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Ralph West

Years of testing prove DomeTag as the best solution for rugged durability on mountain bikes.

ESI Grips contacted DomeTag as they were about to launch a very specialized productthey needed brand labeling for competitive mountain bikes and bikers to withstand repeated impact on the end of handlebars against rocks, mud and concrete. The label needed to not only hold up to this abuse, but also protect the bike from damage.

There were two issues here though; the first being that ESI Grips founders Gary and Maria Stewart wanted their company to be 100% American made products. The second issue was the fact that their product would be used in some very abusive situations.

They had been using a hot stamp product to mark their logo on the bar plugs (the caps at the end of handlebars), but found it wore off quickly after regular use. After producing a few custom domed label samples, the Stewarts put them to the test.

To test our domed labels, they applied them to their bar plugs; then crushed them onto hard concrete to determine if they would scuff, fade or pop off. Gary also took a hammer to the bar plugs to see if they would come off or take damage when confronted with an even harder force. But the domes came through like champs!

After passing the durability test, DomeTag worked with ESIs specific needs to find production and pricing reductions competitive with products made outside the U.S.A. Faster production times, increased product consistency and reduced inventory; along with the convenience of being able to work directly with the DomeTag design team, helped to reduce their total cost. The freedom to call anytime with questions and receive prompt product samples allows ESI to introduce new products more quickly and maintain their Made in U.S.A. status.

Maria and Gary say the metallic design protected under the clear urethane dome gives the labels a cool cat-eye effect that is very popular with their customers. Gary mentioned he personally crashed three times in one race, but the domed labels stayed put and remained undamaged.

ESI Grips has ordered hundreds of thousands of domed labels for their mountain bike bar plugs and is working on new innovations for professional and competitive athletes.

Three labels compete against one of the most corrosive acids available.

Its not every day that labels are exposed to an agent as corrosive as sulfuric acidso knowing that, of course we had to try it!

Starting with a paper label, plastic label and our own DomeTag Brand Label; we apply the acid.

After letting the acid sit for a few minutes we then agitate it with a cotton swab. The plastic label and paper label are both feeling the burn.

Once the acid is agitated, we let them sit for a few more minutes.

After wiping the labels, its clear to see which label withstood the corrosive acid!

Avoid the five biggest problems with domed labels by understanding the most common issues, how they are caused and what to look for before ordering.

Domed labels are over 20X thicker than un-domed labels (0.07 thick vs. 0.003) requiring special adhesives designed for this difference in thickness.

Imagine spreading a thin layer of household glue to a sheet of glass and trying to mount the glass to rough concrete.  The glue will not work because it only touches a few points of the concrete.

Now, spread the same thin layer of glue onto a sheet of newspaper and press the paper onto the concrete.  The paper will hold because the paper flexes between all the peaks and valleys of the concrete increasing the surface area of the adhesive.

Heres the problem label manufacturers make trillions of labels every year (thats trillions as in 1 with 12 zeros).  These trillions of labels are made with very thin adhesive (about 0.0005 thick).  Label companies stock thin adhesives made for un-domed labels.  These same companies may also offer domed labels and you can imagine what adhesive they use.

Domed labels simply require more adhesive to flow into the nooks and crannies of the mounting surface.  DomeTag only makes domed labels and only stocks adhesives up to 14X thicker specifically and only for domed labels.

Domed labels are made by pouring an exact volume of liquid on top of a traditional label.  The liquid flows to the edge of the label and cures for about 12 hours.  Unless the dome is perfectly level, the dome will be thicker on one side than the other.

If you order domed labels from a traditional label supplier, do you really think they have facilities designed to keep millions of domed labels perfectly level until they are fully cured?  Not likely!  DomeTag manufactures only domed labels with manufacturing equipment, facilities and processes designed to maintain perfect level during the full curing process.

Heres the test:  compare a DomeTag Brand Label to an off-brand dome by checking the thickness around the full edge of the label.  Youll find that our domes maintain the same thickness uniformly.

As described above, the liquid dome must be poured in an exact volume to allow the dome to flow to the edge of the label.  Too much liquid and the dome flows over the edge of the label; too little and the dome stops before the edge. DomeTag is the most popular doming company in the United States because we only make domed labels.  Our equipment is custom-made and calibrated for consistent and uniform domes.  The difference is easy to see.

Epoxy is an inferior polymer that continues to yellow, shrink, harden, curl and dull over time compared to the optically clear, flexible polyurethane used by DomeTag.

Epoxy is more popular because it is less expensive and does not require vacuum degassing or humidity controls.  Domed labels made by small-time producers and facilities with few quality controls give the dome label industry a poor reputation by using epoxy resin instead of urethane.  Domed labels made in China are infamous for using low quality epoxy resin.

One common misunderstanding is to blame poor adhesives for domed labels falling off.  The real problem is that epoxy domes shrink over time and the shrinking causes the dome to curl and lift off the mounting surface.  In other words, even if the correct adhesive is used, domes still fall off because of the shrinking and curling of the epoxy.

Laboratories do a simple test to determine if a dome is made of epoxy or urethane.  When held under a flame, epoxy will turn black and continue to burn even after the flame is removed.  When urethane is held under a flame, it does not turn black and does not hold the flame after the torch is removed.

NOTE:  Laboratories should have proper fire suppression and approved ventilation to conduct this test.

When uncured urethane comes in contact with moisture the result is bubbles.

Bubbles in domed labels can be caused by improper mixing or dispensing, but the main cause is water in the air at more than 40% relative humidity.  Printers often add humidity to the air during production adding to the problem for printers that only dome as a side operation.  Printed labels and liners need to be properly dried to remove moisture before doming with urethane.

Bubbles on the surface of the label are typically caused by high humidity.  Bubbles inside the dome are more typically from improper mixing or dispensing.  DomeTag specializes in only doming so the entire process is done in a controlled environment.

Switching to domed labels reduces labor time and defects while maintaining Made in U.S.A. integrity.

Cabinetry by Karman found DomeTag on the web as they were searching for an alternative way to brand their custom cabinets. They had been using heavy brass nameplates as a branding method, which were a headache to install, and wasted a lot of time in production. Steve Ashby, Karmans Marketing Director, found DomeTag brand labels in a Brushed Metallic style and became quite excited at the prospect of being able to brand the cabinet drawers more quickly and easily.

After receiving one of our sample packs and reviewing our product, Steve decided it was time to update the way Karmans brand was represented and placed an order for domed labels emblazoned with Karmans logo. The feedback he received from his shop personnel was nothing short of rave reviews.

The metallic brushed look of the labels showed off the cabinets quality workmanship beautifully. One upside they did not expect is that the domed labels do not scratch or mar the surface of the finished wood; whereas the sharp metal plates would often leave marks on the cabinet surface.

Steve also mentioned that periodically the old metal plates would be placed on the surface crooked, diminishing the value of a well-made piece of furniture. Utilizing a domed label solved this issue due to the ease of application and the ability to reposition during initial installation.

Since that time, DomeTag has supplied customdomed labelsfor Cabinetry by Karman in several styles created for their various lines of furniture and cabinets. The ease of applying the domed labels combined with the ability to work with an American-based company makes it a win-win situation!

What happens when we pit three kinds of labels against an industrial blender?

Ever wonder if a paper, plastic and domed label will survive when placed inside an industrial blender? We actually have, so we had to try it. Just wait until you see what else goes in the blender!

First, we apply the three labels on the inside of the blender body

Then we decide to make soda pound cake and throw in all the needed ingredients including the plastic measuring cup, a whole lemon and the soda can!

After a bit of a challenging blend cycle, our recipe is complete! It appears the paper label has added itself to the list of ingredients.

We clean up the blender and find the plastic label has also experienced separation anxiety but our domed label is still glossy!

Being that the labels were still there, we knew we needed backup. So we called the Army. Fifty of the very best Green Plastic Berets.

The brave boys in green really put up a tough battlebut in the end the blender won the war.

The domed label just yawned after the military attack, so we load the blender with 50 glass marbles. Yes, you read that right. We cant make this stuff up.

If youve never seen glass marbles inside a blender on high speed you havent lived. Obviously, the plastic and paper labels havent lived either. Even the blender is beat up. Our domed label, on the other handstill looks like new!

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 dont work on all surfaces. However, theres more to the doming industry today. Consider these tricks and loopholes that may change your opinion about domed labels.

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.

Thats the good news. Now lets 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 wasnt 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 clients image. Its great that the domes are bulletproof, but its 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. Theyll happily accommodate you with as many samples as you want. If youre wowed, take the next step to see how much the industry has changed on turnaround time and on cost.

Theres 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 didnt 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, thats 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 whos 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?

Theres 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 isnt 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, youll 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.

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.

Todays 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.

Omni Cubed has been a leader in the stone installation field for thirteen years. From design to decal, they provide quality, durable products to support installers in their tasks. Thats why they chose to use DomeTag to brand their products. With sleek, durable construction, DomeTag labels withstand the daily grind of stone installation to keep Omni Cubeds name as precise as their standards. When you see the Omni Cubed brand on the equipment, you know youre getting a revolutionary kind of quality.

David Ernst, the media manager at Omni Cubed, explained that their equipment is used in an incredibly harsh environment of stone dust, and abrasive polishing compounds and acetone. Although their equipment is built to withstand those conditions, they needed a decal that would prove to be equally durable.

When they considered different branding methods, they had to consider the harsh environment those decals would have to endure. The desired decal would also have to be versatile enough to fit on all of the equipment, from the skinny to the large, from the static pieces to the moving parts. Regular stickers, they knew, would be faded, ripped off, or abraded off over time in the harsh stone-working conditions. While considering other branding methods, like engravings, nothing fit their needs quite like domed decals. Ultimately, their search led them to DomeTag.

Ernst explained that DomeTag labels were the best labeling option thirteen years ago when they first made the decision to use DomeTag, and they continue to be the best choice now even as Omni Cubed rebrands itself. When asked why, Ernst explained that, first, they essentially have a protective, rubber-esque coating on them, enabling our brand to stay attached even in conditions that would destroy regular stickers.

Second, he said,Were able to apply our logo in a protected way. Now, even thirteen years later, we have some products that have the original decal on it. Not only does the high-quality doming technology keep the front of the decal protected, the patentedElephant Snot Adhesiveensures the label stays stuck. As a permanent, high-tack acrylic adhesive that cures over time, Elephant Snot Adhesive has kept Omni Cubeds labels securely on their products for over a decade in abrasive environments and keep going strong.

The crisp Omni Cubed decal fits in the smallest spaces found on the equipment and gives the pieces a little extra panache, as Ernst described it. Consider theSink Hole Saver. It is used in the transportation and installation stages of countertops with a sink hole to strengthen the thinnest and weakest parts of the stone to prevent breaking during any part of the installation process. There are many moving pieces and not a lot of room to put a label. But the classy DomeTag placed in the center of the knobs gives the Sink Hole Saver a distinctively branded look.

The seam setters, lamination clamps, transport carts, carry clamps and anchor machines all sport the same DomeTag in areas that are easy to see and out of the way. Omni Cubed makes circular impressions in their equipment specifically intended to receive the domed decal. The DomeTag labels have become such an integral part of the Omni Cubed brand that they became sort of synonymous with [Omni Cubed] products. The Omni Cubed decal, when printed on paper, t-shirts or other places depicts the domed decal effect without being domed. These decals have become a matter of aesthetic as well as functional use.

For Omni Cubed, the primary goal has always been revolutionizing the stone installation industry with equipment that truly improves the lives of those in the stone industry. As they set out for only the best, they found the best way to decal their products was by partnering with DomeTag. With durability and panache rivaling the sturdiest stonework, DomeTag labels are the perfect match for Omni Cubeds revolutionary quality.

Urethane vs. Epoxywhich one will burn?

Since the discovery of fire, humankind has always had a fascination with finding out what the flames will consume and what they will not. Were no different at DomeTag.In this test, we pit two types of dome materials against each otherepoxy versus urethane. Epoxy is commonly used in the industry for domed labels, but we wont touch the stuff. Youll soon see why.

We first turn up the heat on our urethane domed label. As you can see, urethane does not darken or hold the flame once the torch is removed.

The epoxy label on the other handnot so much. Under a flame, epoxy will turn black and continue to burn even after the flame is removed.

At the end of our fire test, the winner is clearstill. The loser is still on fire about the whole situation.

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.

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 cyclethereby allowing for changes and customization right up to the day of shipping.

Are you losing business by not offering domed labels? To answer that question, youll 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 brandingfrom 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 potentialcompared 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 labelsfrom 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!

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-errorat 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.

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 servicessuch 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