Custom Graphic Overlays

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November 23, 2016 Beatrice Thouveny

Custom graphic overlays for animatronics require absolute precision to meet specs

of world’s largest theme park company

 When a mechanical engineer at the world’s largest theme park company contacted NFI and placed his first order, the project was relatively straightforward. He needed custom graphic overlays and relied on our expertise to apply them to the large metal plates he provided. Our customer was impressed – and then he raised the stakes!

 The second order – custom graphic overlays and nameplates for animatronics – was significantly more complex.

Our customer’s graphic overlays and metal nameplates would be applied to a serializer and deserializer – electronic hardware that controls animatronics from a distance, using fiber optics to transfer data from one location to another. Our customer requested 50 sets of 5 different custom graphic overlays and serialized nameplates for fiber optic panels.

 This complex project required zero-tolerance precision – and the flexibility to meet challenging surprises.

Two graphic overlays required ZERO print-to-cut tolerance due to the design of the customer’s equipment. The nameplates required serial numbering and, thanks to extremely tight tolerances, our customer asked NFI to adhere the nameplates and graphic overlays to metal plates that they would provide.

 We created the custom graphic overlays and nameplates based on a customer-provided prototype. However, when the metal plates arrived from the customer, one differed from the original design – it was an inch longer than expected! We made the necessary alterations and kept the project moving forward.

 Complicating matters, our customer needed to keep one of the metal plates in order to continue his work. We created a placement template, so he could apply the nameplate himself.

 As we neared the finish line, the stakes were raised again!

Our customer realized that the metal plates needed LED light pipes installed before the graphic overlays could be applied. Could we do that? Of course! NFI procured the specified LED light pipes and adhesive and began installing 1,250 LED light pipes into their respective holes.

 Another issue came to light. We discovered that the holes in the customer’s metal plates were not large enough to fit all the LED light pipes. After discussing the issue with our customer, we offered to have the holes bored to accommodate the LED light pipes. This is very precise work, requiring accuracy to the thousandth of an inch – with absolutely no room for error.

 The drilling was successful, and the 1,250 LED light pipes fit perfectly! When we finished assembly and prepared to ship, our customer expressed concern that the LED light pipes could be jostled and dislodged while in transit. NFI had a solution: custom packaging.

 We love a challenge!

Despite tight tolerances and one challenging surprise after another, we successfully finished and shipped all project components. In fact, our customer said he was very happy with the outcome.


While this project was particularly challenging, it highlights a few reasons why our customers choose NFI:

  • Customer service that goes above and beyond – At every step, we ensure the pieces we create exactly meet your specs. If we encounter an issue, we’ll talk openly with you to identify the best solution.
  • Skilled, in-house team – NFI was established in 1975. Our team offers decades of experience, so we can tackle just about any project. Our entire team – and every manufacturing process – is located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This means we have the in-house expertise and flexibility to meet your specs, budget, and timeline.
  • Design-to-Delivery – When you call us, you may hear us talk about “D-to-D.” You can rely on NFI for design; technical support; innovative processes and state-of-the-art equipment to produce custom labels, faceplates, nameplates and more; and delivery. This is why companies around the world look to us as the global leader in high-performing printed graphic solutions.


Industrial Manufacturing, Electronics Instrumentation, News/Blog

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