Logo plate fabrication - process check will become backside

The logo plate, a 10" by 1 3/16" x 3/8" aluminum rectangular solid that stands above the display pedestal, is partly complete and I have validation of key parts of the process.

Compare the first side, which I produced today, with an IBM manufactured logo plate.

Rear side of my logo plate
IBM built plate to be copied

I had a good looking design file, see below, but it depended upon fonts that were on the workstation where I did the design, but not on the PC that drives the vinyl cutter. I tried to recover from the mess it made of the lettering, but knew it wouldn't be good enough. My 'IBM' lettering is spaced too far apart, but the 1130 text looked much better.

My design file before the fonts were messed up

Comparing my first try with the real plate, you can see the IBM logo has to be more compressed, with less spacing between the characters. It should be larger as well. The '1130' needs to be an outline, something I thought I had with the font I selected but it was thrown away by Adobe and cohorts when I moved to the vinyl cutter system in order to ensure proper license revenues for font owners. Finally, the text "Computing System" should be be one size larger.

The process begins with milling an aluminum blank to the proper size, drilling holes on the bottom and tapping them to 10-24 threads. The two faces are sprayed with a self-etching primer which adheres well to the aluminum - which is degreased just before painting of course. Next, a coat of white paint is placed on both front and back faces of the logo plate.

A vinyl paint mask is stuck to the face - it blocks the white paint for the IBM logo and then blocks the paint for everywhere else except the 1130 and Computing System lettering. Black spray paint is applied to the masked logo plate and the paint is allowed to dry. Finally, the vinyl print mask is peeled away to reveal the completed logo plate.

I will work on the design file to improve it, giving me a vinyl paint mask that is much closer to the IBM logo image above - I am not sure exactly what I will do but I am confident I will find some way to produce the vector file I want. Then I will cut the vinyl paint mask for the remaining (front) face. The logo plate is already covered with the white paint coat on the front side, so once the paint mask is ready, I can spray on black paint and complete the logo plate.

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