For the past nine years we have been using Metalphoto for our panels but we are having a tough time getting panels that are printed and punched with any kind of acceptable accuracy. As a result it is unfortunately time to consider other options.
The two most likely course of action are to either make panels out of matte black pcbs ike Makenoise or get powder coated and silkscreened panels like Cwejman/Tiptop.
Either of these two options obviously represents a fairly considerable change to our overall look and design language so I will not make this decision with haste.
If we went with pcbs I would likely stick to a black color scheme but if we went with powder coating I could try more of a dark grey style. The tricky part will be to determine how many colors we will be limited to and how fine of detail (and accuray) they can print.
I would love some feedback on the current look of intellijel and what people might like to see if we take a new direction.
The Make Noise style are great and I think would feel similar to what you’ve been making all along vs the powder coat style.
I imagine PCB panels would be far cheaper to produce, and they seem to open up some interesting creative options. While I generally don’t like the MakeNoise design aesthetic, I do like the neat LED windows and lighting details that they do on things like Morphagene and Wogglebug. I’m guessing that sort of thing would be more difficult to do with metal panels.
On the other hand, PCB panels seem to absorb more oils and grime and are harder to keep clean over time.
I also like the way Make Noise is able to put lights in their panels (and dislike their overall aesthetic), but I also like the durability of something like Metalphoto. Perhaps that level of durability is overkill for most people, but it’s more about the sense of quality rather than a practical need (although labels that won’t rub away always are a great thing to have). I also prefer the metal look to black in most cases, although it can be nice to have a mix of panel colors in the rack.
I had a bad experience with powder coating (outside of Eurorack) - a bad batch could mean lots of flaking panels - although I’m sure it’s a very rare occurrence.
“matte black pcbs” = instant fingerprint marks and such.
+1 for matte black pcbs!!
The MakeNoise models in my cases are the most gorgeous and have the cleverest lighting feedback and embedded touch plate control options. I’d also love to get new black panels for all my Intellijel stuff as well so hope there will be panels purchase options.
@Danjel do you know Wes at Grayscale? He’s a brilliant panel designer and has a lot of ideas about this.
If you don’t know him, I would be delighted to introduce you (but I get the feeling you two already know each other IE: the mysterious black Intellijel panels.)
I love the Intellijel aesthetic, I’ve kind of built my life around it. I would be sad to see it change.
I guess I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never liked pcb panels, especially the ones MN uses. Mainly due to the aforementionedconstant fingerprint smudges.
Also keep in mind the powder coating process can be hit or miss as well. I think I just saw that Mordax switched panel manufacturers for their panels and have a newer high resolution process now.
I’d like to see a mock-up of the powder coated design that you are thinking about.
I’d be bummed to see the original/updated aesthetic go, as most of my system is built on that, but I can understand the need to explore a better, more consistent option.
Oh no! I was just looking at my Quadras yesterday thinking how the Intellijel aesthetic seems to be fully formed now, so professional and considered, ‘classy’ and classic. I’ve been using Euro for 8 years now, and have watched Intellijel develop to this high level. Please do your best to continue with this evolution rather than moving on to something different.
Personally, I hate PCB panels. I think they are ugly, smudgy, and the plastic-y look and feel is chintzy. I have none in my 15U setup (I replaced my Morphagene panel with a Grayscale panel, for many reasons).
Powder-coated/screen-printed can be a lovely look (wish someone would adopt the gunmetal greys, olive and beiges of the nuclear-reactor-control-panel vibe), but I worry about longevity (chipping, etc.).
Count me as one who loves the old panels and would like to see them stay more similar to that look than less similar.
I don’t feel as strong either way as some here about PCB but I much prefer aluminum panels.
Aesthetically, I as well would like anything leaning to vintage looking utilitarian. Like, more soviet bomb shelter than hightech modern.
But again, I love the current Intellijel panels, a good mix of classic and sharp looking design.
I’m another that doesn’t care much for PCB panels. I also don’t care much for the Make Noise aesthetic (or workflow, for that matter). Though the lighting effects with the translucent PCB are interesting, the technique of using PCBs just seems like it’s driven by budget and not by quality. Also, I can’t imagine a wide module like Rainmaker in PCB, seems like it would seem flimsy as I’d think it would be more flexible and delicate which is not particularly a good thing. And there’s the fingerprint thing, a problem with any flat finish. Would I stop buying Intellijel modules due to that? Probably not, though if there was an equivalent option for about the same price and functionality, it could be a tie-breaker in deciding which to buy. Modules like those by Erica Synths seem a lot more robust and professional than PCB based panels…
I got quotes on doing panels in France from the same place that does them for Mutable. Amazingly the prices may actually be cheaper than Metalphoto of Cincinnati and the quality is higher.
However there is one issue and that is their base material used is 2mm thick while existing intellijel panels form Metalphoto are 1.6mm. Don’t know if anyone has noticed their Mutable panels sit a bit higher relative to most other modules? I have not heard back from them yet if they can offer any other material thicknesses.
afaik Metalphoto actually orders the material we currently use direct from the EU so I am guessing it may be possible.
Personally, a slight difference in thinkness wouldn’t bother me if it meant still having aluminum panels.
I personally love the current Intellijel aesthetic so I wouldn’t want to vary too much from that. Same manufacturer as Mutable would be awesome. PCB panels like Make Noise work fine for them but I’ll admit I don’t like them as much.
Random*Source seem to have panels that have a similar look and feel… I wonder who does those ?
Intellijel designs w/ mutable panel quality sounds great in my opinion. A slight difference in thickness would be much preferable to a switch in panel substrate.
Considering that my two favorite manufacturers and the ones most represented in my case are Intellijel and Mutable Instruments, I’d be thrilled to have them using the same quality panels. I’d be okay with either thickness, but definitely keeping a similar style moving forward. Your modules play great together with jacks being on the bottom, knobs nicely spaced, clear markings and signal flow, etc. It’s simple without being sterile and it’s what drew me to your modules to begin with. The great quality, sound, and customer service sealed the deal.
Would switching eliminate the frequency of the “scratched” look defect as well? It makes me sad that I have a few modules now that when viewed from certain angles look all scratched up.
Anyway, I’m strongly opposed to PCB panels. I’d be curious to see some mockups of what kind of color or style changes you’re thinking of. As long as the layouts and clear labeling stays similar, I’m good.
I agree with those saying theres a better feeling of quality from the Cwejman/Tiptop type panel than there is from the make noise type panel, this goes along well with how i think of the Intellijel aesthetic. I would love a classy dark gray just as much as a black too. Extra thickness would not personally bother me.
Not sure how verbos does theirs, but thats my favorite overall look/feel. Addac also has a really beautiful look
I have confirmed now that the French supplier can use the same thickness material as before (1.5mm) so that is no longer an issue.
We will need to try and match colors as best as possible but they could be marginally different than before which is not such a big deal since MPC was inconsistent with their colors anyhow
Definitely sounds like it is worth giving them a trial with one of our designs.
I did notice Mutable modules sticking out a bit more, but don’t mind.
Seeing as the French company can also use 1.5mm panels it’s not an issue anyway.
I just posted over on MW asking about the lesser quality printing on Intellijel panels lately, though.
I just bought a uScale replacement panel and an Atlantis and it’s a pity to see that the printing is much more vague compared to all my other Intellijel modules.
Blacks aren’t as deep as before and grey is seems quite pixelated/fuzzy.
Atlantis has a whole different look next to my pristinely printed Metropolis.
I guess I’ll have to buy replacement panels for those modules once your printing is back to the old standard.
A rather funny way to add cost to my modules.
Let’s see how Rainmaker will look once it arrives at my doorstep in a short while.
I’m obsessed with black panels and I really hope that soon there will be a black version of your super modules. Especially Rainmaker and Planar 2! YEP