anyone use plexiglass faceplates?

James Husted jhusted at
Mon Nov 22 17:11:49 CET 1999

I've done alot of plexiglas sculpture and tried to make a frontpanel for
some modules with it. These problems arose:

1) it scratches easily - try to not remove the paper backing till the last

2) It's thickness typically only comes in 1/8th inch increments. The 1/8th
inch panels are almost two thin and the 1/4" are too thick for most jacks. I
recessed the jacks in larger holes which light up great with side-lighting.
Another option would be a thin plexi overlay on top of a regular panel. side
lighting it would hilight jack and pot holes.

3) The panels are very reflective. If you plan on etching the text into the
glas, that will matter less.

4) under certain conditions, plex can be fragile - like after being cold.
Get to hot and it can warp (you can bent it very easily after holding over a
toaster for a while, or after its been in a oven for a little - good for
curve shapes).

5) sidelighting is very easy. Just cut a hole, insert a bulb. Leds will work
but are not very bright. I did one piece with a white light source with
colored gels on a wheel and you can dial the color (or have it change over
time). Small Xmas lights work great for this - small and bright.

6) Forget about painting plex. You have to do alot of testing to find the
type of paint that will stick and won't scrach off easily. Thier are paints
that basicaly etch into the glas to stay on. You can scratch most right off
with your fingernail.

Dont give up on the idea. If you plan it right, and treat it well after
making it, you can make a machine that looks great. If you can afford it,
look into getting a lable company to make a Lexan decal for you. A big decal
stuck on a panel (with backlighting through holes on the panel) will last
forever and will do everything you want except the sidelighting.


James Husted
The Ersatz Planet 
Graphics & Sound
webmaster at

> From: DCMagnuson at
> Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 12:13:27 EST
> To: synth-diy at
> Subject: anyone use plexiglass faceplates?
> I had an idea this morning, and I was wondering if anyone has tried something
> similar before.  I'd like to try using a plexiglass faceplate for my synth,
> and have the panels engraved at a local shop.  I was then planning on
> painting the inside of the face black, and backing them with a thin piece of
> aluminum for shielding/grounding.
> My main goal is to edge-light the panels so they glow a little, and the
> engraved lettering will glow brightly.
> Think it'll work?  Any durability or scratching problems with plexi?  I plan
> to mount a rigid enclosure behind the faceplate, so panel flexing shouldn't
> be a problem.
> Thanks in advance
> Dave Magnuson
> Independent Music Site

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