What Is The Purpose Of Graphic Overlays?

Almost every type of electrical product has a user interface with buttons, dials, joysticks, toggles, and more. While these additions help the user control the device, they’re no good without a graphic overlay.

A graphic overlay is one of the most integral parts of an electrical product. They’re thin, durable graphic surfaces that function as the top layer of the product and help users identify the buttons they’re pressing. While they mainly serve the purpose of providing a user-friendly experience, they can also provide other advantages. 

We’ll be going over the numerous purposes of using a graphic overlay.

What Are Graphic Overlays?

As mentioned above, a graphic overlay is a thin film printed over the top of a product. They can often be decorative or provide a sense of functionality to the product. Users can easily access the control panel with the help of an overlay, as it indicates what buttons do what. In addition, they can also promote a company’s brand or logo.

Their multi-purpose functionalities make them a popular choice for numerous industries. Graphic overlays with General Label have been implemented across many fields, such as construction, fitness, healthcare, business, electronics, and so on. 

What Purposes Do They Serve?

Design and functionality aside, graphic overlays can serve an array of purposes that increase the attractiveness of your product. 

Promote Safety & Clear Instructions 

Graphic overlays are a helpful visual representation for interface panels and switches. Not only do they allow users to interact with the device, but they can also provide detailed safety features and clear instructions. 

For example, graphic overlays can indicate emergency stop buttons by printing the words above the button. The overlay can identify which button to press when you need to turn the device on or off. Furthermore, you can print safety warnings and instructions to ensure users interact with the device correctly. 

Protection From Moisture & Debris 

The film from a graphic overlay is typically made from polycarbonate and polyester materials.  An adhesive creates a barrier between the inner and outer functions of the device. This barrier protects the inner electrical components from forces such as rain, chemicals, heat, and more. 

All switches, dials, and joysticks must be cut properly to ensure the seal does its job. A cut that’s too small would result in the inner parts not fitting with the overlay. The tight fit may cause the overlay to bubble, rip, or delaminate over time. If the cut is too large, it could open the overlay to moisture and debris, resulting in a faulty working device. 

Promote Brand Awareness

A graphic overlay is a perfect place to show off your brand logo without the cost of additional graphics or decals. By using your brand colors and fonts across the overlay, your products will become more easily recognizable among customers and users. It puts your brand and name in the face of anyone that interacts with the device. 

Prolong Switch Actuation Life

Most graphic overlays have a membrane or mechanical switch underneath them within the unit. It’s not impossible for the overlay to open up to the outside world. Exposure to the elements or dust and debris can decrease the device’s functionality. The overlay prevents switches and buttons from being pressed accidentally, pressed too far, or broken off, and increases the device’s lifespan.  

Dead Fronting 

Dead fronting refers to the event when an icon on a control panel is dead or hidden from normal view. The icon only arises when there’s an alert or problem regarding your device. Let’s look at a vehicle for example. When the “low tire pressure” alert comes on, it’s telling the driver to check on the tires as it detects an inconsistency. 

The inclusion of dead fronting can be made possible through a graphic overlay. You can also customize the graphic overlay to the level of dead fronting you want, depending on how hidden you’d like the icons to be. 


Anyone using a control panel without backlighting knows how difficult it can be to see the buttons or switches, especially when in darker environments. Backlighting through a graphic overlay can illuminate specific icons to make them more visible to the user. Most backlighting features are made possible through LED lights. The lighting can help users identify specific buttons, such as an off/on function or a set of numbered buttons. 

Graphic overlays are an essential aspect of the electronic world. They’re practical and helpful, and they look fantastic. If you’re looking to improve your control panels and products, you may consider implementing a graphic overlay to boost your product’s user-friendliness. 

David Huner
David Huner
David Huner is a tech lover. After completing his graduation from the University Of Phoenix, he started gather his knowledge mostly on latest technologies that keeps his life smart and cool. Now he wants to spread his knowledge with people who loves technologies.

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