What is a durable graphic?

Decals, labels, overlays, in mold, and dimensional products fall into a category referred to as durable graphics. While the category lacks a hard and fast definition, durable graphics need to perform in one way or another, usually for several years. Many durable graphics are outdoor and must resist Ultraviolet rays (UV), chemicals and abrasion for a minimum of five years. Other decals may never leave the indoor environment, but still need to perform in harsh environments like repeated exposure to hot wash cycles or repeated scratches.

At Romo Durable Graphics we focus only on durable graphics. When we find an opportunity intended for single use (a water bottle label for instance), we refer it to industry partners more qualified to meet the client’s needs than we are.

Why aren’t you called Romo Screen and Digital Printers anymore?

We prefer to focus on the end product rather than the way it’s made. When we called ourselves, Romo Screen and Digital Printers, we chased any opportunity that could be screen or digitally printed. This “inside out” approach typifies our industry.  

When we freed ourselves from the constraints of existing processes, we started finding endless ways to have fun with graphic. These creative enhancements may be visually or functionally (i.e., adding electronics inside the decal to automatically direct consumers to online manual website). We start by asking, “Have you ever thought about….?”, add creativity, and then figure out how to make it happen.

We refer to this “outside in” approach as Discovery. It’s amazing what you can do with a durable graphic when you think about it differently!

 Why are my labels falling off?

This occurs when the adhesive on the label mismatches the surface to which it’s applied. In some cases, the label was simply engineered without fully taking the surface into account. All labels aren’t created equal. The adhesive on the back of the label comes in a variety of stickiness. They are created to adhere to different materials: metal, plastic, glass, etc. The details matter! Different colors within the same powder-coat paint line can even accept adhesion differently.

Another cause might be that the surface has changed. Paint and powder-coat manufacturers can change ingredients. Plastic pellet manufacturers may change formulation for cost or performance for their largest applications. Any such change could impact the way the finished surface behaves with adhesive.

We do extensive surface and adhesion testing prior to engineering any new project. We help navigate through unforeseen changes. Whether you are working with us or not, please don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call us. Decals falling off at a photo shoot or just as the product is ready to ship out the door are not fun situations! We’ll help any way we can.

What can I do to make sure my labels stick?

Prepare!  Work with a vendor that understands the ins and outs of decals. During the engineering process (yes, durable graphics are an engineered part), a good supplier will want to understand the intended use. Each situation is unique and requires upfront project information. We like to obtain a sample of the surface to find a best fit for cost and performance. If the supplier isn’t asking you questions about adhesion properties, find one who does.

Do your labels stick to metal, plastic, fiberglass, gel coats, powder coats and other industrial surfaces?  

Yes, our graphics go on every imaginable industrial surface. Each application requires planning and engineering. No matter who you are working with, if you want art that properly represents your amazing brand for years to come, please do not skip this step!

What is the minimum order quantity for labels?

The short answer is, we don’t require minimums.

We try to separate the volume and price as much as possible for our OEM clients. During the planning process, we work out a single price that we use over the course of the whole year. This allows us to run Kanban quantities so the client never has to change the price. This delivers cost certainty, which they love, in addition to eliminating the need to buy a high quantity to get a low price. In many cases, we also eliminate purchase orders, freeing up buyer time to work on more constructive activities than cutting PO’s. Clean up, smaller quantity orders are covered at that single price as well.

That isn’t to say volume doesn’t impact price. We simply use quantity and price to arrive at a fair model for both parties. Then we don’t have to worry about it again. Truth be told, we prefer to run low quantities (and do) to keep inventory turns high and obsolescence low. Basing run quantities on forecasts leads to all kinds of unintended problems when the forecasts (understandably) don’t go as planned.

I need labels fast! Do you have a quick print turnaround?

Because we run low quantities relative to industry standards, we waste very little production time on graphics the customer doesn’t immediately need or want. This turns conventional wisdom on its head, because we set up presses much more often. We prefer to spend resources on set up reduction rather than producing large amounts of inventory. Lower quantities means our presses aren’t tied up running jobs where most of the quantity is going to sit on a shelf. That’s a waste of time and money for everyone.

Jobs naturally flow through our process quickly. We’ve produced parts in hours in emergency situations for our customers. You’ll never find a vendor who understands the urgency of a line down situation like Romo. Normally, a job flows through our plant in a couple weeks, often less. Big jobs might take more time, and new jobs require planning and engineering. 

What is a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) Stocking Program?

VMI was developed to ease our client’s daily inventory process for frequently used labels. 

What is VMI? 

 V endor (Romo)

 M anaged (is responsible for)

 I nventory (counting and restocking all items in the program)

While some customers stock hundreds of durable graphics on their floor, other only stock 50. Each customer we service has a custom VMI program. Branding logos, warning decals, and custom decorations can all be included in the program. Romo checks current inventory weekly or bi-weekly and stocks bins based on inventory scans from the last visit.

A VMI or Kanban program reduces stock outs, which means less stress for purchasers. Work is stressful enough! Durable graphics shouldn’t add to it.

Romo manages decals stocking program for customers that qualify based on number of SKUs, EAUs, and facility set up. Each program is set up individually. Contact us if you want to learn more. 

Why are my decals fading in the sun?

Simply, sunlight breaks down color. We’ve all seen that Coke can on the side of the road where the red is almost faded away. You may think it’s been there for some time, but maybe not as long as you think. Red color breaks down very quickly when exposed to the sun’s natural rays.

Color, in general, comes from two sources – dyes and pigments. Dyes add color to all types of materials, including printed products like Coke cans.  Dyes do not perform well in the world of durable graphics. They degrade far too quickly in sunlight, no matter how you try to protect it.

Durable graphics use pigments for color. Pigments resist color degradation far better than dyes. The size and depth of the pigmentation matter a great deal. The outside of your car, for example, has a very dense layer of pigmentation, with specially engineered clear coats on top of it. The clear contains UV absorbers (similar to a permanent sunscreen) which block harmful UV rays before they get to the pigment. That’s why paint jobs on cars last so long.

In the world of durable graphics, inks matter a great deal to how the graphic fares outdoors. Digital printing uses small dots of four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) that blend to fool your eye into seeing shades of color. While a useful tool (and far more durable than it used to be) the nature of color formation is at a disadvantage against over screen. The process of screen printing allows for laying pigment down in thick, vibrant, solid color. That’s why screen printing is still the best way to achieve the color density needed to resist the natural elements.

That’s not to say all digital fades more quickly than screen printing. Your supplier needs to apply advanced weathering tests to all forms of pigment used no matter how it’s delivered or protected with clear coats and laminates. Pigments are still volatile to sunlight. We test every pigment system we put into the field to ensure you are getting what you paid for.

Who makes fade resistant labels?

Romo Durable Graphics manufactures decals, labels and stickers that are UV resistant. It’s part of our everyday process.

Why are my decals scratched up?

Consumers use products in creative ways!  That means the decals and labels are going to experience abrasion. It could be running a mower under overhanging bushes, or bumping a boat up against a pier. Scratches happen. 

Surface-printed decals are more susceptible to abrasion. Coatings and laminates help protect them, but the ink is still on top of the substrate. There’s only so much you can do.

Another option is to print on the backside of a clear, durable plastic such as polycarbonate. The outside may get scuffed, but the decoration underneath stays until the part itself gets destroyed. This option is usually far more expensive and limited in terms of practical use. 

We conduct extensive abrasion testing in applications where the graphic will likely be exposed to scratching and scuffing. There are tradeoffs. If you’re having this problem, contact Romo or your current supplier to investigate engineering options.

Who is GB Frank? How is it related to Romo Durable Graphics? 

Since 1956, GB Frank has been a trusted supplier of overlays, graphics, and point-of-service (POS) decals in the bankcard industry. Ten years ago, GB Frank was acquired by Romo Durable Graphics. Since then, the offering have changed from credit card imprinters to window decals and terminal POS decals. 

Does Romo makes credit card window stickers?

Yes, through our GB Frank product line, we can custom print one-sided and two-sided window stickers for merchants. We also sell standard products on our GBFrank.com website. 

Where can I find 2 sided window stickers?

GBFrank.com or call us directly at (920) 712-4083. We’ll be happy to create you vision.

What the best way to apply a decal?  

There are so many answers to that question. For a simple explanation, see our step-by-step process to applying pressure-sensitive decals.

Application should be a factor your supplier takes into account when designing the decal with you.  Changing a shape slightly can make a big difference for your production people. Certain materials are easier to apply than others.  Masks and laminates can help as well.

It is not an easy process.  We try to make it as simple as we can.  If you’re having a tough time with decal application, connect with us and we’ll try our best help!

How do I apply a graphic without getting air bubbles?

I hate air bubbles! Don’t you? Incorporating backslits is one way to place the decal before applying the entire label. Also using squeegees aids in the smoothing. A mild soap water solution works to allow the graphic to ‘float’ reducing the chance for air bubbles.

Air bubbles may appear on a graphic perfectly applied after it’s been on the product for a while. This typically results from out-gassing in the underlying material. Outgassing is the release of gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen or absorbed in some material. 

The surface material should be fully cured and at room temperature. With some plastics, the molding process may leave a residue on the surface. Try removing the residue with isopropyl alcohol. In severe cases, the plastic may require flame treating to raise the surface energy enough to allow adhesion.

If all this doesn’t work, contact your existing supplier or Romo. We’re happy to help!  

Are your stickers UL approved?

UL approval means the decal construction must go through a test protocol at Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL).  This is your supplier’s responsibility, along with their base-material supplier.

UL approval costs money to maintain, which may increase the price of your graphic. Such approval usually comes about because your product demands it. UL approval does not necessarily mean the graphic is well suited to your application; it means the material has passed a series of UL tests. In other words, you can purchase a UL approved label that doesn’t work for your application. You can also purchase a non-approved UL construction that works perfectly fine. In fact, most of what we produce does not require UL approval.

There’s nothing wrong with UL approval. If your product requires it, and it means something to your consumer, by all means, do it. Just make sure your supplier goes through the proper application testing.

We manufacture UL approved decals. All we need are the specifications from you. UL visits Romo quarterly to check our quality and ensure we meet UL Standards on constructions that require it.

Do I need an ISO certified printer?  

If you are an OEM making durable products for consumers, the answer is probably – Yes.

Consumer quality standards demand products that work. Consumers like simple, elegant designs that are easy to use. Of course, simple and elegant doesn’t mean easy – quite the opposite. It requires innovation, sophistication and strategic foresight from those making it.

ISO certification doesn’t guarantee any of these things, but it’s a strong indication you’re dealing with a company serious about them. At a minimum, it says your supplier has business processes in place to deliver what you need from a durable graphic standpoint.

The graphic represents your brand, in front of consumers worldwide, for many years to come. Consumers draw conclusions about quality and your product and reputation based on the way a product looks. Make sure you have a supplier that cares as much (or more) about it as you do.

We believe the art on the outside of a product says everything about the art on the inside. That’s one reason we’re ISO 9001:2015 Certified.

Do you make tamper resistant labels?  Absolutely! Tamper-resistant labels require certain materials and manufacturers that know how to work with them.

Are your labels made of destructible vinyl?  We print on destructible vinyl all the time.

Can you print on Lexan?

Yes – Lexan is a brand name in the polycarbonate material classification. Decals/overlays made of polycarbonate resist abrasion (see Why are my decals scratched up?) and add an upscale look to products such as cars, appliances and control panels. These products often incorporate touch or push button functionality for the user. The ink is printed and then adhesive is applied to the back of polycarbonate. The ink is in a sandwich between plastic and adhesive. Safe and sound. 

Polycarbonate may not be the best option for certain applications. Polyesters, acrylics and scuff-resistant vinyl offer some similar looks with different advantages. They also have disadvantages.  Polycarbonate constructed decals are typically expensive. Material options change. Your supplier shouldn’t be merely quoting to a print all the time. Polycarbonate constructions offer some great cost savings opportunities. Make sure you’re working with proactive suppliers that gives you options!