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What is Polyurethane and How Does It Help Me?

We live in a 3-dimensional world which is why 3-dimensional parts always look more natural compared to 2-dimensional ones. When it comes to labels, artwork, or parts, doming adds that 3-dimensional “pop” that enhances the look of the product and adds value, while providing protection and durability.

There are three types of resins that can be used in the doming process today. They are epoxy, UV-curable resin, and polyurethane. Many years ago, epoxy was used in the doming process. While simple and easy, doming with epoxy did not offer the domed material more than just a few months of quality in the light before the product turned yellow.

The next generation material of two-part polyurethane changed the doming process and the technique was used to create differentiated nameplates for well-known household brands such as Westinghouse, General Electric, and Ford Motor Company. The use of two-part polyurethane, however, became more complex as clean rooms that were temperature- and humidity-controlled were required. Furthermore, special equipment became necessary to mix and automate the dispensing of the resin on the parts.

The type of resin used in doming is critical because of the factors that affect the performance of the resin over time. These factors include humidity levels, as well as the printing process used on the label. A typical high-end resin formulation would have hydrophobic properties to repel moisture, a non-yellowing characteristic, and provide an extremely clear view. Today, only 100% pure polyurethane resin is approved for virtually all industry specifications. Other types of resins do not have the durability necessary, have a tendency to discolor over time, or both.

In addition to being UV resistant, resins can be mercury-free and instantly cure when passed through a UV tunnel. This essentially eliminates the need for domed labels to go through the process of heat curing on level racks which, in turn, removes the risk of dust contamination.

Doming technology continues to evolve from being a clear, protective, 3-dimensional lens into an effective marketing tool. Companies, for instance, are incorporating doming into a range of products and platforms such as greeting cards, book covers, consumer packaging, and even point-of-sale retail displays. Parts of a store signage, for instance, can be highlighted to hold a customer or prospect’s eyes longer. A company logo, or key marketing message, can be domed to make it stand out and generate greater impact.

The range of applications is limitless: Doming technology can be used in directional signs, electronic key pads, license plates, house numbers, business signage, buttons on household appliances, retail gift cards, jewelry, clothes hangers, direct mail pieces, and more. The possibilities are virtually endless.