A graphic overlay acts as the intermediary barrier between a user and a machine. It depicts functions while also serving as a cosmetic layer to hide circuitry. Graphic overlays need to be functional, durable, and also attractive. There are several varieties of graphic overlay which depend on the material used as well as thickness. The material chosen usually depends on the type of application. Factors such as exposure to chemicals and sunlight determine the suitable material for a graphic overlay.
- Polycarbonate overlay. This material is easier to manipulate and cut. While polycarbonate is a more cost-effective option, it may be prone to signs of wear and tear after a certain number of uses. Therefore, if it will be used for an application exposed to chemicals, there needs to be a coating or hard layer for protection.
- Polyester overlay. This material is more robust than polycarbonate. It takes a lot longer for this to show signs of wear and tea. Aside from this, the polyester overlay is also suitable for applications exposed to harsh environments and chemicals. As such, it is preferred for industrial, commercial, and military applications.
A number of graphic overlay manufacturers such as Fascia Graphics which was taken over by CCL design produce graphic overlays for all kinds of applications. Some examples of common applications for graphic overlays include:
- Consumer electronic products
- Manufacturing and industrial machines
- Construction equipment
- HVAC and refrigeration
- Transport and marine equipment
- Military equipment
With the variety of application for graphic overlays, customisation is an important aspect. No one design or build is applicable to all. This is the reason why manufacturers of graphic overlays also take control of the entire process including design and engineering.
There are some basic questions you need to answer before deciding on the type of graphic overlay you will need for your product. Parameters such as the environment in which the overlay will be exposed, the complexity of the control panel, the type of device, and the intensity of use are all important considerations before you choose a specific design or material to use for the overlay.
What to look for when choosing a graphic overlay manufacturer
Before choosing a manufacturer, they should be able to deliver certain services to ensure that you are getting the best quality product.
- A graphic overlay manufacturer should have state of the art equipment and procedures certified by ISO. Their processes must be streamlined and efficient, whilst also offering competitive prices.
- Choose a manufacturer that prints below or inside the graphic overlay because it doesn’t degrade the branding after repeated use and cleaning.
- Look for a manufacturer with the shortest lead times that can realistically meet your required output.
Some manufacturers also offer prototyping so that you can review the result and make changes to the design if necessary. Prototyping is an essential stage of the process which makes the early product development more open to support from the design and engineering team. Once you have finalised the design, the manufacturer can proceed with full-scale production.