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  1. #1
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    How can I make the back lighted letters in a plexiglass panel?

    Hi again!

    I try to make a panel myself but at the moment I can not figure out how to make backlighted letters etc.
    If I use plexiglass I will be able to add back lighting but how will I gonna
    keep the letters clear from paint?I thought to use masking tape but it will be
    difficult and not that good overall.
    I have also thought of aluminum but the only way I see is cutting the letters and then back light them.
    I think this can be done in plexi as well.
    MDF is not a choice cause back lighting will be even harder.


    Can you tell me a way to make clear to read smoothly shaped back lighted letters in my panels?


    Thanbk you all in advance!!!

  2. #2
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    Westozy's Avatar
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    Hi Mirrage,

    I had reasonably good success with a relatively simple method of backlighting and my radio box and MIP sub-panels all have it installed. Make your pictures of panels in Microsoft Paint or Photoshop then print them on clear plastic sheets like the type used on the old overhead projectors. Printers don't print white therefore all the text will remain clear. Then place white plastic sheeting under the clear print and you have something that backlights quite well. I used 2mm clear perspex as a top cover to protect the printed sheet. I improved the process more by printing two clear plastic sheets the same and sticking them together, this masks additional unwanted light from bleeding through the coloured parts.

    I wrote two articles on how this is done in the June and July issues of Computer Pilot magazine.

    Regards,

    Gwyn
    Last edited by Westozy; 04-07-2008 at 07:41 AM.

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    Hi Gwyn,

    I take it you set the printer to print a grey background and "white" lettering on the "overhead" film/plastic sheet. That would leave clear lettering which turns white when you use a backing sheet of white plastic. Am I correct?

    Thanks

    Rob

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  5. #4
    300+ Forum Addict oal331's Avatar
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    How you will cut the plexi in the dimensions you want? How you will make round or square openings in the plexi? (it's not easy).
    If you gonna use a laser, then you can engrave the letters as you wish.
    The best plexi for backlight, is not the clear but the milky

    Otherwise ...... just order them ........ it will be more easy


    regards

    Eddie

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    Quote Originally Posted by mirrage View Post
    Hi again!

    I try to make a panel myself but at the moment I can not figure out how to make backlighted letters etc.
    If I use plexiglass I will be able to add back lighting but how will I gonna
    keep the letters clear from paint?I thought to use masking tape but it will be
    difficult and not that good overall.
    I have also thought of aluminum but the only way I see is cutting the letters and then back light them.
    I think this can be done in plexi as well.
    MDF is not a choice cause back lighting will be even harder.


    Can you tell me a way to make clear to read smoothly shaped back lighted letters in my panels?


    Thanbk you all in advance!!!
    Not to discourage you but a Laser engraver/cuter fits the bill.
    Last edited by Joe Cygan; 04-08-2008 at 03:30 AM.

  7. #6
    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Awhile back I looked at glass etching kits. Some of the etching methods might also work with plexi, not sure. I know there is chemical etching and also blasting etching. Might look at how people who do computer case mods etch their plexi panel cutouts. I've not looked hard enough into this to do anything but guess atm though. One would think that if you find the right etching method that it would be a lot higher resolution way to do it versus cnc milling the letters. A cnc mill is limited to how small the bit size can be. Laser sounds impractical for cost on a regular basis. I would tend to doubt many of us have laser router tables in our basements.

    Edit: Hrrrm, I wonder if a #1 center drill couldn't be used to etch plexi. You can get them for pretty cheap. Use one on a panel and throw it away once done. They're like only $.95. Wonder what spindle speed would be used with that small of a bit and plexi. It would probably be painfully slow speeds and feeds, but might do the trick if you could handle the cut times. This might be how I etch fonts into my initial panels on my X2 cnc mill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oal331 View Post
    How you will cut the plexi in the dimensions you want? How you will make round or square openings in the plexi? (it's not easy).
    If you gonna use a laser, then you can engrave the letters as you wish.
    The best plexi for backlight, is not the clear but the milky

    Otherwise ...... just order them ........ it will be more easy


    regards

    Eddie
    ...and expensive.

    Even if I use a laser and engrave the letters I will have to paint the panels and eventually the engaved letters will dissapear.The question is how will I prevent this or corect it without to destroy the paint job in the rest of the panel.
    So far masking the letters looks like the only way to achieve a realistic feeling but it is difficult as well.

    Do I miss something about laser engravers/cuters?
    If yes can you make it clear to me cause its the first time I try
    and I do not have the knowledge.

  9. #8
    300+ Forum Addict oal331's Avatar
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    If you already have available a laser cuter you must first cut the openings, then paint the plexi and after all to engrave the letters, with the same laser machine, but not with strong laser to cut, but a smooth/small one just to remove the paint and make in such way the letters.

    But...... beleive me this is a very hard and also expensive job in Athens and i most easy from all point of view to order them from one of all these very good companies thy are making panels.

    Eddie

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BHawthorne View Post
    Awhile back I looked at glass etching kits. Some of the etching methods might also work with plexi, not sure. I know there is chemical etching and also blasting etching. Might look at how people who do computer case mods etch their plexi panel cutouts. I've not looked hard enough into this to do anything but guess atm though. One would think that if you find the right etching method that it would be a lot higher resolution way to do it versus cnc milling the letters. A cnc mill is limited to how small the bit size can be. Laser sounds impractical for cost on a regular basis. I would tend to doubt many of us have laser router tables in our basements.

    Edit: Hrrrm, I wonder if a #1 center drill couldn't be used to etch plexi. You can get them for pretty cheap. Use one on a panel and throw it away once done. They're like only $.95. Wonder what spindle speed would be used with that small of a bit and plexi. It would probably be painfully slow speeds and feeds, but might do the trick if you could handle the cut times. This might be how I etch fonts into my initial panels on my X2 cnc mill.
    Etching idea is good.I have really thought of this many times.Every time regardles the method the problem is one...how will I clear up or keep away the paint from the letters,lines etc.

    Its like this... panel--paint--etching

    because if you do it conversely like

    panel--etching--paint

    you will lose the etching but in the first case you will lose the backlighting as well.
    So.. panel--masking--paint-remove of masks sounds better for a home builder who wants to lower the cost as low as possible.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by oal331 View Post
    If you already have available a laser cuter you must first cut the openings, then paint the plexi and after all to engrave the letters, with the same laser machine, but not with strong laser to cut, but a smooth/small one just to remove the paint and make in such way the letters.

    But...... beleive me this is a very hard and also expensive job in Athens and i most easy from all point of view to order them from one of all these very good companies thy are making panels.

    Eddie
    There is no possibility to buy a single panel.Even if I could afford it I prefer to make it my own.
    Moreover the panels I want to make are not in sale anyware.

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