What are Graphic Overlays? Things to Consider when Customizing your Graphic Overlay

Manufacturing Facility

Graphic Overlays, sometimes called nameplates, are thin layers of plastic or polymer material with printed symbols or graphics placed over the top of an electronic device to identify the branding and functionality of the machine.

They play a vital role in making a powerful first impression for your company as it is the first component of the equipment that a user will interact with. As they are the interface of the machine’s abilities, it’s critical that they are clear, durable, and can properly communicate to the machine’s driver.

In this article, we will discuss what are graphic overlays, customization options, and applications.

What are Graphic Overlays?

Electrical products all consist of a kind of interface. These include dials, buttons, and joysticks. However, without any text or graphics laid over the machine, the user would find it very difficult to use.

Graphic overlays are film sheets that display custom text and designs that are usually placed on the exterior layer of a product. They add a level of professionalism, while also incorporating another layer of protection.

They provide important messages to the machine’s user, such as instructions, warnings, and brand messages, quickly and efficiently.

Read on to further dive into “what are graphic overlays” and discover how they can be customized to serve your needs.

Applications of Graphic Overlays

Graphic Overlays are the key to connecting a machine to its operator.  They provide businesses with several benefits that ensure the proper performance of their machinery.

User Interface

As a company, you want to maximize the usability and user experience for your team when operating your tools. Graphic Overlays are the first step to the operation of your facility as they often have the branding of the company as well as specific directions about how the machine works.

Designers focus on creating interfaces that are easy and pleasant to use as the interaction between the user and machine should be simple and efficient.

Branding

The information used on your custom graphic overlay can be as simple as your company name and logo, strictly for branding purposes, or as complex as instructions and warnings.

You can add company contact information, UID or QE code, barcodes, product IDs, or serial numbers.  Your company can also require a combination of these or unique details specific to your brand.

Durability

Graphic overlays are in countless settings, from indoors and outdoors to sterile environments. As such a key part of the production and operation of your facility, you want to make sure that you can depend on your graphic overlays to withstand the conditions of your facility.

For this reason, there are a variety of features and finishes to ensure your graphic overlay continues to do its job.

Custom Graphic Overlay with ISO 9001 Certification

Custom Graphic Overlays for Your Industry

You can find graphic overlays in different environments throughout all industries. Your facility and equipment may require materials that comply with specifications, certifications, or inspection procedures.

Our team will walk you through the steps and specific processes pertaining to your industry standards.
Industries that have a need Graphic Overlays are:

  • Aerospace
  • Construction
  • Fitness
  • Manufacturing & Industrial
  • Medical & Dental
  • Research Laboratories
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture
  • Consumer Products
  • Food Service
  • Marine
  • Military
  • Retail

Customizations & Options

Now that you’ve read about “what are graphic overlays” and their different applications, how can you customize your own?

Most high-resolution graphics are actually printed on the second surface which is the backside of polyesters, polycarbonates, and acrylic, to protect the ink from the everyday conditions of your facility.

Polycarbonates:

  • Indoor & outdoor use
  • Optical clarity
  • Depth effect
  • Design flexibilities
  • Impact-resistant
  • Temperature resistant
  • Best with extreme temperatures
  • Resistant to scratches, corrosion, chemical abrasion, and water

Polyester:

  • Harsh indoor/outdoor environments
  • UV resistant
  • Electrical resistant
  • Withstands extreme temperatures, water, abrasion, and chemicals
  • Resistant to tears
  • Commercial and industrial applications

Conditions to Consider When Customizing Your Graphic Overlay

Before the development of your overlay, you’ll discuss the environment that it will live in, the chemicals and materials it will be exposed to, the lighting exposure, and the usage frequency. But you may be wondering why knowing the intricate details are so important to the development of your overlay.

Environment

When developing your custom graphic overlay, consider where it will live. Those used outdoors will require different materials than those indoors.

Your graphic overlay might need materials that will protect it from conditions such as extreme heat or wind and harsh weather conditions. Outdoor use will require a material that can withstand the elements.

Chemicals

Something else to consider is whether or not your overlay will be exposed to cleaning products or industrial chemicals. If so, you’ll want to make sure that your overlay is completely resistant so that the materials do not decompose upon contact.

To make sure your product is protected, a hard coat will be applied to the design.

Lighting

We’re not only talking about the lights in your facility, but your graphic overlay might need to come in contact with UV rays. UV rays can easily damage the color of the graphic design and even yellow the protective coating if an incorrect finish is used.

It’s important to ensure that your custom graphic overlay stays as clear as it is when it leaves the facility.

Usage Frequency

In short, how many people will be touching the graphic overlay?

Depending on how often an operator uses the machine, they could have constant contact with the overlay. If it is a functional overlay (rather than purely decorative/branding), you want to make sure it won’t show signs of wear after a certain amount of usage.

Branded Graphic Overlay

Aesthetics & Finishes

Now for even more details… the design, effects, and special features.

These details will bring in your company’s aesthetic and brand. Choose whether you want to protect your label with a rugged material finish, make your graphics stand out with a reflective surface finish, decide where to place your logo, and choose the sizing of the graphic overlay.

Additionally, think about whether you’d like to incorporate windows, cutouts, or embossing over the buttons.

Printing Effects

There are two printing methods to choose from: digital printing and screen printing. Digital printing is becoming increasingly popular for creating graphics.

This is a great option for those wanting to see the details and gradients on their graphic overlay. It requires minimal tooling and setup, meaning it’s perfect for prototypes and short runs.

On the other hand, screen printing is where you will see the intricate details of your design.  Specifically, features as small as .005” across.  Screen printing is also great for selective texturing.

Embossing

Designing raised elements, also known as embossing, into your graphic overlays is a great way to make important features more visually prominent.

You will most commonly see dome and embossing for buttons or LEDs, but rim embossing and braille are also common. The type of embossing that is right for your application will depend on how your device will be used and also your personal preferences.

Windows & Cutouts

Windows and cutouts are a kind of selective texturing that creates the illusion of a separate window.  You can choose from glossy, semi-gloss, antiglare, dead-front, translucent, or frosted. You can even choose the color and tint.

Surface Finishes

Polycarbonate and Polyester are the most popular finishes. However, you can also supply the material you prefer: velvet, textured, or a glossy, and reflective surface.

Why choose Hallmark Nameplate for Your Graphic Overlays

As a leading graphic overlay manufacturer, Hallmark Nameplate uses advanced systems and technologies to develop custom applications for its customers.

If you’re ready to develop a durable, reliable, and branded graphic overlay for your equipment, you’re in the right place!

Fill out a comprehensive, FREE quote to find a solution that will meet your specific needs. Together, we will create a unique, customized overlay for your business.

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