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Collection Display Tiles

goshe7goshe7 Member Posts: 515
I'm looking to improve my approach for my minifigure display.  Currently I use 2x4 tiles with a small label applied.  I use Avery 15667 self-adhesive labels, printed on my B&W laser printer, and trimmed to size.  Each label has the year first produced, minifigure number, and minifigure name. 

The approach looks OK; you can easily see that printed stickers are applied to the tiles and they aren't always perfectly centered.  But the printing is clear and they do the job of identification.  It is very cheap (about $0.02 per label).  It is pretty straightforward to create more tiles when new minifigures are released.

I'd really like something that looks "better" but still is somewhat cheap.  A couple options that come to mind are  waterslide decals, thermal printer labels, UV printing, or engraving.
  • I'm not sure waterslide decals or thermal decals will end up looking much better than the current approach. 
  • Home UV printing seems to be pretty impossible from a cost standpoint since a quality UV printer starts at several thousand dollars.  The need is pretty modest; I only need a single color and the size can be as small as a single 2x4 tile.  It just doesn't seem like anyone out there makes something for small, home use (priced accordingly).
  • I've found multiple people that will UV print LEGO bricks.  Price is upwards of $2/part, which quickly becomes unaffordable for a collection with several hundred figures.  Any new minifigure releases would need a new order, continual hits of setup charges and challenges for minimum order value.
  • Engraving with acrylic back fill is another option.  A mini CNC (3018 Pro type) can be purchased for around $150.  It would seem to offer adequate precision to complete the fine lettering (0.3mm bit).  I haven't worked with GRBL, but am sufficiently tech savvy that I'm not too worried about the DIY nature of the CNC and creating that GRBL.  (But there could be something I'm simply optimistically overlooking).  Again, this is technically overkill for what I'm after, but I haven't found anything at a lower price point.
  • For pricing comparison, if you figure around 500 display tiles, the mini CNC bumps each cost to around $0.30.  That's a lot more than $0.02, but still what I would consider "somewhat cheap".  Particularly since I would then be able to easily create more display tiles without much more cost.
I thought about putting a bunch of tiles on a 32 x 32 baseplate and trying to find someone local that does UV printing, but haven't had much luck yet finding anyone that offers that service on such a small scale; most are into larger business orders of hundreds of units for promotional materials.

I'm curious how others have approached this challenge.  Are there any clever approaches I'm overlooking?  Is there a solution that I think is viable (like the cheap mini CNC) that turns out to yield very unsatisfactory results?


  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    Waterside decals won't look good if they are the black tiles but OK for white or light coours. For any text to show on black, you'll need to use white opaque waterside paper and you always see the edges of that.Lighter colours can use transparent paper which looks a bit better.

    If you are just displaying numbers, the 2x2 bricks from the old brick calendar sets might be useful. Stick them underneath the plates. 
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