The Perfect Front Panel Service

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JMan

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Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
279
Location
Chicago
Hi everyone,

I've been starting recently to search for a front panel manufacturer that offers all of the services that I want in one place, or who represents the least amount (or most tolerable nature) of compromises. I know this has to be possible, as I see others doing such things, but I have a feeling it's trickier for one-offs than for production orders. I'm thinking there may be manufacturers out there that I'm unaware of, though.

Specifically, I am hoping to find someone who can do an anodized panel with (a) a custom base color, (b) white print for text/scales/etc, and (c) standoffs on the backside. The following is what I understand a few companies to offer -- please correct me if you know something I don't!

Front Panel Express: provides (b) and (c), does not provide (a). It is possible to have a panel made elsewhere with a custom color and then send it to them for machining, but in this case, (b) is no longer available. This is per a recent email exchange with them.

Schaeffer: have not contacted, but I assume is similar to FPE.

MeFace (see this thread): appears to provide (a), does not provide (b) or (c)

Frank Röllen / frontpanels.de: have not contacted yet, but have never seen standoffs on his [excellent] work. Also unsure about custom color.

I also found a manufacturer called eMachineShop, which I had not been aware of, that looks promising, but I can't tell from looking through their website whether they offer these services or not, nor any indication of whether or not they do one-offs.

Anyway, that exhausts my very short list of manufacturing services that I'm familiar with. Any ideas? Who did I miss?
 

ruffrecords

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Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
13,399
Location
Norfolk - UK
I think FPE is a licensee of Schaeffer

I have not used Frank for several years but last time I did he was unable to do countersunk holes.

I have used Meface. They cater mainly you the synth market so are unlikely to meet all your specific needs.

There are plenty of CNC houses that will do engraving but I think you have already listed the main contenders when it comes to printed panels.

SRS in the UK will do custom panels of almost any kind but theirs are sprayed and silk screened so may not be what you need and they will be more expensive for small quantities. Enclosures for Electronics - SRS Products

Canford in the UK do custom panels of various sorts too. Custom panels - Canford

Cheers

Ian
 

JMan

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Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
279
Location
Chicago
I think FPE is a licensee of Schaeffer

I have not used Frank for several years but last time I did he was unable to do countersunk holes.

I have used Meface. They cater mainly you the synth market so are unlikely to meet all your specific needs.

There are plenty of CNC houses that will do engraving but I think you have already listed the main contenders when it comes to printed panels.

SRS in the UK will do custom panels of almost any kind but theirs are sprayed and silk screened so may not be what you need and they will be more expensive for small quantities. Enclosures for Electronics - SRS Products

Canford in the UK do custom panels of various sorts too. Custom panels - Canford

Cheers

Ian
Thanks, Ian! Yes, Schaeffer and FPE are related, which is why I assume their service options will be comparable. I will check out SRS -- sprayed and silk screened might work alright (as I say, I'm open to certain areas of compromise). Same with Canford, will give them a look!

Your thread was what first made me aware of Meface. It seemed SO promising until I realized what some of the limitations were. Still hope that I'll have a chance to try them out in the future, it just won't be for the handful of projects that are most immediate on my plate.

Contact Frank, if he can he will help you for sure!
I love Frank's work and he's such a good guy. I've bought many NRG enclosures, some front panels, and loads of accessories from him. He's on my list, of course, but I'm waiting to contact him simply because I know the typical aesthetic of his panels (which I like quite a bit) and it's a bit different to what I'm hoping to get in this specific case. Still, he may nevertheless end up being the best option.
 

TwentyTrees

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Joined
Sep 17, 2015
Messages
344
Location
London, UK
To add a couple of data points, Frank does standoffs if that helps. I don't know about custom anodising, though he does list a range of colours on frontpanels.de. He can powdercoat custom colours, and he can print white on powdercoat (I've had him do that for me).

Good luck, please do keep us all posted!
 

JMan

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Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
279
Location
Chicago
To add a couple of data points, Frank does standoffs if that helps. I don't know about custom anodising, though he does list a range of colours on frontpanels.de. He can powdercoat custom colours, and he can print white on powdercoat (I've had him do that for me).

Good luck, please do keep us all posted!
Well damn, dude! I was genuinely thinking he didn't have what I was looking for, BUT (!!!) I had never seen the additional listed color options on his site before, and sure enough, right there in the additional colors was something so close to what I'm after it's scary. If he can do standoffs too, as you mentioned, I guess I don't have to look much further.
 

TwentyTrees

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Sep 17, 2015
Messages
344
Location
London, UK
Well damn, dude! I was genuinely thinking he didn't have what I was looking for, BUT (!!!) I had never seen the additional listed color options on his site before, and sure enough, right there in the additional colors was something so close to what I'm after it's scary. If he can do standoffs too, as you mentioned, I guess I don't have to look much further.
Excellent! He does do good work. I think the additional colours are a fairly recent addition if it helps.
 

Rocinante

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Jan 17, 2014
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1,132
Location
Minnehopeless
Frontpanelpros is another. Heinze (I'm fairly certain that is his name) is pretty quick to respond and can do anything. Priced about the same as FPE. Frank kills it. If its something technical or special he is definitely my go-to even though I'm in the states.
 

jaymz168

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
13
I don't know about perfect but from the "hifi" side of things: Modushop / Hifi2000 does front panels, this is one of their chassis with front panel CNC from a DWG I provided.
PXL_20210416_165240446.jpg
 

Ricardus

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Dec 2, 2018
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979
Location
Upstate NY
Frontpanelpros is another. Heinze (I'm fairly certain that is his name) is pretty quick to respond and can do anything. Priced about the same as FPE. Frank kills it. If its something technical or special he is definitely my go-to even though I'm in the states.

Once I discovered Frank I said goodbye to FPE. I haven't used anyone else since.
 

JMan

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Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
279
Location
Chicago
All this love for Frank makes me really happy. I already knew he was a darling of the DIY community, and all of my experiences with him have been overwhelmingly positive. But I had no idea just how flexible his options were!
 

thomasdf

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Joined
Aug 10, 2011
Messages
466
Location
Paris, France
I am super super happy with the team at Modushop / Hifi2000 in Italia. Great quality racks, their service for cutting / engraving is cheap and spot on, great communication... I can't recommand them enough.
 
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