Design Tips

Design Tips

The following are some tips for designing attractive and functional faceplate panels and graphic overlays.

Be careful to consider the size of any retaining nuts or washers on panel mounted devices. Confirm that there will be enough space between devices to assemble them on the panel.

When designing the artwork for an overlay to match your panel, be careful to leave space between the device and its legend to prevent the legend from being obscured by the mounting hardware.

If you countersink the panel's corner fastening holes, do not place the holes too close the corner of the panel. This may leave only a sliver of aluminium in the corner of the panel and canmake it difficult to applying the overlay.

Countersink holes make an attractive looking panel, but if you cover the screws with the overlay you will need to destroy the overlay to later access the screws - the adhesive on the overlays is very strong and the overlay can not be easily removed.

Protoplates panels can print graphic overlays with translucent windows for LEDs and lamps. These windows can help to seal your device and provide a high-tech finished appearance.

The LEDS's should be high intensity devices for the best results. For a typical red window the LEDS must be either red or clear. Designing with translucent windows may take some experimenting to achieve the desired appearance and function for your application.

Because of the close tolerences Protoplates provides between the panel and the overlay alignment, the LED window can be designed to be the exact size of the LED hole, but oversizing the window (as shown at left), or undersizing it, also provides attractive results.

Place AC cord sockets and other large connectors as close to a rigid edge of the panel as possible. If these devices are placed near the center of the panel they may flex the panel during cord insertion or removal.
Don't leave your fastener selection to chance. We all rush at the end of a long and involved electronic design project to finish off the enclosure or panel design, and assume that with the large variety of fasteners available you can always find a fastener to fit into any hole - and any length. Well, that's not always necessarily the case: make an effort to locate and test the fasteners that you will use with your panel, and confirm their measurements. How many times have you worked on a large complicated electronic project, but then end up running around for hours looking for a 15 cent screw or nut so that you could actually finish assembling it?
This is a matter of style only, not function, but power buttons should typically be on the right hand side of your panels so that they can be easily reached by the majority of right hand persons. Also, be careful to consider the angles at which your panels will be viewed or used, and confirm that any important indicators (LEDS, lamps, LCD's etc.) are not obscured by other devices.
If you have connectors plugging into your devices, consider how the cable or wiring will route around the faceplate when it is installed: for example, you may not want a power toggle switch placed directly below a communication cable, so that if the cable is pulled or moved it inadvertently powers the unit on or off.
If you're building a prototype, and you think you may need to add devices to the panel in the future, design some spare holes onto the faceplate or backplate from the very beginning. We've all learned that a project will continue to expand by marketing or customer's needs to fill all available holes on a panel.