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  • #16
    I use these guys and am pleased with the results on brass. I'll be etching steel in a few weeks and will see how that goes. Others have reported very good results on steel, so I suspect it will go well.

    http://www.etch-o-matic.com/index.html

    Pops

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    • #17
      They still make film cameras. They still make B&W film. They still develop B&W film. They still make duplicate negatives.
      Yeah, but "they" don't do it around here anymore. I still have a pack of Lithographic high contrast film in the freezer but I gave all my darkroom equipment to my daughter and I have no idea what she has done with it. Just give it a few more years and They won't be selling it anymore. Even X-rays are all digital now.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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      • #18
        I will post some pics of what I end up doing. Today I visited a recommended sign shop, and they don't have any efficient way to do this job. They have all the equipment required, but it would not be cost-effective for them. I went to a print shop, and they have the ability to print and laminate on white stick-on paper, but not just print on stick-on paper. Transparencies- no. I went to a photo print shop, and they made me a sample of printing on photo paper to take home and test. I had previously milled a slot in some plastic laminate so I could test with some back light. Colors on photo paper tend to wash out when the paper is lit- the lettering doesn't stand out any better than when not lit. Sometimes it's worse. The best result so far has been white lettering on a dark background on photo paper, with a colored plastic film behind it to color the lettering.

        I have some photos in which I included some descriptions on a black band at the bottom of the picture. When lit from behind, the black becomes a kind of greyish green, which will actually match my color scheme. The lit lettering looks good as is, red cellophane behind makes them hard to read, blue doesn't cut it at all, and green does a good job.

        So- I'll do the artwork and get a few 5x7s printed. Next experiment will be to lay a coating of epoxy on the lettering, then place it under the slot to cure. The epoxy layer would rise slightly into the slot and that might give the finished look to it.
        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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        • #19
          Our eyes are optimised for green light. That is why red and blue don't work well as they are somewhat out of focus. Also, the focus distance varies with colour since the angle of refraction in a lens varies with wavelength. Red doesn't focus well because the focus distance in the eye required is longer than green. There is also a problem with scattering in the vitreous and aqueous humour. Most people's eyes cannot focus on blue accurately because scattering increases as wavelength decreases (bluer).

          All colours are fine for indicators that needn't be in clear focus. When text is illuminated, especially back lit, then colours between orange and cyan (aqua) are best. Also, avoid contrasts between colours that are opposite on the primary colour wheel for emitted colours (additive from light sources) and opposites on the secondary colours for reflected light (subtractive colours as used in printed colour). For instance, red on green is hard to read.

          You can try the colour combinations on your computer screen to get an idea how easy it will be to read.
          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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          • #20
            Freakin' Lasers

            The OP sounds like he has quite an interesting project going. Darryl, if I understand correctly you are making large analog indicators by bouncing a laser pointer off a galvanometer? (Laser takes the place of the needle on the galvanometer) That's seriously cool! I wish I had thought of that!

            Evan, those colored dial rules look great. What program did you use to lay out the graduations?

            It seems like the simplest approach would be to buy some clear peel and stick ink jet film and then find someone who has an ink jet. Is there a printer at work you can use? If you're taking your own peel and stick film it seems like that would fall under "acceptable use" policy. Just have your artwork ready to go.

            How could lettering/marking benefit from using a small CNC laser like an Epilog or Universal?

            You don't have to own your own laser. Lots of tool clubs and woodworking places are getting lasers, I think I have even seen a place in a shopping mall where you could get laser etching/engraving done.

            There are a few different things you could do:

            Coat metal with spray shellack or similar. Use laser to burn design through shellack. Use chemical etch to attack exposed metal where shellack was burned away. Then fill in the etched areas with ink/paint.

            Use the laser to directly burn designs into anodized aluminum.

            For back lit writing use the laser to burn designs into clear or frosted plastic.

            You can get a chemical that you put on steel and then hit with a CO2 laser which will leave a permanent black mark wherever the laser burned it.

            Most of the lasers I have seen can "print" any artwork/fonts you can come up with. So you are not limited to blocky label maker fonts.

            What other things could be done with a laser to add wording/indicators to a project?
            My cup 'o plasma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1vMfmhM9fg No dialog, just ten minutes of dancing plasma and music. Turn on, tune in, space out.

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            • #21
              I still use Paint Shop Pro Version 7 for much of my graphics work. I know it inside out as I was a tester on it as well as v8 and v9 before JASC sold out to Corel. Arcane computer trivia: JASC stood for Just Another Software Company.

              I also use SketchUp and for CNC work I often design directly in CamBam.

              There are a lot of ways to use a laser. I can use my low powered CNC laser to cut etch masks for circuit boards but that's not all. Stainless steel, aluminum, brass and bronze as well as copper can all be etched by ferric chloride. You can do etched engraving or even laser cut light masks such as this encoder wheel. It was cut using a 200 milliwatt laser burning away black spray paint on PET-G plastic. It would make an excellent mask for back lit lettering. These images are back lit.



              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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              • #22
                Anyone have any good processes for stamped/engraved/deep etched markings? I've read some of the descriptions in HSM about scratching markings and steel punching numbers/letters. None of these seem really practical for doing a modest number (10-30) of the same part.

                ArkTinkerer

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by ArkTinkerer
                  Anyone have any good processes for stamped/engraved/deep etched markings? I've read some of the descriptions in HSM about scratching markings and steel punching numbers/letters. None of these seem really practical for doing a modest number (10-30) of the same part.

                  ArkTinkerer
                  See my post about Etch-O-Matic. The stencils are about $30 each and the machine is about $80. If you go into doing a lot of different small lots, it pays to make your own stencils. They will etch to about 3 - 4 thou.

                  Pops

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                  • #24
                    Weekend Scientist- I am indeed going to try to build an analog indicator by bouncing a laser line off a galvanometer. Somewhere here I have a red laser with a window in front that makes the dot into a line. That particular one does a pretty good job of delivering a thin, sharp line.

                    There will actually be about six indicators built into one housing. I can set the laser to one side and have each of the mirrors picking up a 'piece' of the laser line. Each one will reflect to its own scale. These will all be backlit as well. I'll adjust the lighting to get the best readability.

                    I'm building a pair of electronic test benches. Each will have power supplies, switched ac outlets, some constant current sources at various levels, and a 555 timer based current pass controller. This controller will have variable duty cycle and frequency controls with a simple square wave output, and will control a high current output device. Any of the power supplies can be routed through this device by connection with binding posts. The meter module will have a pair of dc voltmeters, a dc and an ac ammeter, a dc wattmeter, an ac wattmeter, an rpm indicator, and a torque indicator. My plan is to eventually have a torque measuring module on board.

                    I plan to use instrumentation op amps to condition the input voltages and buffers with feedback to drive the galvanometers. This way I'll get a fairly accurate and linear readout, and I'm going to see if I can come up with an auto-range function also. I want 0 to 3 volt, and 0 to 30 volt ranges, and an led will indicate which range has been locked in. Same for the current ranges- I want to be able to resolve down to 10 ma, but also read up to 10 amps.

                    Each bench has ten modules in it. Eight of them are spoken for already with the various functions, dc and ac voltage outputs. I'm open to suggestions for the remaining two panels. I'm thinking that one of them could be used for an electronic variable load resistance. The other one- maybe a 'smart' battery charging module.
                    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                    • #25
                      After work today I got a drug store photo department to make me a 4x6 with some words on it- background black, words in white. Set behind a slot in some laminate, it looks good- quite good actually. Backlit it stands out perfectly. I got the words as all capital letters, and a font size of 10 or 12 is perfect for the 1/4 inch slot that it's going to show through. Anything smaller or larger would require a different width of slot to look right. Of course, the size 10 font takes up less linear room than the 12. This is going to be a big factor if there's lots of nomenclature to be displayed on a smallish panel. I have a feeling I'm going with the 10.

                      So- this works for me and is the way I'll be notating this project. It looks like a single white led will fairly evenly light up about 4 letters, and it gives a good glow to the green when cellophane is put between the led and the back of the photopaper strips.

                      Then I did a test with some epoxy. I wiped a layer on the word strip, then laid the slotted piece of laminate over it. Before doing this, I deburred the slot, front and rear, and felt penned over the inside of the slot to darken it evenly. The epoxy did not take well to the inside of the slot, possibly because of the ink, but is also did not level out well enough to look good. The best look was the raw photo paper pressed against the back of the slot, and with the inside edge of the slot black felt penned.

                      I've described what looks best using this method- I still have to find my camera, and when I do I'll possibly have at least one module face done. Then I'll post a pic.
                      I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                      • #26
                        Getting in kind of late here, but to my eye my favorite kind of marking is to laser etch anodized aluminum. Basically the laser "removes" the color layer and leaves a nice clean-lined and professional looking markings. It's quite dramatic that the simple technique (if you have access to the laser or someone with one) creates such a good job. Very high contrast, especially in black, plus it's extremely durable.



                        Here's a youtube video of some black aluminum being laser etched:
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=-Wia9zRwm3I

                        I don't know what power or wavelength it takes to do this (maybe a wide variety?), but it might be worth looking into.

                        p.s. You can see from the video that proper safety eyewear would be most important when dealing with lasers. Seems like a lot of scattered reflection. Your vision can be severely and permanently damaged almost instantly with a laser so you must be vigilant with the safety measures.
                        Last edited by tyrone shewlaces; 11-03-2011, 02:29 AM.

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                        • #27
                          Yes, that does a very good job. I don't have a laser engraver, or access to one. My challenge was to do the job at home as best I can, and make it look decent. I've found a way to do that. Besides my time, it's going to cost me about two bucks for enough prints to cover several projects, including this rather large one (large as far as front panel area goes). I have enough projects going already that are costing significantly, so if I can save a buck and create something at the same time, why not-

                          I'm going to have to consider the best format to use so the printer can give its best results. It would be nice if all the lettering came out sharp and clear. One shop did not want to see a bmp- they wanted it in pdf.
                          I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                          • #28
                            The Etch-O-Matic. looks like a good tool and the cost is not excessive. Based on use by a business. In the 1960's, 1970's. Popular Science or Popular Mechanics had an article on making your own etching machine. A search of Google Books should turn up the article. It used a transformer and a pad. The electrolyte was a saline solution as I recall. The stencils were made made on a typewriter using stencil paper from the old rotary machines. Anybody my age can remember those from school along with the smell of the liquid.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by kbertoson
                              The Etch-O-Matic. looks like a good tool and the cost is not excessive. Based on use by a business. In the 1960's, 1970's. Popular Science or Popular Mechanics had an article on making your own etching machine. A search of Google Books should turn up the article. It used a transformer and a pad. The electrolyte was a saline solution as I recall. The stencils were made made on a typewriter using stencil paper from the old rotary machines. Anybody my age can remember those from school along with the smell of the liquid.
                              I remember those smells.

                              I made many stencils for the Etch-O-Matic using their blanks and my dot matrix printer. That works well. This latest project I'm using the photo-developed stencils from them, as my last dot printer is down and their stencils last longer (more transfers per stencil) than the old paper ones.

                              I have also used their old stencil stock with ferric-chloride for etching brass, when I needed a much deeper etch.

                              Pops

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                              • #30
                                How does that Etc-O-Matic stencil work, I mean what it is and what could be substituted? The machine is easy, as it is just a DC power source with about 10-15 VDC and a few amps of current.
                                Amount of experience is in direct proportion to the value of broken equipment.

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