Milling and labeling front panels
Making custom front panels
The front panel as a styling and protective element
Essentially front panels are blinds with milled cutouts for switches, buttons and displays. They are supposed to protect the electronics with cables and circuits behind against human access. These days front panels are more than protection for humans and process equipment. They are styling elements, which emphasise the product quality as well as the product functions. You can see front panels made of aluminium and plastic everywhere – At home on dishwashers and washing machines, in the industry on machines, but also in car cockpits for making instruments look nicer.
Milling front panel cutouts
Milling cutouts into front panels you have to consider a lot of control elements like buttons, switches and displays. The control elements can be
- of different sizes
- round, square or rectangular
- arranged in one or several rows
The cutting out of the circles and rectangles must be of high precision which is necessary for the front panel to form fit. A CNC router is the perfect machine to do this job. You can simply create the front panel with the cutouts in the design software and mill it with the machine.
At CNC-STEP we produce the aluminium front panels for every machine control by using the High-Z router to supply the highest possible quality. The front panel plates have a thickness of 3mm. For milling the cutouts, we use a 2mm solid carbide milling cutter, and for engraving the labels, we use a 0.5mm engraving tool.
Engraving labels on front plates
There are different ways of labeling front plates:
- Screen printing
- Applying the labels with adhesive foils
As already mentioned we produce all front plates with our High-Z/T machine which means that we cut out the plates themselves and engrave the labels on them. The labels again are made by machining the material. The advantages of a mechanical engraving are:
Using a design software you can place the engraving at the desired Place.
You can make the front plate with a single machine, cutting the material to the right size, milling the cutouts and engraving the labels. You just have to replace the milling cutter with an engraving tool. This means high-cost savings because only one machine is necessary to make the cutouts and the labels.
Sustainable and easy to renew
The engraved labels are very robust, sustainable and easy to restore. There is no foil detached. The label colour can fade. But compared to the method of screen printing you can repair the colour of the mechanical engraving easily.