KBD faceplate protection: bringing back an old issue.


Hello, all;

some months ago there was a thread about keyboard faceplate protection against scratches. Many solutions were pointed out, and one of the suggestions was creating transparent, self-adhesive, rugged faceplates like the ones found in the HP41 and all clamshells. Well, now I see that the HP71 kbd faceplate also has the same type of protective cover, and the HP97 has none.

I tried to "cover" an old HP11C's faceplate and I did not achieve reasonable, acceptable results. And the worst part is that there is no way coming back: if I try to remove the self adherent plastic cover I used, I'll remove part of the surface printing. I'll have to keep it.

I wonder if that sort of rugged, transparent cover used in the HP41, clamshells and the HP71 (anyone else?) is available in some form, in small, large or custom sized pieces. I saw acetate sheets used as spare cover in custom spiral-bound documents that look a lot like the one used in these keyboards, but it is not self adherent. Adhesive to be used in these cases must also be specific for painted surfaces in a ways it will not react with ink and melt it or dissolve it or fade it out.

Is there any interest on this sort of subject yet? I know it is not exactly what collectors have in mind, mostly those interested on keeping collected pieces exactly the way they live production line, but those who use their calculators somehow (I included) would like being sure their faceplates will not be smeared or scratched.

Comments? Suggestions?

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil

P.S. - After the first two days of switching it on and off, just to see it "breathing", I began reading the HP71B's documentation. a few days ago in my spare time. Anyway, I cannot help myself not looking at it sometimes, as if it I'm expecting it to vanish and I'd find out it's a mirage. And it looks better "in person" than in the photos. If you like Voyagers' design, the HP71B must be checked out. Thanksalot, Doc!


I wonder if that sort of rugged, transparent cover used in the HP41, clamshells and the HP71 (anyone else?)

I do have them for the HP-48, I've seen the ones for the HP-75C/75D (not transparent, though).



Hey, Massimo;

do you mean the standard, semi-gloss, rugged original HP overlayer? I have two of them (Thanks, I.M.), one with extended ALPHA characters and another "clear" one. They are fine, but I was thinking about the same product with sort of a contact glue. Is this sort of glue easily found? In this case, would it be easy to apply and settle the protective cover? I thought about a ready-to-apply glue in abig sheet of waxed papper so we could place the keyboard overlayer , remove it with the glue already atached to it and then apply the "glued" overlay to the calculator's faceplate.

Is it too much imagination?

Thank you for your remind, Massimo. As these overlayers are not self adherent, I did not think of them.

Best regards.

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil


I thought about a ready-to-apply glue in abig sheet of waxed papper

That does exist. That is how the adhesive on most self-adhesive products arrives at the factory. It is called "transfer adhesive". It comes on a roll stuck to a "release liner", like wax paper, or more like the plastic coated paper that self-adhesive items come with, protecting the adhesive. There is no substrate, just adhesive, stuck to the release liner. It comes in different thicknesses and strenghts ("high tack", "low tack"). It is difficult to handle except when it is stuck to the release liner, then it is like one sided sticky tape and you can apply it to whatever you want to make self-adhesive. Hopefully, it sticks better to your item than to the release liner. Then you cut the adhesive to size - preferably, you cut both your item and the adhesive with its release liner to size with a very sharp knife or die. The adhesive tends to ball up when you draw a knife across it and it can pull more adhesive from under your workpiece, where you want it to stay, so it is better to use a sharp knife and press it straight down through your material, the adhesive, and the release liner - that way you can cut the adhesive with a clean edge.

I just looked at the 3M website (www.3m.com) and searched for "transfer adhesive" which returned almost 3000 matches. The second one has the title "3M(TM) Adhesive Transfer Tapes with 100 Adhesive Data Page [PDF 30 KB]" and is at this address:


100 Adhesive seems to be a transfer adhesive used on a wide range of products.

The next article is the search results is titled " 4.13, image transfer media with wear coat 8604 ES and 8605 ES [PDF 27 KB]" and is at this address:


The products in the second article appear to be clear protective sheets that are self adhesive and designed to be printed on the adhesive side (??) so that the sheet can then be applied to a surface and the printing is protected by the outer layer. It is not clear to me whether they come with adhesive on them or if the adhesive must be added - or is assumed to be present on the other surface.

The article talks about laminating equipment. This suggests a possibility: in a stationery or office supplies store, you might find some clear, adhesive sheets used to laminate things (like photos, certificates, documents) so they will last longer with much handling, and still be readable. This might be a starting place - you would still need to figure out how to cut clean openings for the keys.


The 71B is a lovely machine and because it can take keyboard overlays , like the 41, it would be easy to protect it.
Blank overlays can be obtained, but I am sure it would be possible to scan a keyboard at high resolution and print onto some plastic sheet, like overhead transparency.
The cutting is tricky and would need a custom punch made.
Any volunteers with these skills?


Hello, Gordon;

nice reading your posts; as if I don't write like a newspaper reporter... I must be not so nosy!

You know, all clamshells (even my Singaporean HP19BII), the HP41 and the HP71 have a permanent, rugged overlayer already built over the keyboard faceplate. I could not idenfy for sure, but based on the photos I've seen the HP75 also has it.

I think these are the only HP calculators with this permanet keyboard faceplate protection. All others I saw do not have. Even the HP48, that accepts external overlayer like the HP41 and the HP71, does not have the permanent overlayer that is easily identified in the units mentioned obove.

I agree with you that a few molds woud be enough - one to all Voyagers, other to all Pioneers, another one to all HP48, another one to the HP49, all Classics could share the same overlayer, Woodstocks would need one only and Topcats, too. I counted seven of them, because the HP19C would need its own. I'm surely missing someone...

Well, if there is anyone who knows any specialized company that can cut the overlayer and provide an additional adhesive, that would be great. I'd buy a bunch, enough to use in mine and lots of spares for my... patients!

Best regards, Gordon!

Luiz C. Vieira - Brazil

Edited: 28 June 2003, 11:27 a.m.


I am interested in kbd faceplate restoration and/or overlays for Woodstocks... Nothing to offer or suggest yet.


The lettering for the HP41 faceplate is actually on a shhet just like a standard HP41 module removeable overlay that is stuck down with adhesive. If you are careful (and have your trusty UnDu) you can remove the overlay and transfer it to a different machine.

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