Frequently Asked Questions

Tobbias Day’s Quality Management Corner

Tobbias Day, Director of Quality Management

An expert in industrial and fleet graphics, Tobbias is a frequent corporate trainer for graphics application strategies and efficiency techniques.

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Q: We are having an issue with the storage and theft of our smallest logo decals. Due to the small size of the decal and the large quantity in inventory, it appears there are plenty to take or use for personal use. Is there a packaging solution that could help circumvent this?

I would suggest that we produce these small decals on a sheet with each sheet containing either 50 or 100 decals, depending on the size of the logo. This will make storage tidier resulting in undamaged decals and should prevent the decals from being taken home due to the larger sheet size. It may also assist in inventory control as you are better able to determine how many decals you have in inventory based on remaining sheets.

Q: Are your standard decals suitable for permanent application to fabric material?

There are many different adhesives available for specialized applications such as fabric or other unique surfaces. We work closely with our material suppliers to establish the best solutions for meeting client requirements. There is a well-known vinyl material backed with specialized adhesive which is specifically designed for adhering to fabric or carpet surfaces. This material is readily available and could be used in creating your custom decal.

Q: The instrument panels on the dashboards of our equipment are currently built out of aluminum allowing for simple printed designs such as black graphics on a silver aluminum background.  We want an updated design but the printing restrictions of the aluminum plates are limiting. Is there an alternative solution available that would allow for a more modern look?

I would suggest a polycarbonate overlay. It is a strong, rigid, transparent plastic that can be cut to meet the knob and gauge cut-out requirements of your instrument panels and can also be screen printed with multi-colored designs including logos and other graphics to meet your needs for a more modern look.

Q: We order a set minimum quantity of a standard decal, which is used on multiple parts of our equipment, to fulfill our yearly supply. But the rolls it is produced on make it difficult for us to the distribute the decal throughout different dealer locations. Do you have any suggestions?

An experienced industrial graphics manufacturer can provide the decal individually or package it in specific bundles. At MUIR Omni Graphics we can also work with you to perform a Needs Analysis and identify an efficient quantity to run per sheet. The decals be “kiss cut” on each sheet for easier removal as well. We can also work with you on a direct ship program option where we inventory your product and ship it directly to your dealers on a pull-trigger system.

Q: We want to paint certain sections of our equipment a different color than that of its base but it would be cost prohibitive. Are there any decal options we can consider instead?

Using your Auto-Cad, Pro-Ed or similarly generated engineering drawings, a qualified industrial graphics supplier can provide custom color matched vinyl cut to fit the contours of your equipment. These cut sections can provide an alternative solution to additional paint work. If there are outdoor durability or abrasion concerns, your supplier can also recommend protective over-laminates that can meet your needs.

Q: We need to purchase a bulk order of small decals that can be easily, individually customized in-house. We’ve done this in the past using a typewriter but are looking for a more professional look on a decal with an industrial / durable construction.

I suggest using an adhesive backed aluminum foil material  designed for the screen printing process.

Your logo and information template can be screen printed onto the surface leaving space for the custom information to be added. The foil material accepts ink and is impressionable, so the information may be stamped, etched, or printed by the same typewriter method you have used in the past.  If you do plan to use a typewriter and the individual decals are small, I would recommend we design a layout of multiple decals on a sheet to assist with the typewriter “paper” feeding process.

Q: We need an oversized decal for the roof of our farm equipment. Are standard external films and decals suitable for this application? And, can you provide installation recommendations?

Yes, but I would recommend using a specified over-laminate film to increase the UV resistance of the decal. I’d also suggest splitting the decal into two or more sections, depending on the overall size. In the end, this will reduce waste by making the oversized decal into multiple smaller decals which can be more manageable during receiving, storage and installation.

Q: We need 2-sided signage that can be applied to a window and clearly read from both sides. But we have had some issues with this application in the past – being able to see a faint image of the message from the opposite side in the background of the viewing side. Do you have any solutions?

A Static Cling material can be an opacity solution as well as adhesive laminates that contain of layer of opaque polyester. We can create two identical decals that are sandwiched together using the laminating adhesive to completely solve the issue of visibility to the opposite side message.

Q: The aluminum nameplates that we currently rivet to our equipment are expensive compared to the adhesive backed decals that we use for our brand identity. What would I be sacrificing by exploring decal options to replace the current aluminum nameplates?

In the past aluminum plates were the “go-to” solution for high liability messages that needed to last the life of the equipment to which they were applied. Today’s advances in adhesives and UV inks for printing on decal substrates have become equivalent in their overall durability and message retention. Many applications would be suitable converted to an adhesive backed substrate designed for long life outdoor applications, such as polycarbonate with extra UV inhibitors. However, aluminum plates are a still a valid solution for some extremely harsh application environments like on the outside of Forestry equipment which can take quite a beating.

Q: The colors in our current vinyl decals are not matching the colors of our painted equipment. What options are there for making sure the colors are matched?

Color matching vinyl decals to a painted metal surface can offer many challenges, but there are options to review for the most efficient way to address the issue. A color matched vinyl is one option but usually incorporates high minimum material purchases. Some applications are better suited by a color matched ink. For consistency, we have a process for establishing color matches with our ink suppliers that incorporates identification of the specific substrate to be printed as well as a color chip of the intended match.

With either option, gloss levels can still pose a challenge. There are many over-laminate options that can be considered to further match paint gloss levels or textures.

Q: Our current decals are printed with high gloss levels in both the ink and the material itself. This created an undesired contrast with the matte finish on our painted equipment. How can we assure a more seamless look between the painted surfaces and our decals?

We would recommend specifying the decals be produced with a substrate that is more matte in appearance or requiring a matte over-laminate which would soften the appearance of the high gloss material and ink giving it a more matte finish.

Q: We need to apply decals to the inside walls of ceramic tile pools. Partially submerged, they will be exposed to standard pool water and chemicals as well as UV sunlight. Are there decals that can withstand these conditions?

MUIR Omni Graphics has decals with adhesives that will not be affected by the water or its chemicals as long as they are applied following proper surface preparation procedures. It is also recommended that the decals are applied to a dry, clean surface then allowed to dwell for at least 24 hours prior to any exposure to water. The decal’s surface would be protected with a UV resistant over-laminate.

Q: It is required that our engines are shipped with Declaration of Incorporation tags. Sometimes, during shipment, the tags become torn, wet, wrinkled, and are hard to read. Can you recommend a material or construction method that is more durable than the tag’s current bonded poly fiber material?

I would recommend using a tear-resistant polyester. It is much more durable and rigid than the fiber based material you are currently specifying.

Q: There is a thin strip of material that is creasing in-between two cut-outs on one of our polycarbonate control panels. Why is this happening and how can it be prevented?

The area with the crease is called the bridge area. More than likely, the polycarbonate material thickness is too thick for the cut pattern. The nature of the die cutting process causes lateral pressure that will lead to impacted stress in the thin bridge area inevitably creating somewhat of a crease. If the strip between the cut-outs is unable to be increased in size, then I suggest the part undergo an Engineering Change that would require a thinner material that should dramatically decrease the lateral pressure that is causing the issue.

Q: We are considering having specific panel sections, of our equipment, be painted a different color than the base color of the equipment body. But the internal costs associated with an additional paint coating are prohibitive. Are there any decal options that may benefit our situation?

We can provide a custom color matched vinyl that can be cut to fit the contours of your equipment, using engineering drawings generated by Auto-Cad and Pro-E. If there are outdoor weatherability or abrasion issues to consider, we may also offer a protective over-laminate.

Q: We require a decal with UV protection that also has a writable surface. We currently use a polyester over-laminate, which gives us UV protection, but it covers the entire decal preventing the adhesion of permanent marker ink. Is it possible to UV protect a decal while still being able to write on certain areas?

Yes. Muir Omni Graphics offers a UV resistant, screen printed clear coat that acts as laminate and can accommodate your need to have certain areas of the decal be writeable.

Q: For years we have had a material specification for our decal products that requires a specific approved brand name substrate be used. Recently, we were informed that the particular substrate would soon become obsolete. Do we have any other options?

There are many alternative equivalents on the market today that perform just as well or even better in certain applications. So we will work closely with our materials supplier, to understand the physical properties of your previous substrate, and with you to understand the substrates intended application in an effort to recommend an apropriate alternative.

Q: We need to label our driving cylinders with important safety information. And the decals must remain completely intact when regularly submerged underwater. What decal material would you recommend for this application?

Polyester is recommended for this application. Muir’s standard polyester has been tested in many conditions including underwater applications. We recommend that you specify an ink receptive polyester base material, to print the safety information on, and then coat the decal with a polyester over-laminate material.

Q: We are having issues with the edges of decals curling up after application. Application is occurring inside at room temperature with the equipment being moved, to Zero°F of sub-zero temperatures, outside afterwards. Can you help us?

I’ll need to know more about the specific decal substrate, adhesive and surface to make a precise recommendation. In the meantime, please ensure that you are following Application Instructions which include temperature guidelines and the dwell times that are required for adhesives to reach their maximum bond. If this issue still isn’t resolved, as a value added service, Muir Omni Graphics provides in-house testing to reproduce specific issues and indentify optimal application criteria.

Q: What type of decal can with-stand temperatures of over 200°F? We want to apply it to an engine surface.

Vinyl has a service temperature of 176°F, but its typically over-laminated with PET (Polyethylene
Terephthalate) which carries a service temperature of up to 225°F. For the best heat resistant decal material, I recommend polyester which has a service temperature of up to 302°F.

Q: What material would you recommend for applying on curved areas with low surface energy?

I would recommend Vinyl because it is a flexible plastic that is great for curved surfaces and it forms over minor surface irregularities. Depending on the application, there are various pressure sensitive adhesive options including those designed for low surface energy. Be sure to specify the low surface energy adhesive requirement on the engineering drawing.

Q: Is it possible to have a specific symbol on a polycarbonate overlay appear only when illuminated from behind?

Yes. We offer an application called dead front which allows a transparent color to appear black when not backlit, but would exhibit color when light is transmitted from behind. On the engineering drawing, the level of transparency can be indicated by identifying the percentage of dead front required. For example: Transparent Red Symbol, 85% Dead Front 15% Clear

Q: We have a photo shoot coming up and need corporate identity decals that can be temporarily applied to equipment and then easily removed. Can you suggest any decal prototypes?

We offer a variety of solutions for prototype decals that can be removed with very little effort. If your application surface is made of magnetic attracting metal, we offer a magnetic substrate that allows for simple removal and re-use of the decal. If your application surface is not magnet attracting or has contours that can keep magnetic decals from holding, we offer removeable vinyl that is specifically designed with adhesive to hold a decal in place, but can be easily removed with no effect to the application surface. Static cling is also an option for window or mirror applications.

Q: We have a polycarbonate decal with specialty formatted adhesive for Low Surface Energy that is being applied to a shunt tank surface constructed of polypropylene. The adhesive seems to perform well under normal conditions, but the shunt tank is subjected to pressure tests of extreme heat and cooling conditions which are causing the decal to lose adhesion, and by the end of the testing period, the decals are peeling off. Can you recommend another decal solution that will perform well under normal conditions and will also withstand our pressure testing?

The Low Surface Energy adhesive is the best choice for such surfaces as polypropylene, however, the polycarbonate base material is not pliable enough to handle the contracting and expanding that would be associated with the pressure tests you are describing. A vinyl substrate would be more pliable and move with the expanding and contracting of the shunt tank polypropylene and are also available with Low Surface Energy adhesive options.

Q: We have a decal that is printed with a phone number that is no longer valid. Instead of scrapping our current inventory, can we cover up the existing phone number with the new phone number?

We have specific vinyl products that would ensure the previous printing would be blocked out by the new decal patch. To identify this on the engineering drawing, simply note that the decal requires a completely opaque vinyl material requirement.