1. General Information
In August 2016, with the start of our new web platform, we released the newest generation Xtuners dials. This is the 12th evolution of our dials since 2004. The previous 10th and 11th generations of the dials were THE FIRST and ONLY aftermarket dials WORLDWIDE, that are REAL OEM quality. The last generation of the dials has some major improvements over the last generations. All designs were also updated to meet the taste of the customers even better. At the and of the day , we are the only company, that can produce aftermarket dials, that are in most cases even better then the factory dials.
In the next chapters we will try to make the reader familiar with our new production. We will try to post as many pictures as we can in order to illustrate the new quality standards in our shop. Click on each image to see high resolution version ( best viewed on Lap Tops with high resolution HD screens )
2. Dials Material
We use only high grade polycarbonate in our production. It is durable, flexible ( but not soft ), heat and humidity resistant. This is the only material suitable for this job. OEM dials are made from the same material. We use mostly 0.47 , 0.7 and 1 mm gloss, semi gloss and opal versions.
3. Print Process
We manufacture our dials in SCREEN PRINTING process. We don’t need to mention that original dials are manufactured ONLY in screen printing process. There is a good reason for this. This method may be difficult and time consuming, but no digital print, no UV print, no wax print, no transfer print …… NOTHING ...can’t reach the quality of SCREEN PRINTING! We don’t say that every screen printing workshop can manufacture good dials! We work in this field for over 15 years and the experience that we have is what defines us as professionals. Our partners who deliver our printing inks have, if you believe it or not, over 150 years of experience. The highest grade polycarbonate, our custom made printing inks plus our experience are guarantee for the excellent quality of our products.
4. Cutting Process
We use high-tech laser system to cut our dials in form. All visible cutouts, like holes for odometers or LCD displays, are also processed by hand with fine sand papers to ensure 100% smooth and good looking edges. Complicated forms can easily be processed. Perfect fitment is guarantied!
5. Print detail and sharpness
We can print super fine details with amazing sharpness. Other companies that use digital printers can pretend about high resolution ( DPI ) prints, but the truth is, that their prints look like kids drawings compared to ours. We want to post some examples here and you can judge by your self who is right and who's wrong. Note that our camera is not professional and can not capture the real sharpness of the small details. The following images will represent the real details only when displayed on Laptop screens with HD high resolution displays!
This is the Leeds United logo on the dials middle section. The part with the ball has a diameter of only 3mm. On the left side you see a pencil with a very thin top. This is a macro shot and you can see the fine black particles in the black ink as well. Can you now imagine how detailed this print is?? Not impressed yet? OK see the next image:
On the next picture we show some old and useless dial card. We decided to make some print tests on it. We printed a random high detail logo ( picked up from the internet ) directly on the black surface of the dials. The logo is 3 cm high but it has some tiny details in the snake’s tail area. If you look closer, you will see a small hair on the 20 km/h mark. We did not even see it when we shot the picture. Compare it with the smallest rhombs in the snake’s tail section to get an idea how good the print resolution really is. And we will post one more picture .. just for fun:
Look at the car logo ( Copyright Xtuners – Just want to mention this in case some is here to steal it ). You will say the logo is not this small and really easy to print. Yes, you are right, but the BMW badge on hood of the car is only 2 mm in diameter. Do you see the thin lines inside the badge? Compare them with the fine dust particles found on the gauge cluster glass. They look like rocks compared to both thin lines inside the badge! Let’s close this topic for now. We think that’s enough to convince you..
6. Color Choices
There are no limitations in the color choice. We are specialized in the manufacturing of custom dials. We work with all kind of colors plus many effect colors and patterns that are not possible with other print methods like digital printing. For example:
- fluorescent colors
- pearl colors plus silver, gold and copper
- interference colors ( color shifting effects )
- wet and dry carbon effects
- stealth effects
and many more..
7. Warn lights symbols
If the client wants the dials in some different color then black or white, we will choose together the best color option for the warn lights.
8. Dials finishes and surface
Our dials are printed on the front side of the material. A few layers are printed on the reverse side as well ( like OEM ). This process will be explained later one more time. The printed surface is smooth and there are no noticeable higher or lower levels where the different print layers contact with each other. Exception make white and silver dials, where we need to print more ink layers on the front side and in most cases you can slightly see where the different ink layers overlap. This is more or less visible on white OEM dials as well.
From January 2016 we offer the dials with two different types of finishes also called overprint varnishes. They are printed as top layer and protect the printing inks from the UV sun rays, moisture and dirt. White and silver dials ( also some other colors ) don’t have this type of protection, but the more popular black dials have it. As mentioned these protective layers are two types – the first one is deep matte and the second one is semi gloss. The next images show the difference between both of them:
You can clearly see the difference. By default we use the deep matte finish. The semi gloss finish is used for heater dials and some other dials models that have no protection from dust, dirt or moisture when installed in the dash. The semi gloss finish is scratch-proof and the deep mate is not. In the next evolution of our dials we will try to make the deep matte finish scratch-proof too. Don’t get us wrong .. you can always scratch the dials if you want, but if you are careful enough during the install, everything will be OK.
9. Dials illumination
There are different types of gauge clusters. The really old ones use bulbs to illuminate the dials.
Our dials are NOT optimized for use with regular bulbs. There are of course some exceptions. If our dials will be used with bulbs, we have to print some additional layers on the reverse side of the dials. These layers are basically light reducing layers that reduce the light intensity in the areas above the bulbs. Next images show examples of dials with light reducing layers on the back side:
Such light blocking layers are not always effective. They will become less effective if you install more powerful bulbs or LED bulbs. They will also not work well if you decide to change the stock illumination color. See some examples ( phone quality sorry ):
Original dials – Audi B4 S2
Many problem areas can be noticed on this example picture. The light is not evenly spread and there are many dark spots on the dials where the light from the bulbs does not reach ( like 1/minx100, the numbers from 180 to 260 ). In real life this is even worst.
The next images show the Xtuners dials for the same model ( on full and low brightness ):
Same thing. After all the work, we achieved the same bad result as Audi. So what is the point in doing this mod except for restoring damaged OEM dials..? We just want to explain why we do not optimize our dials for this type of illumination ( bulbs ). We don’t really want to go back to the 80s! We consider the Audi S2 as a tragic case of gauge cluster engineering and we want to say that we still can achieve good results with other gauge cluster models. For such hard cases like the Audi S2 we recommend the use of plasma dials.
What are plasma dials?
Plasma dials are the same as all other dials with the difference that they have electroluminescent glow panels attached on the backside. Plasma dials work independent from the main ( bulb ) illumination. This technology can give you enough flexibility when you want to update the design or change the illumination color. You can have any illumination color and any design and there is no need to take into consideration not illuminated areas ( from the bulb ) or other areas where the light from the bulbs can not pass through. Next image is an example of plasma dials for the same model – Audi S2:
This is much better, right? No dark areas are visible in the RPM and speedometer dials, we have evenly spread illumination and on top of this both RPM and Speedometer scales can be extended with a few marks with no risk of getting not illuminated numbers or marks. More examples of plasma dials follow:
If you do not want to use plasma dials for some reason, there is another option – SMD LED stripes. See examples:
The results are usually excellent, but there are still some limitations because in some cases you can not prevent not illuminated at all or bad illuminated areas on the dials. The rule here is to place as many stripes as you can in the gauge cluster box. This is the preferрed way in the tuning scene to upgrade older gauge clusters.
There are of course new and modern cars in our tuning society and they have different kind of gauge clusters. The most of them have SMD LED illumination installed from the factory:
The fact that these gauge clusters have factory SMD illumination doesn’t mean that the light intensity and distribution is perfect. Many of them require some major upgrades if you want to achieve perfect results. When we work on such gauge clusters we often change the stock SMD LEDs with brighter aftermarket SMDs. We almost never upgrade such clusters with plasma dials. Xtuners dials for most SMD gauge clusters are optimized to work with stock or aftermarket SMD LEDs.
Some of these gauge clusters are designed to work with smaller amount of SMDs. For example the gauges from the first picture have only 4 SMDs on each side. The gauge cluster from the second picture has 6 SMDs on each side. When we talk about illumination power and light distribution the number and brightness of the LEDs in the box can make a huge difference. As you can probably guess the second gauge cluster ( blue light ) has much better illumination. If we want to make the white one as good as the blue one, we need to solder much brighter SMDs. With the extra light power that comes from the new SMDs, we need to change the dials design a little bit. Light reducing layer on the back side is required, because otherwise we will see super bright illuminated areas on the dials. To understand this better see the next images:
You can see the uneven illumination.This image is overexposured but this helps to see better the different amounts of light that reach the dials. The numbers 10, 20, 40, 50 and the scales around them ( RPM side ) get more powerful light then rest, because they are located directly above the SMDs. The dials on this picture do NOT have light reducing print layer. On the next image you see the same dials, but now they have this layer on the back side:
The negative effect was reduced to a minimum with this light intensity reducing layer. The final results can vary depending on the gauge cluster structure and number of SMD LEDs installed on the main circuit board. There are other factors influencing the light distribution but this is a subject to another topic.
Our dials are quite different from the OEM dials in some aspects. Many Xtuners dials models have much better light distribution then the factory dials. In most cases our dials do not need the light reducing layers that the original dials have on the back side by default. Sometimes small corrections have to be made and instead of printing another layer we use specially designed diffusion foils.
If these diffusion foils can not help to achieve even illumination, then we print light reducing rasters like these:
10. Custom made dials
We can produce any kind of dials for any vehicle and it is a pleasure for us to work on custom projects. Almost everything is possible.. just share your ideas with us and we will send a price offer based on your vision about the project. Note that any custom work is connected with extra charge and longer production time.
11. Product pricing
We hope that all this information will be useful for our potential customers. Obviously Xtuners dials are on another level and have no analog on the market. Unfortunately quality comes at a price and for this reason we can not compete with other companies. They can beat our prices any time, but they can never reach our quality.
Price updates are made every year or after some major upgrade. The dials from the current production cost between 60 and 120 EUR or around 10 EUR for every print color layer. We may charge additional 10 - 30 EUR for custom projects. Plasma dials cost 50 EUR extra.