I have an old panel faceplate (circa 2000) that I am trying to create a replacement for. It appears that the two commonly available methods to put graphics on a metal faceplate are UV printing and engraving. My best guess is that this panel started with a plain sheet of aluminum and then had an image UV printed onto it (including the black background).

From the pictures, can anyone determine if this is correct or if another method was used? My goal is for the new faceplate to be as close to the original as possible.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not an Electrical Engineering question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Feb 14 '18 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EugeneSh. I wondered about that too, but this question seems to set the precedent that it is acceptable. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14 '18 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EugeneSh. As well as this one and numerous others \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14 '18 at 18:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, that's why we have a voting system here... And not a precedent based one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Feb 14 '18 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Designing a good looking enclosure is the most annoying part of DIY electronics, so this is on-topic IMO... \$\endgroup\$
    – bobflux
    Feb 14 '18 at 20:33

While this isn't an electronics question in itself, it is a problem faced by many of us when finishing off an electronics project in an attempt to create a professional finish.

It is most likely done by a screen-printing process. These are low-cost for one-off or low quantity production runs.

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Figure 1. A screen-print jig. Source: Guitar Fool.

The linked article author sends his artwork out to have the screen created. He then fastens it into his jig, presses it down on the panel and squeegee's the ink through.

If you weren't trying to get an exact colour match I would recommend that you have the panel made. Many of the PCB manufacturers make front panels too as the processes are quite similar: silk screen (solder and component designations) and drilling and routing. They can generally offer aluminium and plastics.

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Figure 2. Panel-Pool are one such company, in Europe, at least.

Panels can be "pooled" (assorted customers' jobs run through on one common panel before final cut-off) just as PCBs are. I used this company, oddly enough, for a mechanical part that had a fine grid of small (< 1 mm) holes. The task had been declined by the machine shops in my area. The laser cutting shops said they couldn't do it either due to the lead-in generated by the standard laser equipment. The PCB shops, on the other hand, do small holes all the time.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the result scratch proof? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14 '18 at 19:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's going to depend on the paint used. Look it up. I would expect it to be reasonably tough - think of guitar amplifier, mixer desk, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Feb 14 '18 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps useful to add that the black background was likely obtained by powder coating the part before being screen printed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon
    Feb 14 '18 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user8908459 If you look closely at the “shadow”, you’ll see that it is actually a half-tone, a grid pattern of white lines that, at a distance, looks like grey. As long as the silk screen is fine enough resolution, it can easily produce this. \$\endgroup\$
    – DoxyLover
    Feb 14 '18 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another approach I have used is to use a clear plastic front panel and silk-screen the white on the back, then cover that with a black or coloured coat, with openings for leds and displays to be seen through. It makes for a nice shiny face plate, with less holes, and the text will never wear off. It does tend to get scratched over time though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trevor_G
    Feb 14 '18 at 19:23

I was able to find the original manufacturer and get more details. It's actually a aluminum subpanel with a lexan overlay on top.


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