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At Last - An Easy Way To Make Pro Panels

One-off panels and labels have been a problem for years. Now a new process makes it easy.

By Ross Tester

It has long been one of the stumbling blocks in building your own projects: how to make them look as good as they work! Hobbyists are not alone in this - professional designers - even here at SILICON CHIP - have had similar problems in making a prototype look "professional".

Click for larger image
Here's a selection of the colours available in Quick-Mark. The "Roman Road" sign also gives a good idea of the resolution possible with a good (high contrast) original artwork with dense blacks and clear/translucent whites.

There have been various commercial systems available over the years: perhaps the best known was the self-adhesive aluminium "Scotchcal" (and later "Dynamark") labels from 3M. However, these were withdrawn from sale some time ago.

Back in February 1999 we told you how we did it for many of our projects: by laminating a laser print or inkjet print with self-adhesive plastic and glueing that to the case.

While that method works and looks pretty good, it certainly isn't as permanent or hard-wearing as a proper silk-screened or engraved panel. But as far as the projects we publish are concerned, that isn't a major problem. We just need them to look good long enough to photograph them - it's up to the kit suppliers to include "proper" panels.

But there are many times when we build a project which we DO want to keep for a long time and use, just as our readers would be doing. What we usually do in that case is make the temporary (printed) panel and then when the kits are released, beg, borrow or buy one from the suppliers to replace ours.

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