Techniques used for making brass nameplates on machinery?
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    Default Techniques used for making brass nameplates on machinery?

    I've been wanting to know what techniques are used to create the brass nameplates you see on some older machinery (I think most newer stuff is aluminium). From what I've been able to find, there are 2 methods for generating the text/imagery, engraving and etching, and it seems to me that most nameplates are done with etching, but I'm not sure. In addition, some of the plates seem to be inkfilled with place in the background, and the colouring seems pretty resistant to stuff like paint-stripper, so I was wondering what method was used to get that colouring, since it doesn't seem to be paint. I'll try to summarise the questions below

    gem_v38_i4_apr_2003_11-1.jpg

    My main questions are as follows:
    - What process is used to form the lettering and decorations on nameplates like this
    - What process is used to create the black ink-fill appearance

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    John sonders did a youtube video on it a couple years ago ,,, I think him youtube name is "NY cnc"

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    Nameplates are acid etched. The infill is simply paint that gets screeded off with a sharp blade.
    Custom Etched Nameplates, Decals, & Labels | American Nameplate

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    Quote Originally Posted by MicroTransaction View Post
    I was wondering what method was used to get that colouring, since it doesn't seem to be paint. I'll try to summarise the questions below

    gem_v38_i4_apr_2003_11-1.jpg

    My main questions are as follows:
    - What process is used to form the lettering and decorations on nameplates like this
    - What process is used to create the black ink-fill appearance
    Are you sure that photo site looks like they etched out the black areas than filled them back with a good black paint/enamel, then sanded and polished accordingly. Keep in mind there etching process leaves a rougher surface which the paint probably sticks to much better.

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    Most brass nameplates for a hundred years or so before 1940 or so were sand cast. Hardinge also used some etched brass and aluminum and molded plastic plates. Hardinge switched to cast aluminum during WWII (see photo). Remember the steel pennies in 1943? Then silk-screened aluminum became the standard plate at Hardinge.

    nameplates-brass-aluminum.jpg

    Somewhere in the early 20th century photo etched brass and aluminum became fairly common, but not so much at Hardinge. After the etching stage, the bare etched brass could be painted to fill in the low spots. Then the resist and the paint that covered the resist was removed, leaving bare brass high spots.

    There are some people in business making reproduction photo etched brass or aluminum plates for old machine tools that could make a plate like that Sears example.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by adammil1 View Post
    Are you sure that photo site looks like they etched out the black areas than filled them back with a good black paint/enamel, then sanded and polished accordingly. Keep in mind there etching process leaves a rougher surface which the paint probably sticks to much better.
    I just threw up the first image I found, but I think that one was restored. This is an older one: vintage-brass-machine-data-name-plate-electric-arc.jpg
    It just seemed they kept the black colour better than paint would allow, but I'm not terribly experienced with this stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by D.D.Machine View Post
    John sonders did a youtube video on it a couple years ago ,,, I think him youtube name is "NY cnc"
    Thanks, I'll take a look

    Quote Originally Posted by L Vanice View Post
    Most brass nameplates for a hundred years or so before 1940 or so were sand cast. Hardinge also used some etched brass and aluminum and molded plastic plates. Hardinge switched to cast aluminum during WWII (see photo). Remember the steel pennies in 1943? Then silk-screened aluminum became the standard plate at Hardinge.

    nameplates-brass-aluminum.jpg

    Somewhere in the early 20th century photo etched brass and aluminum became fairly common, but not so much at Hardinge. After the etching stage, the bare etched brass could be painted to fill in the low spots. Then the resist and the paint that covered the resist was removed, leaving bare brass high spots.

    There are some people in business making reproduction photo etched brass or aluminum plates for old machine tools that could make a plate like that Sears example.

    Larry
    Right, I figured they were etched, although it seems it might be a tad cumbersome for large runs, I don't think they'd need to make that many at once. Thanks for the information. I'll probably just do it on my shitty hobby engraver if I want something that appears similar, not really willing to deal with disposing of chemicals
    Last edited by MicroTransaction; 02-10-2020 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Added quote

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    I think a lot I see are electro-chemical etched.

    I set up for the process some years back for a run of dog trophies:

    36374a40-0bc2-4fd5-9edb-d721eee2c924.jpg 83389c53-1d0c-4668-9487-35ce9be53c66.jpg

    b4ea1f19-86c4-4284-a8b9-6b5cc26bf5c5.jpg d93a7efe-a8e3-4737-8df3-c85c4015777d.jpg

    These days it’s done with a photo etched mask- I don’t know about back when..
    The process can be done with completely benign material for solutions.
    A bit of table salt etc

    I purchased a professional level power source but it can be done with any number of cobbled together things- look at the knife making forums- lots of kitchen table top work being done with good result.

    The mask is the trick- it can be developed at home from printer output or just ordered from a shop based on your graphic for a couple of bucks.

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    You can use a flatbed scanner to scan an original data plate, then use a program like Inkscape or Corel Draw to layout new black line art over the image to get a nice perfect artwork before printing on an inkjet printer on transparency film to get full scale artwork. The artwork is used to expose some photosensitive film applied to your new name plate blank which then gets developed to form the etching mask and is etched in many types of etchant chemicals which may or may not need an electric assist depending on the metal. After etch the mask is stripped with solvent and the plate gets a coat of paint and then sanded with fine sandpaper to remove the paint off the high spots.







    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails parks-1280.jpg   ih_badge_brass_1.jpg   vonpittler.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    I think a lot I see are electro-chemical etched.

    I set up for the process some years back for a run of dog trophies:

    36374a40-0bc2-4fd5-9edb-d721eee2c924.jpg 83389c53-1d0c-4668-9487-35ce9be53c66.jpg

    b4ea1f19-86c4-4284-a8b9-6b5cc26bf5c5.jpg d93a7efe-a8e3-4737-8df3-c85c4015777d.jpg

    These days it’s done with a photo etched mask- I don’t know about back when..
    The process can be done with completely benign material for solutions.
    A bit of table salt etc

    I purchased a professional level power source but it can be done with any number of cobbled together things- look at the knife making forums- lots of kitchen table top work being done with good result.

    The mask is the trick- it can be developed at home from printer output or just ordered from a shop based on your graphic for a couple of bucks.
    Right. Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it

    Quote Originally Posted by SAG 180 View Post
    You can use a flatbed scanner to scan an original data plate, then use a program like Inkscape or Corel Draw to layout new black line art over the image to get a nice perfect artwork before printing on an inkjet printer on transparency film to get full scale artwork. The artwork is used to expose some photosensitive film applied to your new name plate blank which then gets developed to form the etching mask and is etched in many types of etchant chemicals which may or may not need an electric assist depending on the metal. After etch the mask is stripped with solvent and the plate gets a coat of paint and then sanded with fine sandpaper to remove the paint off the high spots.







    Yeah, I had been thinking of getting a laser printer (apparently they're better at transparencies) for adding soldermask to machined PCB's. Do you know if inkjet transparencies are comparable? If so, I wouldn't need to pick up a new printer. From the replies it seems like it is just paintfilled, which answers my main question. Thanks for the replies

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    Right, I've looked into stuff for photo-etching brass, and I'm having a real tough time finding any photoresist within the country (I'm in New Zealand). I might give it a go on my mini-CNC, even though it's not great at machining metals, but I should be able to get it to do brass, albeit it very slowly. I haven't seen much on machined nameplates, but hopefully I can get a decent result if I end up going that route.

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    Are there any electronic hobbyists there? You can etch brass with the same technique and materials as etching copper. If you can't find photo resist plain old lacquer can be silkscreened onto cleaned brass. After etching it is possible to use a couple applications of Birchwood Casey Brass Black to blacken the freshly etched areas immediately after etching but before removing the resist with lacquer thinner. Usually a very light clear coat is then sprayed to add durability.

    I've etched both copper and brass with either ferric chloride or ammonium persulfate. I prefer the latter as the ferric chloride will stain many things if you aren't careful.

    In the past I've even hand painted simple circuit patterns on copper clad circuit board material using black touch up lacquer meant for cars. Etching works better at around 100° F or so and adding bubbles (with an aquarium pump and foam bubble wand) speeds up the etching but in a pinch you can just briefly expose it to air before returning to the etch bath.

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    I'm speculating a bit but I'm thinking like Scott. Here's a link to Brass Black:
    3oz Brass Oxidizing Solution

    After etching just dip in that for a while and turn the open areas black. I'd bet that's what they did originally, think about the simplicity of that process compared with painting and screeding and whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottl View Post
    Are there any electronic hobbyists there? You can etch brass with the same technique and materials as etching copper. If you can't find photo resist plain old lacquer can be silkscreened onto cleaned brass. After etching it is possible to use a couple applications of Birchwood Casey Brass Black to blacken the freshly etched areas immediately after etching but before removing the resist with lacquer thinner. Usually a very light clear coat is then sprayed to add durability.

    I've etched both copper and brass with either ferric chloride or ammonium persulfate. I prefer the latter as the ferric chloride will stain many things if you aren't careful.

    In the past I've even hand painted simple circuit patterns on copper clad circuit board material using black touch up lacquer meant for cars. Etching works better at around 100° F or so and adding bubbles (with an aquarium pump and foam bubble wand) speeds up the etching but in a pinch you can just briefly expose it to air before returning to the etch bath.
    Yeah, I've ordered some photoresist from Britain in the meantime, and have emailed a local printing company to ask them about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by adh2000 View Post
    I'm speculating a bit but I'm thinking like Scott. Here's a link to Brass Black:
    3oz Brass Oxidizing Solution

    After etching just dip in that for a while and turn the open areas black. I'd bet that's what they did originally, think about the simplicity of that process compared with painting and screeding and whatever.
    The screening would be required regardless, since that's what removes the material, but I had thought some of them might use a brass blackening solution. Thanks for the link, although shipping from the US to here is stupidly expensive

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    This is the company I have used in the past to make the silk screen masks:

    Stencils for Electro-Chemical Etching | T.U.S. Technologies, Inc.

    Worth a read through their site even if you don’t use their products or this technique as it informs on the etching process.

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    BTW If you need a good etching company www.ppdltd.com over in Scotland has an excellent flat rate service available and doesn't mind small orders.

    The only minor complaint is the Great Britain to USA mail route is manned by the most incompetent group of hacks the world has ever seen! They really should outsource that whole stinking mail route to the Chinese as I have had countless packages get stuck in Heathrow or JFK for weeks. So name sue it is a low priority job or play them to ship or with someone competent.

    No idea how the Chinese ship something from Schenzen to my house off ebay for $2 and 2 days only to see Scotland to the US take 3-4 weeks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trboatworks View Post
    This is the company I have used in the past to make the silk screen masks:

    Stencils for Electro-Chemical Etching | T.U.S. Technologies, Inc.

    Worth a read through their site even if you don’t use their products or this technique as it informs on the etching process.
    Thanks, I'll take a look

    Quote Originally Posted by adammil1 View Post
    BTW If you need a good etching company www.ppdltd.com over in Scotland has an excellent flat rate service available and doesn't mind small orders.

    The only minor complaint is the Great Britain to USA mail route is manned by the most incompetent group of hacks the world has ever seen! They really should outsource that whole stinking mail route to the Chinese as I have had countless packages get stuck in Heathrow or JFK for weeks. So name sue it is a low priority job or play them to ship or with someone competent.

    No idea how the Chinese ship something from Schenzen to my house off ebay for $2 and 2 days only to see Scotland to the US take 3-4 weeks
    Right, I'll keep it in mind, although it's a fair distance from NZ to Britain. As for how the Chinese keep shipping costs so low, it's because the government subsidises
    the shipping in order to grow the economy, and they have so much stuff being exported they can just dump consumer stuff alongside big shipments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MicroTransaction View Post
    Right. Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it



    Yeah, I had been thinking of getting a laser printer (apparently they're better at transparencies) for adding soldermask to machined PCB's. Do you know if inkjet transparencies are comparable? If so, I wouldn't need to pick up a new printer. From the replies it seems like it is just paintfilled, which answers my main question. Thanks for the replies
    The two problems I have with any laser printer is that the film distorts when run though the hot fuser rollers so dimensions can change/distort and I have yet to see a solid black from a laser that can equal an inkjet printer with the black density turned up high. Also as there is no film distortion, you can stack two inkjet prints and they will register/line up accurately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MicroTransaction View Post
    Right, I've looked into stuff for photo-etching brass, and I'm having a real tough time finding any photoresist within the country (I'm in New Zealand). I might give it a go on my mini-CNC, even though it's not great at machining metals, but I should be able to get it to do brass, albeit it very slowly. I haven't seen much on machined nameplates, but hopefully I can get a decent result if I end up going that route.

    I just buy it on 10 metre rolls from Ali Express website with free shipping.

    Here's an old crap video I did showing how I apply the film to metal wet and push the water out the edges to get a good defect free coating, it also shows exposing the film with the inkjet film art with a home made light box that uses a 400 W metal halide street light and a microwave oven timer to beep when exposed. It then gets the cover protective film peeled and get developed in a weak washing soda solution while a paint brush removed the unexposed film. I use cuprous chloride as the etchant and it will give a good deep etch on aluminium in 1-2 minutes.


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    this information is really amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAG 180 View Post
    I just buy it on 10 metre rolls from Ali Express website with free shipping.

    Here's an old crap video I did showing how I apply the film to metal wet and push the water out the edges to get a good defect free coating, it also shows exposing the film with the inkjet film art with a home made light box that uses a 400 W metal halide street light and a microwave oven timer to beep when exposed. It then gets the cover protective film peeled and get developed in a weak washing soda solution while a paint brush removed the unexposed film. I use cuprous chloride as the etchant and it will give a good deep etch on aluminium in 1-2 minutes.

    That's basically what I did, I've ordered a 30m roll from China since I can't get it locally. Thanks for the video though, I'll check it out


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