Manufacturing Custom Graphic Overlays

What are Graphic Overlays?

Graphic overlays are a thin film user interface technology. Symbols and artwork are printed on plastic films such as polycarbonate and polyester. The decorated plastic is overlaid on top of human machine interface electronics. The graphic overlay shows the end user how to use the device. Printed logos communicate who manufactured the equipment. A graphic overlay is the main touch point for many devices. A custom graphic overlay can be the difference between a successful product, and a product that is poorly received by the market.

Advantages of Digitally Printed Overlays

Custom Graphic Overlays

Digital printing is an excellent manufacturing technique for complex designs with gradient effects, large numbers of colors, or small production volumes. It is also a great method to produce a graphic overlay prototype without investing in significant tooling or set up costs. We use digital printing to make custom graphic overlays and labels on substrates such as polycarbonate and PET. Our digitally printed products are used by OEMs in the medical industry, laboratory equipment manufacturers, and custom control panel designers. We can produce custom graphic overlays as large as 22″ x 48″ with digital printing techniques. Call us for rapid prototyping of digitally printed overlays.

Advantages of Screen Printed Custom Graphic Overlays

Auto Press Screen Printer
Automatic Screen Printing Equipment

Screen printing is the most economical method to produce large quantities of custom graphic overlays and labels on polycarbonate (Lexan) or PET substrates. Screen printed graphic overlays are very high quality and very durable. However, there are more initial costs involved with screen printing when compared to digital printing. Each color in the print will require its own unique screen and screen positive. Every color will also require a set-up at the time of print, and a color matching.

Because of the increased set up costs, screen printing will generally be less economical than digital printing if your production volumes are below 100 units. The exact point where screen printing becomes more economical than digital printing depends on the size, complexity, and number of colors that are required for your label or overlay. Contact us if you have questions about whether your graphic overlay is better designed as a screen printed product or as a digitally printed product.

Mounting Adhesives for Custom Graphic Overlays

Mounting Adhesive

Almost all of our customers request amounting adhesive. Mounting adhesives are laminated to the back of your graphic overlay. This makes it easy to apply your graphic to your equipment. You never want adhesive under a window, switch key, or LED icon. That is why we use laser and die cutting to selectively cut the adhesives before laminating the adhesives to the graphic overlays.

Selecting an adhesive for your custom label or graphic overlay is a very important step. At Almax-RP we always use 3M adhesives because of their reputation for quality and reliability. To select the correct 3M adhesive we will need to know a few details about the surface the label will be applied to. Is the surface textured or smooth? Is it a plastic surface, bare aluminum, or a powder coated metal? Once we know all the details about the surface your graphic overlay will be applied to, we can recommend a suitable adhesive for the application.

Art Work Submission

Preferred artwork formats are AI and PDF.  Please send a drawing for us to give you a same-day quote. DXF drawings can be used to produce vector artwork as well.  If you do not have vector art work available, then don’t worry! Almax-RP can produce vector artwork for you at a competitive rate. This saves you the trouble of finding an outside graphic designer to make your ready-to-print artwork. Now that you understand the process, the next step is to get in touch with us! Send your drawings to, call (520) 647-0190, or use our contact form. We look forward to working with you.