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The Do’s & Don’ts of Domed Labels

Can domed labels help your bottom line? There are many reasons why utilizing them as a promotional embellishment can give you a competitive edge and attract more clients.

The main upside of doming is that the clear bubble of plastic on top of logos not only looks cool, but is also extremely durable. On the downside, the price of doming can be three times the cost of other personalizing and the domes don’t work on all surfaces. However, there’s more to the doming industry today. Consider these tricks and loopholes that may change your opinion about domed labels.

Resiliency & Longevity

You should know that urethane (the clear plastic used in the doming industry) is one of the most inert and resilient materials known to man. No other method of identification can be dipped in battery acid, soaked for years in salt water in full sunlight, and get pelted with stones at 60 mph without showing damage. You should also know that the clear urethane dome allows for full-color, high resolution printing without any dies or tooling delays. Additionally, domed labels can be applied at the end of the production cycle so that products can be manufactured in bulk at low cost and quickly personalized as orders are received.

That’s the good news. Now let’s consider some of the problems. First, doming looks cool because of the curved light reflections on the edge of the dome; large domes lose out on this 3-D look. Second, consider that most promotional products are not kept as family heirlooms and the durability advantage of doming may be less important than the cool look. Third, in the past, doming has been slow and expensive. The industry wasn’t in tune with the same-day production demands most suppliers need today, and the immaturity of the doming industry added to the cost, making it impractical for all but high-end products.

Keep in mind that your customers are buying your products to bring attention to their client’s image. It’s great that the domes are bulletproof, but it’s really the look of the dome that is important. Make sure you know how domes will look on your product. Call some doming companies and request free, generic samples. They’ll happily accommodate you with as many samples as you want. If you’re wowed, take the next step to see how much the industry has changed on turnaround time and on cost.

Look for the Pros

There’s a dirty little secret in the doming industry that you really need to know before you start talking to doming companies. There are about 1,000 companies in the U.S. that offer doming, and most of these companies just resell doming for others. Hundreds of other companies actually do doming, but they took the cheap way into the business. They have doming equipment, but they didn’t build a humidity-controlled doming room or they skipped the $50,000 vacuum degassing equipment, or they use cheap epoxy resin instead of urethane, or they run their doming equipment only a few times per month. Honestly, that’s almost all the remaining doming companies. That leaves about 20 good-quality doming companies that have multiple doming machines, trained people and proper procedures to consistently deliver quality domed labels.

To figure out who’s who in the doming industry, I recommend asking some questions: “Do you offer same-day production?” “Do you use over 5,000 gallons of urethane per year?” “Do you have five or more doming machines?” “Do you offer special pricing to suppliers in the ad specialty industry?” “Do you have vacuum degassing equipment?” “Do you have humidity- controlled production?”

There’s another doming secret you should know: You can supply custom domed labels from your facility the same day you receive the order. Doming companies can supply you with stock sizes of clear domes (clear adhesive on clear film with a clear dome) that you can place on top of paper labels that you print on your $300 color laser printer. This is a great way to rush samples to your customers and a great way to produce small orders.

However, there are downsides. You need to heat-press the clear dome into the paper label, and the paper label isn’t very durable if someone spills coffee on the label or if someone peels the dome up and the paper delaminates. But, your price will be far cheaper than paying for a fully customized dome.

Aside from clear domes, there are a handful of doming companies in the U.S. that can do same-day doming. To meet this requirement, you’ll need a domer with in-house printing on film substrates with computerized cutting equipment, volume doming production and a bent for servicing ad specialty suppliers.

There Are Deals to Be Had

Perhaps more important than same-day doming is finding a company that offers next-day turnaround time on your orders at less than wholesale prices. Doming companies that cater to the promotional products industry will offer special “bulk pricing” exclusively to ad specialty suppliers. In exchange for hundreds of small custom orders, the domer will throw in free next-day production and take about 30% off the normal wholesale price and waive all setup fees. With discounts like that, and one-day production, doming works for far more suppliers today than it has in the past.

To make sure that doming is a viable option for your products, be prepared to send the doming company samples of your products so that they can help determine the best method of adhesion.
Today’s doming can be permanently heatfused directly to textiles or use special 2 to 9 mil. Thick adhesives that can bond to just about anything.

Doming has matured dramatically in the last several years and a few leaders in the industry are ready to help ad specialty suppliers with fast turnaround times with amazing new pricing. Search for “ad specialty doming” or “custom domed labels” and find a partner who is willing to take the time to learn about your unique needs.

Doming can be a unique, innovative, cost-effective and easy way to invigorate your line and add some punch to products.