearly impossible to think about branding without thinking of the young women of the Pearl River Delta with all those logo-marks — vector art from the west turned into curdled flesh in the east — burned into their skin. Of course, you could use this to brand lots of things that aren’t human skin! Wood-burning, leather-burning, probably even some kind of crazy brulee effect. You type in your text or send us a link to a logo and we model and 3D print a mini branding iron for you. The branding iron clicks onto standard disposable lighters. You simply turn the lighter on for 30 seconds until the branding iron is hot and then brand away. A text branding iron costs $25 including shipping. A logo BrandingIron costs $25, also including shipping. Customizable 3D printed BrandingIron (Thanks, Joris!) Previously:3D printed ban-hammer – Boing Boing Successful marriage proposal via 3D-printed ring – Boing Boing 3D printed silver brooches featuring your favorite landscapes … 3D printed Brain Lamp – Boing Boing Homemade 3D printer goop made from maltodextrin costs 1/50 of the … 3D printer jargon in action – Boing Boing Working handcuff keys printed on a 3D printer – Boing Boing Shapeways 3D printing by Internet: 500 free beta signups – Boing Boing…

  2. Anon

    ‘Do not try this at home. Never ever do this. This is dangerous. The lighter could explode, you might hurt yourself with the brand. You could easily set things on fire.’

    So uhhh, then this isn’t usable? Mixed messages here

    1. Joris

      Yes, I agree. It is a legal issue. We are selling you a metal 3D print. But, certification of these materials and objects is not possible at the moment. The process and uses we are coming up with simply are too quick for the regular legal stuff.

      The best example of this I know if the following: someone developed a 3D printed inside for a motorcycle helmet. It would be much more customizable for the wearer, more comfortable and safer. The authorities however required each helmet to be tested 200 times in its entirety to comply with the safety regulations. So the helmet was not feasible because the legal structures predate the technology and are set up for mass produced items.

      Thats why we have to tell you that all our objects are for display purposes only. Furthermore, we are in Europe and that means we’re scared to death of the US legal system. So I decided to add some warnings.

  3. GerryB

    Liking the idea, wondering about the length of disclaimer you’re going to have to add to the product . Cauterised skin isn’t a fun thing to play with unless you’re a professional I think guys.

    Sending this into the wild might be one of your retrospectively-regretted revolutions in the not-too-distant future.

    But I do want one.

    1. Joris

      Perhaps Gerry. I totally understand your point, but nothing ventured nothing gained. It is very important for us to push the boundaries of what is possible with 3D printing. The inspiration of our community is crucial to us. So sometimes you have to just make something crazy to get people thinking.

    2. GerryB

      Joris, I’m absolutely behind you, and am fervently with the flow of creative ideas; I first saw your work at the Eindhoven Design Week last year, or even the year before(?) and it was me who moaned about the lowercase advert versus the uppercase reality in your candlecreator, so I’m not just popping in to complain. I just entirely sincerely hope that any amateur idiots who get hold of your excellent work don’t get hold of excellent lawyers after they turn into Excellent idiots.

      And I’m really happy to see you boingboinged and digged– your work deserves the audience.

      Succes verder !

    3. Joris


      Thanx! And I wasn’t trying to complain or suggest that you were. Criticism is a good thing.

  4. kak

    I heard frat boys are using these for hazing, branding their pledges with greek letters, or whatev. Maybe just an urban legend, but i recommend you do not sell to frat boys!

    1. GerryB

      The hazing brand is a metal coat hanger, seems to go waaaaaaay back to the 60s; won’t be long before the orders for Greek letters come pouring in though I’d imagine.

      I’d get working on that legally watertight ‘this metal brand, designed specifically to heat easily on a disposable lighter, is for decorative purposes and should never be used. Like nuclear weapons, or that LSD you got from a friend of a friend to slip into your lecturer’s coffee, but never did because you realised you’d go to jail and he’d go insane’ disclaimer as soon as you can, Shapeways Oppenheimers.

  5. Lee

    No thanks, for $12.OO I can get metal letters that attach to my wood burning tool tip, this “GADGET” doesn’t seem safe or economical, I’ll pass thank you.

  6. HeartlessMachine

    I’m definitely interested in buying one of these! Thanks to BoingBoing for passing it on.

    For the record, a brand of this size on human skin would _not_ be a good idea. All of the detail would be lost. Branding is not a detail-conducive format, because the burn heals as a scar. One can expect a brand of this size to eventually heal into a 3/4″ x 1.25″ blob, at best. I hate to burst your bubble, but I would hate even more to be the test subject, and go through the pain and healing, only to be left with what looks like a wad of chewed-up bubble gum.

    (I like to think I speak from experience, having brands on both arms and one leg.)

    Anyway, keep up the good work! I’m going to see about ordering one of these for myself, now.

  7. Anonymous

    so we cannot buy this product?

    1. Joris

      Yes, you can. We do however strongly advise you not to use it.

  8. Anonymous

    whats the webstie that we can purchase this product on. Is it true that this can explode in your face?

  9. Michael Williams

    I like this but I have an issue with it as well… Shapeways provides the lighter… I would like to provide a lighter with my drawing, but that is not an option for me. I think it would be a good idea for things to be available to add to our items. Of course these lighters wouldn’t fit my Flicka, but if it were available as an option for me to send a lighter with each order I could design one around that brand of lighter. I am about to upload a line of key chains. I would like key chains rings to be sent with them. Is it possible in the near future to have a bank of items we can include with our items that shapeways will include in the shipping? It would also be nice if shapeways provided the dimensions of such items for us to design around.

    1. Joris


      I want to do things like this also. We;re going to be talking about this kind of thing internally.


  10. Rob Zone

    You guys missed a perfect opportunity – hot foil stamping! Basically using mylar coated with a thin layer of hot-melt adhesive, this is the process used to put metallic letters on pencils, leather, vinyl – damn near anything. The biggest drawback to using this process for prototyping and/or customizing has always been the cost of having a metal shop make a one-off bronze stamp. Your process should be perfect!


  11. eagleapex

    I’m having trouble finding a lighter that fits my just-arrived brand here in the US. Anyone find one slim enough to fit? Just curious.

  12. Jonathan Harford

    So… I’ve got my new logo iron. Are there installation instructions? I’m flummoxed. It doesn’t look like it would necessarily fit any of the lighters I have lying around.

  13. Larry

    Is there a limit to the length of the brand? Like, I hold the flame under the brand for 30 seconds and the center gets hot, but if my brand says “This Is My Customized Branding Iron,” will “This” and “Iron” get hot enough to burn wood?

  14. Anonymous

    Got the iron today, looks great but can’t find a lighter that it fits (Canada)! Neither BIC or a cheapy from the corner store would work (not even close). Suggestions?

  15. rogan

    Fantastic… And timely! We have been looking to put a product into a cigar-like wooden box – with a branding of our corporate logo “HeadSteam”… Didn’t think it was possible, but here it is! Will order, send in pics of product…

    You know this is one of those acceptance-over-time things… I have been following shapeways and 3D printing for some time, but when it came to making a branding iron, it didn’t even occur to me… Thank you for the post, for the idea, and for a great service!

  16. Tommy

    I think you should make this for zippo lighters or some sort of reusable lighter or metal lighter so it does not explode.

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