Enhance the usability and durability of your product with a graphic overlay

19th May 2015 - Fine Cut

Graphic overlays are custom-made, high quality front panels that can be used as the top layer of a keypad on any number of products. 

They are popular because they are durable due to the fact the printing takes place on the underside, so it won't wear out through cleaning or overuse. This makes them ideal for items such as remote controls, which are used on a frequent basis. 

Each graphic overlay is completely bespoke and can therefore be produced to match a client's exact requirements.  

They can also be turned around quickly, with short lead times, which is an asset that is vital in today's competitive business environment. 

Graphic overlays are made from robust materials, so they are able to handle processes such as key and feature embossing and die cut apertures. They are designed to withstand damage from chemicals and water making them ideal for medical devices that may come into contact with harsh substances. Anti-glare properties can also be added to them. 

Coloured filter windows can be used on graphic overlays, as can surface varnish and selective texture if the client requires it. 

Depending on the mounting application, a suitable adhesive will be chosen to match the client's requirements. 

They can be applied to a whole host of products and make many household appliances easier to use - and simpler and cheaper to manufacture - than ever before. 

But if you are unsure about how graphic overlays could be used on your products, the following is a guide to some of the appliances that have benefited most from graphic overlays. 

Microwave ovens 

In the past, manufacturers resorted to producing keypads for microwave ovens that used individual buttons. Each of these had to be made separately, with defined labelling or engraving to denote what they did. 

This did not stop the microwave from being deemed a truly great innovation, but the process that went into creating these complicated components was time-consuming and expensive. 

Nowadays, it is a very different process. Graphic overlays can be applied to a single panel, which is programmed to perform different functions when various parts of its surface area are touched by the user. The graphic overlay provides a visual guide, indicating to them the function of each 'button' - although this is a slightly misleading term, as they are not separate components. It provides a much more efficient, cost-effective way of producing a control panel. 

They are ideal for use on microwaves, as the reverse printing method used to produce them means they can be wiped clean and are protected from accidental damage. 

TV remote controls 

They are now so ubiquitous that it is hard to remember when we were without them, but TV remote controls have become more detailed and sophisticated as the technology used to produce them has developed. 

Hard-wearing graphic overlays are ideal to use on remote controls as the buttons on them are pressed so often. With a graphic overlay the instructions and functions won't wear out. 

Because graphic overlays for TV remote controls need to be hard-wearing, they are made using tough materials such as polycarbonate that is stain, abrasion and wear resistant. 

Surface mount LEDs can be added to a graphic overlay for companies that want their remote controls to have buttons that light up when pressed. 

Fitness equipment 

Equipment such as treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines and stair climbers often have graphic overlay panels. 

They can be personalised with slogans, gym logos and company colours, so provide a great way to brand apparatus. 

Hard-wearing graphic overlays mean the keypads on this type of equipment will not be damaged by sweat. They will be water and chemical resistant, so they will be long-lasting and can be cleaned regularly without fear of damage. 

To find out more about the extensive graphic overlay products offered by Fine Cut, call now on 01903 751666.

Simon Tourle

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