WANTED: Your Ways to inscribe / label / letter plastic cases 'n stuff REWARD :)

Hi Folks

Did you ever successfully apply a small lettering onto something?
Your methods of making labeling/lettering on a quite small scale would be very appreciated!
Maybe people from the miniature/model scence have some idea?

I want to 'casemod' my TI-92 Plus and CBL-2 to look similar AND nicer. They are housed in some not that beautiful grey plastic. I thought of just applying some primer and paint, but that would make all the important small inscriptions disappear and since there are plenty of them, I can't have that. I bought some letraset lettering sheets on ebay, but those are only one color and a bit too big...

A method to apply small (<=0,1 inch) yet accurate lettering onto plastic/metal/paint. Durability is not important since I will apply about 5-10 layers of varnish. Some opacity/covering power would be good though. And I need to be able to do it in at least two colors.

REWARD: I offer two (full) cases of Altoids for the person, whose technique I use in the process. (Of course an instructable will document the build!)
This is kind of arbitrary but I want to spice up the deal a bit...

Thank you!

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codongolev8 years ago
our school switched official calculators, so I had the old one lying around, so I scanned it, took some measurements, took it apart, and taped the basic components, rubber button thingy, and printout of the original face together. now it's like, 1/8th inch thick and still has all the functionality.
Maniacy (author) 8 years ago
OK an update:
Letraset lettering proved to be just not good enough. I couldn't apply it reliably enough to trust it with be modded Calculator project.

I will try the method EvilMadScientists used when they made their recently posted Lego business cards: decal paper.
Why didn't I think of that? I didn't know such stuff existed...

294 finds at ebay at the time of writing...
Maniacy (author) 8 years ago
In case someone is interested in those pens: They are 'Radiograph' pens made by Koh-i-Noor or Rotring in Germany (with Koh-I-Noor usually being more expensive but better quality). Damn expensive but probably worth the money. I'm onto some of those for testing puposes on Ebay.
I use this metallic sticker stuff, on my projects.
You run it through a laser printer, so you can print characters as small as your printer can handle. If you can find a color laser printer, you got color. It gives a good finish but for your application cutting around all the buttons could be tricky.
If it's the kind thing your interested in I can get you a part number on Monday when I get back to the work shop.

Good luck...
Maniacy (author) 8 years ago
Damn it I just deleted a good post by accident: This would have been my answer: Pantograph: Great idea! Didn't think of that. I don't have one yet, but my girlfriend wants to buy one, so maybe i get lucky. Filling the gaps with paint sounds great, because it's so durable.... You gave me another idea though: I do have a stereo microscope. I could just 'paint' the lettering by hand with one of those drafting pens. Do you have any tips where to get them or better WHICH i should get for painting on those kind of surfaces? (I will look at google and ebay anyways, but if you have any special tip, let me know.)
Technical pens really are like fountain pens but have a tiny metal tube as its tip. It works on any smooth flat surface to draw a consistent width line like for architect plans.

You could probably find the pantograph there too at Pearl Paint.
Or take a pin/toothpick and paint with that whiteout correction fluid under your microscope- magnification might be too muck though. I use correction fluid to mark my tools and that stuff is pretty good and cheap. Try it.
Goodhart8 years ago
Other then the Laser etching suggested by lemonie ( See here for an article on the advantages and disadvantages of different processes ) I am not sure how else to accomplish all you wish to do.
Maniacy (author)  Goodhart8 years ago
Thanks for the link, very informative! I don't think that what laser etching has anything to do with Letraset Transfers. The problem with letraset transfers are twofold: - Out of the box, they only seem to exist in 3mm height and only in black&white (although colorwise that would suffice...) - If you let Letraset make you a 'custom made' set, it costs more than what I paid for my calculator... I would end up with the perfekt inscription though. I could choose the exact dimensions, symbols etc and the colors... So if there was a method similar to that... What about laser etching? I still do need two colors. If one would use some kind of 'masking' technique by which one would have some material etched 'onto' the surface. Is there anything like that?
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