Creating a two part label for storage boxes


I want to create two piece labels for storage containers. The main piece would be the “badge” which would have text cut out of it (e.g. “Paint”, “Electrical” etc.). The second piece would be a positive of the text which is would be in a different colour, and would fit inside the cut out on the badge. Because of the tolerance of 3D printers, I need to make the insert slightly smaller than the cut out. Initially, I thought I could just scale the insert but that would affect the letter spacing. Then I thought it would work if I could somehow taper the letters so they are slightly smaller at the top than the bottom. So my question is, how I do that. I did the original in OpenScad but I would try Fusion360 if that’s a better solution. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

Ron Ventura

Posted 2020-01-12T05:09:11.163

Reputation: 23

You might try this alternative approach:

– R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE – 2020-01-12T05:32:59.290

Why dealing with inserts while you can print the letters on top of the plate by changing filament at height! There are various questions on changing filament here. – 0scar – 2020-01-12T09:52:14.507

1If creating a number of items, it would be simpler to print all the “plates” and then print all the inserts. And I also prefer the look where the letters are not higher than the backing plate. – Ron Ventura – 2020-01-13T06:59:30.397

@RonVentura: While I agree, if the plates are not terribly large you could print a number together at the same time, and then one filament-change operation would serve all of the batch. – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE – 2020-01-13T20:08:59.100

can you use a flat colored sheet instead of positive text? it would show through the "stencil" of the negative letters. that way the text can be colored without sizing reqs... – dandavis – 2020-01-14T22:34:11.297

Dandavis yeah, but where’s the fun in that? :) – Ron Ventura – 2020-01-15T23:28:49.450



In OpenSCAD, apply the offset transformation to inset the letter outlines before extruding them. However you may find it works better to fill the sunken letter shapes with nail polish then remove the overflow with acetone; see my question & answer


Posted 2020-01-12T05:09:11.163

Reputation: 5 311

1Success! I applied a +0.1 offset to the plate lettering, and a -0.1 offset to the insert lettering. I also made the bar holding the letters together slightly smaller than the recess on the plate into which it fits. The result is a snug fit, but it works. Thanks for all the suggestions. I haven’t ruled out the “pause at height and change the filament suggestions, but it was fun solving this with your collective help. – Ron Ventura – 2020-01-19T07:25:18.573


Fusion 360 can be easily used to alter the design. It has a button under Construction > Edit > Push/Pull enter image description here. Using this tool allows to select one or more surfaces and shift them all outside or inside as needed.

An alternative would be to include the size difference in design. By selecting a line or loop and then pressing O opens a menu that easily creates an outline shifted by a specified ammount.

Tapering the extrusion is also easy: When extruding, one can choose to extrude with a -1°, resulting in a smaller size on the far side from the extrusion. positive angles make the far side larger.


Posted 2020-01-12T05:09:11.163

Reputation: 15 633


You will need to run test prints to see how your printer behaves with your choice of filaments. Then you'll know how much narrower the letter-lines (not the letter dimensions) need to be to fit.

The problem with that is one of making letters with narrow solid parts but without "shrinking" the open parts so that they fit into the badge receptacle regions. You can't just reduce the dimensions of the letters themselves.

Other than what Trish's answer suggests, I'd recommend either using a very small nozzle diameter and setting a narrow linewidth to reduce the "over-dimensioning" effects. Even better would be to identify the letters separately from the badge but keep them as a single STL and use a two-color printer (twin extruders, etc) to make the badge in one run.

Carl Witthoft

Posted 2020-01-12T05:09:11.163

Reputation: 2 918