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DIY-FrontPanelProduction.php   9085 Bytes    09-02-2015 17:24:04

Make your own Frontpanel

With Gedakop® and a more or less luxurious milling machine.

Step 1 :: DESIGN

The first step is the design. Even if you want to have it in colours, the design needs to be in black (and white). For this task, any design software is suiteable. If you need to place 'special' holes like those for a d-sub connector, a frontpanel design tool is superior, as it may come with a large library and/or special functions to place a scale.

Frontpanel Design using Target3001

A frontpanel, beeing designed with Target3001

Another advantage of a frontpanel design tool is the possibility of generating dxf-files, which can be imported by milling machines.


Whatever shall appear on your frontpanel should now be printed (scale 100%) in black colour on a transparency film. This step is identical to manufacturing a pcb. Any opaque image on a transparent or translucent carrier will suffice. For enhanced sharpness, we recommend printing it mirrored.


Now we need the Gedakop® Aluminium metal plate. Preferably 2 mm in thickness. This is coated similiar to pcb's with an protective layer. You should work in a darkroom. Cut the metal plate approx. 10 mm larger in size. Place the metal plate in the exposure unit and the transparency film direct on it. As with pcb's, the lines are sharper if you use a mirrored image film so that the film is in direct contact with the photo sensitive coating. Close the cover and switch on the vacuum pressing. Check a very last time and then close the door and start exposure. As a starting value, we recommend 60 seconds.

A frontpanel, in the exposure unit.


The exposed metal plate may easily be developped using water. Let it rinse from the water tap direct over the coating. Be aware, that the coating is now very sensitive to mechanical stress !

If all the coating vanished (where you placed your text and symbols), dry it with com- pressed air and then put it in the oven (approx. 60 °C) for about 15 minutes.

If it is completely dry, you are ready for the next step.


You should now wear gloves, as the colour is very adhesive. If you use more than one colour, repeat this step for every colour. Pour some drops of the colour on a cottonwool ball. Under light pressure, rub in the colour over the metal plate. Do this for 30 seconds, then let it pause for another 30 seconds. Use a piece of paper towel to remove any surplus colour from the plate. Do not pour the colour directly on the plate !!!


With the Gedakop Stripper poured on a cottonwool ball you may now remove the blue coating. The applied colour will remain.

Clean the metal plate with water. You may use a cleaning sponge and apply force, when necessary.

Step 7 :: FIXING

Finally the frontpanel is fixed in a bath of hot water. Use the fryer, set to 90°C and the timer set to 1 hour. No problem if you fry it longer :-) This makes it scratch- and solvent-proof.


Now we are almost done. Drill the holes or mill the breakouts. Almost every milling machine (so does the laser-cutting machine) may import the dxf files you generated while designing your frontpanel. Cut the frontpanel to its final size. The video below was taken in our workshop.

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t1 = 3913 d

t2 = 391 ms

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