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Model M Badge Replacement

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The IBM Model M is a classic. And like any classic, it may need some cosmetic maintenance every twenty years or so. You will find several articles on this site on how best to clean and “pimp your board” – but the current options for what to do with the keyboard badges are to paint over the olive-drab IBM badge and LED legend or leave these clashing against your color scheme. Another option seemed obvious to me, but I couldn’t find any record of anyone else doing it. This article will walk you through my experience updating this forgotten embellishment and will give you the tools I used so that you might do it also. This will be my first keyboard mod and I am doing “Black and Red with Gold Accents”.

The first thing I did was to do a Google search for “case badge”. One of the first results to pop up was Techiant LLC at They have “Metallic Custom Labels” at a reasonable price and a low minimum order of 10. They also can work in metric units, which is a rarity in the US but a necessity for this job. Most people don't have 10 Model Ms, so check "Group Buys" to see if someone is planning something.

Brand Badge
Next, I set about measuring the existing badges. I have three Model M – all 1391401 with the pill-shaped IBM “brand badge” on the top left. Believe it or not, this is a 25mm wide, 18mm tall rectangle (with 9mm radius rounded corners).  For the graphic image, I must admit that I pillage the web. The base image is everywhere, but not in the right resolution nor rotated to the correct angle. I grabbed one in a high resolution, scaled it to the correct resolution, rotated, cropped, reset DPI, and set the background to transparent. This image is optimized for 1200dpi print centered on a 25mm by 18mm “gloss chrome gold” badge.

The last thing I did was to peal off the original badge. I did this last in case removing the badge destroyed it in the process. It turns out that the badge came off curly, but whole. It is printed with the image sandwiched between a clear plastic top and an adhesive bottom. Most of the adhesive was left on the case. Alcohol had no effect and Goo-Gone was only slightly better at removing the residue. I was not that concerned though as it would be covered by the new label.

This was a mistake. The label style I chose is very reflective, but thin and picks up most of the surface irregularities. I have extra labels, so I pealed off the new label and removed every trace of adhesive with methyl ethyl ketone (aka MEK). This also removed some of the black Duplicolor fabric/vinyl paint. I strongly encourage you to (1) remove all trace of the adhesive before coloring your case and replacing the badges and (2) go with the “domed” style badge. That said, this is a very attractive label - you can see your reflection!

LED Cluster
I decided to remove this badge before measuring it. I tried to pry the label loose from around the edges, but that was not working as easy as it did for the brand badge. I was concerned that I would damage the keyboard case, so I turned the disassembled keyboard over and pushed from the bottom of the Num Lock cut-out. The left side of the label just popped loose and the rest was easy to remove after that.

This label measures 78mm wide by 23mm tall (with 2mm radius rounded corners). Like the brand badge, the image is printed between a clear plastic top layer and adhesive bottom. The three 2mm by 5mm LED “windows” have no pigment or adhesive.

I sent an email to Techiant customer service and asked if they could do “cut-outs” and was happy to hear that they can, but will need the data in vector format. I’m ordering “domed” badges which have a clear plastic dome over the printed image.

There was no stock logo for me to copy, so I had to build this from scratch. I used my favorite CAD application for this; DeltaCad. The original font is very close to Arial. If you would like a different font, you can use my template and download a free trial of DeltaCad from The data file is at the bottom. Or I might change the text completely. What do you think about this?

Birth Certificate
This was a tough decision for me; to preserve the (rather ugly) original, or replace it. I will still have two others that are as IBM intended them to be, so let’s replace it as an example.

Before I did anything, I placed the disassembled bottom half on my flatbed scanner and took an image at full color 2400dpi. This label is 114mm wide by 53mm tall with 2mm radius corners. On my label, it looks like the IBM, UL, and CSA logos were pre-printed. The remaining text was printed by a dot matrix printer using internal mono-space fonts (except for the “Made in the USA” which used a double-space font. I could not find a TrueType font that could accurately duplicate these characters, so I came to the conclusion, “why bother”. I chose to use the logos in there original positions, but took some liberties with the text. The font I used in the first draft is called Magneto; the second draft uses Arial. The field titles are right justified. I added a field “Restored” for a date and/or signature.

As each Birth Certificate is unique, I thought i would try to print these myself. I ordered "8.5 x 11 Rectangular Foil Label Sheet" from - I added my values and inserted a scan of my signature. I cut the label with an office paper cutter - this will not be accurate enough for me, but good enough for a test. Next time i will use a metal strait edge and a razor. The label is not as reflective as the labels on the front but still very shiny. Here is what no-flash looks like.

You can see that I am already testing out the durability (no significant loss of quality in first month); if the text starts wearing off, I will cover with a protective clear label (just like the original label) to "fix" the text. If you don’t like my design or your board was made outside of the US, you will want to open the DeltaCad file and make some modifications.

I have been looking for a source for premium badges - metal like the older square badge. I just got a shipment today from Craig at Benton Trophy. I still don't have an IBM keyboard with the square badge to measure, so Craig sent samples in two thicknesses - .02" and .03" - and two sizes - 1" and 15/16ths.
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My photography skills are not the best, so if you are interested in ordering some of these, I will send you the samples that Craig sent me - with one condition. At the end of a week you must mail all of them back to me, or to the next person in the queue.

I like what you did here! The "birth certificate" looks good overall but I'd go for a more serious font.


Yeah, perhaps you are right. i should go with something more authentic. please submit font suggestions.

Mr. Perfect:
Why so serious?

Nice job on these, it's something that's been missing around here. People do all these great dye mods, and never have the stickers to round it out.

I think the new birth certificate is perfect. Can you please add a "Made in the United Kingdom" version? :)

As for the LED covers, check this out

Thank you


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