Permark manufacture Graphic overlays and fascia panels used on products to communicate information and act as an interface to control machines and equipment.
Graphic Overlays are reverse printed by screenprinting or digital print, so the plastic panel protects the printed ink. Graphic overlays and fascias can have embossed buttons, clear LCD windows and LED windows printed with transparent tints. The below example is a graphic overlay with a window cutout rather than a clear printed window. The overlay is screen printed and has knifed adhesive backing applied for adhering to the front case of a plastic housing.
With the right material selection, graphic overlays can be very durable and resistant to abrasion, UV exposure and cleaning chemicals. Materials are available that pass specific fire retardant ratings. Most graphic overlays also have an adhesive backing, which is die cut and applied to the rear of the panels to provide adhesive free areas where buttons and windows are required.
Graphic Overlay Applications
There are many examples of graphic overlays, decals and labels used for all sorts of brand identification, communication or control of products.
Decorating Plastic Overlays – Printing & Embossing
Depending on the material selected, Permark use either conventional solvent based inks, or more commonly UV cured inks, which are screen printed or digital printed onto plastic film. Materials include Polyesters, Poly carbonate, Acrylic, PVC, Polypropylene, and many plastics.
Screen printed or digital printed, the material usually starts out as a clear film, with the image then printed in reverse onto the second surface of the film. So in normal use, the image is viewed through the plastic overlay. This means the printed ink is impervious to scratching because it is on the underside of the film.
Films are available in a number of different surface finishes, and again depending on selection could be a matt, velvet, or gloss surface, on one side, and a different finish on the reverse side. A gloss / velvet film for example refers to one side being gloss, the other side being velvet in finish. The choice of surface finish will depend on the function and appearance required in the end product.
For some applications Permark employ special inks, for example inks that withstand high temperatures, and FDA approved inks for use on products that come into contact with food.
For screenprinted products, an unlimited number of colours can be screen printed. Colour matching to PMS, RAL or to supplied colour samples is normal practice and ensures branding and corporate colours are printed correctly every time.
Permark offer hot and cold embossing of plastic films, and are the only manufacturer in Australasia to use a Projecon embossing machine – a hot embossing process that gently forms buttons and shapes without stressing the material, resulting in embossed buttons with superior life. Embossing of buttons provides a tactile feel and feedback when pressed. The embossing process can also be used to make braille panels. Logo’s can be embossed to give a 3D effect.
Material Selection for Graphic Overlays
Materials are selected to withstand the environment they will be subjected to. A control panel that is going to be installed in a boat will need to have high resistance to UV from the sun. A graphic overlay used on a farm milking machine that is subjected to harsh cleaning chemicals will need to be resistant to them. Films can be scratch resistant, UV tolerant, fire retardant, and chemically resistant.
A large range of plastic film for printing, including hard coated poly carbonates and polyesters are available in thicknesses from 120 microns through to 2mm or more. Some graphic overlays are constructed with as many as 6 layers of film, all of varying materials and thicknesses which are then laminated to form the finished panel.
Shapes & Sizes
Graphic panels can be cut to any size or shape required using a platen press or for small prototype runs, may be laser cut. Overlays that fit into a recessed molding will usually have a blanking positive made first to ensure the production parts will fit perfectly.
Methods of Application
Graphic overlays are usually adhered using double sided adhesives. A large range of specialty adhesives are available which are designed to permanently adhere to both high and low surface energy materials such as polypropylene and powder coated metal.