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Colored/Painted/Printed Panels
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Tech DIY  
Author Colored/Painted/Printed Panels
atoav
For some DIY designs I just used PCBs as panels. This works fine, but limits you to a certain color palette and usually to 3 colors (if you include the exposed traces).

There are some manufacturers who use painted (aluminum) panels, which are (i suspect) screen printed. Look at this one by Elektrofon for example:



Does anybody know any manufacturers who do this kind of stuff for cheap? Or would you just DIY? If yes, how?

Bonus Question: what are these jacks? How would you paint those?
atoav
To answer one of my own questions:

Screenprinting with Epoxyd based colors seems to work quite well and achieve stellar results. My girlfriend ho worked as a screenprinter warned about these colours tho, because they seem to be hard to wash out of the screens properly even with the right chemicals.

The PCB-houses seem to use screenprinting also for silkscreens (hence the name?), so maybe I should ask if they could print multicolor silkscreens too?
julian
The part in the photo is 5 colour.

To silk screen this, with epoxy based inks, youre looking at 5 screens, so 5 developments, 5 setups, 5 cleanups, and 5 recoveries.

Basically 5x the work of a single print. Which is acceptable if you are doing 100s, but crazy for a 1-off.

Basically 5 colour screen prints with epoxy inks, on one offs, are always going to fall into a DIY passion area, and never be financially viable to buy. One, single, pantone matched epoxy ink, would cost many times what you would want to pay for the part, and that's before you even take the lid off the tin.... : /
JohnLRice
Schaeffer AG / Front Panel Express do digital printing now. I haven't tried it myself but it seems like just about anything could be done?

https://www.schaeffer-ag.de/en/graphics/printing/
http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/graphics/digital_printing/



devinw1
Yes, the part the OP posted is likely screen printed. This is typically how you do parts like this. There are a huge number of Paints available but the setup costs money. No getting around this. It won’t be cheap for low volume production, especially as you add more colors.

Direct printing is becoming more prominent but resolution will vary on the machine used. Also, durability may not be as good as screen printing. The better epoxy based paints that can be used for screen print are very durable and can resist solvents etc...

For low volume metal parts, engraving or laser etching over anodizing yields very nice results but of course is monochromatic.

One other option is also a printed overlay with adhesive back. They can do some pretty cool stuff with that and with the right clear or matter clear material it can be very durable. There is the added step of aligning the overlay with the panel. Check out the Moog Sub 37 for a good example of this
roglok
julian wrote:
The part in the photo is 5 colour.

To silk screen this, with epoxy based inks, youre looking at 5 screens, so 5 developments, 5 setups, 5 cleanups, and 5 recoveries.



i agree about the multiple cleanups and recoveries but if i were to print this i'd use a single screen and mask the other colors with tape...
Altitude909
I think the days of screen printing metal panels is pretty much over, there are much better options for direct to metal printing that are both cheaper and much more durable. MPC is a good example of what can be done (I dont recommend or endorse them, there are other places that do the same thing much better)

RE: Front panel express printing. For small volumes, it's REALLY good for the price. The resolution isnt fabulous (but plenty good) and you can do the whole panel in whatever color you want, I've done full 17" 4u rackmount panels with custom solid background colors and it was perfect. To do the same thing you would have to powdercoat the panel, screen 4 colors, etc, etc. They just printed the whole thing and it cost 25$
devinw1
Altitude909 wrote:
I think the days of screen printing metal panels is pretty much over, there are much better options for direct to metal printing that are both cheaper and much more durable. MPC is a good example of what can be done (I dont recommend or endorse them, there are other places that do the same thing much better)

RE: Front panel express printing. For small volumes, it's REALLY good for the price. The resolution isnt fabulous (but plenty good) and you can do the whole panel in whatever color you want, I've done full 17" 4u rackmount panels with custom solid background colors and it was perfect. To do the same thing you would have to powdercoat the panel, screen 4 colors, etc, etc. They just printed the whole thing and it cost 25$


For production work, silkscreening Metal is still very much a thing!
tobb
atoav wrote:

There are some manufacturers who use painted (aluminum) panels, which are (i suspect) screen printed. Look at this one by Elektrofon for example:





No,this is not screen printed it a laminated printed panel (plastic coating)

Or the whole panel is thick plastic,or its glued onto an alluminium panel

you can spot this due to the +/- push buttons 'integrated' in the panel
devinw1
tobb wrote:
atoav wrote:

There are some manufacturers who use painted (aluminum) panels, which are (i suspect) screen printed. Look at this one by Elektrofon for example:





No,this is not screen printed it a laminated printed panel (plastic coating)

Or the whole panel is thick plastic,or its glued onto an alluminium panel

you can spot this due to the +/- push buttons 'integrated' in the panel


Well, those are either "membrane" buttons built into the panel or overlay, or a very nice fitting flat button that matches the panel very well (think like the power switch on a MacBook Pro). Hard to see without having an angle view or having one in hand.

Regardless, it's a very nice design! Very clean. thumbs up
roglok
it's neither laminated nor screenprinted. that image is a 3D rendering
devinw1
roglok wrote:
it's neither laminated nor screenprinted. that image is a 3D rendering


Ah nice. But they say they showed on at superbooth. Wonder if they'res any shots of the real deal around.
cretaceousear
roglok wrote:
it's neither laminated nor screenprinted. that image is a 3D rendering

I doubt that - why is there some dark and light behind the little + button cut out?

Also cheap 'n cheerful option: Dibond printing - 4 colour onto metal laminate
Altitude909
cretaceousear wrote:
..
I doubt that - why is there some dark and light behind the little + button cut out?



Because the PCB is rendered under the panel as well. It's a well done render, i'll give them that but there is no way the knobs and the ink on the panel can be that perfectly matched in real life.
roglok
cretaceousear wrote:
roglok wrote:
it's neither laminated nor screenprinted. that image is a 3D rendering

I doubt that - why is there some dark and light behind the little + button cut out?

Also cheap 'n cheerful option: Dibond printing - 4 colour onto metal laminate


The real thing:

cretaceousear
That pale blue knob doesn't quite match the jack ring OR the print on the panel - if you look really hard. Beautifully put together.
weasel79
came here for frontplate printing tips, left amazed by the circular display use.
ersatzplanet
JohnLRice wrote:
Schaeffer AG / Front Panel Express do digital printing now. I haven't tried it myself but it seems like just about anything could be done?

https://www.schaeffer-ag.de/en/graphics/printing/
http://www.frontpanelexpress.com/graphics/digital_printing/


Also known as Front Panel Express here in the USA. They do a full color process that is chemically etched into the aluminum and will not scratch off. Super durable. Their free layout program will even cost it out for you. No separate files for each color either - one full color graphic file is used ( PDF, JPG, TIFF, PNG, or BMP files).
the bad producer
I got a digitally printed Schaeffer panel from err... Schaeffer (EU version of FPE) recently and the printing started to rub off before I'd finished the build zombie did I tick the wrong box I wonder?!

My preferred panel fab do colour printing, but I've not gone beyond a bit of red, yellow and green on a Rings build:



It's nice, but still has a 'metallic sheen' behind it, which I suppose is obvious really! I must try out a colourful experimental panel at some point.
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