Custom stamps explained: how to decide between a pre-inked or a rubber stamp

Comparing custom stamps: rubber stamps or pre-inked stamps?

There are several types of custom stamps available, ranging from hand-carved stamps, polymer [clear] stamps, self inking stamps, pre-inked stamps and rubber stamps.

This article will focus on the two types of custom stamps we offer: rubber stamps and pre-inked stamps, and help you to work out which is the right choice for you.

What’s the difference between a rubber stamp and a pre-inked stamp?

Rubber stamps are what most people picture when they think about custom stamps. Our rubber stamps are produced by laser-engraving your design onto stamp rubber, and then mounting the rubber on a [FSC-certified] timber block with super strong adhesive. Our rubber stamps come in a range of sizes, starting from Extra Small [30x30mm] through to Extra Large [100x60mm]. You’ll also need a separate ink pad to use with your rubber stamp. 

On the other hand, pre-inked stamps come with the ink combined into one handy unit. The production process uses a flash machine to ‘sear’ the negative space of your design onto a rubber plate. Pre-inked stamps have a built-in reservoir, which is filled with ink [in your choice of colour]. When you depress the stamp, ink flows through to the printable areas of the design [and nowhere else]. As a result, this type of stamp delivers a really accurate, crisp impression, and they’re able to capture very small details. They come in a range of sizes, starting at our teeny 14mm loyalty card stamp, through to Extra Large, which is our largest stamp at 130 x 90mm. Pre-inked stamps can be refilled with ink once it starts to run dry - topping up your pre-inked stamp is inexpensive, easy and will return your stamp to as good as new.

So, how do you decide which of these custom stamps is right for you?

From a price perspective, there’s little difference between the two types of custom stamps we offer. So, typically your choice will come down to how you plan to use your stamp.

Consider factors like: the surface you plan to stamp, the amount of stamping you’ll be doing, the design you'll have on the stamp and the stamp size you’d like.

In some cases, either type of stamp will work for you - in that case it will come down to your personal preference. Here’s some ways to help you decide which custom stamp is right for you.

Choose a rubber stamp when:

  • You want to use your custom stamp on a variety of different surfaces. A rubber stamp has a raised profile, which makes it able to be used on almost any surface including fabric, wood, corrugated cardboard, and even curved surfaces like a takeaway coffee cup. Rubber stamps also allow you to have more control over your impression, because pressure can be applied in different directions or movements - this is something pre-inked stamps can't offer.
  • You want to be able to print the same design in lots of different colours. One of the biggest benefits of a rubber stamp is that you can use the same stamp with different ink colours or speciality inks to achieve different outcomes. There’s an endless number of colour options, as well as fun things like embossing powder, and this is another reason why rubber stamps are a much more versatile tool than their pre-inked counterpart.
  • You want the ability to use the stamp to imprint, without ink, onto things like polymer clay. 
  • Lastly, when aesthetics are important to you. Now, this is clearly subjective, but many people consider the wooden base, and black handle of our traditional rubber stamp more attractive to look at than a pre-inked stamp.
Custom stamps for printing on fabric

    Choose a pre-inked stamp when:

    • You need a crisp, precise impression every time. While rubber stamps can have varied results because you need to ink it up for each print, pre-inked stamps are consistent and accurate. Perfect for designs with lots of small text. 
    • You want a cleaner process. Pre-inked stamps have the ink inside the unit, which means no mess. 
    • You plan to stamp only flat, smooth porous surfaces [think, the back of envelopes, packing slips, thank you cards or DIY business cards]. Pre-inked stamps aren’t suitable for use on rough material or curved surfaces as the surface of your stamp won’t make even contact with your material, and you’ll end up with an uneven print. 
    • You only need to print in one colour. Pre-inked stamps can be refilled with ink, but the colour can’t be changed so if you change your mind or need a different colour you’ll need a second stamp.
    • When you plan to stamp a large volume of materials. Pre-inked stamps are a more ergonomic option and can be easier on the hand if you plan to be using it lots.
    • Time is of the essence. Pre-inked stamps don’t need to be inked for each impression, so are quicker to use than rubber stamps that need to be re-inked for each impression.
    Custom stamps for creating branded wrapping paper


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