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

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...

WANTED:
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!
Maniacy

15 Replies

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codongolev (author)2009-08-22

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.

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Maniacy (author)2009-08-12

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...
http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/legocard

294 finds at ebay at the time of writing...

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Maniacy (author)2009-05-18

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.

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grandtippler (author)2009-05-02

I use this metallic sticker stuff, on my projects.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rarebeasts/3076298881/in/set-72157617497312331/
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...

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Maniacy (author)2009-04-28

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.)

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caitlinsdad (author)Maniacy2009-04-28

http://www.pearlpaint.com/shop~ocID~~parentID~1963~categoryID~1962~layoutIndicator~vertical.htm
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.

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caitlinsdad (author)caitlinsdad2009-04-28

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.

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Goodhart (author)2009-04-28

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.

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Maniacy (author)Goodhart2009-04-28

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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Goodhart (author)Maniacy2009-04-28

I don't think that what laser etching has anything to do with Letraset Transfers.

True, but he did say: the days before laser-printers

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?

I am sure there is, but at what cost?

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caitlinsdad (author)2009-04-28

It sounds like you want to add something to the faceplate and leave the original graphics intact. Rig up a pantograph mechanism that has at one end a superfine drafting pen. Ink does come in different colors and metallic. Create a scale template that will be used to guide the other end of the pantograph. It is a way to mechanically scale down your lettering. Use a dremel tip as your pen to scribe/scratch in the letters and then fill in with paint. Have one of those magnifying glasses on a stand to help see the work. Good luck.

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lemonie (author)2009-04-27

How about Letraset Transfers I realise this is a UK link but you must be able to find the sheets somewhere?

The just rub-on with friction.

I have used them years ago, a bit surprised they're still in production.

L

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Maniacy (author)lemonie2009-04-27

Thanks a lot for the tip, although (as I wrote in the original post) I did already buy some letraset lettering sheets. The ones on the website seem incredibly expensive, but at least, they are colored.

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lemonie (author)Maniacy2009-04-27

No, they're not cheap. I think Letraset is old technology for the days before laser-printers, niche market now but I guess there still is one. L

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