A simple do it yourself method is explained to print and stick custom labels onto home brew electronic equipment
Step 1: WHAT YOU NEED
1. A laser printer : This will be used to print the text / graphics which have been composed using a PC.
2. The instrument cover on which the labels are to be stuck : This could be any equipment and the method is suitable for all surfaces. In the current demonstration the text color is black so a suitable background color should be selected.
3. 3M Magic Scotch tape : Scotch® Magic™ Tape is the original matte-finish, invisible tape. Frosty on the roll but invisible on paper, It’s the preferred tape for offices, home offices and schools.
4. Hobby knife : Which will be used for cutting the label strips.
5. A spray can of clear lacquer : This is typically the clear lacquer used as a protective coating on Printed Circuit Boards.
Step 2: COMPOSING AND PRINTING
1. Compose the material to be printed on the label using any PC application. Size the text / graphics keeping in mind the final size required and the size of the tape used. 1/2 inch tape is used here.
2. Print a draft print of the material on standard A4 sized printer paper. This is a template and will indicate approximately where we need to paste the 3M tape on which the text / graphics will be printed.
3. Remove strips of tape from the dispenser and paste them exactly on top of the printed areas of the draft print. Use 'TWO' layers of tape. This helps in separating the printed tape from the lower layer which sticks to the paper and preserves the glue on the upper layer.
4. Place the paper with the 3M tape stuck on it exactly the same way as was the earlier print.
5. Print once again in final mode to get the darkest print. There would be small shift in the print and this is acceptable as long as the text/ graphics is on the tape.
6. The laser print fixes quite well onto the 3M tape surface and only gets blurred when scraped with a fingernail.
7. The next step will prevent this from happening by providing a protective layer above the print.
Step 3: SPRAYING AND DRYING
1. Shake the can of clear lacquer well before using it.
2. In a well ventilated space spray two to three layers of thin coats onto the taped areas of the printed paper.
3. Allow each layer to dry before coating the next. This takes 5-10 minutes in the hot sun.
4. Do not overheat as this would discolor the lacquer and distort the tape.
5. Allow to dry till the lacquer completely hardens.
Step 4: CUT REMOVE AND PASTE
1. Take the hobby knife and a steel scale and carefully cut a rectangle around the boundary of the text / graphics which has been printed on the 3M tape and now covered with protective clear lacquer.
2. Carefully remove the upper layer of tape. The lower layer would have been stuck to the paper and hence lost much of its adhesive properties. While the upper layer which is stuck onto another layer of tape is protected just as in the dispenser. This provides the best adhesion onto our instrument surface.
Step 5: STICK THE LABELS
1. Stick the labels one by one onto the instrument at the locations desired.
2. An intermediate step shows two labels stuck on the instrument box cover.
3. Finally All labels need to be stuck.
4. Place a plain paper over the labels and gently press them down to get the best adhesion.
Step 6: ANOTHER PROTECTIVE COAT
1. Another protective coat of clear lacquer closes any small gaps at the edge of the tapes.
2. The overall lacquer coat also appears to make the entire instrument surface more uniform.
3. This photo is taken while drying in the sun
Step 7: TRY ON ALUMINUM
This is the result of a quick check of this technique on an aluminum surface.
The image does not look so nice as the camera picture is of a reflecting surface.
In actual practice the finish on the aluminum is quite good.
Step 8: DONE
A simple technique for making DIY instrument labels has been presented.