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Old 7th August 2009, 07:06 PM   #1
julian is offline julian  United Kingdom
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Default CNC panel engraver (& pass perl builder) from the UK

Well, the perl is still on the to-do pile, but i have all the parts now.

Still wondering what sort of enclosure to put it in. I might go for somthing from hammond manufacturing, and put an engraved front panel on it, but im not entirely sure yet.

I mainly build / engrave musical instruments (for work), eg -

Click the image to open in full size.

but im hoping i might be able to get arround to doing some hifi stuff for myself...

...one day! : )

Thanks, Julian
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Old 7th August 2009, 07:13 PM   #2
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So I've been curious... When you do white filled engraving on a black anodized panel (like in your pic) how do you get all the extra white out of the grain of the aluminum? Or is the white somehow deposited precisely by CNC so there is no extra to remove?
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Old 7th August 2009, 07:15 PM   #3
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Hi julian

I would imagine anyone that can CNC engrave and the like is going to be very popular around these parts! It makes my masking tape and marker pen approach look shabby.

Do you have access to a CNC mill as well by any chance?

John
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Old 7th August 2009, 08:15 PM   #4
julian is offline julian  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by RocketScientist
So I've been curious... When you do white filled engraving on a black anodized panel (like in your pic) how do you get all the extra white out of the grain of the aluminum? Or is the white somehow deposited precisely by CNC so there is no extra to remove?


There are different ways - some are way more complicated than others, but, for simple paint infilling the excess is removed at time of application, and then, once the 'paint' has dried, the panel is washed over with solvents to remove the residue from the grain.

The panel above isnt actually infilled at all though - its just raw alluminium that you are seeing in the cuts, as i wanted the whole job to match, and the large areas arround the keys (done with an endmill, rather than an engraving cutter) would be too large to reliably hold the infill.

This one -

Click the image to open in full size.

is infilled with some nasty colour ; )

For large stuff that wont be subject to physical ware (think big trophy plaques and the like) "cold" wax can actually be melted into the cuts, sanded off, the panel polished up, and then heated again to get the sheen on the wax back. But again that would be no good for the panel in the first shot, as it wouldnt stand up to continual contact from finger.
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Old 7th August 2009, 08:23 PM   #5
julian is offline julian  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by john blackburn
Hi julian

I would imagine anyone that can CNC engrave and the like is going to be very popular around these parts! It makes my masking tape and marker pen approach look shabby.

Do you have access to a CNC mill as well by any chance?

John

The square button holes on the first picture were cut on a cnc machine here, and i use it for other jobs too, but...

Im not skilled at true modeling, so i use the machine more as a router than a 3D profiling device.

For repetative cutting jobs you can get way better results at a faster speed than you ever could with a manual mill, but for simple quick jobs, that dont have to be cosmetically perfect, sometimes its easier just to do the job manually.
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Old 7th August 2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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Hi Julian

I would imagine some nice knobs and front panel packs would be of interest to a good few round here. Especially if they look that good!

John
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Old 8th August 2009, 01:58 AM   #7
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Thanks for the answer. That's interesting. A lot of the panels I work with have a fairly deep "grain" to them. And I always imagined it must be hard to get the contrasting stuff out of the grain.

It would also be nice, for some applications, to anodize the panel AFTER it's been CNC cut so the openings get anodized.
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Old 8th August 2009, 11:52 AM   #8
julian is offline julian  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by RocketScientist
Thanks for the answer. That's interesting. A lot of the panels I work with have a fairly deep "grain" to them. And I always imagined it must be hard to get the contrasting stuff out of the grain.

It would also be nice, for some applications, to anodize the panel AFTER it's been CNC cut so the openings get anodized.

Possibly it may be difficult, and, if the grain is that deep, it may not be so easy to engrave either?

The cut may possibly have to be so deep as to loose resolution?


Somthing to note about anodised and non anodised surfaces -

An anodised surface is normally considerably tougher than, for instance, a raw brushed finish, and this gives a much cleaner edge to the cut. Although non-anodised can be engraved, im personally never happy with the result when its held side by side with an anodised cut.

Ive got a bit more on milling and engraving here -

http://www.thebeast.co.uk/cnc/

Most of it is a sales page, but there are also some more photos, some information about procedure, and also some on reducing costs (relevant regardless of where you get panels from : )

As i said, the work i do is on synthesisers (the engraving work is mainly for modular synths - think those big walls of things that look like they should be in a telephone exchange?) but there's no reason at all why hifi stuff cant be done.
Like i say, ill be doing a panel for my perl pre-amp when i finally get arround to it!
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