I know most of you guys/gals are laser engravers, but many of us do it the old-fashioned way with cutter tools - Not sure how many of you engrave legend plates, but for those that do, and specifically the popular Allen Bradley 800T-X559's, FAIR WARNING;
I recently received 100 of these from Radwell, and it was a mixed batch. About 20 of them were the 'old' gen-2 (<my term) plates, the rest were a different gen-3 batch. I've been doing these since they came in boxes of 25 back in the '70's thru somewhere in the '90's when they changed to individually bagged plates (yuk- 100 empty bags nearly fills a 5 gallon garbage can). These were 'gen-1' plates. I don't exactly remember when they changed to the gen-2 plates, but it was a good change, and had to do with streamlining the 2-color process I'm sure. The only problem I've had with the gen-2 plates is the gray can chip off around the edges.
So now we have these new plates. I don't know where they're making them or how cheap AB is getting them. They're fine as blanks, but if you plan to engrave and paint them, prepare to have your patience tested. The quality of these things is ridiculously bad.
Series of pics, old style on the left, new style right...
Note the back, old is dull-anodized like the front. The new backs are totally raw. This is how you'll know they're the new style.
Engraving test- old left, new right. I have an order for these so no waste
This is my 1989 5000XT, and you'll note I have a little slop in my lead screws, getting time to cinch up again
side by side, engraved with the exact same tool. The old style engraving is smooth and burr-free,
but the one on the right didn't engrave worth a crap. Didn't cut cleanly at all, the aluminum balls up along the edges.
And as it does this, the depth gauge nose rides over the burr which results in shallow engraving in spots. The material
is balling up so badly that it's playing against the slack in my drive train, notice the wobbly lines that don't happen in the first one...
same pic above, just stacked and zoomed in...
And this is just the beginning! Next comes painting! Even running 2+ passes to clean the burrs, whatever's on the surface flakes off, and you get "sparkly's" around the edges. And THEN, whereas DNA used to nicely clean off the residue of enamel, it won't budge the paint shadow from these plates. This now requires mineral spirits (at least), which does work, but it works so well that it immediately attacks the dried paint in the engraving, and will easily drag it right out if you're not very careful. DNA takes several seconds to attack semi-dry enamel so that's not a problem... the result is, the finished product looks like someone who doesn't know squat about engraving did these!
So beware fellow engravers. And AB, if you're listening, THE QUALITY OF THESE PLATES IS UNACCEPTABLE.
I haven't bought any of the jumbo size or other red or other colors yet, but I assume they're coming next...
paint n' swipe-- hard to swipe with all those burrs...
I'm not as good at this as the wife - I missed a bit of shadow on the left sides of both plates..
But the difference in the quality of the finished product is obvious. I don't like selling inferior product...