With all the options available, there’s a lot to keep in mind when selecting materials for OEM graphics and overlays for your industrial equipment. Whether you’re a food processing equipment manufacturer, electronics designer, producer of components for the HVAC industry or medical devices, it is more important than ever for your products to visually stand out among your competition. One way to enhance your product is to add customized graphics. As a supplier of pressure sensitive labels, decals, nameplates, overlays, embossed keypads, and roll labels, we’ve been a leader in the graphic design and printing industry for more than 50 years, and we’re happy to share some insight into what materials and features will work best for your equipment decals.
There is much 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 questions to consider before you choose the material that best fits your needs.
Consider these questions to start the material-selection process.
- Applications and environments: Will your product be exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures or abrasion? How about moisture or cleaners, sanitizers and other chemicals? In what environments will your product be used?
- Product features and lifecycle: What is your product made of? Does it have highly irregular surfaces, flat surfaces or both? What's its projected lifecycle?
- Cost: What is your overall budget?
The most common materials used for industrial overlays and OEM decals are vinyl, polycarbonate, polyester, and metal. Rigid or flexible materials like polycarbonate, polyester and vinyl tend to offer cost-saving alternatives compared to more expensive metal options.
Performance qualities: 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.
Common Applications: Polycarbonate is often used for overlays, embossed keypads, dead-front panels, caution and warning labels, nameplates and decorative trim.
Performance qualities: 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.
Common Applications: Polyester is often found on keypads, overlays, serial tags, LED panels, caution and warning panels, clear window and double-sided decals.
Performance qualities: 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.
Common Applications: Vinyl is a good material choice for caution and warning signs, logos and product identification labels.
Performance qualities: 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, they can withstand excessive heat, however they’re susceptible to rust and sometimes fading.
Common Applications: Metal is commonly used for nameplates, serial tags and product identification.
Trust the Industry Experts
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!