Front Panel

I want to make a nice front panel on a microcontroller construction. I was thinking of some plastic foil which would be printable in a laser, ink printer or photocopier. Any suggestions?

Ole Asbjorn Fadum
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Where I used to work we printed past number and serial number lables onto sheet of metallised A4 paper using a laser printer. I've just had a google and I couldn't find a supplier but I'm sure it's not too hard to find. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work with an inkjet either.

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Tom Lucas

I have done this, printing a mirror image of the legend on overhead transparency film, then gluing it to the panel with a spray adhesive. This puts the toner against the panel, and protected by the film.

However, I more often use

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- they make custom engraved aluminum panels - very nice.

Peter Bennett VE7CEI 
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Peter Bennett

Yes, they do very good work, and I would not hesitate to recommend them as well.


Greg Neff VP Engineering

*Microsym* Computers Inc.
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Greg Neff

  1. Double-sided self-adhesive film onto front panel, anything smooth: metal, FR4, PC, you name it (*). I recall having used 3M stuff.
  2. Laser-printed ordinary copier paper onto that. Not wax-transfer, the glue may blur the image!
  3. Self-adhesive PC sheet, ~0.2mm thickness, like textured Lexan on top of that. Water-resistant and to some extent scratch-resistant.

(*) I once used it on MDF, but that absorbed the glue, so the film released. Solution: saturate the MDF with several layers of spray glue.

Even I -- clumsy as I am -- managed to make very professional-looking fronts with it. :-) Success


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If you have your own PCB etching facilities another option in addition to those already suggested is to etch a brass panel to suit. Print out a 'negative' image from your computer (places where you want lines, lettering etc left clear on a black background). Spray some aerosol photoresist onto a brass panel, then etch it until you gone roughly halfway through the thickness of the panel - any panel cut outs can be made by also etching the other side of the board in the right places - but be careful with the alignment. Clean it up in the normal way, then paint the visible side black before cleaning all the un-recessed paint (ie, areas that are not lines, lettering, etc) off with first 400 grit wet'n'dry then Brasso and a soth cloth. Then glue the panel in place.

It's a little more trouble than the other methods suggested, but you do get quite classy results.

Andrew Smallshaw
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Andrew Smallshaw

Here's the heads up...

This is a problem I have always had until recently when I begun using Heavy Duty Labels through a color laser with very impressive results. The color laser uses a plastic type toner and on the laser label it produces a professional finish that does not rub off.

For reference the laser I have used is a Konica Minolta 2400W and the labels are Avery "Heavy Duty Laser Labels" L7067 (A4 size). Using Open Office Draw it is a simple matter to get the artwork exactly how you want it and even import dxf files for mechanical registration. Just step and repeat to fill the page.

The labels are resistant to water, oil, etc and you just can't tear them. The finish is indistinguishable from a "real" label expect for the fact that you can use as many colors as you like, no screening. Just print, cut, peel, and stick.

I'm sure you can find local equivalents but I definitely recommend the Avery label.

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Peter Jakacki

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