Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clear Stamps - Photo Polymer; Acrylic; Vinyl, ?!?!?!

Sheryl asked a very good question. She mentioned that clear stamps are called so many different names and wanted to know if they were the same and/or interchangeable.

The answer to this question is no, not all clear stamps are made the same! There are some real differences in them and I'll try to (ahem) "Clear" up some of the confusion ;P Sorry, I know it's really a bad joke but I couldn't resist!

Acrylic Stamps - This is the universal term used to describe all clear stamps.

Photopolymer or Polymer Stamps - The most common clear stamps available on the market. This is the high quality material used by most manufactures. It is specifically designed for this purpose and holds it's shape just like a red rubber stamp and they last just as long as rubber stamps. Only photopolymer has the microscopic porosity, developed for the printing industry, necessary for excellent ink transfer. These types of stamps are also naturally sticky which is why they work so well on the acrylic blocks.

Vinyl & Silicon Stamps - This is a cheap version of a Polymer Stamp. The vinyl/silicon material used doesn't hold it's shape as well. They almost feel like jelly and are easily compressed or loose their shape. These are the stamps that are easily smooshed making a blurry impression if too much pressure is applied. The silicon and vinyl materials have a non-porous, slick surface, which has difficulty in even ink transfer. Also vinyl and silicon stamps tend to loose their stickyness after time because the material used just wasn't designed for this purpose. I actually have a few stamps like this but I just figured it was because they were dusty...I just dampen the acrylic block a bit (not too wet - the stamp will skid right off the block if you do!) and the stamp sticks fine. Vinyl and silicon stamps break down fairly quickly and will not last as long as the Photopolymer or Red Rubber stamps do.

IMPORTANT Health Issue....Genuine photopolymer clear stamps are latex free and contain no phthalates or other know harmful ingredients. The manufacturing process uses biodegradable materials that are not harmful to the environment.

Hope this information helps!


  1. I wish the manufacturers or vendors would label the material used. Thanks for all the good info.

  2. very interesting , now i know too, thank you, Jaqi

  3. Thanks,
    Very good information to have.

  4. thank you very much. I have tried to explain this to my students, but you did such a better job... thanks..

  5. My guess throughout the testing was that on the left was the clear stamp, it just looked a little more smooshed on some of the edges and yes I think the inks make a big difference. You can never go wrong with a good ole rubber stamp even though for the most part I've converted to the clear stamp. So yes, I could tell only cause I've had ink on my fingers for over 12 years.


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!