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Anyone have EXPERIENCE relabeling buttons?

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  • Anyone have EXPERIENCE relabeling buttons?

    I've got a tough one. I need to re-label some buttons on my OEM faceplate. OK, usually no problem. Take it to a silkscreener, good to go.

    But no good here. Because the dash illumination shows through the buttons. Like the buttons are frosted plastic, text is masked, button is sprayed to match the dash, and the mask is removed, revealing frosted plastic below. So the button labeled "CD" glows "CD" in the dark.

    This is a challenge!

    I have some ideas, but no experience doing this. So I wanted to ping this forum for advice from people who have done this. I'm sure the people who haven't done this have ideas which is great. So do I.

    But does anyone have any experience doing this?

    ------

    The results MUST look factory. As in, so factory that even the people on this forum wouldn't be able to tell it was a custom job.

  • #2
    See-thru fiberglass, masked and painted? Search in the faq and on other sites for fiberglassing.
    The problem is, if the original buttons have a special color (other than black for example)
    Check my worklog:
    Corsa + Atom + Gentoo Linux + 9" capacitive touchscreen

    Lord of the boards: DFI CP100-NRM

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    • #3
      They also have a special shape, and special optical properties of the plastic.

      No, the original muttons must stay. No refabbed fiberglass or plastic. That's not the problem.

      The problem is after the surface paint is stripped and a suitable spray is found that mimics the proper color (actually pretty easy at a hobby shop), how to create a mask that will easily apply straight and true, in a good font, the appropriate size (which varies per button), which can conform slightly when a button is concave or convex, with crisp corners, but can be easily removed after the buttons are resprayed without marring the finish or giving away that a mask was used.

      Unless there is another way. But I don't think fiberglass will have any part of relabeling existing buttons, reusing those same buttons.

      Is my line of questioning and descriptions not clear?

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      • #4
        I see, so you have problems with the masking. Then, you must have someone with inhuman masking tape skills, like a professional artist.
        If you got hands of a surgeon and plenty of time, you can do this too, but sometimes, it's better to hire someone for the job.
        Check my worklog:
        Corsa + Atom + Gentoo Linux + 9" capacitive touchscreen

        Lord of the boards: DFI CP100-NRM

        "Or you can try Ubuntu, but than don't tell everyone you are using linux,
        because it's just a secret unreleased prebeta of Windows 3829" :P

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        • #5
          Why try transfer letters, you can get them in different fonts and sizes.


          Letraset is one of the brand names over here

          http://www.letraset.com/design/shopd...&cat=Lettering


          Ie put them on, paint over them and then peel off.

          You might have to use some sort of liquid underneath to let the stick whilst painting, but them peel off when the paint is dry.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by simplex View Post
            I see, so you have problems with the masking. Then, you must have someone with inhuman masking tape skills, like a professional artist.
            If you got hands of a surgeon and plenty of time, you can do this too, but sometimes, it's better to hire someone for the job.
            So, I came up with enforcer's exact idea awhile ago, right down to the use of dry transfer lettering. I don't like it because of the risk of imperfection involved. Really easy to get the spacing wrong, or the lineup wrong, to transfer a letter crooked, etc. I'm worried it will be very difficult to get it right. Even then I dont know how clean the paint lines will be, if the paint will soak through the dry transfer, etc. That's why I wanted someone's advice who has experience.

            So! this can be a job farmed out to someone. Great! What kind of professional has done this kind of work before, and how to I find that kind of person? Your typical silk screener hasn't done this one (not my local silk screener, anyways), and his graphic artist deals with computers and computer graphics only, not the nitty gritty dirty work.

            So, who does this kind of stuff? I'm more than happy to contract experts, assuming they are experts.

            ---------

            And I'm still open to additional ideas for construction methodologies.

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            • #7
              what about going to a local vinyl maker and seeing if they can create some custom masks for you? you could have them setup everything in the computer program so that all you would need to do is line it up, transfer it over to the button, spray paint it, and then remove.

              the nice thing about vinyl is that it is slightly flexible, so you should be able to conform it to the curve of the button without leaving spots...

              for a project like this where you only have a couple of shots to get it right (lets face it, you can't keep sanding down the button, and you cant keep buying new buttons...), i would recommend picking up a sheet of plexiglass-- whatever is cheapest, and test out any theories on that first.
              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


              next project? subaru brz
              carpc undecided

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              • #8
                I wonder if you couldn't remove the top color layer and leave a transparent or translucent surface, then apply vinyl like you could get from a sign shop. You might be able to get some buttons from a similar device in the junkyard, and do some testing on the best way to adhere them permanently. Start with pieces of scrap the sign shop will provide, and see what adheres them and takes the wear, then get the real thing cut.
                .
                If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.

                2006 Scion xB with in-dash Atom & Lilliput 889GL -- Worklog at http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...res-links.html
                .

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                • #9
                  I was looking at getting gauge faces made, and they're similar to what you're trying to do, I think. clear plastic, with opaque black, and translucent characters. I found a sign company that could do it. It'd probably cost you a fair bit if you're not doing it in volume.

                  Also, people might be better able to help if you can provide some pictures and maybe a photoshop or something of what you want. What about printing the words(?) yourself, and with an exacto, cutting out the stencils yourself? Or printing them on clear plastic stickers right from your printer, then sticking them on?

                  A photoshop is work 1000 lies.

                  Cheers,

                  Kris
                  How Much Horsepower Can I have And Still Go To Heaven?

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                  • #10
                    this is not my car, since this guy is obviously not going for the OEM look, but my dash looks otherwise just like this:



                    So, buttons like FM and CD will need to read "Disc 1" through "Disc 5", buttons 1-6 need to stay 1-6 but have options below like FF and REW that need to change order or be removed or change completely, etc. The silver paint is easy to get.

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                    • #11
                      What's an easy way to find a "vinyl maker"? I assume that title isn't in the phone book?

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                      • #12
                        Sign shops that cut vinyl letters could help you. They use vector images, so Photoshop won't be the answer. Some use CorelDraw to produce images, then output them through a program that controls a vinyl cutter instead of a printer. They can probably take Adobe Illustrator images, too.

                        If you don't have CorelDraw or Illustrator, you might explore providing an image using Inkscape, which is open source. It produces vector images which can be converted to whatever the sign shop uses.
                        .
                        If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.

                        2006 Scion xB with in-dash Atom & Lilliput 889GL -- Worklog at http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...res-links.html
                        .

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                        • #13
                          I'm not sure if this is available to joe public but this is pretty much how the OEM does it..
                          http://www.laserphotonics.com/backli...t_removal.html

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                          • #14
                            I've done this a few times... sign guys will only be able to get the plotter to cut so small, so really intricate work will not be able to be done with the average plotter, plus the vinyl they use in the plotters is usually way too thick for intricate work... I've done the exacto knife thing though & have had fairly decent results... you can avoid paint seeping under the mask by spraying the paint very lightly & in a few coats, then, for crisp edges lightly trace around the edges with an exacto to the edges of the vinyl before removing the mask to cut the overlap of paint on the mask which can cause choppy edges & lifting of paint, then clear over the whole thing, you can use a satin clear for the OEM look... the more patience you have the better it will be & unless your doing very basic stuff it won't look 100% flawless OEM, but it can look pretty good & better than just having the wrong text or image on a button if done well enough...

                            a few pointers, for best match you will need to redo all the buttons, it'll be almost impossible to do a button & have it match an adjacent OE button unless your not very picky & critical. if there basic black you can sometimes get away with just clearing all the buttons & saving the factory text ones. also, instead of very tiny text consider what can be abbreviated or even better is using an icon or image... very tiny text is a big challenge... for example "satellite" may be next to impossible but "sat" can be fine. sorry I have no pictures of the ones I've done but I will say that I am a very anal person & I can't say that they came out flawless, but good enough that the average person thinks it perfect... I'd just say they came out OK, maybe even good enough to say they came out good, but not going to get as laser crisp as OEM, one problem is film thickness of the paint, too light & the paint will still be translucent & too heavy & the paint will have a larger buildup at the edges of the graphic/text... if your doing a silver like you showed here then do a few mist coats of black first, then a few mist coats of silver, then remove the mask, wait for the paint to be dry enough to clean the button with an adhesive remover, then clear the button... without clear coating it after it won't last all that long with use but with a clear coat it will last years...
                            MY NEWEST INSTALL:modded infiniti fx with big screen

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                            • #15
                              turbo, did you use cut vinyl from a sign shop for your masks? some of my text must be < .25 inches tall.

                              Thanks,

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