Introduction: Tim's Aluminium Label Maker

About: Retired due to health. Oldish. My background is in Structural Engineering. Also smith of many trades. The majority of my project will be what can be made sat in a chair within arm's reach, on a plotter, 3D pri…

This Instructable is how I made some one inch high Aluminium labels from Aluminium drink cans.

The process requires a 3D Printer to print the Die used to make the set of alphanumeric characters I designed.

  • There is a 3D printed press.
  • A set of 3D printed rollers.
  • Also a 3D Printed pair of shaped pliers, for crimping the borders.

The end result is a little rough, but I think it give it a classic look.

  • I think it gives more of a polished cast aluminium look.

Once the tools have been made there is not much to the Instruction, it may be best understood in the video.


As I have mentioned, a 3D printer is required to make the tools.

  • A full list of all the required parts are attached.
  • My printer has a 0.4mm diameter nozzle.
  • To save some time, I have the layer thickness set to 0.3mm.
  • Shell thickness is 1.8mm.
  • Fill density is 20%.

Being able to hold the tools in a vice is a must.

Several screws are required.

Eight 3x10x4 Roller Bearings are required.

Some old Aluminium Drink Cans.

Small Flame Torch to Anneal the Aluminium.

A Pair of strong Scissors.

Every day items like pencil, ruler and Pan Scrubber.


Step 1: The Press

Hopefully the Brake-Out Sketch shows how the Press goes together.

Printed Parts:

  • Base_Body.stl
  • Base_Side.stl (Printed as is)
  • Base_Side.stl (Printed Mirror Image)
  • Roller.stl
  • Washer.stl (Four Required)
  • Arm.stl


There is only an STL for one side, the other side needs to be a Mirror Print.

There are washers on the inside of each bearings.

  • I found it easier to place the roller in position, then fit the washer, then the bearing and finally the screw.
  • I did the same as a above for the Arm after connecting the two sides.

Screws used.

  • Ten M3 x 10mm long flat ended self tapping screws.

Step 2: Rollers

Again hopefully you can see how it goes together from the Brake-Out sketch.


The two screws that the top piece pivots on, should be unscrewed a little, to enable the sides to spring past the screws that hold the lower roller.

Step 3: Pliers/Crimp

Just one screw holds these together.

These are used to re-shape the top and bottom of the labels.

Step 4: Aluminium Strips

The aluminium Strips are cut from Old Drink Cans.

  • Cut off the Top and Bottom shaped part of the Can.
  • Cut the middle part along its length.
  • Flatten the centre piece and and cut into One Inch Strips (25mm)

The Aluminium from Old Drink Cans has been work hardened through the process of making them.

  • They need to be annealed to soften the Aluminium.
  • If the Aluminium is not soft the Die will not be able to shape the Aluminium.

To Soften the Aluminium it needs heating with a flame torch.

  • To anneal Aluminium requires a special heat process, but I do it a simple way and it's good enough for this.
  • From the painted side, use the flame torch to heat the Aluminium.
  • Don't rush it with a too hotter flame, you will just melt the Aluminium.
  • Keep heating it until it turns a golden brown.
  • As one area turns golden brown, move along the strip to another area.
  • Once it all has turned golden brown your done.
  • Let it cool on its own.

You may want to hold the strip with some tool so you don't burn yourself.

Step 5: Die

Die are used to create the characters in the Aluminium Strip.

  • The Aluminium Strip is placed between the two parts of the Die.
  • Then the Die is placed in the Press to form the Character required.

It is best to hold the Press in a Vice, it will make it easier to use.

Step 6: Top/Bottom Ridge

After the Characters have been formed, use the Pliers to re-form the top and bottom of the label.

Step 7: Roll/Flatten

At this point the label may be a little twisted/curved.

  • Placing it in the rollers and carefully running it back and forth, will reinforce the shape, to make it flat.

Step 8: Drill and Trim

Next step is to drill the mounting holes and trim the outer edges.

  • Once you have it on a flat surface, you can use a rough cleaning pad to enhance the characters by removing the staining from the annealing process from the top surface.
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