At ALMAX, we employ the latest printing, illumination, and tactile technologies so you can design the unique, cost effective, high-quality graphic overlays your products deserve.
Graphic overlay quality is our top priority, and ALMAX ensures this by owning, operating and certifying our manufacturing facilities so you know exactly who is building your graphic overlay.
The benefits of using ALMAX-made Graphic Overlays.
Graphic overlays communicate your product’s quality and unique value. It’s the most visual component of any product design, sending a message about your company every time your customers use it. As the outermost layer of the keypad, it displays the cosmetic portion of the assembly such as color, text display windows, key functions, etc. Overlays act as intermediary between user and machine by depicting functions, with no conductive traces or circuitry.
Design flexibility increases if the overlay is designed and manufactured as a fully integrated user interface. Graphic overlays can be combined with switch and touchscreen technologies. With integration, graphic overlays can be backlit, embossed, or texturized to increase the usability and unique aesthetics of your interface device.
An overlay used in combination with our circuits allows you to componentize the interface, making it easy to create many different final looks from the same electronic interface unit.
Material selection for the overlay is important to ensure your final electronic interface will perform in its intended environment. Specific material categories such as antimicrobial materials, chemical resistant materials, heat resistant materials, UV resistant materials and moisture resistant materials are all available for your engineering needs. Screen printed graphic overlays can be created with translucent windows and backlit to make the interface suitable for low-light environments.
Whether you have an entire production run or a single batch, our graphic overlay solutions can be manufactured to meet your requirements. We offer the following types of overlays:
Polyester is the most common choice for an overlay material as the flex life when actuating a switch is much greater. In addition, polyester is resistant to chemicals, acids, solvents, and scratches. It is also tougher, more durable, and available with additional hard coatings for increased durability. If you need the strongest most resilient substrate for a graphic overlay, then polyester is the way to go.
Silicone Rubber keypads are used often in consumer and industrial electronic products due to its low cost and reliability. Using the compression molding properties of silicone rubber to which upon depression of the switch the webbing uniformly deforms to produce a tactile response. When pressure is removed from the switch the webbing returns to its neutral position with positive feedback.
Acrylic (or PMMA – Polymethyl Methacrylate) is a rigid and transparent material that is often used as an alternative to using glass as it is often cheaper and slightly more flexible. It can be printed on the front or backside to change its color and add graphics or instructional information. Acrylic is often used as an overlay with cutouts for rubber switches or without cutouts for capacitive sensing applications.
ALMAX manufactures metal overlays that are designed for rugged environments. The metal unit can be sealed against contamination including dust, water, sea water and oils. It also provides resistance against detergents and chemicals. What metal is used will determine what it the keypad will be resistant to.
Tempered glass is glass that is thermally and/or chemically treated which results in increased material strength. The dielectric constant of glass is higher than that of polyester, polycarbonate, and acrylic, thus allowing for higher key sensitivity for capacitive sensing applications. The abrasion resistance of tempered glass is also superior to many other material options.
In-Mold Decoration (IMD) is a process where a graphic overlay is physically fused to injection molded plastic to form one piece. It is a plastic decorating method that ensures the durability of the graphic overlays and allows for multiple design options for the overlays. Molten resin is injected either in front or behind the graphic overlay to form a bond between the two. Unlike pad printing, screen printing, or hot stamping – where inks and overlays are exposed to the user that can deteriorate over time – IMD parts have a layer of plastic that encapsulates the ink, protecting it from users and the outside environment.
Additional Materials, features and options are available for use on overlays, and more information can be found by contacting ALMAX directly. In addition, various functional textures can be added onto an overlay material to give it a desired look and feel for the end user.
Printed graphic overlays are the top decorative and protective layer of Keypads. Full color graphic overlays provide the highest quality inked visual interface.The four ink printing process reproduces colors at photographic quality capable of full spectrum of gradients and half-tones. Ink is deposited on the bottom side of either PET or polycarbonate materials making full color graphic overlays that are impervious to touch, cannot be scratched off, and depending upon materials used, will not fade over time. Full color graphic overlays are either screen printed or digitally printed.
Full color screen printed graphic overlays can provide a truly vibrant interface. Full color screen printed graphic overlays can be combined with lighting effects or embossing to create a unique, high-end full sensory interface experience.
Color graphics, text, and patterns can be added to the bottom side of PET and polycarbonate materials so your electronic interface delivers a rich visual experience from the first touch to the last. Screen printed graphic overlays are impervious to touch, cannot be scratched off, and depending upon materials used, will not fade over time. Screen-printed graphic overlays have full rich colors and inks that can be mixed giving you a virtually unlimited pallet. Metallic inks are available so you can create high-end looks such as brushed stainless steel at a much lower cost than our true metal touch key caps.
Full color digitally printed graphic overlays can achieve photo-realistic images. Multi-color complex graphics can be reproduced with tight precision even across full-scale production runs.
Digitally printed graphic overlays combine well with lighting effects to create a stunning visual interface experience. Full color digitally printed graphics typically contain image detail too fine to combine well with embossing, so they are not a good choice if dimensional touch is desired in your interface design.
ALMAX provides top tier manufacturing for a complete array of graphic overlay technologies. From concept design to volume manufacturing, our partners entrust their custom graphic overlay needs to our engineering and manufacturing teams. Our core competency resides in solving human interface challenges, and we recognized early on that of the many issues surrounding how graphic overlays were manufactured, the only proper solution for graphic overlay innovation to flourish required quality control across the entire graphic overlay manufacturing process.
Within two decades, we have expanded our operations to own three manufacturing facilities, including a domestic prototype facility, and two off-shore manufacturing plants providing high volume production capabilities. ALMAX has the capacity to offer our clients exquisite, high-quality, high-functionality graphic overlays due to our portfolio of facilities, processes and expert engineering for a plethora of industries.
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