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Doming for Printers

This article is intended to help you understand the doming industry and can lead to increasing your product offerings. In short, domed labels offer an attractive and durable new option to the marking industry that addresses many of the limitations of other identification methods.

What are Domed Labels?

Domed labels are coated with clear, flexible urethane giving the product special advantages. First, the urethane coating is very chemical resistant and tolerant to environmental extremes.

Second, the clear bubble of plastic catches attention with glossy reflections inviting people to reach out and touch the label.

Third, imaging flexibility allows for anything from full-color photographs and embossing to special effects such as metallic, holographic, fluorescent and reflective substrates and inks.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of domed labels is that they can be applied permanently at the end of the production cycle—thereby allowing for changes and customization right up to the day of shipping.

A Matter of Money

Are you losing business by not offering domed labels? To answer that question, you’ll need to compare your customer base to that of those buying domed labels.

Historically, urethane domes are purchased by product manufacturers who need brand identification. Big and small companies alike use domed labels for branding—from the automotive and appliance industries to small computer firms, sporting goods suppliers and even kitchen sink suppliers.

Domed labels continue to be a popular way to add brand names to products, yet the largest areas of growth are coming from new markets that require faster production times and increased graphic freedom.

Industries such as advertising specialties, employee incentives, embellishing corporate catalogs, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail campaigns, local sport clubs, hotels, and other small businesses actually offer more room for market growth because of their high-volume potential—compared to the original product-branding niche. The product flexibility, pun intended, is so great that it virtually is impossible to find an organization that does not have a need or desire for domed labels—from marketing and sales to production, human resources, and even collections departments.

Designers like the look and creative freedom; engineers like the durability and functionality; and accountants like the labor savings and increased inventory control. In other words, the future of doming looks good!

The Manufacturing Process

To understand the doming industry better, it helps to understand the doming process. Doming is a simple process of pouring an exact volume of liquid plastic onto a label. The liquid flows to the edge of the label just as a spilled glass of water will flow to the edge of a table and pause before going to the floor.

Too much water and the floor gets wet, not enough water and the edge of the table is never reached. This surface tension caused by the surface edge creates the uniform dome in the finished label after approximately 12 hours of curing.

Doming is similar to making contact lenses for the eye. At first, it seems so simple; just make a plastic bubble right?

Keep in mind that 10 chemical companies will offer doming material, some better than others. A chemical engineer can help determine the best doming material or one can go through a process of trial-and-error—at the risk of losing customers. Next, chemical reactions need to be addressed with the substrates, the coatings, the inks, the environment and ultimately chemical reactions on employees.

Where Did the Profit Go?

There are doming companies in the U.S. that have all of the above capabilities (in the chart) and are eager for your business. If you already are doing some form of printing, you may be able to save some money by printing the labels and sending the balance of the job to a competent domer to complete the doming process.

If you do not have kiss-cutting equipment, some domers will take care of both the cutting and doming for you. Most companies, even those that specialize in printing, prefer to focus their attention on servicing the customer. They prefer to leave the full responsibility of printing and doming production to a single supplier who is expert at the specialty of doming.

When you need special services—such as the expedited production of 10,000 domed labels to be shipped tomorrow-you can rely on a domer to take care of all of the details to amaze your customers and be on schedule. When your customer requires 100,000 pre-curved domes to fit on a curved surface, your professional domer will know exactly how to handle the situation. When you find a customer needing five million domed labels per month, your doming partner already has the necessary equipment and facilities to handle the job.

Technical niches such as urethane doming simply should be left to a company that is an expert in the industry, or you must prepare to become an expert yourself and spend the necessary time and money to produce a quality product.

Regardless of whether you buy doming equipment or if you rely on a company that specializes in doming, one thing is certain: before you make any money on domes, you will need to sell something with a dome on it.

Why not invest a small amount in a marketing plan and sales calls to learn about the industry risk-free, and buy domed labels from someone else until you establish a proven market? When your marketing is proven and your doming sales reach $1 million, or any time before, you always can go and buy doming equipment. Build the market first, and then invest in equipment.

Chronological Problems in the Doming Process – Problem/Solution

Marketing Domed Labels
So, how do you sell domed labels?

At the very least, you should be knowledgeable about the product and have samples to show your customers. Rely on your doming partner to supply you with the knowledge base to understand the industry and a toll-free number staffed with doming experts to handle special situations.

Your domer also should have domed samples available for your marketing efforts. Some even will supply you with pricing formulas so that you can give instant pricing answers while you meet with customers.

Also, ask your domer for a free custom-domed sample featuring the logo of a potential customer in the size, shape, and colors that your customer wants to see. The domer is not likely to do all your custom samples for free, but it never hurts to ask.

Go ahead and get creative on a marketing plan that makes sense for your customer base and your budget. Consider a dome label display for your showroom, sales calls to new and existing customers, a mailing with a domed label sample, faxing, e-mail and even a page or two on your website. Again, your doming partner may be able to supply you with some web photos and ideas.

Doming is a stunning way to add durability and creative flare to your list of marking alternatives while overcoming many of the current limitations imposed by other marking methods. It’s an easy product to introduce to customers, thanks to existing domers who are eager to educate your sales force and supply you with sales samples.

After developing a proven market base, you always can add doming equipment or continue to outsource the doming. Either way, doming is a growth market that complements the marking industry through increased design freedom and durability.

At the very least, show your customers some domed samples and see if they are interested. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many oppo