Author Topic: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay  (Read 51065 times)

frequencycentral

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Here’s the transparency I use, it’s Staedtler Lumocolor Ink Jet Film. Fifty A4 sheets are about £15 ($20 maybe). It has two sides, a rough side and a smooth side. You print onto the rough side, it’s designed to take the ink. The image you print will be a reversed image, so eventually the smooth side will be the front of the graphic.



I create my graphic in MS Publisher, using a series of construction lines to line up and measure where the pots, switches etc will be. I almost always have a border around my image, I just think it looks nicer that way. Here’s a direct link to the MS Publisher document for the graphic I’m working on, it will open into Publisher, and you can pick it apart:

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/967492/Phasers%20On%20Stun.pub

After I’ve finished designing the graphic I ‘select all’ and ‘group objects’, that way all the component parts of the design become one object. All the lettering I use is create using Word Art, not text boxes. The reason for this is that you can flip Word Art, but you can’t flip text boxes. I also always have a line around the font, very thin though, to delineate the edges and make it stand out more.

I have found that very dark images don’t work so well, the black ink tends to bleed over time, so the graphic might look great the day you do it but is blurred six months later. If you really do want to use a dark image, you can lighten it a bit by playing with the ‘transparency’ slider in ‘format auto shape’, so that the blacks become greys.

Next, I broaden the border around the image, so that when I cut it out I’ll be cutting through the middle of a thick border rather than cutting along the edge of a thin border. Then I add two boxes which extend out from the graphic, this is so better to align my tri-square when I cut the image out. The next step is to create a drilling template. This is a copy of the graphic but with everything removed but the drill points and the borders. Finally, and most importantly, the whole image now needs to be grouped and flipped horizantally, so that a reverse image is printed onto the rough side of the transapency. Here’s what gets printed out:



Next up, cutting out the drill template. I always cut with the ink side up, be it the drill template or the final graphic, as I don’t want the graphic to be damaged in any way. I use an ultra-sharp Stanley knife blade, a tri-square and an old piece of contiboard. This is where those guidelines really help to get things lined up to cut. A good eye helps too, and a nice smooth single movement cutting action. Don’t cut the whole length of the guideline, as you’ll still need it for the next edge you cut.



Here’s the drill template cut out and placed on the enclosure:



Then it’s a case of lining up the template on the enclosure and using masking tape to hold it in place.



I then carefully centre punch the crosses and drill my holes. I always use a range of drill bits, starting with 1mm and working up in 1mm increments, as I have found that going straight for the big bits will put all your holes off. I hand sand the enclosure, wash it thoroughly and dry it off.

The graphic is cut out the same way as the drill template, except that I always use a piece of tissue that comes between each sheet of the transparencies to stop the front getting scratched. Again, ink side up, if you do it the other way round the ink will adhere to the tissue or what ever surface you’re cutting on



Next I give the enclosure a spray of clearcoat, this will allow the graphic to adhere to the enclosure. Too much and the graphic will ‘float’, too little and you won’t get even coverage which can result in dry patches which can be seen beneath the graphic. Here’s the clear I use:



Then I place the graphic onto the enclosure, there’s a bit of ‘wiggle time’ so you can line up the graphic nicely. You shouldn’t need to press it down, as the transparency is pretty think and will find it’s own level. When I’m satisfied that it’s lined up, I give the whole thing a generous shot of clearcoat all around, top and sides, paying particular attention to the edges of the graphic. The clear onto the bare aluminium will also stop it from tarnishing over time. I leave it to dry under a warm desk lamp, (excuse the glare in this photo!), giving it another shot all round every hour or so. Four or five shots in all. Then I leave it for 24 hours………………..see you tomorrow!



Meantimes, here's some finished examples:









« Last Edit: June 08, 2009, 03:54:21 PM by frequencycentral »
http://www.frequencycentral.co.uk/

Questo è il fiore del partigiano morto per la libertà!

humptydumpty

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 03:16:37 PM »
Nice! Thanks!

StereoKills

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 03:55:40 PM »
Awesome! I will have to try this out with Open Office Draw.
"Sometimes it takes a thousand notes to make one sound"

doc_drop

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 05:17:18 PM »
Thanks for the tutorial Rick.

I have been doing almost the same thing after reading about this from you in an earlier post. I use paint on acrylic clear coat, instead of spay, but it works the same.

The other thing I do differently is I have a layer called "don't print" in my graphics file. (Correll Draw, FYI.) I put my drill target points on that layer, along with a border to align with. I print that on bond paper in black and white and tape it to the enclosure to use as my drilling template. That way I don't ruin my transparency while drilling.

I haven't been clear coating over the top of these, because they seem pretty strong without it, and I think they look better without a layer of clear over the graphic. Since the ink is on the opposite side, it doesn't get damaged easily.

One of these years I really will post some pics, stupid life keeps getting in the way... ;)

biggy boy

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2009, 05:47:44 PM »
Thanks Rick that's very nice of you to post this info, thanks for the sample too.
I've been printing mine on plain paper then putting several coats of spray lacquer on the back and front before sealing it to the box.
It looks good, but not sure how it will hold up to wear and tear.

R O Tiree

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2009, 06:11:16 PM »
The advantage of using a transparent drilling template made of stiff acetate sheet is that you can use it many times. I've got one that I use for marking where input/output jacks should go... been using it for about a year.
...you fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way...

doc_drop

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2009, 06:37:55 PM »
My problem is that I put my pots and graphics in different positions on every box I do. I do have a generic template for the in/out jacks and the adaptor jack. I actually have 2, one for single circuit boxes and one for dual circuit boxes.

If I was ever going to try to do more than one off of a box, though, I can see how having the clear template would be very useful.

JKowalski

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2009, 07:47:42 PM »
You gotta love spock  :icon_lol:

punkin

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2009, 10:25:26 PM »
Fantastic tutorial. Thanks very much :icon_exclaim:
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arma61

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2009, 04:40:58 AM »
thx Rick, really fantastic tutorial

time has came to hunt for those Staedtler Lumocolor Ink Jet Film here in Italy! ;D

Cheers
Armando
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Ice-9

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2009, 04:45:12 AM »
Thanks Rick Great tutorial, i will have to try this.
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robmdall

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Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2009, 05:12:49 AM »
Thanks Rick!

JJ Gabor

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2009, 06:03:54 AM »
This has been very helpful.  I had been spending a lot on inkjet sticker labels, but your method with transparencies seems much easier.

frequencycentral

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Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2009, 01:11:40 PM »
Thank you for your kind comments gentlemen, glad to be of some help.

Ok, 24 hours later, and the clear has completely dried. Now for my least favourite part, cutting away the transparency around the pre-drilled holes. I always do this 24 hours after adhearing the graphic. Because I'm impatient. It may be better to wait another day or so - though I never have. Because I'm impatient. Although the clear on the outside is dry, it will still be a little tacky underneath. I use the same Stanley blade I used earlier to carefully cut away the excess. A lot of care is needed here, as the graphic can lift a little as you cut. I apply a little pressure with my fingers around the area I'm cutting to prevent this. The upside of the clear still being a little tacky underneath is that if the graphic does lift a little as you cut you can just press it back down and no harm is done. Be particularly careful not to leave any overhang, as any pots, switches etc pushed through from underneath will catch and lift the graphic.



Here's the finished enclosure, awaiting it's circuit:



I have another little design process which I always use which I think helps for a good finish. I have found that the lateral pressure of mounting pots and switches tightly can warp and lift the graphic, so I mount all my pots onto a piece of perf. This keeps them all nicely aligned, and also helps with neat wiring (you can connect all the common grounds for example), but most importantly it means that I only need to hand tighten the pots, as their attachment to the perf keeps them in place and stops them from spinning. Here's the circuit that's going into the enclosure when I've finished tweaking it, it's R.G.'s Phase 180 Plus, an eight stage version of the MXR Phase 90:



Here's another one (a Big Muff), this time with the whole circuit including the pots all on one board:



Here's an example of one that didn't work out so well. This one looked superb when I finished it, October 2008. However, now you can see that the text is barely legible in places, and the whole thing looks kinda blurry. The black seems to have taken over. A lesson learned. Now I'm really careful to choose graphics which will work with the technique, so excessively dark graphics are out:



Finally, just to demonstrate the longevity of the process, here's one of my first enclosures done using this technique, it's about a year old now and still looking great:



That's it! Hope it helps some of you along the way! Have fun.

Rick
http://www.frequencycentral.co.uk/

Questo è il fiore del partigiano morto per la libertà!

cab42

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2009, 03:22:20 PM »
Hi Rick

Great tutorial! I have been wanting to do this ever since you wrote about it a while ago.

I especially like your examples where the led sits under the film . I guess you have glued the LED on the enclosure?

Regards

Carsten
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frequencycentral

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Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2009, 03:24:48 PM »
Hi Rick

Great tutorial! I have been wanting to do this ever since you wrote about it a while ago.

I especially like your examples where the led sits under the film . I guess you have glued the LED on the enclosure?

Regards

Carsten

Thanks!

No - one of the LED legs is directly soldered to the 3PDT, which holds it in place.
http://www.frequencycentral.co.uk/

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jrod

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2009, 03:33:42 PM »
Hey,
I don't mean to highjack the thread, but I am wondering if anyone can suggest a good and inexpensive laser printer for these purposes and for making pcbs.

Your enclosures are really impressive, frequencycentral!
Jrod

frequencycentral

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Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2009, 03:52:05 PM »
Hey,
I don't mean to highjack the thread, but I am wondering if anyone can suggest a good and inexpensive laser printer for these purposes and for making pcbs.

Your enclosures are really impressive, frequencycentral!
Jrod

Oh, I should also mention that this technique uses Ink Jet Film and doesn't work with laser jet printers! I only tried it once, and the ink just didn't take well onto the transparency. It looked ok when printed, but basically went to mush when the graphic was applied to the clearcoat on the enclosure. I peeled it off, and the ink stayed on the enclosure kind of like those temporary tattoos we used as kids. I had to wash, scrape and sand it off. Never again.
http://www.frequencycentral.co.uk/

Questo è il fiore del partigiano morto per la libertà!

jrod

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2009, 04:12:21 PM »
Oh, I should also mention that this technique uses Ink Jet Film and doesn't work with laser jet printers! I only tried it once, and the ink just didn't take well onto the transparency. It looked ok when printed, but basically went to mush when the graphic was applied to the clearcoat on the enclosure. I peeled it off, and the ink stayed on the enclosure kind of like those temporary tattoos we used as kids. I had to wash, scrape and sand it off. Never again.
[/quote]

Oh, cool! Thanks!

The French connection

Re: frequencycentral OHP Transparency Graphic Technique Photo Essay
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2009, 04:41:09 PM »
Hey,
I don't mean to highjack the thread, but I am wondering if anyone can suggest a good and inexpensive laser printer for these purposes and for making pcbs.

Your enclosures are really impressive, frequencycentral!
Jrod

Oh, I should also mention that this technique uses Ink Jet Film and doesn't work with laser jet printers! I only tried it once, and the ink just didn't take well onto the transparency. It looked ok when printed, but basically went to mush when the graphic was applied to the clearcoat on the enclosure. I peeled it off, and the ink stayed on the enclosure kind of like those temporary tattoos we used as kids. I had to wash, scrape and sand it off. Never again.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that you use Ink jet Film instead of Laser printer film



Nice tutorial by the way!

Dan
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