Graphic Overlays with JN White®
Graphic overlays, faceplates, dead front panels, and functional user interface panels are common terms used to describe the same product.
Prioritizing Durability & Design
Besides being the surface interface between your product and its user, graphic overlays protect the membrane switch underneath, and are often subject to harsh environments and/or chemicals. This means your overlay requires careful consideration of material and adhesive properties.
They are often made from polycarbonate or polyester, and may include embossed buttons, integrated display windows, integrated shielding, and brand elements including color and graphics.
These all contribute to the user experience with the membrane switch, product, and brand.
At JN White®, we customize every overlay to operate reliably under any condition, including: extreme temperature, exposure to dirt, sand, dust and debris, humidity/water, UV rays, chemicals, and more.
Design Your Own Graphic Overlay
Manufacturing Your Custom Graphic Overlay
There are a number of elements to consider when fabricating your graphic overlay. We are here to help you make the best decisions for your application.
The two most common base substrates for custom control panels are polyester and polycarbonate. Polyester materials are incredibly durable, while polycarbonate materials are more workable for processes such as die cutting, embossing, and other physical effects. JN White® also utilizes blended substrates that offer the best properties of both polyester and polycarbonate.
Customizing Your Graphic Overlay Size, Thickness and Placement
It’s important to know if there is a required overlay size and where it will be placed on the product’s housing. If the graphic overlay will sit within a cavity and needs to lay flush to the housing, thickness is incredibly important. JN White® customizes graphic overlays and dead front displays to any size or shape.
Outstanding Color Control and Exact Graphic Matching
Depending on your product, it may be important that your product’s overlay match your brand colors. We can match to a color swatch, a Pantone chip, to your bezel or housing, or other brand elements, and we ensure the results with our calibrated light booth and digital densitometers. We also feature the latest digital printing technologies, allowing you to specify virtually any type of background pattern or look that you are trying to achieve. If you can think it, we can print it!
Embossing can dramatically enhance the look and functionality of your graphic overlay, providing a more tactile and responsive user experience. This may be extremely important in certain work environments and can also have implications on the best material to use for a particular graphic overlay. We have the in-house expertise needed to execute pillow, rim, and dome embossing. Plus, we can emboss logos, multi-level shapes, and other unique dimensional elements.
Gaskets, Lenses and Windows
No matter what you need in a window or lens, JN White® specializes in sourcing unique materials to deliver an optically clear final product. And as a 3M preferred converter, we have the ability to laser cut high-end materials to fit any tolerance. From military products that require anti-reflective surfaces to keep the sun out of soldiers’ eyes to dermatology lenses used to detect the presence of cancer, we find the exact mix of substrates, films and colors to function flawlessly in any environment.
Different surface materials have different bonding properties, making it important to know the specifications of your project’s housing to determine the most suitable adhesive. Characteristics to consider include surface energy, metal or plastic, smooth or textured, curved or flat, and if there is a powder coating, which is common on painted housings. We have the knowledge and skills on staff to help you to determine the best adhesive solutions.
By selecting appropriate materials and surface treatments, we help our customers create truly custom user experiences with unique textures and finishes. Whether smooth or textured, matte or glossy, we’ll work hand-in-hand to ensure your product’s finish look exactly how you want it to.
Surface Affection Testing
Surface affection testing relates to whether a label’s surface withstands scratching, chemicals, or other abrasive materials. JN White® performs surface affection testing for all required products, including First Article Inspections (FAIs).
Dead Front Panels
The term dead fronting is used to describe an icon on a graphic overlay that is typically hidden but becomes visible once backlit. Dead front panels are popular in car dashboards (instrumentation cluster) and consumer appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers. JN White® has the capabilities to dead front onto a black or white background with near perfect color precision, including no color shadows, bleeding, or trapping. Read About Dead Front Panels >
Request a Sample Pack
We know that you might want to feel and interact with our work before committing to a project with us, which is why we’ve put together a variety of samples to send to you, free of charge.
Read More on Manufacturing Graphic Overlays
Choosing the Right Features for Your Graphic Overlay
At its most basic, a graphic overlay is the top layer of a user interface panel. But more importantly – and more meaningfully to engineers and brand owners – it is the interface between your customer and the machine.
Why I Love Graphic Overlays (and You Should Too)
Let me start with how I define a graphic overlay. At its essence, it is a printed plastic material. First, we start with a clear material – typically a polycarbonate or polyester. Then we print on the backside (sub-surface).
Custom Graphic Overlay Case Study
Marine Audio Sound System: Solved
JL Audio, a global electronics manufacturer, approached JN White® for assistance with an electronic graphic overlay solution. The customer needed a thermoformed part that would fit the customer’s housing and stay properly bonded. JN White® was able to engineer to the customer’s specifications a dome-shaped graphic overlay that successfully met all requirements. In addition, the custom adhesive solution proposed by JN White® successfully holds the overlay in place. The component is in use today on one of the customer’s premier marine audio systems.