Lettering Options

Every project is unique, and the right printing and engraving options can make all the difference. We'll explore the world of customization as we guide you through selecting the best options for printing or engraving on plastic manifolds.

Several options exist to customize plastic manifolds and make them more user friendly and less confusing for assembly for use. We'll break those down here.

We often cite printing as one of the best choices when it comes to marking and lettering plastic manifolds. Manufacturers can print graphics, logos, and letters in color via direct UV cured ink printing onto the component itself. Using this approach, the full Pantone palette of colors is available along with accurate and repeatable operations for each product, eliminating uncertainty in terms of printing precision. Moreover, printing has the lowest cost for significant graphic elements, making this a cost-efficient option for those seeking such.

Bonded multilayer manifold with printed USA flag on side with "Made in USA" printed above flag

Like everything, though, printing can have some setbacks that need consideration. Printing has good adherence, but is not permanent. Aggressive wiping or chemicals can damage the lettering over the manifold's lifetime. Additionally, it may not stick on polyolefins. If you know for certain your product will contain this material, we advise seeking another option.

Printing has since replaced silk screening for plastic manifolds. While the process is similar to printing, silk screening often limits color options as each individual color needs to be applied separately — almost like a paint-by-numbers picture. Also, this process involves more manual operation, thus making it labor intensive, expensive, and not as exacting as printing. Because of this, most recognize silk screening as less precise from part to part. Lettering can smear during application and compromise its aesthetic integrity.

Plastic manifold with engraving on side.

Most consider engraving on plastic manifolds the most efficient method for a few engraved characters. The process mills out letters, symbols, and line-type logos with an engraving cutter for long-lasting effects.

However, as there is no contrast, this can make letters difficult to see. Manufacturers can offer some color choice by using ink or paint stick to fill grooves, but often this process is time-consuming and can ultimately be more costly. We do not recommend this method for complex logos or other associated shapes.

Designers often note laser marking good for line engraving. Similar to milling, laser marking can cut engravings into manifolds to the finest detail. We recommend this process for products that require a high volume at a reasonable price, but only for certain resins.

Some materials take better to laser marking over others because in some materials, lettering becomes hard to read. Materials such as PTFE (Teflon) or acrylic cannot have laser markings for that reason. The exception is where material burns create a contrasting color, which gives rise to another challenge. Laser marketing offers no real color choices, which could become a hindrance the more complex a manifold gets. Designers should keep this in mind as well when considering marking options.