[Photograph of Neil Fraser]

Neil Fraser

For the past decade I've been a software engineer at Google in California.  In my spare time I've created a mélange of open-source software.  I've also built some rather unusual hardware.  On rare occasions I've even been known to write something interesting.

Rule Conflict Sunday, 4 August 2019

When applying for a university in the US, one needs to forward ones transcript from high school. There are two rules governing this:

  1. The transcript needs to be in an envelope, sealed by the high school. This discourages tampering with the grades. This system predates electronic signing.
  2. Any foreign transcript need to be translated to English. Translations must be notarized.

Individually, both these rules make perfect sense. But together they conflict rather badly. How can one get a notarized translation when one can't unseal the envelope?

Fortunately the security offered by a sealed envelope is pretty weak and is relatively easy to circumvent. I sketched out a plausible pattern in Inkscape, extruded it in Sketchup, rendered it as G-code, then 3D printed it and glued it to a wooden handle. This enabled the creation of a pretty convincing wax seal.

The heat from the molten wax did not appear to have any adverse effect on the 3D printed thermoplastic. However I did find out the hard way that the stamp requires lubrication, or else the wax binds to the stamp and pulls away in fragments. Painting the stamp with coconut oil worked nicely.

3D printing is definitely a viable option for making a custom wax seal.

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