Protocase Resources

The information below is intended to be helpful for customers who wish to learn more about enclosure design. Also, please use our online support if you have questions for our expert design staff.


Frequently Asked Questions

Graphics and Labelling

What is the difference between silkscreen and digital printing?

Silkscreening is the process of passing durable epoxy-based inks through a porous fabric, creating a high-resolution sharp-edged single-color image created from a stencil, while digital printing creates high-resolution color prints by blending various densities of small droplets of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The effects created are brilliant colors and gradients our eyes perceive as solid from a distance. However, at close range, the eye can see this half-toning effect because some of the larger droplet sizes are detectable by the naked eye. Silkscreening is ideal for flat graphics with a limited number of colors, as each color needs to be silkscreened separately. Digital Printing offers the full spectrum of CMYK colors. Silkscreening's self-leveling ink produces a smooth finish that is virtually indistinguishable by touch. Digital printing is optimal when the artwork contains high amounts of detail (such as a gradient finish, computer generated images or overlapping colors), or when multiple colors are used in one graphic. Learn more about Silkscreening versus Digital Printing.

Are you able to digitally print on bare metal?

Yes, we can.

Do you do 3D digital printing?

No, we do not offer this service currently.

What standard silkscreen colors do you offer?

We stock a variety of colors. We can also supply custom colors, but this may add to delivery time and cost. See our silkscreening page for more information.

How durable is our silkscreen/digital print?

Both our Silkscreen and Digital Print are extremely durable and vivid. Visit our Silkscreen vs Digital Printing page for a full comparison of both options.

What forms of permanent marking do you offer?

We offer two different kinds of permanent marking: Machined Engraving using CNC milling and Dot Peening. We also offer Ink permanent marking using rubber stamps. Please contact us for more information.

Do you offer etch and fill services?

Currently, we do not offer etch and fill.

How does Machined Engraving work?

Sheet metal parts and panels are engraved using high-speed 3-axis vertical CNC milling machine. View a video about machined engraving.

When is Machined Engraving useful?

Machined Engraving provides exceptional aesthetics. While Dot Peening is useful for straightforward serialization and standard labeling, Machined Engraving is very flexible. Essentially anything can be engraved into sheet metal using our CNC milling machine, from text in a variety fonts and sizes to logos, symbols and artwork.

Can machined engraving be completed before or after a part has been powdercoated?

Both - machined engraving can be completed before or after powdercoat painting, depending on the type of powdercoat used. View our Permanent Marketing page for full details.

Can I determine the depth of machined engraving in my design?

Machined engraving is done with a standard depth of 0.010" (depth will vary slightly depending on the material used and any secondary finish applied).

What customizations are available when it comes to machined engraving?

You can customize your design with machined engraving by adding text (in a variety of font types and sizes), engraving a logo or symbol, or adding original artwork.

What is Dot Peening?

Dot Peening is a form of permanent marking on sheet metal parts, wherein a series of dots are punched into sheet metal to form characters and numbers.

Are there any size limitations to Dot Peening?

The maximum area that can be marked using Dot Peening is 1.875" x 1".

Why should I use Dot Peen Permanent Marking?

Dot Peen Permanent Marking is ideal for the traceability and identification of sheet metal parts. This form of identification is typically used to meet safety, warranty, or regulatory requirements.

How does Dot Peening work?

An alphanumeric pattern is first programmed into the dot peening equipment. The machine head is laid over the part while it is still flat (before bending and finishing) and a series of dots are then created by the impact of the pin. The end result is a readable, alphanumerical identification.

Which materials should I use with dot peening?

We can dot peen any of our materials, but there are considerations when using thin gauges. Specifically, when dot peening aluminum thinner than 0.051" or steel less than .048", ghosting or witness marks may show through on the reverse side. This is only an aesthetic issue and in some cases may be perfectly acceptable. Therefore, in cases where dot peening is to be specified on these thin materials, the designer should carefully consider where witness marks may show up.

Can I order permanent marking for my sheet metal part with a powdercoat finish?

Dot Peening can be used on bare metal finishes or under powdercoat, as the depth of the peening is sufficient to show through the paint. Please note: The presentation of the dot peened characters will vary depending on the powdercoat colour used. View our Permanent Marking page for more information and photos.

Are you able to digital print on sloped parts?

Generally, yes. Digital print must be applied to flat parts, however, our team is often able to print on a part with a sloped face by using a jig to hold the part flat. We are unable to print on surfaces that have connectors, components or other items protruding from the face that's being printed. Read more about digital print, or contact us at to discuss your needs.