Monday, 27 May 2013

Lexan Control Panel





Designing a control panel for your project is kind of like dating - looks count for a lot. No matter how well your circuit functions or how slick the enclosure looks, if you use a 'Dymo Label Maker' to label the controls, you project will look less than professional. Unfortunately, most of the techniques used by large manufacturers to create graphics on their products are out of reach for the average electronics hobbyist.

I have struggled over the years with different methods for labeling the face of my designs. For the NaV-1 synth prototype, I tried a new method and am very happy with the results.



This method uses a image printed on Photo Paper under a sheet of clear Lexan Polycarbonate. I used matte finish photo paper as the Lexan will provide a nice glossy finish.

Watch this Video to see how it's done


This technique has a couple of potential drawbacks. First, I would not use this on a device that will take a lot of abuse like a guitar stomp box. Second, the Lexan has a little flex to it. If your control panel is large, it may 'give' a little if the user pushes a button with force, like in an arcade cabinet. If this is the case, you could always add a piece of wood behind the panel for support.

I kept the graphics simple for this project, but you could get extremely creative with the design. Anything you can print could be decorating your next project. Let me know if you come up with something cool!

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