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Project Box labelling and graphics

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RadioRon

Well-Known Member
One of the problems that I face in developing prototypes of new products on a shoestring budget is how to add graphics to the enclosure to make an impressive sample product. I'd like to kick around some of the methods and find out how successful these have been for you over the years. I've tried a few basic things with varying success:

1) print a label using my inkjet printer onto glossy adhesive paper. This gives excellent results but is only suitable for flat surfaces with protected edges

2) individually pressed-on adhesive lettering (eg. Letraset). Very tedious but quite flexible on location and surface curvature. Letters only, no graphics.

3) silkscreen. OK for flat surfaces, but very expensive or complex to set up for just a few boxes

4) hand colored with pens or brushes. You can imagine how amateur this looks.

I'm really interested to know if others have methods that produce professional looking logos and printing on curved surfaces (like a typical ABS plastic enclosure from Bud, OKW, Pactec, Hammond, Serpac and others).
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
For flat surfaces, there are a variety of water-apply decal materials. Print onto the special paper. Spray with clear. Then apply as usual. I have also used a laser printer onto clear mailing labels (Avery). They look OK and are water proof.

For curved surfaces, I have used vinyl cut with a vinyl cutter. Mine is a Roland, but 3V0 has a Cricut and likes it. Of course, there is a limit on text print size. You can also use them to create a nice stencil and then spray paint.

John
 

RadioRon

Well-Known Member
I wasn't familiar with vinyl cutters. Quite interesting, especially the idea of making a paint stencil.
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I saw materials for making water-transfer decals in a local hobby shop the other day (Testors brand?). They will work over slightly curved surfaces, like on plastic models. They also make a decal clearing solution, that melts the transporting film into the background plastic. The end result is that the decal looks almost like it is painted on with silk screen.

As for the vinyl cutter, My "Dr. Stika" (Roland) will go to 1/4" letters. I have not tried smaller. 3V0 was experimenting with using his Cricut to cut masks for PCBs. So, it may go even smaller.

John
 

Sceadwian

Banned
It's a bit expensive, but look into
Cricut® Store
It's markted to scrap bookers and hobbyists, but I've been seriously thinking about buying one because it can even cut through thin sheet metal and plastic card.
 
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SODA

Member
Hi,
What you can do is to make a layout on the computer and then print it on a transparent sheet. Make sure you print it in mirror so when you turn it over the printed side is protected. Or get yourself photo resist spray and make it the same way you make a pcb except for edging it.The photo resist will turn darker as it's getting older. The other thing is to get what they call labeling sheet. It is pre sprayed with a photo sensitive spray. You can get this at any printing-works company. You do this with a photo enlarger, the same way you make a photo.
I hope this was from any help to you.

SODA
 

microtexan

New Member
Vinyl letters and labels

Check out some of your local "quick sign" shops, most of which use the vinyl cutting machines. Great for lettering and graphics. Many colors and fonts. If you make a full scale print out from a word processor program or a graphics layout program, shop can probably duplicate it for you. Spend a little time with them and get to know them and it might not be as expensive. Just get the cut vinyl "weeded" and taped up. They will show you how to apply it. Not to difficult and will look great. I did that for a living for a while and made a few nice looking panels.
 

RadioRon

Well-Known Member
I was worried about applying vinyl letters and such over a 3D curved surface, but as was mentioned above, when we built model car kits in our youth, we used decals that conformed easily to curved surfaces as long as they only curved in one direction. Same would apply to vinyl sheet goods. So a simple curve should be no problem, but a compound curve would be, unless of course the vinyl items are extremely small.

I watched some youtube videos showing vinyl cutting and application. Looks pretty good, but how well would it work with very small letters and logos?
 
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RadioRon

Well-Known Member
PulsarProFx has a system know as decalProFx that allows you to print graphics using a color laser printer and apply the toner directly to a surface.

Hey, that looks pretty good. Need a laser printer, which I don't have at home, but we always know someone who does I guess. Nice results. The result is much thinner than vinyl which I like.
 

killivolt

Well-Known Member
PulsarProFx has a system know as decalProFx that allows you to print graphics using a color laser printer and apply the toner directly to a surface.

This is neat stuff.

kv
 
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