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retrofit success LEDs in Sign Cabinets

wrapping event Check In to Rebranding

Number 226 | april 2014


EntEr thE

Engraving Matrix 7

d rA

e Se



2 ge a nP

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Fast and easy to install with no special tools needed, SignBOX IITM creates the perfect grid of light for optimal even illumination. Designed for new or retrofit box signs with can depths over 5�. Available in single-sided and double-sided options.

photo: Jeff Wisdom, oregon signWorks, springfield, or.

April 2014



What to expect at this year’s event.

34 40


A recap of Digital Signage Expo’s 2014 Apex & Content Award winners.

Excellence at Engraving BY JOSEPH AND CAROL BERKE

A custom sign shop takes full advantage of the potential of laser engraving.

50 58

DSE 2014 Award Winners


Sign conversion to LEDs delivers savings on a tight deadline.

Channel Letter Options BY FRITZ MEYNE, JR.

LED factors for retrofitting existing illuminated letters.

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015-805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564) (Bluechip Int’l, Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Agreement # 41094515) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions printed or digital version: 1 year US $48.00; foreign $96.00; foreign, air mail $196.00. 2 years US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $350.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $75.00; foreign $150.00; foreign, air mail $250.00. 2 years US $102.00; foreign $204.00; foreign, air mail $404.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2014. All rights reserved. Contents may not be


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

78 62


Sign shops collaborate to accomplish an eventful project.

72 78

photo: mactac.


ISA International Sign Expo 2014 Preview

Getting a Handle on HDU BY ASHLEY BRAY

Tips and considerations for cutting and finishing HDU material.

Graphic Products for Interior Décor BY JASON YARD

Growing demand means growing need for consumer education.



Window shades are quite a canvas for printers.

reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or For Subscriptions, & address changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (402) 346-4740, Fax (402) 346-3670, e-mail or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.


How-To Columns

MAY 2014 May 8-10: ISS, the largest tradeshow dedicated to the decorated apparel industry, has added a stop at the new, state-of-the-art Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. (



Designs on Cutting Decals

May 29-30: NSSA’s New England Sign Expo 2014, featuring exhibits, information, and training for all types of sign companies, will be held at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. (

NEC 2014 Review

Departments 18 NEC 2014 Review, Part One BY RANDY WRIGHT

Changes to the 2014 NEC, concerning the sign industry, for Articles 600.2 to 600.12.

24 Designs on Cutting Decals BY MARK K. ROBERTS

A step-by-step process for creating digitally printed perimeter-cut decals.






Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk

Editor Jeff Wooten takes a look at how some sign makers can cope during this most taxing time of the year.

The latest news from around the industry.

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. retrofit success LEDs in Sign Cabinets

wrapping event Check In to Rebranding

Number 226 | april 2014


EntEr thE

Engraving Matrix > DSE Award Winners > NEC 2014 Recap > HDU Finishes


Jeff Wooten finds out what drives Unique Auto Finishing, LLC to install vinyl wraps onto garage doors.

On the Cover A matrix grid system on metal was created via laser engraving. Photo: Custom Engraving and Signs of Richmond, Virginia.

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

JUNE 2014 June 1-5: LIGHTFAIRÂŽ International 2014, the annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, is putting together the largest Conference in its twenty-five-year history at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. ( June 5-7: Covergence: Crossing Lines, the 2014 edition of the SEGD Conference, is being conducted at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. ( June 14-20: InfoComm 2014, a conference and tradeshow produced by the audio-visual communications association, plugs into the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

Fast is as slow as we go. Our fastest printing, sharpest quality UV LED flatbed ever. Faster turnarounds along with accurate print details are the hallmarks of the new JFX500-2131 flatbed. Ideal for all types of rigid signage and displays, this quick curing, larger area UV LED flatbed can fly. Engineered to fulfill your need for speed, the JFX500-2131 can turn out up to 20 4x8 boards an hour in CMYK, and up to 15 boards an hour using white ink. All without sacrificing quality, economy and ease of operation.


Max CMYK 645 sqft/hr Max CMYK+W 484 sqft/hr

A ‘14 3 7 @ IS LIVE! OTH 14 SEE IT 4-26 BO O 2 D APRIL ORLAN © 2014 Mimaki USA, Inc.


by jeff wooten

April 2014, Vol. 28, No. 226

A Taxing Deadline

Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation executive offices

President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr.

Pay attention to what you build and what you might owe.


ven if the weather isn’t cooperating in your area yet, certain rites of spring are still marching ahead that always happen ‘round this time of the year— the start of baseball season, the onset of “green” Earth Day marketing, the hiding of the eggs, etc. Another yearly tradition, The American Sign Museum’s fourth annual Online Auction, is underway and is scheduled to end on April 26 at 3p.m. EST. All proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the not-for-profit American Sign Museum’s acquisition and sign restoration fund. Bidding is currently taking place at Of course, the start of April also means the end of Tax Season is rapidly approaching. And for sign makers who have yet to fill out their returns or file an extension, it may mean a bit more pressure than making sure the latest order of carved HDU blanks or installed vinyl wraps are out the door by the time the clock hits zero. Yes it’s that time of the year to revisit tax laws, tax codes, and taxed nerves. Don’t mess around lightly here. I’m always reminded of the joke, “You can’t spell ‘theirs’ without ‘I-R-S.’” According to Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers, president of Rodgers & Associates ( in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and author of The New ThreeLegged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach to Retirement Planning, “The [Internal Revenue Service] audited one out of every 104 tax returns in federal fiscal year 2013.” To help lower your IRS profile and minimize your chances of being audited, Rodgers points out some “red flags” to avoid on your return: Self-Employment Income. “The IRS believes that the vast amount of underreported income occurs among the self-employed. Self-


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Publisher Arthur J. sutley 55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 editorial editor

Jeff Wooten

323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212/620-7244; fax: 212/633-1863 managing editor

employed taxpayers are audited by the IRS far more frequently than those who receive a W-2 for wages. People who are employed by others and receive W-2 income but also run a business that reports a loss are especially high on the IRS radar screen. “You will need to be able to prove you are operating a business with the intention of earning a profit and not just trying to write off the expenses of a hobby. You will need to be able to pass both the ‘passive loss’ and ‘hobby loss’ rules in order for the deductions to stick.” Business Expenses. “Big deductions for business meals, travel, and entertainment are always ripe for audit. A large write-off will raise red flags if the amount seems too high for the business. “Taxpayers claiming 100 percent business use of a vehicle is also a huge red flag. The IRS knows it’s extremely rare for an individual to use a vehicle strictly for business. The IRS looks for personal meals or claims that don’t satisfy the strict substantiation requirements.” Home Offices. “Taxpayers who operate a business from their home are entitled to deduct the portion of their home that is dedicated to operating the business. The IRS believes that many taxpayers use this deduction as a means of writing off personal expenses and carefully scrutinize tax returns that claim the home office deduction. “Claiming this deduction greatly increases the chances that your tax return will be audited. If the tax savings are minimal, you may opt not to claim the deduction simply to avoid the scrutiny. For details, see IRS Publication 587.” To read more, visit Meanwhile good luck with this annual rite of spring, and I wish you well in not feeling the heat this summer or chill this autumn.

Ashley Bray

55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7220; fax: 212/633-1863 contributing writers

Butch “superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Joseph & Carol Berke, Jim hingst, Fritz Meyne Jr., Peter Perszyk, Mark roberts, lori shridhare, randy Wright, Jason yard art

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Designer emily Cocheo production

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers circulation

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney advertising sales national sales director

Jeff sutley 212/620-7233; fax: 212/633-1863 west & midwest regional sales manager

Kim noa

212/620-7221; fax: 212/633-1863 Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Art Sutley at 212/620-7247 or e-mail Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389

Introducing New LED Products at ISA Please Visit Our Booth #2437

Bitro... the Brilliant Choice


DSE 2014 Declared a “Success” by Exhibitors Las Vegas, Nevada—This year’s Digital Signage Expo® (DSE), the world’s largest and longest running International Conference and Tradeshow dedicated exclusively to digital signage, interactive technology, and digital out-of-home (DOOH) networks, has been declared a success by exhibitors, many of whom wrote business at the show and (for some) set records for qualified leads. The conference and tradeshow, which ran February 11-13, drew just over 4,000 attendees, of which over 42 percent were end-users (the primary prospects that DSE’s exhibitors want and need to see). Meanwhile 1,813 exhibitor personnel attended, bringing DSE’s total attendance to over 5,800. Among the over 200 exhibiting companies, fifty-six were exhibiting for the first time and expanded the show floor to just over 70,000 net square feet (an 8

increase of 13 percent over 2013). Exhibitors reported that attendees were high-quality decision-makers from a broad variety of end-user business categories, a profile that has become the hallmark of this event since its inception in 2004. Meanwhile the event featured twentyeight educational seminars in seven tracks, sixty industry roundtables, and

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

twenty-five-plus on-floor workshops. Keynote breakfast speakers during this year’s event included José Avalos, visual retail worldwide director in the Intelligent Systems Group at Intel Corp., who took a pragmatic look at the digital signage industry today based on his company's market research and then projected that picture five, ten, and twenty years ahead

FASTSIGNS Recognizes Gemini

This year's Digital Signage Expo drew just over 4,000 attendees and 1,813 exhibitor personnel for a total attendance of 5,800., co-located with the Digital Content Show, is scheduled for March 10-12, 2015, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas. To read the 2014 DSE Apex & Content Awards winners announced at the show, turn to page 34.

photos: dse.

using insights developed in the company’s internal Digital Signage Futurecasting project. David Kepron, creative director Brand Experience Studio, Little, also provided a keynote address and discussed creating engaging experiences in a digitally distracted world. Chris Gibbs, president & COO of ExpoNation LLC (which produces Digital Signage Expo), said, “In spite of extreme [winter weather on the east coast] that suppressed attendance, many of our educational conferences sold out, and the tradeshow floor was busy both days.” Digital Signage Expo 2015 (www.

Anaheim, California—FASTSIGNS International recognized Gemini Incorporated as its Service Provider of the Year for 2013 at the company’s annual convention and vendor tradeshow held January 30-31 in Anaheim, California. Gemini, a world leader in the development and production of dimensional letters, logos, and plaques, received the award “in recognition and appreciation of exceptional service to the FASTSIGNS system.” According to Gemini President Fred Oss, all company employees who have worked hard to make Gemini a trusted partner with the many FASTSIGNS franchises share the award. “Gemini would not win this award without great performances by our sales, production, and support groups all coming together,” he stated. Founded in 1985, FASTSIGNS International, Inc., is the worldwide franchisor for 530-plus FASTSIGNS® centers located in the United States and across the globe. FASTSIGNS centers provide a full range of custom sign and graphics products to its customers.

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches +

Roland Wraps for RCR in ’14 Welcome, North Carolina—The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing season for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) includes the return of the iconic RCR No. 3 Chevrolet made famous by the legendary Dale Earnhardt, the addition of star driver Ryan Newman, several new sponsors, and a host of new eye-catching vehicle wraps. These developments have generated plenty of work for the RCR Graphics Center, powered by Roland DGA, which employs a dedicated staff of five (as well as five state-of-the-art Roland wide format printers) to produce these full wraps. “We’ve designed, printed, and installed all-new wraps for the No.3 Dow/Cheerios car, which will be driven by Austin Dillon [Richard Childress’s grandson] and for our Quicken Loans and Yuengling Light Lager cars,” said RCR Graphics by Roland Manager Nick Woodward. According to Woodward, while Dillon’s car will be bringing back No. 3, the new wrap’s design, fonts, and color scheme will be different from those used on Earnhardt’s car. “Millions of fans will be watching the No. 3 car and all of our racecars, so it’s imperative we get the wraps just right,” Woodward said. “Everything from matching the corporate sponsor colors exactly

to reproducing the slightest details of the company’s logo is essential.” Where graphics were once painted and sponsor logos added, most

NASCAR racecars now feature full printed wraps for a weight advantage and the ability to easily replace graphics between races.

Kickoff! Largest Video Display in College Football Brookings, South Dakota—Texas A&M University is primed to provide Aggie players and fans with the largest video display in all of college football at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Daktronics will be designing, manufacturing, and installing the 47-foothigh-by-163-foot-wide LED video display, the first display at the college level to feature 1080 resolution, prior to the start of the 2014 season. This primary Daktronics display, to be installed in the south end zone, will provide excellent image clarity, contrast, and wide angle visibility through its 13 HD pixel layout, as well as multiple lev-


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

els of protection from the elements. The display is capable of showing one large image to highlight live video and instant replays or of dividing into separate windows to show vivid graphics, real-time statistics, scoring information, and sponsor elements. Daktronics will also be installing two auxiliary displays (one in each corner at the nor th end of Kyle Field), five individual ribbon displays around the seating fascia of the stadium, a 6-millimeter display in Kyle Field’s new Hall of Champions, and six units of Daktronics Street Furniture surrounding the stadium.












T 866 972 9191



SignSHOW ACRYLICS/PLASTICS LaserBits Offers a Variety of Acrylic Sheets Acrylic sheet products produce the best possible engraving and cutting creations and are ideal for cutting fixtures and ornaments or creating plaque plates and embellishments for plaques. They are available from LaserBits in clear, colored opaque, and transparent colors, cast or extruded, and 1/16-, 1/8-, or 1/4-inch thickness. Clear acrylic sheets are available in extruded and cast 12-by-24-inch and 24-by-48-inch sheets. The colored acrylic sheets come in five fluorescent colors, plus solid white and black. Acrylic mirror pattern sheets are also available and are easy to cut or engrave. They are ideal for adding “bling” to any laser project, as rich-looking graphics are embedded in the mirror film backing prior to lamination on the acrylic sheet. The result is a durable graphic with a mirror look that can be engraved and cut with a laser. These sheets come in eight different designs. 800/733-7705;

AW N I N G S & V I N Y L COAT E D FA B R I C S A New Solution for Soft Signage from Fisher Textiles: GF 4834 Luxury Banner Fisher Textiles has introduced its newest fabric for soft signage applications—GF 4834 Luxury Banner (FR)—to its Grand Format and Wide Format fabric lines. GF 4834 Luxury Banner is a bright-white satin warp knit fabric with a medium-level sheen that is compatible with dye-sublimation and UV-curable printing. The fabric presents a polished look for upscale signage while also maintaining a soft hand. Available both 62 inches and 125 inches wide, GF 4834 Luxury Banner is 5.88 oz./sq. yd. and passes NFPA 701 flame requirements. Free sample rolls are available for testing. 800/554-8886;

Easily Update an Old Awning Without the Need to Replace the Entire Awning or Use Paint The newest version of LetterBank’s MASK awning product in DuraStik is now available with a backing to cover over existing awning lettering, together with the pre-applied letters or as a separate piece. The LetterBank Awning Letters have been field-tested in sub-zero and tropical climates and perform well in constant exposure, so there is no need to worry about the letters peeling or fading in weather extremes. Estimated useable life is ten to fifteen years for white and four to seven years for colors. The self-adhesive lettering can stick to almost all woven fabrics available in the market. SunBrella® and other plastic- and vinyl-based awning fabrics (and any fabric that has been treated with silicone or other non-stick surface treatments) must be tested and pre-treated for proper adhesion. It is suggested that all awning fabric be cleaned before any letters are applied and following testing for adhesion.

D I G I TA L P R I N T I N G E Q U I PM E N T/ S U P P L I E S Mimaki Expands the Limits of Printing with the KEBAB Option Mimaki USA introduces KEBAB, an add-on option for the UJF-3042HG printer that allows for printing on cylindrical objects. Using rotary rollers, the KEBAB option rotates the object for 360-degree printing on objects with lengths from 30mm to 330mm and diameters from 10mm to 110mm. Setting up KEBAB on a UJF-3042HG is very easy—users mount it on the printer, screw on the unit, and insert a connector. The KEBAB option works with RasterLink 6 RIP software for easy job management and increased work efficiency.

D I G I TA L S I G N / E M C / V I D E O D I S P L AY S Samsung Delivers a Smarter Digital Signage Experience Following up on the launch of the Samsung Smart Signage Platform in 2013, Samsung has introduced its new D Series commercial displays featuring an enhanced system-on-a-chip that now provides support for more advanced applications including touch and video wall configurations—all without the need for an external media player or PC. Built around a Quad Core processor, the next-generation Smart Signage Platform also adds an SD slot for flexible memory expansion as well as built-in WiFi as a standard feature for many models. By eliminating the need for an external media player, the Samsung Smart Signage Platform simplifies the deployment of digital signage networks, providing organizations an easier, more cost-effective approach to delivering dynamic messaging to their audience.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

documents are developed by SwellMediaGroup, as property of SwellMediaGroup, and extended under a non-exclusive license for use solely on this project. The designs and intellectual property contained within may not be used, utilized, duplicated, replicated or reused, in whole, in part or similarity, except in connection with this project, without the prior written consent of SwellMediaGroup. Written dimensions on these designs shall have precedence over scaled dimensions. Printers, vendors, suppliers, pressmen, manufacturers, and their sub-contractors of all tiers shall be responsible for verifying all dimensions and conditions on the design and the project, and are required to notify SwellMediaGroup of any variation between the design, dimensions and field conditions.

ADA CES Webinar Series

Accessibility & The ADA 2010 Standard (SAD) for Room Identification Signs

What is ADA?

ADA Codes

Canada & Australia

States & ADA

Sign Understanding Covered Photopolymer

Program # 2010 Standard | Provider # K325

Join us for our ADA Webinar Series. This course registered with the American Institute of Architects and is eligible for 1 Health Safety and Welfare Learning Unit. The course focuses on the ADA and how it relates to Room Identification and Wayfinding Signage. AVAILABLE DATES: June 18 • September 24 • December 10 V I S I T: N o v a P o l y m e r s . c o m / a d a w e b i n a r s e r i e s t o re g i s t e r OR CALL: 888.484.6682 to learn more about Nova Polymers and the use of Photopolymer in making Accessible Signage.

Our largest table available at 40″ x 28″

Contact Epilog Laser for Fusion pricing.

• 40 40″ x 28″ engraving area • Flame-polished edge cuts • Large viewing door with LED lighting • Our highest engraving and cutting speeds • Engrave items up to 13.25 13.25″ in material height


I m p r o v e d m o t i o n c o n t r o l f o r s u p e r i o r c u t t i n g q u a l i t y.

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To request a brochure, DVD, and samples, contact us at: • • 888-437- 4564


April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


SignSHOW DY E - S U B L I M AT I O N E Q U I PM E N T/ S U P P L I E S PrinterEvolution Expands Into Commercial Textile Printing With its Neo Series PrinterEvolution introduces its smaller Neo Series line of textile printers. The Neo Series’ innovation is its all-in-one turn-key printer/sublimation solution. The dye-sub printer uses an on-board fixation unit that is a true calendar, utilizing even heat and pressure. It also boasts built-in fume extraction units that keep the air clean. With Epson DX variable drop heads, the image quality is excellent with rich blacks, heavy pigment load, and superior GreyScale tones. Neo printers feature a smart cork roller that facilitates printing on stretchable fabrics like Lycra, Spandex, and other sports textiles. The printers also have a smart trough and sponge system that allows users to print on open-weave products (like mesh and flag) without marking the back with “blow-by” ink. The Neo Series is available in three sizes: the 64-inch Neo64 DS, the 74-inch Neo74 DS, and the 104-inch Neo104 DS. 855/593-4089;

FASTEN ERS/GROMMETS Large Metal Grommets for Awnings, Tarps, Tents, and Truck Covers An expanded line of solid brass drapery and curtain grommets designed for large indoor-outdoor industrial textile applications are being offered by ClipsShop® Grommet Sets for fabricating large industrial textile products such as awnings, tarps, tents, and truck covers include a grommet and washer in #7.5, #8.5, and #12 (1-inch, 1-1/8inch, and 1-1/2-inch I.D. sizes). Featuring solid brass construction, these metal grommets come in antique brass, black oxide, copper oxide, gun metal, nickel, and satin nickel finishes. Suitable for installation using the Rowley® hand tool and bench press and the ClipsShop® CSBUR-1 press and CS-DAM-3 pneumatic press, ClipsShop® Grommet Sets are packaged in bags of twenty-five sets and one hundred sets for each finish. Custom finishing or coating can be supplied for highvolume requirements. 508/821-4800;


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

INKS Bordeaux Digital Printink Introduces a Smart Cartridge Solution for Epson® SureColor Printer Bordeaux Digital Printink introduces its newest 700ml cartridge ink solution for the Epson® SureColor S printer, an addition to the already-existing 1L bag solution fitted for the company’s Smart Cartridge System intended for these printers. The new cartridge is an additional ink feeding option for these printers. The newly offered cartridge solution is also mix-and-match with the original ink, preserving original ink quality without requiring new ICC profiles and enabling the user to change cartridges on the fly without requiring any prior or post preparations. The 700ml printer compatible cartridge is offered in CMYK colors and flush.

MAGNETICS Magnum Magnetics Makes a “Big” Product Announcement Magnum Magnetics has launched its American-made, flexible magnetic material designed for super wide format printing applications above forty inches. Printers of magnetic material looking to fill wide format needs no longer have to look overseas for sheets of this size. With the material now being made in the U.S., Magnum Magnetics is able to offer better quality, reduced lead times, and excellent customer service. DigiMaxx runs on many commercial wide format UV flatbed or inkjet presses, much like paper stock. Its standard thickness is 20-mil and 30-mil, but it can be custom-ordered to different thicknesses. Magnum can also customize roll lengths and widths, laminates, and adhesive backings for specific customer needs. The super wide material is ideal for applications like retail signage, point-ofpurchase displays, and restaurant menu boards. 800/258.0991;

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Tri-Mod LED Backlighting Panels 24V Each panel is only 1/16-inch thick!

• A great way to backlight your graphics, posters and promotional messages • Suited for use in tight applications. Only 1-1/2 inches of can depth required • Only 1/16-inch thick • Offered as interlocking and connectable panels in different sizes

• Easy to install by anyone without any special knowledge of electronics using just standard tools • Can be arranged in many varied configurations to accommodate almost any type of application


Go to Web: Catalog 42, Pages 718-721

Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc. Serving the Industry Since 1972

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


SignSHOW ROUTERS/ENGR AVERS MultiCam’s V-Series CNC Plasma Now Available in Kit Form MultiCam now offers its V Series CNC plasma machine in an even more economical, easy-to-ship kit form. Instructions are provided on DVD, and the machines can be assembled and ready to operate in approximately four to six hours. EZ-G code and EZ-Suite application software is included with all machines to quickly convert drawings to machine code. V-Series machine support and technical assistance is provided by a local MultiCam Technology Center to insure your investment. The V Series Plasma features a custom-engineered, extruded aluminum frame with steel leg supports for high strength and rigidity. Automatic torch height is standard, along with powerful, dual X-axis drive motors and Hypertherm PowerMax plasma torches. The easy-to-use, handheld operator interface features graphic icons for all machine functions. 972/929-4070;

Techno’s New Venture Series CNC Router is Revolutionary, Durable, and Affordable Increased production capabilities with superior cut quality make the Venture Series CNC Router from Techno perfect for high-volume production shops. Key features are a 12-HP HSD high frequency automatic tool changer with an 8-tool rotary carousel that comes complete with a pneumatically retractable vacuum hood, a multi-zone vacuum t-slot table, a 10-HP Becker rotary vane vacuum pump, and a precision helical rack-n-pinion on the X and Y axes with a ballscrew Z-axis drive. THK bearings and rails are used on all three axes providing smooth, playfree movement. High-powered, maintenance-free, brushless AC servo motors and Delta drives provide efficient, powerful, fast, and accurate motion. The XY drives include precision German-manufactured gear boxes that are directly coupled to the Servo motors and pinions, which are driven by a PC based Osai industrial CNC controller with an easy to use system interface. This provides high-speed precision motion. Meanwhile the use of a carousel speeds up tool changes, assuring faster cycle times increasing production throughput.

“Fastenation has always provided superior service. They are the experts when I need a VELCRO Brand fastener solution that is custom made for my project. Always fast, dependable and on time.” ®

David, Project Manager, NC

Fasteners that every industry can depend on For more than 15 years FASTENation, Inc. has provided industry leading reclosable and adhesive backed fasteners. Our in-house converting capabilities and extensive technical expertise allow us to custom match a fastener solution quickly to meet a customer’s requirement. If your product requires packaging, labeling, or printing we have technology available to meet your needs. To see the full line of VELCRO Brand Fasteners and all the Preferred other industry leading brands, please visit Converter or contact one of our representatives today to learn more. ®

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

S O F T WA R E - D E S I G N / P R I N T/ R O U T E R / E ST I M AT I N G New SAi PixelBlaster 3.0 Print Production Software SA International has released PixelBlaster 3.0 for greater print preparation and workflow efficiency. SAi PixelBlaster production software is a modular and scaleable end-to-end system covering preflight to production. Using a PDF-based RIP, PixelBlaster delivers a customer-selected suite of workflow applications that can drive an extensive line-up of large format printers, regardless of supplier. The new features of PixelBlaster 3.0 include PixelBlaster Layout, which allows for true shape nesting, manual job positioning, double-sided printing, white handling, and cutting. The PixelBlaster Library now incorporates PixelBlaster Profile to make it even easier to achieve outstanding color results. It is one complete software application to create all profile components: print mode, ink splitting, calibration, and profile. PixelBlaster 3.0 also supports a wide variety of double-sided printing applications, features improved RIP performance and quality, and offers improved queue handling.

VINYL/VINYL FILMS/SUPPLIES New 3M Film Sticks to Challenging Surfaces 3M Commercial Graphics has made it easier to wrap hard-to-stick-to surfaces with the introduction of 3M™ Scotchcal™ High Tack Graphic Film IJ39. This 3.5-mil vinyl film has a high-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive that helps graphics manufacturers meet the need for a film you can depend on to stick to challenging surfaces. Film IJ39 is designed for solvent, UV, and latex-based inkjet printing, as well as screenprinting where a quality film is needed for short-term promotional graphics. The film is available in 54-inch-by-50-yard rolls, and it comes with an expected performance life of five years. Applications range from motocross bikes, coolers, and powder-coated paints to low-surface energy plastics such as polyethylene. 800/328-3908;

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By RAndy WRight


NEC 2014 Review, Part One Changes to the 2014 NEC, concerning the sign industry, for Articles 600.2 to 600.12.


finally make crystal clear that, no matter the diameter of the tube, it is all neon tubing.This also allowed for the removal of the informational note in this section.

ow that the 2014 NEC National Electric Code is in effect, let’s take out your new Code book and look at the current changes affecting signs and outline lighting. For clarification, each change made for this edition will be presented in red, while my comments will be italicized in follow-up paragraphs.

600.3 liStinG. Chapter 6 SpeCial equipment artiCle 600– eleCtriC SiGnS anD Outline liGhtinG 600.2 DefinitiOnS. NeoN TubiNg. Electric-discharge luminous tubing, including cold cathode luminous tubing, that is manufactured into shapes to illuminate signs, form letters, parts of letters, skeleton tubing, outline lighting, other decorative elements, or art forms and filled with various inert gases. Comment: The words “cold cathode” were added to

Fixed, mobile, or portable electric signs, section signs, outline lighting, and retrofit kits, regardless of voltage, shall be listed, provided with installation instructions, and installed in conformance with that listing, unless otherwise approved by special permission. Comment: The words were rearranged so that the adjectives refer directly to the types of signs, and “and retrofit kits” was added to require UL to provide a standard to list retrofit kits. This shall help provide enforcement for the influx of so-called kits, which are currently “a bag of parts” not suitable for use in converting electric signs.

600.4 markinGS.

600.6 DiSCOnneCtS. (a) lOCatiOn. (1) At Point of entry to a Sign enclosure. The disconnect shall be located at the point the feeder circuit or branch circuit(s) supplying a sign or outline lighting system enters a sign


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Photo: shutterstock.

(e) installation instructions. All signs, outline lighting, skeleton tubing systems, and retrofit kits shall be marked to indicate that field wiring and installation instructions are required. exception: Portable, cord-connected signs are not required to be marked. Comment:Where before only section signs required installation instructions, this change to the code will now require all signs and retrofit kits to have installation instructions.

Photo: shutterstock.

enclosure or a pole in accordance with 600.5(C)(3) and shall disconnect all wiring where it enters the enclosure of the sign or pole. exception: A disconnect shall not be required for branch or feeder circuits passing through the sign where enclosed in a Chapter 3 listed raceway.

enters the sign. With today’s energy management systems and remote control functions, this has become a fatal problem. Secondly this will remove the process of running the branch circuit into the sign enclosure, placing an external switch on the sign, and calling it a disconnect. This allows for live conductors inside the sign, raceway, or enclosure during service while

Comment: This section has become somewhat controversial after the fact, where some choose to interpret the code in a different manner. The intention of this section is to require the final disconnect be placed at the point where the branch circuit enters the sign. This corrects two problems: First the service personnel have complete control over the de-energizing of the branch circuit before it

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the service personnel believe the sign is disconnected. As reasonable people may differ, some believe you have three choices including the controller sections below. I, of course, disagree. They provide alternate sources of control and the ability to lock out, but my opinion is that they are secondary to the disconnect switch required on the sign. (2) Within Sight of the Sign. The disconnecting means shall be within

sight of the sign or outline lighting system that it controls. Where the disconnecting means is out of the line of sight from any section that is able to be energized, the disconnecting means shall be lockable in accordance with 110.25. Comment: This is a task group recommendation to remove explanatory language at many locations and refer to the new section 110.25 where a Lockable Disconnecting Device is defined.

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(3) Within Sight of the Controller. The following shall apply for signs or outline lighting systems operated by electronic or electromechanical controllers located external to the sign or outline lighting system: (1) The disconnecting means shall be located within sight of the controller or in the same enclosure with the controller. (2) The disconnecting means shall disconnect the sign or outline lighting system and the controller from all ungrounded supply conductors. (3) The disconnecting means shall be designed such that no pole can be operated independently and shall be lockable in accordance with 110.25. Comment: This is a task group recommendation to remove explanatory language, at many locations, and refer to the new section 110.25 where a Lockable Disconnecting Device is defined.

600.7 GrOunDinG anD BOnDinG. (a) GrOunDinG. (1) equipment grounding. Metal equipment of signs, outline lighting, and skeleton tubing systems shall be grounded by connection to the equipment grounding conductor of the supply branch circuit(s) or feeder using the types of equipment grounding conductors specified in 250.118. Comment: “Metal” and “signs” were rearranged for clarity, and “skeleton tubing” was added to the requirement.

600.9 lOCatiOn.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

(b) Pedestrians. Neon tubing, other than listed, dry-location, portable signs, readily accessible to pedestrians shall be protected from physical damage. Comment: The word “listed” was added to clarify that signs (such as beer signs) that have been evaluated by a certification company may be placed in these areas.

600.10 pOrtaBle Or mOBile SiGnS. (2) ground-Fault Circuit interrupter. The manufacturer of portable or mobile signs shall provide listed ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel. The ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be an integral part of the attachment plug or shall be located in the power-supply cord within 300 mm (12 in.) of the attachment plug.

Comment: This changes the responsibility of who will provide the ground-fault equipment. This requires the sign manufacturer to provide this equipment as opposed to the end-user providing.

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600.12 fielD-inStalleD SeCOnDary wirinG. Field-installed secondary circuit wiring for electric signs, retrofit kits, outline lighting systems, and skeleton tubing systems shall be in accordance with their installation instructions and 600.12(A), (B), or (C). Comment: Retrofit kits were added to the requirement. (A) 1000 Volts or Less. Neon and secondary circuit wiring of 1000 volts or less shall comply with 600.31. Comment: The word “Neon” was added to the secondary circuit, since there are neon power supplies that now operate under 1000 volts and require secondary wiring. This section also controls ballast wiring. (b) over 1000 Volts. Neon secondary circuit wiring of over 1000 volts shall comply with 600.32. Comment: “Neon” was added to the secondary circuit to clarify that the industry only uses neon in an application over 1000 volts. This includes cold cathode tubing.

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(C) Class 2. Where the installation complies with 600.33 and the power source provides a Class 2 output that complies with 600.24, either of the following wiring methods shall be permitted as determined by the installation instructions and conditions. Comment: Installation instructions were added to the requirement, for clarification. Next issue, I will conclude this review with a look at changes associated with ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 power sources; neon secondary-circuit wiring; and LED sign illumination systems. Randy Wright had the distinct privilege of becoming a member of National Fire Protection’s “Quarter Century Club,” for his twentyfive-plus years of active service on the NEC Code Making Panel 18. Any comments or questions can be sent to him at

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By MArk k. roBerts


Designs on Cutting Decals

A step-bystep process for creating digitally printed perimeter-cut decals.



reating professional, custom-printed roll labels and decals for new and already-existing customers and clients could be a nice, lucrative niche for your sign business If you have graphics programs such as Adobe® Illustrator® or Photoshop®, then you are already well on your way to producing first-class decals and expanding your business into new markets. When it’s time to begin your decal project, select a border design that would be appropriate for the project at hand. Most vinyl pressure-sensitive decals are square, rectangular, or circular—and some are free-form designed to accommodate special applications and locations. Take one of my clients, for example, who recently came to us requesting 1,000 printed and perimeter-cut decals, packaged on four rolls of 250 decals each. For this particular decal, the design was going to be circular. The specifications required a four-inch-diameter vinyl decal, with artwork applicable for the job at hand—a technical rescue

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

team at a local chemical plant. The decal was laid out with several design elements. The main copy for the decal reads “Calumet Penreco Technical Rescue Team.” The “Calumet Penreco” is positively arched on the upper part of the decal, and the “Technical Rescue Team” is arched negatively on the lower part of the decal. Special features of this decal include the emblem representative of a fire department with a circle and four custom panels around the circle at twelve, three, six, and nine o’clock positions. Found inside these panels are: the word “Rescue” at the twelve o’clock position; the word “Hazmat” at the six o’clock position; the symbol of a hazardous and toxic icon at the three o’clock position; and a climbing apparatus at the nine o’clock position. In addition, there is a silhouette of a rescue team member repelling down a safety rope.

To begin production, we scanned the furnished decal and converted the art files to a vector format in Adobe Illustrator. From there, we fine-tuned the art to make it look its best. Next we set up our files to print out on our Roland VersaCAMM VP-540 printer/cutter. We chose ORAJET® 3165RA calendered film for the substrate, which is our go-to vinyl for many of our decal projects. The decals always lay perfectly

flat and smooth on it, with no bubbles at all. I also like the gray on the sticky side of the vinyl, as it conveniently blocks the light from showing through on some applications. After about forty minutes, the 1,000 decals were printed and perimeter-cut in the shape of a circle. From there, we slit the rows of decals one decal high by twelve decals wide. We taped the decal strips together with clear packaging tape on the back side of

the ORAJET 3165RA. Using some empty 15-inch vinyl cores, we carefully sawed the cores into 3-1/4-inch-tall units. From there, we wound the decal strips on the 3-1/2-inch cores and wrapped them with plastic wrap to keep them clean and dry. All of your customers and clients can use digitally printed roll labels. By producing them on your own digital printer, you can offer smaller quantities of these labels to your clients. Create some sample labels for your own business. Show them to each and every client you serve. Chances are you will get their roll label business because you will deliver quicker and also be able to provide smaller quantities at a nice “small quantity” price! This is good for everyone! Your client now has the ability to change the design, the print color, and the shapes of the decals if he or she desires, without the worry of having to trash several thousand decals when a change is necessary. And be sure to get creative with these labels. Look for special-shaped decals and make sure you file them for future reference. You can also use them to show your prospective customer what you can do with your digital printer. The sky is the limit for your customprinted label-making capabilities! Mark Roberts is a thirty-six-year sign industry veteran and owner of The InterSign Group in Houston,Texas. Visit his site at

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This roll label project required a four-inch-diameter circular vinyl decal featuring artwork provided by the Calumet Penreco Technical Rescue Team and placed in clockwork positions.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

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More than 500 exhibitors will be set up on the Expo floor at this year’s event, and early indications are that the show will meet and possibly exceed its projections for attendance.

Last year’s ISA International Sign Expo, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, landed on the most recent version of Trade Show Executive’s annual list of the “Fifty Fastest Growing Trade Shows.” That event occupied 202,000 square feet and drew more than 19,5000 attendees checking out more than 595 companies in the exhibit hall. The increase in each area was significant enough to place the event on separate lists for: (A.) growth in attendance and (B.) number of exhibiting companies. 28

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Meanwhile ISA International Sign Expo 2014 ( takes place in Orlando, Florida on April 23-26. According to Brandon Hensley, chief operating officer of the International Sign Association, they’re anticipating more than 500 exhibitors at this year’s event, and early indications are that they will meet—and possibly exceed—projections for attendance. “We have seen more consumer confidence and an earlier commitment to exhibit space,

all Photos: isa.

ISA International Sign Expo 2014 Preview


What to expect at this year’s event hotel bookings, and registrations,” he says. “We also have data showing that 96 percent of our attendees would recommend this event to their peers.” ISA International Sign Expo 2014 is intent on capturing the energy of the on-premise sign and visual communication industry through events and overall feel of the show. With that in mind, Sign Builder Illustrated spoke further with Hensley about what attendees can expect at this year’s highly anticipated event:

too (the Dynamic Digital Signage Park and the ISA INKJet Print Theater). These areas will allow hands-on experience to common day problems our attendees face at their shops. Visit in advance to map out your schedule.

Brandon, what kind of improvements for members and attendees have been made on the show floor for this year’s ISA Sign Expo? We have a record number of co-locating and participating event sponsors (Almo, AIA, European Signage Federation, Digital Signage Federation, GRAPH EXPO, Inflatable Advertising Dealers Association, N. Glantz & Son, National Association of Sign Supply Distributors, SEGD, Serigrafia, and Signage Foundation). They will provide specific education and product elements. In addition, we have enlarged and improved the dynamic digital program and the hosted design/architect program— both of which we launched to standing room audiences last year in Las Vegas. And in response to sign company requests, we have developed an educational track aimed at project management. Speaking of education, how can attendees get the most from these opportunities being presented? We’ve crafted our educational offerings to respond to pressing needs of sign professionals at all levels. We polled attendees on issues they are facing in their daily activities and have developed education designed to provide hands-on solutions to these issues. Our Dynamic Digital Day was sold out last year, so we’ve expanded these courses this year to provide more opportunities to learn about this rapidly expanding area of business. In addition, there will be information to help sign companies explore commercial printing. Late in 2013, ISA co-hosted the commercial print zone at Print 13 along with GRAPH EXPO, and this program has been expanded at this year’s International Sign Expo. We have expanded our educational options on the Expo floor

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Put a plan together of which educational tracks to attend and what products to see on the 180,000-square foot Expo floor. Look for courses that address current pain points and those that will help you learn more about potential new business ventures. Consider bringing several of your employees and helping them select education that aligns with their career goals and your business needs. Employees often say that access to training helps them feel more satisfied in their jobs. What kind of advice do you give attendees when it comes to networking at ISA International Sign Expo? Networking opportunities are literally at every turn. Of course, we offer events—such as the popular ISA Networking

Reception for National and Custom Sign Companies and the ISA/Southern States Golf Tournament. And we have brought back the Last-Hour Happy Hour to close out each day’s Expo. While we provide many opportunities to network, these really are just the beginning. The entire event is one giant networking opportunity. Find time to meet new people in the education sessions. Strike up a conversation with someone new at lunch or at the Happy Hour. Stop by ISA’s “The Hub” and say “hello” to ISA staff. Visit with your local Affiliated Association representative there too.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014


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Speaking of the Expo floor, what should attendees keep in mind to successfully navigate it? The Sign Expo exhibit hall is open a total of twenty-one hours over three days. The best way to get the most out of it is to make a serious time commitment there. Prepare in advance through our Web site and our My Expo Plan tool there. You can even use it to request meetings with some vendors. Then spend a few hours getting around the floor to see what else you may have missed. Determine who you’d like to visit more in-depth and make a return call on their booths. Others may prefer to walk one portion of the show floor one day and return to another part on subsequent days. No matter what approach you choose, take advantage of the lounge areas that we have provided: 180,000 square feet is a lot of ground to cover! Even if you come to the Expo floor with a product in mind that you want to purchase, be open to exploring new items out there. This can be a tremendous time to meet new suppliers and manufacturers. This year, you are also co-locating with Almo’s E4 AV Tour, which is aimed at education and networking in the audio-visual industry. What is your view of the state of digital signage with today’s sign makers? Adding a dynamic digital component may not make sense for every sign company, however we want to provide enough information so they can make informed decisions. No one should dismiss this area out of hand. In fact, we are seeing a good deal of interest in this topic from our members and attendees. Our Dynamic Digital Day of education sold out last year, and we have expanded it so more can participate. Exhibit floor space for this topic has already exceeded the 3,300-net square feet from 2013 and will be significantly larger in 2014. 4/16/13 11:32 AM

D i g i t a l S i g n a g e / B y Va r i o u s / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Public SPaceS Gold (aPex + content) kbs + Spies & Assassins created a street-level digital reflection transforming real-time traffic along 6th Avenue in New York City.

DSE 2014 AwArD winnErS


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014



n February 12, Digital Signage Expo® (DSE) announced the independently judged Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners of its 2014 Apex & Content Awards. This year’s awards were presented at DSE’s Fifth Annual Awards Dinner, sponsored by the Digital Signage Federation and Peerless-AV. The DSE Apex Awards honor innovation as dem-

onstrated in the deployment of technology in the global digital signage, interactive technology, and digital place-based media industries. All nominated content was judged by an independent panel on the following criteria: challenge, solution, and results. This year’s Apex Award Gold, Silver, and Bronze recipients are listed below:

arts, entertainment & Recreation Gold: Crayola Experience, nominated by GestureTek Systems Inc.; Silver: Freedom Hall, George W. Bush Presidential Center, nominated by Barco (Note: See the the article “Hail to the Digital Screen!” that appeared in our February 2014 issue); Bronze: Basic Fit, nominated by Scala.

business, industry & Government Gold: GE Digital Energy, nominated by Advanced; Silver: HP Enterprise Services Briefing Center - The Experience, nominated by AMS Pictures; Bronze: Christie Digital Systems, nominated by Arsenal Media & RP Visual Solutions.

education & Healthcare Gold: Queensland University of Technology’s The C ube, nominated by MultiTouch Ltd.; Silver: RealityDeck at Stony Brook University, nominated by Gefen; Bronze: County of Midland Centennial Library, nominated by Array Interactive.

buSineSS, induStRy & GoVeRnment SilVeR (aPex) An interactive installation featuring HP Enterprise Service’s take on how technology may converge in the near future enhances the visitor experience.

Hockey Club, nominated by Westbury National Show Systems Ltd.

Food & beverage Gold: Juicy’s, nominated by WAND Corp.; Silver: State Street Financial, nominated by Sodexo; Bronze: Church’s Chicken Int’l., nominated by WAND Corp.

Hospitality event Venues Gold: Samsung Turkey, nominated by Dreambox Visual Communications; Silver: Seattle Mariners - Safeco Field, nominated by ANC Sports Enterprises; Bronze: Buffalo Sabres

Gold: The Queen Mary, nominated by Insteo; Silver: MGM Properties, nominated by NEC Display Solutions; Bronze: Boulder Station Hotel & Casino, nominated by BrightSign.

interactive Self-Service aRtS, enteRtainment & RecReation Gold (aPex) Children create art on iPads using DigiTools at the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania, and send it to a world on a giant projection.

Digital Solutions; Silver: Banamex Citi Group, nominated by SSL Digital; Bronze: DNB, nominated by Scala.

Gold: Umajin, nominated by Intel Corp.; Silver:, nominated by Intel Corp.; Bronze: Garrett Popcorn Shops, nominated by elevate DIGITAL.

Professional & Personal Services Gold: Scotiabank, nominated by Cineplex

Public Spaces Gold: BMW i: A Window Into the Near Future, nominated by kbs + Spies & Assassins; Silver: Gertrude Street Projection Festival, nominated by tkm9; Bronze: Kazakhstan Telecom/ A1 Productions, nominated by Arsenal Media.

Retail Gold: Adidas, nominated by The Integer Group; Silver: Holt Renfrew, nominated by Gridcast Media; Bronze: Digicel Group, nominated by T1Visions Inc.

transportation Gold: Show Media Executive Transportation Network/Blackberry Campaign, nominated by Show Media; Silver: CBS Outdoor,

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated




InteractIve Self-ServIce


The future of retail is on display at’s brick-&-mortar store, as demonstrated with its touchscreen modular system.

Travelers at Boston Logan International Airport have no trouble with wayfinding, thanks to a display by Four Winds Interactive.

SIlver (apex)

nominated by Manufacturing Resources Intl.; Bronze: Boston Logan International Airport, nominated by Four Winds Intera ctive. Meanwhile the DSE Content Awards honor innovative and compelling content created for digital signage and digital out-of-home networks. All nominated content was independently

Bronze (apex)

judged on the following criteria: creative relevance, production quality, and intended mission. (Note: To view a full list of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze DSE Content Award Winners, visit For the first time in the history of the awards, one company swept both Apex Award of the Year and Content Award of the Year (out of 190 total entrants): kbs


+ Spies & Assassins (, for its entry “BMW i: A Window Into the Near Future” (Public Spaces). This particular project created a street-level digital reflection of real-time traffic along 6th Avenue in New York City. Passing cars were transformed into upcoming BMW i electric vehicles to let viewers know that the future is closer than they think.

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buSineSS, induStRy & GoVeRnment Gold (aPex) To create the realist illusion of traffic in the near future, kbs + Spies & Assassins used three cameras, two 80,000-lumen Vikuti projectors, and more than 250,000 lines of original code based on motion detection technology and expanded to determine numerous variables (vehicle behavior, positioning size, and color). Using a learned background ensured that the reflection of Bryant Park across the street matched the number of leaves left on the trees, the holiday vendors, etc. Then using blob detection technology, they transformed vehicles and matched their speed/behavior with BMW i vehicles. Adding to the realism, all yellowcolored vehicles were detected and projected as passing taxis. In the end—and with the help of this

GE Digital Center’s new Customer Experience Center features a curved Prysm LPD video wall, a multi-zoned audio system, and touch panels.

projection technology—leads for the BMW i vehicles increased by 52 percent over the previous ten days before the installation. “Our use of innovative technology was important, as it understood the innovative nature of the vehicles themselves,” says the company. “By positioning the window adjacent to the BMW i Born Electric Tour event, we were able to drive people directly inside, where they could see the vehicles themselves. “Ultimately the BMW i Window proved to be advertising that was as innovative as the vehicles it promoted.”

kbs + Spies & Assassins celebrates sweeping DSE’s Apex Award of the Year and Content Award of the Year with its “BMW i: A Window Into the Near Future” project. 888.253.2778 VISIT US AT BOOTH #337 AT ISA 2014! Type II Certication Achieved using HP ® Latex Ink on Dreamscape® media coated with ClearShield® Wall Armor.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

E n g rav i n g / By joseph and carol Berke ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

ExcEllEncE at Engraving

all photos: custom engraving & signs, llc.

A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.

By using equipment such as a laser engraver, Custom Engraving has increased its capabilities and is able to take on jobs that other shops have to pass up, such as these intricate signs for Raging Wire Data Centers.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014


a custom sign shop takes full advantage of the potential of laser engraving. As mAny stArt-ups do, Custom EngrAving & signs, LLC began in the home. don shepherd, the patriarch of the shepherd family in richmond, virginia, started this business in 1970 with a manual-engraving machine and worked part time at it while serving in the military. in 1998, after retiring, he went full-time into signage and purchased a computer-controlled engraving machine. In 2007, his son Steve, who had worked as a machinist specializing in CNC programming, joined the company, and they began growing the business together. “I found that some of his weakness with computers were actually my strengths so I was able to pick up things he struggled with, and we ended up being a good set,” says Steve. Today Custom Engraving & Signs occupies 2,500 square feet of space in Richmond and has three full-time and two part-time employees. The company has a CNC router, a CNC rotary engraver, sandblasters, dye-sublimation wide format printers, and vinyl plotters. “We try to buy things other sign shops do not usually have, and it worked pretty well for us,” says Steve. (Note: The shop even does work for sign companies who lack this equipment and have to

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


sign shops typically outsource the fabrication of dimensional letters, but custom engraving laser-cuts them in-house and earns greater profits.

outsource certain processes.) The company also has two laser engravers: a Universal PLS4.60 with 45 watts of power and a table size of 18-by24 inches and a 75-watt Trotec Speedy 300 with a table size of 17-by-29 inches. According to Steve Shepherd, the laser engravers have helped them grow the business because they are now able to broaden their services. “If we could not do the job,” he says, “the customer would go somewhere else, and we would lose the work. The lasers helped us bridge that gap.” They generally use CorelDRAW software for the lasers and Adobe® Illustrator® for the design work. “We can use Word, Excel, or JPEG, TIFF, or EPS files,” says Steve. “The lasers do not care about file formats, and we can handle them all.”


complete sets of signage for several office buildings that were being refurbished. The building owners wanted a set of uniform, engraved signs with a pleasing appearance for all the buildings. “We laser-engraved signs for five of the six buildings, including fire evacuation route maps,” says Steve. They used a technique they have employed many times for commercial building signage. “For the maps, we painted the acrylic and then laser-en-

graved the paint away from the back and color-filled the legend and the routes,” he says. “This gave us a sign that people cannot scratch off, as well as a really nice looking sign.” The shop also used back engraving on mirrored acrylic to replace the old, polished stainless steel signs that had been silkscreened. “The method is to engrave what will be one color, take it out of the machine, paint it, let it dry, and put it back into

“If we could not do the job, the customer would go somewhere else, and we would lose the work. The lasers helped us bridge that gap.”

Paragon Place. The shop made use of its engravers on a recent job producing 42

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

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on a job for the univ. of mary Washington, shepherd’s shop laser-cut dimensional letters from 1/2-inch acrylic. the engraver and engrave what will be the next color,” says Steve, “and continue until the sign is finished. The laser is so accurate that you can take work out of the engraver and then put it back and the laser lines up perfectly. “The cost of the signs were significantly less expensive than reproducing the steel signs with silkscreen.”


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

laser engravers removed paint from the back of fire evacuation route maps and color-filled the legend and routes. University of Mary Washington. Another project required them to supply close to 400 ADA signs for the refurbished buildings at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg,Virginia. They also needed dimensional letters cut from 1/2-inch acrylic. This is the type of work a typical sign shop would outsource. “We were able to pick up the material, cut the letters, and in-

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stall them in a short time period. It made the process a lot easier and a lot more profitable for us than subbing the job out to someone else,” says Steve. Shepherd also points out that laser engravers require minimal set up. “Since no tools actually touch the work,” he says, “there is virtually no setup on most jobs. Just lay the sheet material in the machine, send your graphics over to the laser, and it is cutting within seconds.”

Raging Wire Data Centers. This California company was opening an office in Virginia. They came to Custom Engraving with an idea for some interior signs, but they needed them with a week’s notice, because the Governor of Virginia was coming to cut the grand opening ribbon. Part of the sign was a matrix grid system on metal. “This would be ideal for the silkscreen process, but we do not do that in our shop, nor did we have the

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contacts,” says Steve “We solved the problem by painting the metal.” The shapes they etched were not square, so they could not use the rulers on the machine to align the graphics. Custom Engraving instead laser-cut the shapes out of thin acrylic to perfectly fit the parts. “We cut out multiple openings, so we could do more than one at a time,” he says. “This allowed us to drop each part into an opening that precisely aligned that part with our graphics.” The signs consisted of three main parts, and they were all spaced apart from each other to give the sign some dimension. “We used the laser cutter to fabricate custom spacers for that purpose,” explains Steve. “We also cut assembly templates out of poster board to allow us to easily assemble the pieces. “Then we used the laser to remove the paint we wanted removed.” What was left was a very thin line grid for the matrix on the metal. “We made fifty units and delivered them on time for the ceremony,” says Steve. “We recently received an order for fifty more units for their California plant. “Lasers are what gives us the capability to do jobs like this, think outside the box, and turn things around quickly.” Design Masters. Another client, Design Masters, produces items for gift shops around the country, and they wanted to make ornaments for Congress. But they were running into problems. “The sheets were approximately 12-by12-inch in size and they were getting 25 per sheet with die cutting. Each piece had some very small holes, and the pressure it took to press the entire sheet was blowing out the dies,” says Steve. Custom Engraving was able to laser-cut thirty pieces per sheet, giving the customer more product with the same material. “The width of the beam is only about .005th of an inch, so we could nest them in the sheet to get more per sheet,” says Shepherd. “The job took no special tooling or setup. You simply open the lid, place the material on the table, close the lid, and hit the start button. “After we suggested that the job could be done with the laser, they ordered 25,000 pieces.”

tips & techniques One of the main challenges in using la46

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

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“Because of the speed of our Trotec Speedy 300, if we quote against a competitor’s laser, we can get the job every time.”

sers is the selection of the materials to be cut or engraved. For example, lasers should not be used to cut any material containing PVC. The fumes emanating from the heat of the cutting process are toxic to anyone around. They will also destroy and rust the inside of the laser and void the warranty. The shop uses Rowmark modified acrylic materials for their selection of colors and textures. But acrylic also needs to be cut carefully. Since acrylic will catch fire in less than twenty seconds, the laser should never be left unattended. (Note: Most of the acrylic material used in the shop contains a rubber additive that makes it a little more flexible.)

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More Congressional-inspired ornaments were made for and sold by Design Masters, thanks to laser engraving. The Shepherds are taking full advantage of the potential of their laser engravers. “We have perfected a few things and color filling is one of them,” says Steve. “When wood is used and painted with brushes, the paint bleeds into the grain of the wood. “Our technique involves putting transfer tape over the work and engraving through the tape. We then use an airbrush to apply multiple coats of paint. Next we remove the tape and get really rich colors with no bleed.” For more information about this sign shop, visit


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014


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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014


Converted Sign conversion to LEDs delivers savings on a tight deadline. when motorists roll past the p.c. richard & sons superstore on highway 22 in Union, New Jersey each evening, they’re getting a firsthand glimpse at the power and promise of leds. capital worldwide of lansdale, pennsylvania recently upgraded the expansive sign cabinets out front from fluorescent to more efficient led lighting that’s hard to miss. “we’re a young company, looking to grow,” says Mike cappelli, owner and founder of capital worldwide (www. all photos: capital worldwide. “one of the things we’re getting into is converting signs from halide or neon lights to leds.”

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Forty-five-foot-long articulated booms were utilized here to allow the sign shop to be able to install the more than 3,760 LEDs onto the massive steel pole-mounted sign.

Cappelli is selling clients on the advantages of LEDs as a green technology, which brings savings on energy and maintenance. “It’s a strong value for the client,” he says of these conversions. “The cost may be high to build and install, but they can expect to save thousands each year on energy alone.”

Big Project, Tight Deadline That message resonates with some sign owners looking to refresh or replace older signage. Late last year, Cappelli and his crew completed their largest conversion to date, retrofitting both sides of the doubleface pylon sign for the P.C. Richard location in Union, New Jersey. Word of the project first came his way from contacts at Big Mountain Imaging, Capital’s wholesale partner for large format digital printing. “But we originally lost out on the project due to price,” recalls Cappelli. His losing bid was based on fabricat52

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014



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There was a lot of flexibility on how one could mount the LEDs away from the sign face, and the sign makers opted to mount them eight inches back.

ing all the LED lighting cabinets and support structure in-house, at Capital’s 30,000-square foot facility. The estimate also covered materials and labor for removing the 200 fluorescent lamps on both faces of the sign.

“The sign cabinet was two singleface signs mounted back-to-back with structural steel poles,” notes Cappelli. Total size measured 15-1/2 feetby-40 feet, per side. “That sign was never fully function-

al,” he adds. “They never had perfect illumination where all the lights were working.” A few months later, however, the store owners experienced a change of heart. “They weren’t happy with the progress of the work, and they wanted to know if we’d still be interested in doing it,” says Cappelli. That invitation came early last November. This time, the job carried a new sense of urgency, which was not part of the original project. They wanted the new store sign up and in operation by Thanksgiving, in time for kickoff of the retailer’s peak holiday sales season. “There was no way we could meet their deadline if we had to build all those five-by-five-foot boxes for the LEDs ourselves as originally planned,” comments Cappelli.

An Easy Answer

Cappelli investigated alternative solutions, a search which ultimately led him to SloanLED and its SignBox II retrofit system. “It was the only product which enabled us to meet their deadline because it was ready to go,” he says. Cappelli provided his contact at SloanLED with specs of the project: sign dimensions, the kind of sign face used, and the color of the background and copy. Within forty-eight hours, his SloanLED representative came back with 54

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014




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For this project, the sign makers elected to use the brighter, whiter light of 5000k lumen lamps, rather than the bluish hue that comes with 6500k lumen leds.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

recommendations for 5,000 cool light LEDs, as well as the number of sign boxes, panels, and power packs he would need. SignBox II consists of LED modules that are installed on straps and powered by 60-watt 120-volt Power Packs. The straps are furnished in twenty-foot lengths that can be cut to length as needed. “There’s a lot of flexibility in how you can mount the LEDs away from the sign face,” adds Cappelli. “We chose to mount them eight inches back.” The LEDs were installed on strips twelve inches apart. The job required a total of 3,760 LEDs (more than 1,800 per side) and a total of 64 power packs.

Meeting The Deadline

Cappelli says the modular design of the SignBox II system streamlined the entire project, enabling his crew to easily meet the stringent deadline. “We removed all the existing lamps, ballasts, and wiring,” he reports, “then literally had both sides up within two days. “It took another three or four days to complete the new wiring, then to put up the sign face on both sides.” The faces were printed on thirteenounce backlit flex face material by Big Mountain Imaging, then installed with a forty-five-foot-long articulated boom. In all, Cappelli says it took his crew of five less than two weeks to completely dismantle and remove the old lamps and convert the sign to LEDs. Right on schedule, as the Christmas selling season kicked into high gear, P.C. Richard had a bright new sign announcing its location. “The biggest challenge on this project was their tight timeline,” he says. According to Cappelli, the client is extremely happy with the end results. “They now have a new sign that’s

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As sign owners become more aware of the advantages of LEDs, he expects demand for these retrofits will grow. To share in those opportunities, he says sign specialists need to understand the technology. “You do have to know what you’ll be illuminating and choose the right type of LEDs,” says Cappelli. For this project, for example, he chose the brighter whiter light of 5000k lumen lamps, rather than the bluish hue of 6500k lumen LEDs. “If you ask the right questions (of suppliers), they can provide you with all the answers,” he says. And with the right LED solution, it’s a win-win for all involved. “There’s a real value you can bring to your clients as far as the appearance of their signs goes,” says Cappelli. “When you add the savings on energy, and the fact that there’s barely any maintenance, it just makes sense.”

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


L E D L i g h t i n g / By F r i t z M ey n e , J r . / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

LED factors for retrofitting existing illuminated letters.

Channel Letter Options

LEt’S takE a Look at SomE of your conSiDErationS! 58

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Letter Heights Letter heights typically determine the module footprint. Today most LED suppliers offer two, three, and even more channel letter modules (CLM) per foot, and the reason to use one over the other typically comes down to the above criteria. The larger the letter, the larger the CLM you can use. This makes the install easier, since you work with less CLM. In return, less labor is involved. On the other hand, smaller letters or letters featuring serifs and cursive-type fonts typically require smaller footprint modules (like three or more per foot) to fill in and around the tighter letter bends.

Photo: gemini,inc.

So you have a set of channel letters that need to be updated from neon to LED—either by the desire of the sign’s owner or your ability to find new income streams.

4.56x4.875 Justin Sign_March014:4.56x4.875 Justin Sign_Dec06 3/10/14 12:21 AM Page 1

Letter Return Depths Return depths also have a direct effect on the CLM placement. Typically four-inch (or less) return depths require the CLM to be mounted closer to each other, which technically increases the power consumption and CLM count. Even shallower return depths require even tighter spacing and possibly a wider beam angle to help prevent hot spots with the point of light so close to the face. In all cases, consult your particular vendor of choice.

Letter Strokes As it was with neon, the letter stroke is another vital consideration. A CLM from any vendor has recommended row spacing for various strokes, and up to five to six inches is standard per row of multiple LED. Thus a large

The larger the height of the letter, then the larger the CLM you can use. Smaller letters require smaller footprint modules (such as three or more per foot).

letter with a fifteen-inch letter stroke, as an example, will typically need three or more rows of CLM. Also some fonts are thick and thin, requiring more rows in the larger areas and less in the serifs or radiuses. As mentioned previously, your LED vendor should be able to do this recommended layout for you.

Face Color This factor should be considered if the face of the channel letter is going to stay 60

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

the same. Face color, as with neon of the past, can be affected by the color of illumination. For example, red faces with white LEDs offer less saturated “red” color, as the white light washes out through the red face. On the other hand, red LED behind a red face provides for a saturated red with more impact. However in today’s market, we are seeing less use of all colored LED, as the performance and costs of white LED have increased and the price reduced. It is my belief, though, that placing colored LED behind colored faces gives the best color saturation. Relative to face color, you also need to consider that white LED is typically available in 3K, 5K, 6.5K, and the newer, more popular 7.2 to 7.5K whites. Warm K temps (lower numbers) are more yellowish, and high K temps (higher numbers) have a bluer look. Thus a warmer K temp CLM will make, as an example, a red face look better, and a higher K temp CLM with a blue face will make the blue look better. So you, as the manufacturer of the sign, have choices to further satisfy your customer with your knowledge and to choose the solution that makes them look best.

Halo Mounting

Photo: shutterstock.

For halo illumination (where a typical letter is stud-mounted off the wall), the wall surface can have a positive or negative effect on the finished look. For example, halo letters mounted on a nice, polished marble surface will give a direct image of the back of the letter on the shiny surface, and this needs to be addressed. For this scenario, I recommend using a white pigmented back panel. This ensures that the mirror image is a clean letter shape. However a word of caution using LED (as they are a point source): If you are using a clear back on this mirrored mounting surface, test a finished letter first. The right solution here can make or break the final look. Fritz Meyne, Jr., is vice president of Sales at LED lighting solutions provider Bitro Group, Inc. (www.


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It Takes


Sign shops collaborate to accomplish an eventful project.

Getting the Message Cognizant® is a Fortune 500 technology solutions provider for many different industries across the globe, and the company hosts 62

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

a five-day Global Account Planning Summit every year in December where they invite key management, senior management, and mid-level management personnel (nearly 1,500 attendees) to set their goals for the next year. And last year’s big event, held at the Hilton Waldorf Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida, was extraspecial since it was also their twentieth anniversary. So the message of the new year—as well as the past twenty years—needed to be reflected in the branding for this event.

Photo: image 360 Pittsburgh west.


ometimes sign makers can consider working hand-inhand with other sign shops to combine each other’s complementary services and create an even broader solution for clients. For example, Image 360 Pittsburgh West (Image360pghwest. com) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow ( in Bloomingdale, Illinois, recently teamed up to make sure that a hotel was fully rebranded with plenty of big-time graphics and signage for a client’s major event.

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Image 360 had done some work over the years with Cognizant, mainly as a printing and fulfillment partner. They were asked to work with Cognizant for providing the visual graphics for its latest event. “Even with our print investments, I still needed some expanded capabilities equipment-wise,” says David Jones, president of Image 360 Pittsburgh West. Jones had worked several times before with Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow, and thanks to that company’s proactiveness in the events industry, they seemed to be an ideal fit here. So Jones contacted Bloomingdale Signs Vice President of Operations Gary Schellerer, Jr., to help.

Material Needs While attending last October’s SGIA Expo (also held in Orlando), Jones and Schellerer met up with Cognizant officials at the hotel for a site tour of the soon-to-be-Summit location. In the end, Image 360 and Bloomingdale Signs branded this event pretty much everywhere throughout the hotel including the entry doors, the main lobby, the corridors, the ballrooms, etc. “Everywhere but the guest rooms,” laughs Jones. Graphics included: double-sided directional freestanding signage, single- and double-sided hanging banners, wall graphics, door wraps, walkway graphics, window clings, moulding strips, etc. (Note: See sidebar on page 68 for further details.) Cognizant’s agency provided the sign makers with all the creative files needed for printing via an ftp site, and all output was accomplished with some very late night production over a

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Creative Opportunities The sign makers also experimented with cool effects. For instance, they back-lit some of the wall murals with LED lighting.

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Photo: boost marketing.

pre-scheduled course of three days. Using their 100-inch d-gen dye-sublimation printer, Bloomingdale Signs printed the interior hallway and directional banners onto sheer fabrics from Media One Digital Imaging Solutions. Schellerer says Cognizant officials were open to trying different materials. “In years’ past, they’d used PVC material for their banners, and we advised instead using dye-sublimated and high-gloss fabrics here,” he says. The biggest advantage to using fabric as opposed to PVC for banners rests in wrinkles. “PVC has a tendency to retain its creases and looks kind of ‘plastic-y,’ if printed with solvent inks,” says Schellerer. “Comparably fabric has more of a glamorous, flowing look.” It’s also easy to roll up fabric material and steam out any wrinkles. “In this case, we actually placed a pole pocket in the bottom of the banners and slid in a conduit weight that allowed it to stretch the fabric out a little bit more,” says Schellerer. The large wall murals were printed double-strike onto short-term Neschen Americas SolvoPrint™ Easy Dot vinyl material sourced through Hasco Sales. “Since it doesn’t feature an aggressive adhesive,” says Jones, “it would go over the hotel’s existing wallpaper material without running the risk of damaging it.”

because the bright Florida sun could affect readability, Qr Codes were printed out onto opaque blockout vinyl and then applied over the top of the window film.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Photos: boost markEting. Photo (LEFt): imagE 360 Pittsburgh wEst.

More creative examples included: Light Box. Jones and Schellerer came up with the idea of a freestanding LEDbacklit light box to act as a focal point for the conference. “We used the color/white/color feature on our VUTEk press to lay down a fourcolor process, a white barrier, and a fourcolor process again directly onto 1/8-inch acrylic,” says Schellerer. “That allows light to go through two layers of ink, so that when the lights are illuminated (especially when it’s darker), the colors would be very bold and vibrant.” Window Graphics. This freestand-


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ing light box concept also inspired the brand,” he says, “and made sure the colors exterior window graphics. “Since the ‘popped’ and matched on every piece— exterior glass windows of the hotel whether window graphics, meter board, are backlit from the Florida sun, these dye-sub fabric, etc.” The second involved QR Codes linkgraphics also act as a backlit illuminated box,” says Jones, noting they were print- ing to Cognizant’s marketing collateral ed double-strike color/white/color on and publications. Bloomingdale Signs and Image 360 ended up testing a lot Lintec film as well. When printing window graphics, of options. “We discovered that smart Jones had to consider two factors. To watch a video of this hotel rebranding The first was project on SBI’s Web site, check out color management. “We had to be sensi tive to the corporate

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


phones couldn’t read a QR Code on the ‘backlit’ window graphics film, because of the bright Florida sun shining through it,” says Jones. Their solution: They printed the QR Codes onto opaque blockout vinyl and applied those over top of the window film. Sliding Entry Doors. Bloomingdale Signs printed the graphics for the front entrance doors on Lintec film using UVcurable inks on their VUTEk flatbed press. They even came up with a unique idea of using white ink to make these

graphics stand out even more. “We used a combination of white to create the effect of allowing the audience to see through the clear ‘20’ number and the ribbon and stripe on the side,” says Schellerer. “Everywhere you see white, it’s a printed white. But we were able to accentuate the ‘20’ and the stripe by knocking the white out of that area.” Image 360 also printed additional graphics onto non-skid AlumiGraphics® GRIP material purchased through N. Glantz and applied on the concrete

The Signage Plan Examples of graphics created for this rebranding project include: • 95-inch-wide-by-24-inch-tall double-sided direction freestanding signage printed onto 1/2-inch Gatorfoam board • 80-by-14-inch single-sided hanging banners for the Bonnet Creek/ Floridian Ballrooms made from fabric and featuring four-inch top and bottom pole pockets for installation • 180-by-42-inch double-sided hanging banners with blockout liner and finished with four-inch top and bottom pole pockets and hung from the ceiling in the lobby and in the Bonnet Creek/ Floridian foyers • Full-color wrap covering the front sliding doors to the main entrance lobby • 122.68-inch-by-36-inch AlumiGraphics® material supplied by N. Glantz and printed on UV-curable double-strike color/ white/color for the walkway graphics beneath the front entrance of the sliding entry door • 45-by-80-1/2-inch window clings printed double-strike c/w/c on Lintec removable film • 76-15/16-by-34-15/16-inch general session moulding strips UV printed c/w/c onto acrylic • 272-by-118-inch Zeta Bar wall graphic printed double-strike c/w/c on Lintec removable film. (Note: Two panels were cut horizontally with a 1/2-inch overlaminate seam in the middle) • 561-by-161-inch Floridian Ballroom wall graphic (main ballroom where the event was being held) printed double-strike c/w/c on Lintec removable film


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

sidewalk in front of the entryway to merge with the graphics and message found on the sliding lobby doors.

Installation Collaboration didn’t just end with the printing process. Cognizant also flew in people they’d worked with before to help install these graphics with Image 360 crewmembers. “We oversaw the installation, and their installers were fantastic,” says Jones. On this project, the installers had to work behind the scenes around a wedding and a major reunion going on at the same time in the hotel. And a lot of work had to be performed after midnight. “In fact, we couldn’t really work on the entrance doors until around three or four in the morning,” says Jones. The hotel hosts a lot of events through the year, so fortunately the necessary recessed rigging was already in place to hang graphics like the pole pocket banners without many issues. Vinyl installation of the window and door graphics involved a wet process using water and Rapid Tac application fluid. “We just made sure the surfaces were clean before applying the vinyl,” says Jones. And since all the installers were from out of town, the sign makers printed up a complete extra set of the graphics for insurance. “We gave [Cognizant] the unused graphics as well,” says Jones, “so they can use it for another application, if they want.”

Photos: image 360 Pittsburgh west.

Final Thoughts Schellerer loves the idea of teaming up with equally competent companies like Image 360 on these large-scale projects. “I don’t think either one of us could’ve done this job independently,” he says, “so opening up entire production capabilities from both sides was imperative to making everything on-time and on-cost.”




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Getting a handle


on HDU

Tips and considerations for cutting and finishing HDU material.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Photos: Piccadilly signs.

n recent years, many sign shops have turned to the versatility and durability of HDU material to create dimensional signs. But there are still some misconceptions out there about this material, so Sign Builder Illustrated spoke to manufacturers and suppliers to carve out the details on how to best work with HDU. It’s important to first determine what type of project you’re working on and to then choose the best density of HDU for it. Common HDU options include ten-, fifteen-, eighteen-, and thirty-pound density, with the most popular being fifteen-pound. The density affects everything from the tools to the detail to the finishing. A rule of thumb is the lower the density, the softer the material (and the less detail that’s possible). Lower densities may also require more primer and paint on the finishing end. It’s also importnat to realize that HDU may be similar to wood in many respects, but it’s not meant to be used for structural strength. Wood grain provides a lot of structural support or beam strength, which HDU does not have. So if the material will be used for any type of support, a thicker density or an additional backing will be needed. Beyond density, shops often ask what type of tools can be used on HDU. Chuck Miller, president of Coastal

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Everything from hand tools such as chisels to machining tools like CNC routers (pictured) and lathes can be used to work on HDU.

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West System Epoxy/Precision Board Plus HDU Test Report High-density urethane (HDU) is an extremely versatile material, but it’s important to know its limitations. The all-around best practice you can follow is to remember that most manufacturers have done extensive testing on the material and have a wealth of information they can share with you. In order to assist Precision Board users everywhere, Coastal Enterprises recently partnered with leading epoxy manufacturer West System to conduct physical testing on Precision Board HDU bonded with their Six10 Epoxy to determine the bond strength of several configurations and densities when it comes to hanging signs and wall-mounted signs. (Note: These tests also included testing the pull strength of various fasteners potted into Precision Board with the same adhesive.) All testing was done to “Destruction Testing” to show at what pressure load the bond line failed and to show where the failure occurred. This project report contains testing information from Bruce Niederer, Technical Advisor/Chemist at West System, using Precision Board Plus PBLT-10, PBLT15, and PBLT-30. To see the dramatic results of this testing, visit

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Photos (l to R): JosePh WestbRook, insignia; Jeff Wisdom, oRegon signWoRks; kdf custom gRaPhics.

Common HDU densities include ten-, fifteen, eighteen-, and thirtypound (pictured), and the size you use affects everything from the tools to the detail to the finishings. prises (, sums it up simply: “You use exactly the same tools—the Dremels and the cutters and everything—that you would use on wood. If it works on wood, it’s easier to use it on HDU. But if you can’t use it on wood, you can’t use it on HDU.” Everything from hand tools such as chisels to machining tools like CNC routers and lathes can be used on HDU. It just comes down to personal preference. (Note: Miller dispels a common myth by explaining that a hot wire cannot be used on HDU—the material doesn’t dissolve under the heat, so it will break the wire.) Whether machining or hand carving HDU, it’s important to take your time. “It’s just thinking the process through,” says Daniel Hennesey, Sales & Customer Service at Wensco Sign Supplies (www. “No redos—and that’s a rule for any shop. They don’t like redos because it costs them money and time.” Still even the most careful carvers can make mistakes. The good news is that there are ways to fix them. There are a few options for repairing smaller mistakes or mis-cuts: + Use Coastal Enterprise’s FSC-360 WB HDU Filler. + Combine HDU dust with a quality woodworking glue and use it for filling holes. + Use a polyurethane glue, but remember that the densities of the glue and the HDU are not the same. “You will see a sheen difference between where the glue spot is and the sign foam itself. That’s why you need to prime it a number of times and sand in between,” says Hennesey. For bigger mistakes where a piece has been broken or cut off, you can re-carve the section and glue it on. You can even program your router to cut out a plug using the same tool path that made the mistake.

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Photo: moosehead signs.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

When you finish cutting/carving, you’re not out of the woods just yet—the piece still needs to be finished. In many ways, this can be the trickiest part since finishing HDU is so different from other materials. HDU doesn’t absorb anything, so the primer and paint must dry from the inside out. (Note: A variety of paints can be used on HDU, including latex, laquer, and polyurethane-based coatings.) “To speed up the drying process, after you apply the primer, put a twenty-fourinch-diameter shop fan blowing across it,” says Miller. “The air that’s moving across the surface creates a frictional heating as the air slides along and barely changes the temperature, but enough to where the moisture or whatever solvents are in the paint realize that it’s warmer on the outside than it is on the inside and it jumps out. So it dries really fast.” (Note: HDU will take the longest to dry in cold, damp conditions.) The HDU sign must dry out completely or blisters will appear on the sign when it’s out in the sun. Beware that a dry surface doesn’t always indicate a fully dry sign. To tell if the HDU is really dry, sign makers should sand a corner of the sign with 100-grit sandpaper. If any primer or paint streaks onto the sandpaper, the piece isn’t fully dry. Whether finishing, cutting, or carving HDU, it’s important to do so safely. “First and foremost, you need to have a dust mask,” says Hennesey. There’s nothing carcinogenic in the HDU dust, and no fumes/gases are given off when it’s cut, but it’s still important to avoid breathing in the dust. Protective eyewear is a must, and Hennesey also recommends wearing textured gloves for a better grip when dealing with larger HDU pieces.


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s consumers progressively turn to magazines, design shows, and social media to exchange interior décor ideas, there is increased demand for products that allow people to cost effectively customize their homes and add personality to a space. As a result, vinyl graphic products for indoor home décor usage are spiking in popularity. From simple wall words to extensive full-room wraps, consumers are installing graphic products like never before. In response, manufacturers are researching and developing new décor products while tailoring existing product lines to reflect 78

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

color palettes that are most in demand. As the popularity of graphic products expands in the consumer market, there is a growing misunderstanding that anyone can install graphic products. To a layperson, installation seems as simple as applying a sticker. In some cases, this is basically true, but not always. Assuming that graphics applications are all the same can cause problems, and education is needed to avoid failed installations or disappointed customers. The job of educating consumers on the nature of graphic products often falls to the sign or print shop that sold the product, rather than assuming the end-user knows what they are doing.

all Photos: mactac.

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Know Your Indoor Décor Applications One of the first things consumers should know about interior graphic products for the home is that they are not just limited to wall words—there are many ways to customize the look of a home with graphic products. Consumers should not feel limited by product availability when customizing their homes with graphic products; they are essentially only limited by the bounds of their imagination. Application types they might consider include: + Posters, wall words, and chalk walls: Popular products that bear words, artistic accents, chalk or marker boards, and small images are usually designed to be easily applied to a wall by the average consumer. For instance, two- to threefoot long wall graphics or one- to two-foot long wall words printed on easy-to-use products feature a removable adhesive that can typically be installed by just about anyone. + Large wall murals: Wall murals are a great way for consumers to add a bit of personality to a space. There are various vinyl products that are ideal for this, but there are also alternative graphic materials that can make a space stand out. When it comes to wrapping entire walls, installing multiple graphics, or layering graphic products (where an overlaminate is applied to a graphic), it is a good idea to have a professional do the installation. + Furniture, ceiling, and other surface wraps: While consumers may be familiar with wall graphics, they may not realize that they can wrap other parts of their home to add personalization or a realistic, textured finish. Graphic products can even be installed on ceiling tiles as long as the right sort of product is used. + Window graphics: In the commercial space, window graphics are commonly used for advertising, but consumers can use them just as easily to decorate a space. Designs on some bubble-free adhesive products make window graphics easier to apply. It is still important for the installer to be familiar with proper installation procedures to ensure the graphic will last. + Floor graphics: Floor graphics are not just for tradeshows, schools, and hospitals anymore—they can also make for

If your client is installing a larger graphic, like a wall mural, suggest a professional do the installation. interesting additions to home décor. To ensure these graphics will stand up to the wear of being walked upon and will not cause slipping, it may be best to have a professional install them.

Considerations for Lasting Graphics The complexity of any graphics application is typically determined by the type of graphic product being installed, the size of the graphic, and the conditions of the surface to which it will be applied. Every graphic product has specific installation instructions that lay out the conditions under which the graphic product should be applied, the type of substrates to which the adhesive will stick, and how to prep those surfaces. Environmental conditions as simple as application temperature can affect how well a graphic will last and how good it will look. Minimum temperatures for installation are often around 50°F, for example, and installation at lower temperatures may decrease adhesive effectiveness. Not all adhesives are created equal, even for the interior home décor market. Some décor products feature high-tack, aggressive adhesives to allow fast adhesion, whereas others are meant to be removable and repositionable. Consumers often won’t know the difference, and they need to be informed about the type of

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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

adhesion they can expect. Surface preparation is a point lost on many consumers who see graphic products simply as giant stickers. Realistically even wiping down a surface before applying a graphic can make a big difference in the longevity of that graphic. Make preparation instructions available to consumers or suggest a professional assist them. Also worth addressing with consumers are any safety considerations of which they should be aware: + Are they choosing products that will not support additional burning or smoke generation in a fire? Vinyl can be hazardous when it burns if not properly treated during design, and homes are as vulnerable to fire as commercial buildings. + Are consumers choosing floor graphic products that are slip-resistant, or do they know to apply an overlaminate that will make it less slippery? + Do consumers know not to install large, dark window graphics in locations that receive a large amount of sun because the window could shatter as the glass absorbs extensive amounts of heat? These things may seem obvious to professionals, but to the average consumer, they may be less clear.


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Conclusion When it comes to serving the needs of décor-minded consumers, the number one thing to remember is this: Nothing should be taken for granted. Sign and print vendors may be the best source of information consumers have when choosing graphic products. Do not hesitate to reach out to manufacturers and suppliers with questions and concerns to ensure your customers will be content with the graphic choices they make. Jason Yard is marketing manager for MACtac® Distributor Products ( With expertise in graphic design, printing, and installation, he is responsible for marketing to MACtac Graphic Products’ large customer base and leading the Application Nation program in training them on the details of application techniques.

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


C u s t o m G r a p h i c s / By J e f f Wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

W i n d o w s h a d e s a r e q u i t e a c a nva s fo r p r i n t e r s .

on the With today’s available technology, there really isn’t anything that cannot be printed. And one company is using this to take the concept of window browsing to a whole other level. Located in Garland, Texas, Texton, Inc. ( is a family-owned whole82

Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

sale fabricator that’s been around since 1941 and works on any type of interior or exterior window covering. They’re specialists in interior design, and the company’s forty-eight employees work at a nearly 40,000-square foot facility providing solutions for clients in this field.

Photo: shutterstock.


Straight to Your Inbox SBI Update, Sign Builder Illustrated’s monthly e-newsletter, delivers the latest hot topics and news from around the sign industry right to your email

Photo: roland dga.

Texton, Inc., is successful at custom-printing artwork, logos, and photographs onto window shades and coverings for environments like hotels, restaurants, and churches. The company has been using its 104-inch Roland AdvancedJet AJ-1000 (mainly built for billboard printing, making it ideal for graphics geared to face outwards toward the sun) to custom-print window shades and coverings. They’re printing full-color logos, graphics, and photographs onto window shades for businesses like nail salons, restaurants, or hotels, as well as the press box at nearby Southern Methodist University’s football stadium. “The [window coverings] industry is still getting used to the idea of putting graphics onto shades,” states current CEO and third-generation Owner Ed Williams. Texton got involved with printed shades after winning a project bid for the W Hotel in downtown New York City. “They required a thousand graphic shades in the rooms with these tiny Ws forming a mosaic,” says Williams, “and with the AJ-1000, we realized we

didn’t need to sub out that work after all. It prints up to 102 inches wide, and typically the standard roll widths in our industry is 98 inches.” With this realization, they aggressively started offering these printed window shade solutions to their customers. Williams says banner material is ideal for use as a darkening material in some rooms. He goes on to say that PVCcoated and solar screen materials work best for shades. (Note: PVC-coated materials don’t wick.) “The textured surface of solar screen material gives graphics another level of depth. It’s also very forgiving,” he says. For most projects, Texton supplies the fabric materials, which Williams prefers. He explains, “If you have a window opening that’s five feet wide-by-ten feet tall, clients would have to provide much more than they’d need for us to hook it up to the roll-to-roll printer. “We don’t waste as much when using

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38



3A Composites USA . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Ability Plastics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 AdamsTech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Advantage Sign Supply . . . . . . . . . 32 Allanson International . . . . . . . . . 61 Allwood Signblanks . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 90 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 90 American Biltrite, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . 25 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 AxiomLED, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Bayer MaterialScience LLC . . . . . . 26 Biesse America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Bitro Group, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Brinks Mfg . (Van Ladder) . . . . . . . 54 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Cab Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Central States Signs . . . . . . . . . . . 91 ClearPath/Rowmark, Inc . . . . . . . . 60 Coastal Enterprises/Precision Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Corel Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Delcam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 DSA Phototech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Elliott Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Epilog Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Fastenation, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 FDC Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Flexmag Industries, Inc . . . . . . . . . 45 Gemini, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Gill Studios, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Graphics One LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Gravotech/Gravograph . . . . . . . . . 70 GWP/Vycom, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Gyford Productions . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Hartlauer Bits, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90


InfoDirect #

39 Innovision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 40 J Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


41 Justin, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 42 Kern Laser Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 44


43 Lightfair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 44 LMT Onsrud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57


45 Magnum Magnetics Corp . . . . . . . . 64 46 Manitex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


47 Marabu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 48 Master Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79


49 Matthews Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 50 MBS-Standoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91


51 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 52 Monarch Metal Fabrication . . . . . . 69


InfoDirect #


77 79 81 83 85


53 MultiCam, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 54 Mutoh America, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 89

57 Orbus Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 58 Orbus Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 59 Orbus Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86


60 Ornamental Post


61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75


Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Stamm Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Stimpson Company, Inc . . . . . . . . . 65 Sylvania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Techno CNC Systems . . . . . . . . . . 57 TRC Electronics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Trotec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Universal Laser Systems, Inc . . . . . 1 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ventex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Vision Engraving & Routing Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 VKF Renzel USA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Wilkie Mfg ., LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3

Companies in Sign Show

55 Nova Polymers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 56 Orafol Americas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Rapid Tac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Roland DGA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79 SA International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Safety Speed Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Scott Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 ShopBot Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Sign Bracket Store By Hooks and Lattice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 Signs By Benchmark . . . . . . . . . . . 89 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Small Balls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91


90 92 93 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103

3M Commercial Graphics . . . . . . . 17 Bordeaux Digital Printink . . . . . . . 15 Epson America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Epson America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Fisher Textiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 LaserBits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 LetterBank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Magnum Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 METALgrommets .com . . . . . . . . . . 14 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 MultiCam, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 PrinterEvolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 SA International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Samsung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Techno CNC Systems . . . . . . . . . . 16

January April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated

85 65

our own materials.” Williams cites a custom-printed shades project his company is currently doing for a big hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s really just a simple design,” he says. “They were going to provide us with rolls of materials, but thanks to our buying power, we were able to get the material and sell it back to them for cheaper.”

Concerning production, Williams explains that after the shade fabrics are output from the roll-to-roll printer, they don’t touch it. “It takes a couple of minutes for it to set and dry properly,” he says. “The printer heats up the material just enough to apply the ink.” The designs that can be printed onto shades are limitless, yet Williams find this mindset can still prove difficult for clients



Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014





Photo: (this Page) texton; (oPPosite Page:) roland dga.

The company orientates window shade images either indoors or outdoors, such as their work for the press box at SMU’s football stadium.

Hospitality is where one can find the most bold design concepts for window shade graphics—whether in hotel lobbies, spas, or restaurants.

to grasp. “One thing we’ve done is produce a library of designs [clients] can choose from,” he says. “This helps get them thinking in the right direction.” Still Williams enjoys working with customers from scratch. To come up with design placement, he uses a simple worksheet showing where the images should be placed in the middle or how far left or right or from the bottom the customer wants it. A designer recently came to his shop with a project involving an interesting pattern on some drapery fabric that she wanted for shades. “I took a photograph of it on my iPhone, redesigned it, and made a few changes to render that image onto a shade,” he says. Williams has also been working with a non-profit historical museum in Houston for the past year on an ongoing project involving custom-printed shades throughout its facility. “They have all of these archived images—like pictures of Bob Hope and his wife coming off a DC-3, for example,” he says. “But we have to consider how the photographs that are normally wider than taller are going to interact with a shade that’s traditionally taller than wide. So we played around with cropping it and manipulating its position to get it right.” Meanwhile for the hotel in Cincinnati, the big challenge is that the material they’re printing on for these shades is directional in nature. “So it’s not like we can turn an image sideways,” he says. “They all have to be north-south because of the weave, the unique pattern of the material.” When working with old photography for reproduction, Williams says companies might do a little touch-up work to them—if necessary. “

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

ever some of the blemishes add to their nostalgic look,” he says, bringing up the aforementioned historical museum. Williams says that if they get a damaged photograph intended for a business, they’ll do a little more work to it. “We’ll kind of blend it in and fill in the spot that’s missing,” he says. When they do big projects, Texton loves printing them all at once, as it’s more efficient, but Williams admits that this really is up to the customer—and the project. “For the hotel in Cincinnati, we’re breaking down our supply to the installers into individual floors,” he says. “We’ll manage and nest the images onto the material the most efficient way for a single floor.” (Note: Williams likens the process to playing the Tetris™ video game when it comes to trying to nest everything properly.) “But the reality,” he says, “is that, while we’ll supply one floor or two floors at a time, we print everything up at one time.” Williams points out that the process of printing onto shades did have quite a learning curve, but his company overcame this through testing and trial-andretrial. One early stumble was the thought that they could simply print everything onto white material for any colors needed. “I figured if someone wanted a green background shade with graphics,” he says, “instead of looking for that particular green material, I would just print it out onto white. “But this process isn’t as conducive to printing a solid color for long periods of time. You’ll start to see lines in it, as well as track wheels.” Williams would like to go even further into hospitality markets with these printed window shades, since that’s where the most opportunity lies. “Blinds can be considered the red-headed stepchildren of interior design,” he says, “but hospitality is where your most bold design concepts happen—whether it’s restaurants or hotel lobbies or spas.” And to reach even more print providers and let them know about custom-printed shades, Texton, Inc., recently partnered with FASTSIGNS® International. Thanks to this hook-up, the company is reaching even more high-end designers beyond hospitality. So don’t be surprised if you notice more and more printed window shades being drawn up.

Mimaki’s SMART Vinyl Wrap Courses Wide format inkjet printer and cutter manufacturer Mimaki USA has announced its SMART (School of Mimaki Application and Resource Training) Vinyl Wrap for Beginners course schedule for 2014. Class times are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (local time) and are scheduled for the following dates and locations: + June 3-5: Suwanee, Georgia + June 24-26: Irving, Texas The course is offered in conjunction with 3M Commercial Graphics. 3M Preferred Graphics Installers will teach the three-day class that covers classroom review of the different types of digital media, tools and best practices for installation. The majority of the course is spent in the Mimaki regional technology center where participants will experience hands-on training, including:

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+ Vehicle wrapping and removal techniques; + Smooth and textured wall wrapping; + Floor graphics; and + Glass wrapping applications using 3M vinyl media. In addition to valuable experience obtained from 3M installers, every participant will receive a Pro Install Kit that includes all necessary tools and materials for a quick start once they return to their shops. Throughout the year, Mimaki USA will be adding courses to its SMART program including more vinyl wrap classes, software training, and business and marketing seminars. For more information about SMART program schedules, visit

April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

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April 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated



B y J e f f Wo ot e n

Unique Auto Finishing, LLC of Munhall, Pennsylvania

Making a

Garage Sale


llen and Amy Palmer, co-owners of Unique Auto Finishing LLC (www. near Pittsburgh, are firm believers that the vinyl wrap industry should cover more than just vehicles and walls. “We recently wrapped a refrigerator, a dishwasher, a garbage can, and even a can opener for a personal residence,” says Allen. And you can now add a garage door to their portfolio of “unique” wrapped surfaces. The owner of nearby business Spang Remodeling has an interest in international trucks and approached Unique Auto Finishing looking for a way to promote this fascination. The idea: Wrap the exterior of his company’s 12-by-12-foot garage door with an image of one of these rigs to make it look as if it was parked inside. Unique Auto Finishing has been in business since 2011, and Allen and Amy also happen to be its sole employees. They’re a PDAA Master Certified installation company servicing not only car enthusiasts but also printing companies in areas of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. (Note: Allen boasts thirteen years of installation experience.) Their work ranges from full color changes and commercial wraps to mall barricades. During the planning stages of this wrap, the Palmers had to take into consideration the garage door’s handles, groves, textured surfaces, and

windows. A garage door is different than wrapping a vehicle or a wall because there are textures to take into consideration. “However this garage door was flat (besides the groves), so the measurements weren’t difficult to take,” says Allen. For this project, the print provider supplied them with 144 square feet of already-printed Avery Dennison MPI 1005 vinyl as a bleed. “The MPI 1005 has really good conformability, durability, and longevity,” says Allen, noting they also frequently work with vinyls from 3M and Arlon. Installation involved a squeegee, a knife, tape, and a tape measure and proved fairly easy. “At the end, we went over the graphic with heat and a foam roller applicator for the rough surface textures,” says Allen. “Making sure the material was secure within the groves for its best possible lifespan was the biggest concern.” Fortunately temperatures were not cold on installation day. “Usually anything over 55°F we can go ahead and install vinyl,” says Amy. The Palmers take pride in every project they tackle, and this one was no different. “It was nice to see people stop and watch the installation in progress and ask questions about [the techniques] I was using,” says Allen. This may have been their first garage door wrap, but now, they don’t have any plans for it to be their last one either.


Sign Builder Illustrated // April 2014

Photo: unique auto finishing llc.

The drive behind installing vinyl wraps!

The Road Ahead   

Times have changed, so has  the Sign industry and the way  we do business. With new  government regulations  Wilkie helps you keep ahead  of the curve with the new  Wilkie innovative products  with the sign professional in  mind.  The Wilkie Model 52XLR is a  prime example of this  52’  two man rotating platform  with a storable jib winch in  the basket and a mainline  winch that stores when not in  use mounted on a non CDL  truck, Wilkie helps you keep  ahead of the curves in life  that come your way.   Wilkie Mfg., L.L.C.  405‐235‐0920 Phone  405‐236‐3324 Fax 

Sign Builder Illustrated April 2014  
Sign Builder Illustrated April 2014  

This issue features stories on engraving, HDU, channel letters, LEDs, fabric printing, interior vinyl graphics, wall and floor wraps, digita...