Developing backlit graphic overlay solutions

Backlit graphic overlay for a PRNDL.

Backlit graphic overlays have become one of GMN Automotive’s core competencies. The utilization of backlit graphic overlays within your vehicle can add a dramatic visual effect or distinctive style to the interior environment. 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 the PRNDL or the instrument cluster. 

When approaching a backlit graphic overlay project, it is instrumental to define the light transmission value(s) required on all areas of the part and the corresponding color requirements for the inks used. First, you have to determine which light engine would work best with your application. Once you have selected the desired light engine, 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 is to pass. This is a significant step because every light engine varies depending on the light engine construction (which backlighting technology is used).

After the light emission is measured, the ink can be developed to achieve the correct color and opacity/transparency. The inks are screen printed and can be applied to materials as thin as .127mm/.005” and as thick as 3MM/.120,” and on substrates that are flat or have a compound radii. Common materials graphic overlays are printed on include polyester, polycarbonate, or acrylic. It is important that this aspect of the process is handled with precision so that when the light engine is engaged, the desired light color and emission value is achieved.

At GMN Automotive, 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 light engine solutions from conception through full assembly.  Our industry-leading breadth of backlighting technology offerings allow you  to choose the backlight technology that is best suited for your application, including LEDs, light guide film, clad flat fiber, and more. Furthermore, 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. In addition, our in-house chemists can formulate custom inks, conventional or UV, to ensure that the emissions’ color and values are properly attained when the ink is deposited onto the diffuser.

If you would like to know more about developing a backlit graphic overlay solution, click here to request a consultation with one of our in-house experts.