Making Perfect Electronics Panels

If you build electronics, I’m trying to spread the word about an idea I’ve been pursuing for using metal photo prints for electronics panels.

Original blog post abut the idea is here:

Here’s a video I made detailing some of the challenges and solutions for getting things sized correctly for two photo services… Bay Photo and AdoramaPix:


honestly, if they can’t offer 100% correct sizing, i wouldn’t even consider using their services.

It’s not up to the client to resize your work to make up for their screwup method of working.
It stumps me that that would even be under discussion.


@anon68752607, I think you may looking at this the wrong way. While I agree that would be best, their service (and everyone else’s I can find) are set up for printing photos, and not for printing anything where the alignment needs to be to the millimeter. Add to the fact that their printing process has inaccuracies when trying to print to the edge, so they have to do things to account for that also (you can look up things on printing for “bleed and trim”).

So, what I’m trying to do is see if I can understand well enough so that I can adjust my images to make it work for me and go from something costing me $60 a panel to have made, versus $5 a panel via this photo printing process. I see that as worthwhile.

If you have any ideas on making electronics panels at that price point, I’d love to hear about it.

I have a graphic design background, so don’t worry I know what bleed is :smile_cat:

I have had lots of stuff printed over the years: tshirts, foamboards, canvas, travel photobooks, etc
These kind of online services mostly aim at people who don’t care about this technical stuff and just want their picture fullsize printed on the medium of choice. I get that and I am totally fine with that. In some instances I may even want that.

However, as someone who knows his way around these things, I’d like at least the option to have them not change anything. Or they should have the technical requirements on the website for the ‘advanced’ user to take note of, so that they don’t need to change it.

However I look at it, if I need to make an order, measure the difference and then take that percentage into account for a second batch, which may or may not be spot-on, then I simply would look for another service.

Just to be clear: this is a rant towards the service, not you. :sunglasses:
I think it’s great you have that kind of patience and even more so for informing people about it.

note that we are now discussing vector artwork,which is perfectly scalable. If they do this to bitmap pictures, which is their real target market, they actively change resolution/size settings, which in my book is a monumental no-go. But then again i’m probably in the 1% that cares about such things.:innocent:

Sorry to hear folks don’t like it. But I can’t seem to write it off as a failure as I am so happy with it. There are so many times that I need some sort of panel and something cheap, and I now have two successes with it. Not to mention the possibility of a high resolution background image that you really can’t get any other way.

And just to be clear… the point isn’t to print one, measure, then print another. The idea of my video is to tell folks how to adjust their image so that the first print they get matches well enough. I find that valuable so I wanted to share the information. I’m looking forward to my next print being exactly what I need now that I have that adjustment information from both of the vendors.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m really happy with this method given the price level I’m at. Hopefully someone else will find it useful.

1 Like

Information is always appreciated.

Did you try doing the simple toner transfer method for getting the text? I’ve found it works well for putting silkscreen on homemade PCBs.

I would also investigate using a drag knife to cut masking tape on the surface of the aluminum, which you can then peel and paint. Not at precise as the toner transfer, but might be more durable.


I don’t consider the idea a fail at all, but personally I would seek out a service that is easier to work with in my opinion.

I know a thing or two about the printing industry, and there’s no technical reason that they would not be able to keep perfect sizing. In fact in a typical workflow it should always be 100% correct.
The reason this occurs is when they choose to automate their workflow with respect to ‘ignorant’ customers (99% of their client base), to make their service foolproof. They stretch a little in their software, and then use this excess as bleed. Simple and most of the time very effective.
It is a very understandable choice. But, if I ever were to do this, i’d look for a webservice that at least offers the option to keep everything as is.

I definitely agree. If you find any service that has this for metal prints, definitely share it with us. In the meantime, this is my attempt at working with what the world seems to offer at the moment.

1 Like

i never really searched for it, but most of the websites that once started out as canvas-print services, now offer a plethora of options regarding media to print on. That said, I live in Belgium, so I doubt we’ll be using the same websites.:sunglasses:

@AngusMcleod Well, I would hope that the info in the video would save you from that. I believe I have captured what they are doing and how to adjust your image so that your first print should be correct. That was why I was somewhat excited to share it with folks - so that they could use the service and get things to be accurate.