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PICList Thread
'[OT] Labeling Keycaps'
2006\01\28@005936 by Josh Koffman

face picon face
I'm doing a project where I'm reusing keyswitches and keycaps taken
from a PC keyboard. I need to add my own labeling to the caps. And the
kicker? They will be painted a deep navy blue colour.

So far, the only thing I've thought of is using a 12mm wide white on
clear printing tape and a Brother P-Touch labeler.

Does anyone have any other thoughts? I'd love to have the legend
painted directly on the cap, but I can't afford to make silkscreens
for this.

Thanks!
--
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
fools.
       -Douglas Adams

2006\01\28@040451 by Jinx

face picon face
> Does anyone have any other thoughts? I'd love to have the legend
> painted directly on the cap, but I can't afford to make silkscreens
> for this.

What about white dry-transfer lettering (eg Mecanorma or Letraset)
and then a thin spray of flooring-grade two-pot polyurethane or epoxy ?
I've not used this method on keys but did for labels before Windows
and colour printers. Note that you have to put a fine spray (ie not
runny) down first and let it dry or the letters might move

2006\01\28@124230 by Josh Koffman

face picon face
On 1/28/06, Jinx <spam_OUTjoecolquittTakeThisOuTspamclear.net.nz> wrote:
> What about white dry-transfer lettering (eg Mecanorma or Letraset)
> and then a thin spray of flooring-grade two-pot polyurethane or epoxy ?
> I've not used this method on keys but did for labels before Windows
> and colour printers. Note that you have to put a fine spray (ie not
> runny) down first and let it dry or the letters might move

I considered this awhile back. The problem I see is that the keys are
rather small, and I can't locate dry transfer letters small enough. I
need to put whole words on the keys, not just single letters.

Josh
--
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
fools.
       -Douglas Adams

2006\01\29@085244 by Bill & Pookie

picon face
How about engraving or etching key tops.  Coat the key top with something,
scrape the coating off to form the words, and then put something on key top
to etch or bleach the words into the key.

Bill
{Original Message removed}

2006\01\29@092813 by rosoftwarecontrol

flavicon
face
to make male model, heat impressing?



----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill & Pookie" <.....reddxKILLspamspam@spam@comcast.net>
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <piclistspamKILLspammit.edu>
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 8:52 AM
Subject: Re: [OT] Labeling Keycaps


> How about engraving or etching key tops.  Coat the key top with something,
> scrape the coating off to form the words, and then put something on key
top
{Quote hidden}

2006\01\29@105229 by Mike Hord

picon face
Are you patient enough to make your own little stencil kit and
cut the tiny little letters out with an X-Acto blade?

Mike H.

On 1/27/06, Josh Koffman <@spam@joshybearKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\01\29@134111 by Josh Koffman

face picon face
On 1/29/06, Mike Hord <KILLspammike.hordKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
> Are you patient enough to make your own little stencil kit and
> cut the tiny little letters out with an X-Acto blade?

Good ideas guys. I don't think I can make a stencil on my own - there
are roughly 60 keys, and that would be a lot of cutting.

Since this is a one off, I think that making heat impressions would be hard.

I will likely try the P-Touch labeler once I find the right white on
clear tape. It's too bad I can't find a regular printer that would
print white ink as then I'd be able to just use clear Avery labels or
something similar.

Josh
--
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something
completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete
fools.
       -Douglas Adams

2006\01\29@135148 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 01:41 PM 1/29/2006 -0500, you wrote:
>On 1/29/06, Mike Hord <RemoveMEmike.hordTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
> > Are you patient enough to make your own little stencil kit and
> > cut the tiny little letters out with an X-Acto blade?
>
>Good ideas guys. I don't think I can make a stencil on my own - there
>are roughly 60 keys, and that would be a lot of cutting.
>
>Since this is a one off, I think that making heat impressions would be hard.
>
>I will likely try the P-Touch labeler once I find the right white on
>clear tape. It's too bad I can't find a regular printer that would
>print white ink as then I'd be able to just use clear Avery labels or
>something similar.
>
>Josh

One does exist, but I don't recall the manufacturer. It would cost more
than a silk screen in any case.

A rubber stamp might be a possibility, with appropriate white ink.

>Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
spamBeGonespeffspamBeGonespaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com
->> Inexpensive test equipment & parts http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZspeff


2006\01\29@143230 by Peter van Hoof

face picon face
On the letracet website are several types of transfer letters down to 3.5 mm high in white
www.letraset.com/us/craft/template4a.asp??catid=3805&id=3806
you should be able to do this and cover them with clearcoat

Peter van Hoof

2006\01\29@161104 by Jinx

face picon face

> are roughly 60 keys, and that would be a lot of cutting.

I appreciate you want this as white on clear but......

Something like copper etching, leaving you with tiny copper
letters you could paint and stick on ? Somehow (your prob ;-))

Photographical ? That would be the usual way to get good
detail in small pitch

2006\01\29@162235 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Jan 29, 2006, at 11:03 AM, Spehro Pefhany wrote:

>> It's too bad I can't find a regular printer that would
>> print white ink

> One does exist, but I don't recall the manufacturer.

ALPS.  Wax yhermal transfer ribbons including white and opaque
metallics.  No longer sold in the US, I think, but there are some
active groups maintaining a presence and 2nd hand market, as well
as keeping track of compatible technologies...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alpsdecal/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Alps/

There "links" sections should point you to any number of small
companies dedicated to printing decals for modelers; you can probably
find one willing to print a page of keycap designs for you for a
fairly nominal cost.

For that matter, the "toner transfer PCB" people are currently
advocating (and selling) thermal transfer films designed to improve
the etchant-resistance of laser-printed stuff, AND provide for white
silkscreen layers and such.

http://www.pulsar.gs/

I found several places selling keycap stickers with double layers
to protect the (user writable) symbols, but they didn't sound
printable... I have my doubts that any sticker-based solution
will hold up very well, though.

BillW

2006\01\29@200745 by Denny Esterline

picon face
> I'm doing a project where I'm reusing keyswitches and keycaps taken
> from a PC keyboard. I need to add my own labeling to the caps. And the
> kicker? They will be painted a deep navy blue colour.
>
> So far, the only thing I've thought of is using a 12mm wide white on
> clear printing tape and a Brother P-Touch labeler.
>
> Does anyone have any other thoughts? I'd love to have the legend
> painted directly on the cap, but I can't afford to make silkscreens
> for this.
>
> Thanks!

Years ago I did computer support work at a company that (among other things)
produced lettered automotive buttons. Two operations come to mind, pad
printing and laser etching. Pad printing is good and cheap in quantity, but
would need a separate stencil for each keycap - cost prohibitive setup I
would think. I believe that's how they are lettered originally. But laser
etching might be a good option. Generally the buttons were molded in white
plastic and painted black. The laser would selectively burn off the black
paint but not damage the plastic. Afterward the whole enchilada was covered
with clear coat. I'm sure you've seen them in some cars, these guys worked
for the big three and lots of other companies. It would need a fixture to
locate the button on the laser machine, but the actual imprint is just CAD
data. Since most of the relevant keys on a keyboard are physically the same,
you should be able to get by with only one fixture. I'm not sure what this
would cost but I'd guess around $200-$500 setup and $0.50 to $1 per button
(US $) but that's just a guesstimate. At the time (about 1997) their high
volume work was less than $0.20 per.

Excellent results, if you can justify the cost.

-Denny

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