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Giving bas relief surface to prints through doming Print E-mail

Doming is a procedure by which you give your prints a “dome” shape or a convex (that is curved outwards) surface. This practice improves the functionality of your print.

This technique is based on applying polyurethane or epoxy resins to the printed area. These substances are naturally dense, sticky liquids but are thermally hardened.

This is the Color Dec 6000WBR processing some samples of doming application.

Technology in progress

Doming was originally done manually—applying drops of resin with a syringe or an applicator tube—but it required a skilled and patient person, especially to work on irregular areas. Today you find a number of companies that manufacture doming machines. And although the technology for this application has been constantly improved, the principles of how a doming machine works are the same: you place the printed images on a flat surface, and resin is conducted through a series of hoses up to individual spouts that discharge the resin over the printed areas.

convert printed images into finished products

On the first machines you had to manually adjust the position of each spout sliding it along the arm that held it, and then fix it in the desired position with a key wrench. This technology is suited for those projects where you are going to process industrial quantities of the same design. These first machines worked better with rounded or oval shapes. On the other hand, there are advanced machines that have integrated an I-Cut vision based registration system which tells the machine where to apply the resin without much operator intervention and the movement is no longer in straight axis but following any irregular shape. This more advanced system is suitable for short runs.

Most of the doming machines manufacturers offer software-operated systems.

The number of spouts on a machine varies from model to model. There are machines with only one spout, and there are industrial machines with a line of more than ten spouts.


The following is a brief list of possible applications, but you can find more uses

  • doming labels
  • POP displays
  • computer labels
  • control panels
  • domed keyboards
  • medals
  • 3d stickers
  • automotive decals
  • nameplates
  • emblems
  • industrial stickers
  • corporate gifts
  • key chains

The most appropriate materials for doming are PVC, treated wood, aluminum, polycarbonate and polyester.

Here is another model of Color Dec, the D750HP at VISCOM Italy 2009.

The quality of the final product will also depend on the printing method you use. The most suitable printing technologies for doming are

  • flexo inkjet
  • digital offset
  • hot stamping
  • screenprinting

Manufacturers of doming machines inspected by Dr Nicholas Hellmuth at VISCOM Italy ’09:

Color Dec exhibited several of their models and a display of many samples, mostly brands and other commercial applications.

Besides its machines, Demak had a very informative exhibition of samples grouped under these classifications:

  • Dimensional Doming (thick doming)
  • Thin Film Doming (for car badges)
  • Kromex (polished labels)
  • XY Doming (labels of irregular shapes or fine text) and others.
  • Selective doming (control panels where only the button area was domed)

This is our initial exploration to the technology of doming. So far we have not visited any manufacturing company nor visited a print shop that has one of these machines. Determining what are the pros and cons of each model will require an exhaustive investigation that is only possible when funding is available.


Color Dec samples. VISCOM Italy trade show 2009.
DEMAK exhibited several samples of different types of doming produced with its machines at VISCOM Italy trade show '09.



First posted February 18, 2010.



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