Equipment Overlays & Nameplates: Tips for Choosing the Right Material

Visual Marking Systems recently attended the annual NAFEM Show (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers) in Orlando. With 500+ foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers represented and more than 10,000 industry professionals in attendance, it’s safe to say that the industry is growing! With all the options available, whether you’re a food equipment manufacturer, electronics designer, in the HVACR industry or producer of medical equipment, it is more important than ever for you to visually stand out among your competitors. One way to enhance your product is to add a customized graphic overlay or nameplate. As a leader in the graphic design and printing industry for more than 50 years, producing pressure sensitive labels, decals, nameplates, overlays, embossed keypads, and roll labels, we’re happy to share some insight into what materials and features will work best for your equipment decals.

There is a lot to consider before finalizing your overlay design. First, you’ll need to consider which material is best to use for the overall quality, aesthetics and function you desire. The material you choose will depend on your company's budget, but more important is the type of environment your equipment will be used in. Depending on your specific requirements, here are some things to consider before you choose the material that best fits your needs. Graphic Overlays

What is the application of the decal? What is your equipment made of? How about the environment? Does the label need to withstand extreme hot or cold temperatures? Moisture, cleaners and sanitizers can wreak havoc on your equipment over time. Will your labels be exposed to chemicals or abrasion?

What is the life expectancy of the equipment? Should you expect the same of your decals? What is the size of the overlay? Will it have to conform to highly irregular surfaces or is it on a flat surface? What is your budget?

The most common materials used for equipment overlays and nameplates are vinyl, polycarbonate, polyester, and metal. Rigid or flexible materials like polycarbonate, polyester and vinyl tend to offer cost-saving alternatives compared to expensive metal nameplates.

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Polycarbonate is an excellent choice for nearly all environments and applications. This material is known for its durability and versatility in a wide range of surface applications, clarity and legibility. Polycarbonate also offers excellent resistance to stains, moisture, heat, UV Rays, abrasion, and corrosive chemicals. Polycarbonates are often used for overlays, embossed keypads, dead-front panels, caution and warning labels, nameplates and decorative trim.

Polyester can be an exceptional choice for resistance to high temperatures up to 300°F (148°C)  and outdoor exposure, offering other properties such as resistance to abrasion and scratches, as well as chemicals and corrosives. Polyester is excellent for keypads and switches requiring constant flexing, pushing and dimensional stability. Polyester is often found on keypads, overlays, serial tags, LED panels, caution and warning panels, clear window and double-sided decals. Vinyl Overlay

Vinyl is an effective and affordable material that can provide a more economical solution than polyester or polycarbonate. A vinyl material can provide the desired finished look for your product while offering moderate weather, chemical, moisture and abrasion resistance for your equipment labels. Vinyl overlays are usually top surface printed and can be combined with other over-laminates and clear coats to help increase the product’s durability. Vinyl is a good material choice for caution and warning signs, logos and product identification labels.

Metal: Metal can be a very durable material choice, but can be quite costly when compared to durable plastic alternatives. Metals are available with and without adhesive. Like polyesters, metals can withstand excessive heat and are commonly used for nameplates, serial tags and product identification, however they are susceptible to rust and sometimes fading.  

Choosing the right features will give your equipment a more polished look as well as extended functionality. Do you need raised buttons or membrane switches for a control panel or perhaps embossing? A backlit display could be an appropriate option if your equipment will be used in low light. Whatever your needs are, select the features that will meet or exceed your expectations.

Due to the growing demand of high-quality professional equipment, making sure to get the most out of your equipment labels is essential. There are so many ways you can enhance the look, feel, and functionality of your products. As experts at designing high-impact product identification, we're in business to help our customers gain a significant edge with innovative markings. We strive to create excellent designs which visually convey quality, value, function and beauty. In order to make the right decision for your company, weigh all of your available options, and choose the one that's right for you!

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Tags: Original Equipment Manufacturing

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Visual Marking Systems is a leader in the customized digital, screen and large format commercial printing industry.

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