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Backlit Graphic Overlay Development


Last updated Dec 21, 2023 | Published on Jun 12, 2017

There are many different ways that backlighting can add visual contrast and style to graphic overlays.

Backlit graphic overlays have quickly become popular options within the automotive and eMobility industries. Backlit graphic overlays within your vehicle can add a dramatic visual effect or distinctive style to the interior. Applying the correct backlighting technologies to a graphic overlay ensures the illumination of the graphics and icons meet their design intent even in low-light conditions. Typical examples of backlit graphics overlay applications within in the automotive industry include PRNDLs, the instrument cluster, or components surrounding a display.

What factors go into designing a backlit graphic overlay?

When approaching a backlit graphic overlay project, it is instrumental to define the light transmission values required on all areas of the part and the corresponding color requirements for the inks used. First, you have to determine which backlighting technique works best with your application. Once you have selected the desired backlighting, a spectroradiometer is used to measure the light value that the light engine emits across the part in question, taking into consideration the size of the part, thickness, and clarity of the material through which the light passes. This is a significant step, because every light engine varies depending on the construction and which backlighting technology is used.

After the light emission is measured, an ink is developed to achieve the correct color and opacity/transparency. The inks are screen or digitally printed and can be applied to materials as thin as 0.127mm (0.005″) and as thick as 3mm (0.120″) and on substrates that are flat or have a compound radius. Common materials for graphic overlays on include polyester, polycarbonate, glass, or acrylic. It is important that this aspect of the process is handled with precision, so that when the light engine is engaged, it achieves the desired light color and emission value.

At Boyd, our comprehensive in-house capabilities allow us to cover everything required to execute a backlit graphic overlay construction, from ink development and deposition, to supporting backlighting technologies from conception through full assembly. Our industry-leading breadth of backlighting technology offerings allow you to choose the lighting that is best suited for your application, including LEDs, light guide film, electroluminescence, fiber optics, or any combination. We can measure every backlit graphic overlay produced to ensure it conforms to the required light emission values, at either single or multiple points of reference. Our in-house chemists can formulate custom inks (conventional or UV) to ensure that the emission color and values are properly attained throughout production.

If you would like to know more about our backlit overlay capabilities, visit our website or schedule a consultation with our experts.

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