ron_swanson

Hello,

Sorry if this is posted in the wrong category.  Seemed like the best place...

Does anyone have any suggestions for an easy at home or inexpensive professional service means of adding custom logos and / or rear & front panel decorations and text to enclosures?  Admittedly, a custom front panel would be the best path, but often that can be very cost prohibitive. 

One off professional silk screening is very expensive and after trying a number of 'at home' screening products and heat transfer solutions, nothing seems to work with even marginal quality.  I've tried using custom decals that at first seem to work ok, but seems that when devices get hot, these decals tend to break up and fall apart. 

I see DIY projects that look very professional here and there - some with trademarked logos which most if not all professional service providers won't accept - and have wondered how these enclosures are being decorated without costing more than the actual project parts in the first place.  For example, there seems to be quite a few  DIY LA2A  build pictures out on the Interweb with the Teletronix trade name emblazoned on the front panel. 

Thanks in advance!

Greg



Rob Flinn

Look into UV printing.
regards Rob

ruffrecords

What size panels are we talking about?

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

abbey road d enfer

Look into UV printing.
I've looked into UV printing, even had orderd one, at €3k, which I had to cancel because the mfgr asked extra money, arguing he was losing money on this sale.
Have you found a cheaper solution?
I'd be seriousely interested. As far as I can see, standard printers cannot be used for UV printing on hard surfaces.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

Rob Flinn

I haven't found a cheap solution to buy a UV printer, but if you take a panel to a print house that has one it is a lot cheaper than screen printing & there is no set up cost i.e making a screen for what could be a one off panel.  Frank Rollens has one now & offers this service.
regards Rob

scott2000

I was looking into this last night and one article , which was talking about taking copper clad to a place that does this, even a kiosk in a mall that does personalized gifts , is a good way to make pcbs. You just do a simple black and then take it home to etch yourself....

https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-PCB-Production-With-a-UV-Printer-and-Get-Help-/

Wonder if taking a panel to them would be similar??

ron_swanson

What size panels are we talking about?

Cheers

Ian

Hi Ian,

The usual suspects.  19" rack front panels and maybe back panels of various rack u's. 

Cheers,
Greg

ron_swanson

I haven't found a cheap solution to buy a UV printer, but if you take a panel to a print house that has one it is a lot cheaper than screen printing & there is no set up cost i.e making a screen for what could be a one off panel.  Frank Rollens has one now & offers this service.

Hey Rob,

Yes,  a UV printer would be a good choice, but for home use not financially viable to purchase (as you indicated) and also when trying to reproduce vintage hardware aesthetics, there would likely be trademark issues if one wanted to copy a look exactly.

 Of course, it may be possible to find a DIY'er with a UV printer that may be willing to 'fudge' the rules, but I digress...

Who is Frank Rollens?  (sorry, if that's a noob question...)

Cheers,
Greg

ron_swanson

I did find a product that looked very promising that was advertised with a number of amazing finished samples photos, but alas after hours of 'practicing' I have yet to get anything usable despite a lot of coaching from the retailer. 

https://decalprofx.com/index.html

You need a laser printer with preferably OEM toner cartridges (no after market toners recommended, although after market MAY work) and a quality pouch laminator. 

I have both an HP LaserJet and a laminator that I use to make DIY PCB's from time to time, but as mentioned above, DecalPro has so far eluded my skill set.  If you don't have either of these devices to start, then the solution is also somewhat expensive to get into.

That said, the fractured bits that I have managed to successfully apply to test front panels are sharp, crisp, colorful and fastened down tight as the process basically is a process to apply the toner (which is largely plastic with color particles) through heat and static cling to surfaces.  Black and white and 4 color graphics are obvious, but the system does offer white underlay options if needed and / or you can print with a number of other colors including foils as long as the image is a single color scheme. 

While it's rather easy to remove an image with alcohol and a cloth immediately after applying - if desired for whatever reasons, it's a lot harder - but, not impossible - to remove an image after a day of drying.

Again, the above is just in theory in my case as I have been unable to take an image through the full process without running into quality issues.   Others seem to have better luck, so I'm unsure what I'm doing wrong at this point.   The vendor says it's a learning curve that can be mastered.

Cheers,
Greg


TwentyTrees

Frank runs www.frontpanels.de in Germany, doing all sorts of custom metalwork. He's really helpful to deal with and produces good work - I get all my stuff from him these days. The last couple of pieces I've had have been UV printed on anodised aluminium, and they look great - sharper than some of the engraved stuff I've had in the past, and cheaper to boot.


ruffrecords

Hi Ian,

The usual suspects.  19" rack front panels and maybe back panels of various rack u's. 

Cheers,
Greg
OK, the reason I asked is that for smallish panels (like 500 series front panels) you can now get single sided aluminium PCBs from most Chinese PCB suppliers. You set the front panel overall colour by selecting the solder mask colour and the legend on the front panel is the PCB silk screen. So you just use your regular PCB software to design the the panel with holes and legend. The only downside is the minimum order is usually 5 pieces which is OK for me for mixer module front panels but not so good if you want a 19 inch panel. The upside is they are surprisingly cheap.

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

ron_swanson

Frank runs www.frontpanels.de in Germany, doing all sorts of custom metalwork. He's really helpful to deal with and produces good work - I get all my stuff from him these days. The last couple of pieces I've had have been UV printed on anodised aluminium, and they look great - sharper than some of the engraved stuff I've had in the past, and cheaper to boot.

Ah, that Frank!

Yes, I am aware of FrontPanel and have used the digital printing process he offers with great success.    And, yes, it is very cost effective when the front panel is complicated and thus expensive.

Obviously an option, but again I was looking for something that I could control and quickly do at home when appropriate. 

Cheers,
Greg

abbey road d enfer

OK, the reason I asked is that for smallish panels (like 500 series front panels) you can now get single sided aluminium PCBs from most Chinese PCB suppliers. You set the front panel overall colour by selecting the solder mask colour and the legend on the front panel is the PCB silk screen. So you just use your regular PCB software to design the the panel with holes and legend. The only downside is the minimum order is usually 5 pieces which is OK for me for mixer module front panels but not so good if you want a 19 inch panel. The upside is they are surprisingly cheap.
Just out of curiosity, I had a quotation for a 19" 2U front panel in 3.2mm thickness, with one side copper, for shielding.
Cost for a one-off is $148.96 and 10 off price is $15.13 + $87.00 tooling. It's not a ridiculous proposition.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

rackmonkey

Ron, the “disintegrating graphics” problem sounds like a moisture issue to me. How are you removing the moisture from the image? Heat gun? Hair dryer? Oven?
Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.

Gold

There are inexpensive vinyl stencil makers. I’ve thought using vinyl stencils with sand blasting or possibly painting would work.

I haven’t tried it but the stencil makers are about $100.  Might be worth a shot.

ruffrecords

Just out of curiosity, I had a quotation for a 19" 2U front panel in 3.2mm thickness, with one side copper, for shielding.
Cost for a one-off is $148.96 and 10 off price is $15.13 + $87.00 tooling. It's not a ridiculous proposition.

Was that a regular FR4 material?

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

abbey road d enfer

Was that a regular FR4 material?

Cheers

Ian
Yes, with white resist and black, blue or red lettering.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

ruffrecords

Yes, with white resist and black, blue or red lettering.
That is very interesting. Any chance you can post a picture?

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

abbey road d enfer

There are inexpensive vinyl stencil makers. I’ve thought using vinyl stencils with sand blasting or possibly painting would work.

I haven’t tried it but the stencil makers are about $100.  Might be worth a shot.
The people at Silhouette say the minimum font size is 5mm (0.2"). Typical size is about half of that.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

abbey road d enfer

That is very interesting. Any chance you can post a picture?

Cheers

Ian
Woah! It's just a quotation I had. First step of evaluation of feasability...
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.


 

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