Page 1

Hdu on display

led ligHting

Carved & Routed

Forecasting the Future

Nu mbe R 217

Number 217 | july 2013


Cleaning Up Sign Bu i lder i l luStr ated

with an

Icon Sign

> Decorating Magnets > Dye-Sublimation ju LY 2 013

> Awning Permits

July 2013


40 26 34

Behind the Landmark BY JEFF WOOTEN

A new icon sign really cleans up for a car wash in Florida.

Emergency Solutions BY JEFF WOOTEN

Installing widespread signage for a brand-new medical facility.

40 48


Signing at the the Trading Post BY JEFF WOOTEN

A Maine sign maker brings art and the outdoors together for a new pole-mounted sign.

The Door to Dye-sublimation Printing


It’s important to understand how communities regulate awnings.

60 66

Flexible Magnets 101 BY JEFF WOOTEN

When it comes to magnets, there’s no such thing as too much education.


Diversification in Lighting BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Some reasons to embrace all lighting components. Plus, redesigning a power supply.


Your key to getting into this growing market.

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 $105.00; foreign $197.00; foreign, air mail $297.00. 2 years US $149.00; foreign $267.00; foreign, air mail $497.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $158.00; foreign $296.00; foreign, air mail $396.00. 2 years US $224.00; foreign $400.00; foreign, air mail $600.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2013. All rights reserved. Contents may not be



Permit Me to Talk About Awnings!

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

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 10, Omaha, NE 68101-0010. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 10, Omaha, NE 68101-0010. 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.

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How-To Columns


What’s Next for LEDs in Illuminated Signs?

JULY 2013 July 18-20: The Mid South Sign Association’s Convention & Tradeshow will be occurring at the Embassy Suites in Huntsville, Alabama. (www.


22 18

September 8-12: PRINT 13, produced by the Graphic Arts Show Company, is taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. (

On a Roll with Printed Contour-cut Labels

What’s Next for LEDs in Illuminated Signs?


Forecasting the future of neon doesn’t require a crystal ball.


On a Roll with Printed Contour-cut Labels

Departments 6




Editor Jeff Wooten relays advice from experts about how to avoid costly lighting mistakes.


The latest news from around the industry.

Get attached to new profits by creating custom, contour-cut labels.


Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.


Forecasting the Future


Jeff Wooten details how no vinyl wrap projects are out of the question for Element Graphics & Design, including a bike displayed at the Lollapalooza music festival.


Carved & Routed

NUMBER 217 | JULY 2013



with an

Icon Sign On the Cover > Decorating Magnets > Dye-Sublimation

J ULY 2013

> Awning Permits


The new identity sign for Mr. Squeaky Clean Car Wash in Pompano Beach, Florida is already being hailed as a landmark. Photo by Lucas Carreira.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

September 20-21: CONSACImagemakers, the Sign Association of Canada’s national tradeshow, will be held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. (

OCTOBER 2013 OctOber 9-10: The National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC), sponsored by the Signage Foundation, Inc. (SFI), will be conducted at the University of Cincinnati. (www. OctOber 11-12: Official ShopBot Training Classes will be taking place at the company’s headquarters in Durham, North Carolina. (

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Valid on your next full case purchase of any Fire Series White, receive a FREE 50 ft. box of Red equal to or less than product ordered. Call for details. Offer expires July 31, 2013. Promo code: BOWFINNSB1212

Call 877.236.4401, press #1 Above image used for advertising purposes only. LuxemBright® Fire Series™ modules are potted to IP67 standard and are not intended to be submerged in water. Fire Series, Fire, and Flare are Trademarks of CAO Group, Inc. Blaze and Inferno are Registered Trademarks of CAO Group, Inc. © 2013 CAO Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


by jeff wooten

July 2013, Vol. 27, No. 217

Avoiding Costly Mistakes with Lighting Tips for transformers and power supplies.

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. 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 252/355-5806; fax: 252/355-5690 associate editor

Phot: Fresno neon

Ashley Bray


n last issue’s “Shop Talk” (“West Coast Vintage Neon”), we misidentified the president of Fresno Neon Sign Company, Bill Kratt, and we’d like to apologize for that error. Meanwhile Lori Shridhare continues her look at this company’s diversification on page 66, with a look at its work in both neon and LED. When it comes to neon, Fresno Neon Vice President K.C. Rutiaga has noticed that one of the most common mistakes her company has seen on neon installations is overloading the transformers. Tapping into her company’s long history of expertise, Rutiaga offered Lori the following installation tips to share that, due to space considerations, we’re presenting here: + “Most transformers are made to run at 80 percent of the chart. Often we find a job installed by others that is pushed to 100 percent of the chart. Estimating which transformer to use on a job takes a few minutes, but doing so will save you time and money in the end.” + “A good base to start with is to figure out the gas to be used and total length and the diameter of the glass used for the job (add a foot per pair of electrodes and keep the GTO runs under a total of twenty feet). If longer GTO runs are necessary, then we calculate that into the overall footage. We always ensure that the primary is a good 120 volts and has a dedicated neutral and ground. Then we select the transformer(s) that meet our needs.” + “We always double-check our calculations with a milliamp meter. Overloading and 6

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

underloading the transformers or power supplies can cause premature breakdown of all the components.” On page 69, you’ll find news about testing conducted on a redesigned SloanLED power supply. Company Director of Engineering Bruce Quaal also has advice related to working with power supplies and LED lighting. + After electrical safety, the most important thing is to make sure a power supply doesn’t get too hot. “The maximum ambient temperature it should operate in is 60°C,” he says. “Spacing from other power supplies and ventilation help keep them cool, and the cooler you keep a power supply, the longer it will last.” + When mounting power supplies inside a transformer box or raceways, Quaal states they should be spaced four inches apart or more. “It’s all about spacing and ventilation to control the heat,” he says. + Don’t put a power supply in an area that has another heat source or seal them up so tightly that they don’t dissipate heat. “If you do, the temperatures may exceed the maximum operating levels and you’ll quickly shorten its life,” he says. + Finally Quaal remarks that sign makers need to make sure they have the right supply voltage going in (within range) and that they don’t overload the power supply. Hopefully this advice about transformers and power supplies will help you appropriately set up your customers’ electric signage not only this summer but for seasons to come.

55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 401/722-5919; fax: 212/633-1863 contributing writers

Butch “superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Jim hingst, Peter Perszyk, Kenny Peskin, Mark roberts, lori shridhare, Blake Vincent, randy Wright art

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams 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

For reprint information contact Arthur J. Sutley 55 Broad St, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389



ActIon FIgure DISplAy ScAreS up trAFFIc Statesville, North Carolina—Creating a monster-sized display to promote sales of Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University moviethemed action figures at the 2013 American International Toy Fair in New York City didn’t scare fabricators at New York-based Underground Visuals, Inc. They knew they could count on Gatorfoam® foam board to construct a behemoth reproduction of a Monsters University animated character. The action figures were being pro8

moted at the Toy Fair in support of the recently released Monsters University, the movie prequel to 2001’s computer-animated Monsters Inc. And what better way to represent the toys than with a monster-sized action figure box set up at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this past February? The display allowed spectators to step right in next to a reproduction of Monsters University character James P. “Sulley” Sullivan for a photo. Underground Visuals selected a

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

1/2-inch-thick, 48-by-96-inch sheet of Gatorfoam display board by 3A Composites USA ( in Bright White to create an action figure box replica that measured 8 feet tall-by-12 feet wide-by-2 feet deep. The “Sulley” monster image was printed on Gatorfoam to form a back wall of the action figure box display, with one end left open for visitors to walk in next to him. In addition to Gatorfoam, the front wall and one side wall of the box were finished with clear Lexan® sheets to mimic the plastic found on action figure boxes.

Underground Visuals used an Océ Arizona 360 GT flatbed to direct-print the action figure box design onto Gatorfoam and then die-cut it with a Zund G3 digital cutter. The monster-sized box was sent in pieces to the Javits Convention Center and assembled with aluminum tubing and Velcro® fasteners for display at the Toy Fair. At the close of the event, the display was disassembled and packed so that it could be set up again at the design firm’s headquarters. “The Toy Fair ran through an entire weekend, and this display drew a lot of traffic,” said Norman Scheffler, owner of Underground Visuals. “Everyone loved it. It came together beautifully.” Underground Visuals specializes in creating point-of-purchase displays, retailstore window displays, and Broadway theater backdrops by utilizing high-end photography, direct printing, and routing services. Gatorfoam was supplied to Underground Visuals by the Hicksville, New York branch of Polymershapes, the distribution unit of SABIC.

Anaheim, California—Biesse America ( has officially opened its West Coast Showroom and Service Center in Anaheim. The showroom has multiple machines under power and ready for demonstration, as well as industry experts on hand to answer any questions. Biesse recently held a Spring One2One grand opening event in which seventy-five attendees visited the showroom for machine demonstrations on a wide range of applications including: nested based cabinet manufacturing, machining of plastics and composites, and the fabricating and milling of wood panels. Several industry partners were also on-site to discuss financing, software, dust collection, and vacuum fixturing. In addition, VIP customers were invited to "Dine With Biesse" and enjoy networking opportunities with their peers over dinner. Those interested in seeing the new showroom can schedule a tour by contacting Vince Burson at 704/806-1477.

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated

photo: biesse america.

all photos: underground visuals, inc.

Biesse Opens West Coast Showroom


Dispatches + San Diego, California—LED lighting system retailer recently teamed up with Pickett & Sons Construction, Inc. (www.pickettandsons. com) to complete a custom LED display for the Red Carpet Ride and Shine Express Wash in Fresno, California. Along with the task of constructing a new building, Pickett & Sons had the added challenge of needing an exciting exterior design to catch the attention of prospective customers driving past the car wash. “We wanted to create a design that reminded customers of moving water flowing down the side of the building,” said Mike Fillebrown, project lead at Pickett & Sons Construction, Inc. “We have worked with LED lighting before but were unsure of a product that would allow us to create a fluid chase effect. recommended pixel control lighting to us, and we were able to create all the effects we needed and more!” Pixel control lighting combines the ability to produce millions of colors with the technology needed to achieve individual pixel control. Each RGB module can be individually controlled at the same time, which allows for complete creative

freedom and animation when paired with any DMX controller or light board control system. Pickett & Sons chose to install twentyone reels of waterproof PixelPro LED strip lighting, so they could create long runs of chasing light extending the entire length of the car wash. “We wanted to randomize the effects so they weren’t stagnant,” explained Fillebrown. “Sometimes the lights chase colors, and other times, we set it to solid color-change modes. By setting up the programs with our DMX 512 controller, we are able to create the eye-catching effects that we were looking for.” also provided the power supplies and connecting cables needed for the installation—offering a

all photos:

LEDs are a Wash!

turnkey solution for one-stop shopping for LED lighting systems. To watch the PixelPro Car Wash in action, check out the video at:

“Super” Wrap for a Supercomputer


with Comply™ v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3-10 with 3M™ Scotchcal™ Gloss Overlaminate 8518. “Signs By Tomorrow has completed highly specialized projects before, but this

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

job reflects the pinnacle of technology for our industry as well as our client’s,” says Signs By Tomorrow of Plainfield Owner James Murray. “We are very proud of our role in this very important project.”

photo: signs by tomorrow.

Plainfield, Illinois—Mira, one of the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers, may also be one of the best looking thanks to its new wrap. Working with Argonne National Laboratory, Signs By Tomorrow Plainfield ( produced and installed the sixty-fivefoot-long, six-foot-high, full-color wrap, which features images representing the various types of research with which Mira can assist. The client provided the design, but Signs By Tomorrow assisted with technical elements (including color correction, sizing, media selection, and adhesion issues). The final wrap was printed on ecofriendly 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film


PLASKOLITE Engineered to deliver virtually endless design possibilities, the Plaskolite portfolio of plastic sheet substrates offers an extensive range of colors, textures and finish options. And with superior UV protection and weather and impact resistance, Plaskolite ensures that your signage applications make a great impression that lasts.

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SignSHOW AW N I N G S & V I N Y L - COAT E D FA B R I C S Enter New Markets with Agfa Pitman’s New Duratex Polyester-coated Fabric Agfa Pitman has expanded its Duratex line with the release of Duratex PolyFab, the company’s first fabric for UV-curable, latex, solvent, and eco-solvent inkjet printers. This new material is a high-quality, 100 percent-knitted, crease-free, polyester-coated fabric for vibrant imaging. The lightweight fabric can be cold cut and stretches easily for expansion over frame structures (including frame systems, outdoor signage, and tradeshow displays). Duratex PolyFab is available in two different sized rolls—59 inches-by-165 feet and 118 inches-by-330 feet.

Aurora Specialty Textiles Brings New “Sticky Stuff” to its Textile Collection Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc., has added Sticky Stuff 4 oz. and Sticky Stuff 8 oz. to its Northern Lights Printable Textile Collection. Both fabrics are a 100 percent polyester fabric with premium polymer coating on the print side and a repositionable/removable microsphere adhesive on the backside for easy installation and removal. Compatible with latex, solvent, and UV-curable digital printing, the fabrics are available in widths up to sixty inches. Sticky Stuff 4 oz. is ideal for wall graphics, while Sticky Stuff 8 oz. has a traditional canvas weave and is best for applications where a heavier, canvas-like feel and texture is desired. 800/864-0303;

B A N N E R S / M A T E R I A L S / E Q U I P. Take Your Message Outdoors with Creative Banner’s Sail Sign Banners Creative Banner Assemblies’ portable Sail Sign Banners are a perfect alternative to standard banners and other outdoor signage because they create movement and attract attention with their unique shapes and sizes. They are available in four styles (each in three or more sizes) and can be printed single- or double-sided. Sail Sign Banners were designed to withstand the elements and include carbon composite poles. With this strong yet flexible construction, the banners can bend without breaking. The vertical pole also acts as an arm, holding the graphic for the most visibility. The banners include double-folded, double-stitched pole pockets to create maximum strength, rather than printing right on thin banner fabric (which allows seams to rip in windy conditions). Sail Sign Banners can be easily transported in a soft carry case and have seven different base options for indoor use.

Ultraflex Introduces New Outdoor Blockout LTX Banner Material Outdoor Blockout LTX from Ultraflex is a double-sided, heavy-duty, consistent, 18-ounce blockout banner material for both indoor and outdoor applications. Its unique construction provides strength and stability under harsh weather conditions. The ending acronym “LTX” designates a latex formulated material, and the Outdoor Blockout LTX is the first in a line of superior products that were custom-built to print ideally with latex technology. Both sides of the material have a matte finish and are compatible with eco-solvent, solvent, latex, and UV inks. Outdoor Blockout LTX is available in widths ranging from 38 to 196 inches. Ideal applications for this material include pole/street banners, aisle/event banners, tradeshow graphics, and P-O-P/P-O-S signage. 973/627-8608;

B I R D/AN IM AL DETER R ENT Keep Pest Birds Away with Bird-B-Gone’s Super Talon Ultra Net Launcher Bird-B-Gone, Inc., has announced the availability of its newest pest bird control product, the Super Talon Ultra Net Launcher. This heavy-duty, handheld net launcher is used to capture pest birds without harm for later release outside of the unwanted area. The Super Talon Ultra Net Launcher comes as part of a kit—complete with multiple nets, firing handle, and air cartridges. At just over two pounds, the Net Launcher can propel the two-inch mesh net up to sixty feet away. Designed with grapples that wrap the net around the bird, the Net Launcher captures birds humanely and can be used multiple times.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

The Complete Matthews Paint System For Ultimate Color, Durability and Protection Developed specifically for the signage industry, the Complete Matthews Paint System is a total paint solution for the varied and extreme demands of architectural, commercial and outdoor sign applications. • Highest quality sign paints available • Hands-on technical training • Custom color matching tools • Experienced technical assistance • Exceptional customer service


SignSHOW C H A N G E A B L E / P O RTA B L E S I G N S Velocity Signs Can Put a Spin on your Message Velocity Signs introduces a new way to get your message across—with a sign waving machine. Proven to increase sales by an average of 15 percent, the sign waves on its own and can be set up in front of properties, on trailers, or even on truck beds. The sign waving machine is weatherproof, easily transportable, and runs non-stop for sixty-plus hours on a rechargeable battery. (Note: Plug-in models are also available.) To punch up the message even more, LED lights or a mannequin can be added to the machine. These sign waving machines are available to rent or buy. 260/207-4467;

CUTTERS/PLOTTERS Achieve the Highest Return on Your Investment with Mimaki’s New Cutters Mimaki USA has unrolled two new affordable cutting plotters: CG-60SRIII/130SRIII. These cutters feature a best-in-class cutting pressure of 500g, which increases the range of materials for various applications. A doubled curve-cutting speed greatly improves the production capability and ease of complicated cutting tasks. With the “Continuous Crop Mark Detection” function of this series, a maximum of four crop marks is automatically and continuously detected to enable precise contour cutting. In addition, the new “Segment Compensation” function (which detects intermediate crop marks) enables accurate contour cutting of long-length prints. Meanwhile remote monitoring is now possible with the new “Event Notification" function that allows for unattended operation. A firmware update tool is also provided with these cutting plotters.

Sheet Metal Grommets with Plain, Teeth and Neck Washers Rolled Rim Grommets with Spur Washers

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Stimpson grommets and washers are made in the U.S.A., meet the latest government and commerical specifications, and are supported by a full line of grommeting machines. Stimpson grommets and washers are made from brass, aluminum and zinc, and are available in base metal or with popular finishes such as nickel or dull black chemical. Many sizes available in stainless steel. 1515 SW 13th Court, Pompano Beach, FL 33069 • 877.765.0748 • 954.946.3500 • Fax: 954.545.7440 •


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

SignSHOW LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS An Energy-efficient Solution for Double-sided Cabinet Signs from Permlight®: Linearray™ Permlight® introduces Linearray™, an LED replacement light engine for double-sided cabinet signs. The light engine works with both retrofit and new signage, and it provides 37 percent power savings and four to six times longer installed lifetime compared to the legacy HO fluorescent lamps. In fact, Linearray provides more than 63,000 hours of lifetime and an industry-high seven-year warranty for maximum energy and cost savings, as well as no-hassle maintenance. Linearray easily mounts into existing recessed double-contact sockets. In addition, it takes advantage of a new UL class of wire that does not require a raceway, simplifying the wiring process. The light engine’s custom-engineered extrusion has nine square inches of heat radiating surface area per inch of length, a nine-to-one ratio that provides a cooler LED for longer life. The 140 LPW LED modules produce more than 800 lumens per foot, greater than Daylight HO fluorescent. Linearray also features a separate constant current driver for highest efficacy and energy savings.

SloanLED Expands its V180 Low-profile LED Lighting System SloanLED has added two new sizes—standard and large—to its V180 low-profile LED lighting system for shallow channel letters and cabinets. This LED lighting system allows for efficient and even illumination while using up to 50 percent fewer modules. A patent-pending LED array of three diodes placed at an optimal angle provide a 180-degree viewing angle. The wider angle allows for wider spacing between rows for can depths between three to ten inches and row coverage between four to twelve inches respectively. The V180 Standard and Large LED lighting systems also come with stretched spacing options to make installations fast and smooth. These V180 products use SloanLED’s Constant Current Technology, which eliminates current changes from forward voltage variation and prevents damage from over-driving LEDs.


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ROUTERS/ENGR AVERS Mark This Down: Several New Offerings from LaserBits LaserBits announces another addition to its LaserU Learning Center—Course 18; AlumaMark. The course provides information on the many uses of this coated metal product. LaserU is a cost-effective method to learn laser engraving at your own pace, on your own time, and in your own environment. (Note: A free seven-day trial is available at Meanwhile LaserBits also introduces its new Black Marble Pyramid (pictured), which can be used for creating personalized awards. A laser engraves a bright white color into the black marble for crisp and clear text, logos, and photos. Users can even add a touch of color to their projects by using LaserBits Stone Color Fills.

New Trotec App Puts Control of Your Laser System in the Palm of Your Hand Trotec Laser introduces its Trotec Laser Remote App, an iOS App that allows the operator to remotely control the connected laser. The app indicates whether the laser plotter is running or waiting for new jobs and allows users to also see current jobs and the remaining laser engraving and cutting times. With the virtual working area feature, users can position the laser head with just a tap. Through the app, the user can also pause running jobs and switch the Trotec Atmos exhaust system on or off. The Trotec Laser Remote App also sends status messages on completed or pending jobs to improve workflow, as well as notifications about job and laser status to help avoid production downtime. The app can be connected to a single machine or several Speedy lasers at once. The Trotec Laser Remote App is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 6.0 and above.

S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S Get Creative with Chemetal’s Ten New Designs Chemetal introduces ten colorful, subtle, warm, and functional new metal designs for 2013. They include three tinted horizontal designs, “Shades of Grey,” blackened aluminums, and two oxidized copper designs. Also available are the new functional and cost-effective magnetic dry erase and a non-directional stainless steel HPL laminate. The new designs come four-foot-by-eight-foot and some in four-foot-by-ten-foot sizes. All are ideal for interior vertical use and contribute to LEED.

LBI: New LED Edge-lit Light Panels Light Beam Industries (LBI) has created specialty edge-lit LED panels with unsurpassed brightness and vibrancy. Each panel is only 8 mm thick, available in different light temperatures, and powered using standard transformers. These edge-lit LED panels are ideal for backlighting signage, lighting retail spaces, and more. Single panels are available in sizes up to four-by-eight feet. White, backlight dry erase boards are also available. All panels are assembled in Oregon, with quick turnaround times on custom jobs. 541/228-3650;

S O F T WA R E - P R I N T/C U T/ R I P/ R O U T E / E N G R AV E / E ST I M AT I N G Cyrious Software Releases Enhancements for Pricing Tool Used for Offset Jobs Cyrious Software has released the latest edition of Control®, which offers additions to its offset pricing screens. Under Press Details, users can now select an option for perfecting, as well as indicate the grain direction for run sheets to maximize each run. Additional enhancements include a field for paper utilization yield and paper display name. The new additions are designed to help users streamline their production resources.

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Blake S. Vincent


What’s Next for LEDs in Illuminated Signs?

Forecasting the future of LED doesn’t require a crystal ball.


ver the last decade, probably no other product or technology has had a larger impact on illuminated signs than light emitting diodes (LEDs). During this time period, the number of companies providing LED systems to the sign industry has grown exponentially. Price-toperformance ratios have followed the traditional semiconductor patterns seen in the computer industry during the 1990s. With all that said—what’s next for LEDs in the illuminated signage market? In order to know where LEDs are going, we have to look at where they came from. Semiconductors have historically followed a very repeatable pattern. In 1965, Intel Co-Founder Gordon E. Moore wrote a paper noting that the number of components in integrated circuits (IC) had doubled every year since the invention of the IC in 1958. He suggested that this trend would continue for a number of years. In 1975, Moore modified his projection, pre-

dicting a doubling every two years. This observation was coined as “Moore’s Law.” As it turns out, a number of technologies have adopted modified versions of this principle, including: dollars per pixel in digital cameras, network capacity, hard disk storage, and LED lighting. In LEDs, we call this “Haitz’s Law” (named after scientist Dr. Roland Haitz). This forecast states that, every ten years, the cost per lumen of useful emitted light falls by a factor of ten, and the brightness of LEDs increase by a factor of twenty. LED chips have faithfully followed this pattern. However LED modules have naturally lagged behind since the module cost also depends upon other materials that are driven by labor rates and commodity prices (PCB materials, plastic, copper, etc.). Regardless LED module prices for channel letters have fallen dramatically over the past ten years, and light output has increased significantly (Photo 1). Looking at Photo 1, a couple of things are apparent. For starters, the year-over-year cost

Ten-year change in average channel letter module pricing and brightness. $20.00






$14.00 $12.00








$2.00 $-


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013




Photo 1:








0 2014

PhoTo: BiTro GrouP.

Single-sided sign cabinet illuminated with Bitro Lattice. or other innovative means to spread the light throughout the letter. Their argument will be that less modules means less labor to install and a more efficient sign. They will likely use their leverage to drive sign specifications toward thinner signs in order to provide them with a competitive advantage. The lower cost providers will simply provide more modules per foot using traditional optics at a lower cost to physically distribute the light. Simply put, they will strong arm it by leveraging low-cost manufacturing and their ability

to survive on lower operating margins. Their argument will be: “I can give you a brighter sign at a lower cost.” And who will win? Ultimately it will be the sign manufacturer, as there will be customers and applications that can embrace either approach. Regardless price pressures from new entrants will force incumbent LED module manufacturers to operate in a new commoditized environment and narrow the price gap. It will also require the larger players to offer improved services and warranties to justify the marginal price

PhoTo: coach handBaGs.

decrease of LED modules is beginning to flatten out as the LED chips become a smaller faction of the overall bill of material. On the other side, there’s still headroom for continued increases in LED light output at these lower costs. The practical theoretical efficiency for a white LED is around 250 LM/watt. Currently LEDs in channel letters systems are around 125 LM/watt with a module efficiency of around 100 LM/ watt. We should anticipate continued efficiency improvements, as well as manufacturers adding more LED chips (or larger LED chips) to sign modules at a lower fraction of the overall cost. Both of these events will continue to drive up the total brightness of LED modules in coming years. It should be noted that channel letters are beginning to reach the point that brightness is really not an issue and (in many instances) supersede the output of their neon predecessor. However low-cost, highbrightness LED modules will continue to be important tools in larger-size sign applications. So what’s next for channel letters? I believe there will be two approaches. The larger entrenched LED module providers (who do not want to see price and margin erosion) will utilize optics

Double-sided LED-lit pylon sign. 20

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

PhoTo: consTanT illuminaTion.

PhoTo: BiTro GrouP.

Single-sided cabinet illuminated with LEDs.

LED (top) and fluorescent (bottom).

differences. It sounds like a tough row to hoe for the LED manufacturers. So where is the growth opportunity for the LED makers in our industry? Today most full-service sign companies and wholesalers generally use LEDs for their channel letters; a split between fluorescent and LEDs for smaller, single-sided cabinets; and mainly fluorescent for large single- and double-sided signs. For sign cabinets, LEDs have been relegated to difficult-to-service areas or specifications driven by the end user’s “green initiatives.” Upon surveying sign companies that build channel letters and cabinets, I have found that there’s just about a 1:1 ratio in terms of footage of LEDs versus fluorescent lamps purchased. This means that LEDs are currently only addressing about half of the total available market for illuminated signs. Over the next five years, I believe that the sign industry will adopt the changeover from fluorescents to LEDs faster than the general lighting market in the same way that a big chunk of the channel letters switched from neon to LEDs in the 2000s. Why? I have narrowed this down to three fundamental reasons:

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u Signage is often outdoors and intrinsically more difficult to service than general lighting. v A sign is viewed by an end-user more as a one-time fixed cost (not a variable “supply” like a lamp), so end-users are more willing to amortize the LED costs up-front. w The LEDs are a lower portion of the overall cost of a sign versus a light fixture (making the cost ratio less glaring). So who will be the first to push forward into this last “sign frontier” of technological disruption? If history repeats itself, it will likely be new entrants that come along and are willing to narrow the price gap between the fluorescent tube and the LED. Blake S.Vincent has been selling LEDs specifically to the sign industry for over ten years.Vincent has a B.S. in Business Administration from Angelo State University and is a managing partner at Principal LED (

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Mark k. roBertS


On a Roll with Printed Contour-cut Labels Get attached to new profits by creating custom, contour-cut labels.


s we all progress further with our sign and graphics businesses, opportunities for ancillary products can arise. Mostly the ideas are born with suggestions from our customers. “Mark, can you make custom contour-cut roll labels for us?” they’ll ask. “Well actually, yes I can,” I’ll answer—and the good news is that you can too. The even better news is that it’s a lot easier to do than you think. Take digitally printed roll labels, for example. To begin making these types of projects a success, you’ll first need a design and a contour-cut file. I generally start with the artwork at full size

and 300-dpi resolution. (Note: Shape doesn’t really matter, as long as you can create a nice, smooth vector cut line for the plotter to cut after the printing has been done.) My Roland VersaCAMM can print and contour-cut any file I create. So when it comes to something like roll labels, the projects always end up looking nice and professional thanks to this piece of equipment. For example, one of my preferred clients sells bottled gas products, and they recently requested some neck warning labels to attach to the gas cylinders right under the valve on top. These decals were designed on an arc, so when they’re

Contour-cut roll labels can be used as neck warning labels attached to gas cylinders.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

These decals include a warning symbol set inside a warning diamond.

adhered to the top of the gas cylinders, the customers can read them. The first thing I did was acquire this customer’s art file. (Note: You can also design the label, compose it, and print/ contour-cut the finished product—all without the high cost of die-cutting.) As mentioned earlier, I imported the label designs into Adobe® Photoshop® at full size and 300-dpi resolution. Since these bottle-neck labels were basically arcshaped, I had to typeset the copy to follow the smaller arc at the top of the label and the larger arc at the bottom of the label. Since these were warning labels, it was important that all copy could be easily read. I created my templates at two-times the size and composed the type in the places applicable to the particular decal.

Opportunities for ancillary products constantly arise as a shop Output involved an initial printing to cure the ink and then retraction for perimeter die-cutting.

Eight labels per row had to be turned into 250 labels per roll

The labels were wound onto custom-cut cardboard cores and then shrink-wrapped for shipment.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

progresses in its business. All of these decals included a warning symbol (“flammable gas,” “toxicity,” “corrosive level,” or “poison”). So I set the name of the product in larger type alongside the warning diamond. Some labels had single-diamond warning symbols, while others sported two distinctly different warning symbols; it just depended upon the product. Next I added the company’s information—their name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, Web site, email, and other applicable details—to the label. After all the composition had been done for the individual product label, I created a perimeter cut line to achieve a true die-cut look. I accomplished this task by exporting the Photoshop file (flattening it to one layer) into Adobe® Illustrator®.From there, I created a perimeter cut line to contour-cut the boundaries of the label. Since I had flattened that file in Photoshop, I needed to create a perimeter vector line to be used as a die-cut line for the Roland VersaCAMM printer-cutter. I did this by creating perimeter vector lines with the pen tool. The color of choice here had to be the contour-cut color from the Roland color swatch, which was created for this

important task. You may have a true vector outline if it’s created in Adobe Illustrator; however I’ve found that if the Illustrator file has other live vector lines lurking about, they’ll be assigned for contour-cut as well (which may not be your intention for the final product). For this reason— and this reason alone!—I always flatten my files in Photoshop before I move them to Illustrator. Of course, at this small size, the file looks great; however I would hesitate to use this method on larger decals, which are easier to create than these small versions. After doing all this, it was time to print and cut this project. To load the files into my Roland VersaCAMM, I inserted the external thumb drive into the computer and opened the print and cut file that I’d saved as an .EPS file. (Note: Contourcutting requires this.) Looking at my screen, I saw the active print/cut file in one place, with the pink “marching ants” circling the perimeter of the cut line. There was one active file, but I knew I was going to need more than one copy.

So I entered the desired number of copies, and they instantly appeared in their “marching-ants” glory. All that was left to do was to make sure the printer/cutter was loaded with the vinyl product, the rollers were in place, and the “print” button was clicked. After the decals had been output, the decals “rested” for a few seconds, in order to cure the ink. Then the printed vinyl was retracted back into the Roland VersaCAMM for perimeter die-cutting. When finished, the material was completely advanced past the printhead and onto the heater surface for final curing. It was then time for the manual part of the process. I typically prefer to print my labels horizontally along the fifty-four-inch width of the material. For this project, eight labels per row had been printed and contour-cut. To turn these eight labels per row into 250 labels per roll, I took out my X-Acto knife and aluminum ruler and manually cut all the decals into 2.25-inch strips. Next I taped these strips together to form rolls of 250 labels.

I finished by winding the labels onto custom-cut cardboard cores and shrink-wrapped them for shipment to the happy client. To me, this process seems quick and easy—especially when it comes to roll labels of 250 or less. In fact, my company has produced several runs of roll labels for a variety of clients. By producing these labels in-house, we can deliver the finished product to them the same day (if necessary), which is very impressive and keeps my company in their minds for future label projects. If you’re considering ancillary products such as roll labels in short runs, this method could be very profitable for you. And your happy clients will no doubt be impressed at your fast and friendly service. So stay creative, stay productive, and above all, stay profitable! Mark K. Roberts is a thirty-four year sign veteran and the owner of The InterSign Group in Houston, Texas.Visit his Web site at

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


On-Premise Sign / By Jeff Wooten /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////



Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013


Behind the

andmark A neW ICOn SIgn ReAlly CleAnS UP FOR A CAR WASh. A year before arriving at the decision to put up a new sign, Sasso had spruced up his property with a bright red, yellow, and blue canopy. It was the consistent positive reaction from his customers about this aesthetic addition that led Sasso to go forward with a new on-premise icon sign of some type going to replace the monument. “I wanted a retro-looking sign that utilized the logo I’d designed and been using since opening,” he says. “I also thought that bright colors and dimensional elements would help bring it to life.”


The state-of-the-art Mr. Squeaky Car Wash in Pompano Beach, Florida has been voted one of the top fifty car washes in the United States by experts in that industry thanks to its revolutionary on-site experience. But after opening this business eight years ago, Founder/Owner Richard Sasso knew it was time to update his new streetfront sign. “The monument sign we were originally using wasn’t very large and, in fact, was very plain,” says Sasso. “It was also set back far from the sidewalk and street.”

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


The Mr. Squeaky logo is a vacuum-formed sphere decorated with second-surface vinyl. It is illuminated from within by high-output fluorescent lamps. White LEDs illuminate the hands.

The new 16-foot-tall-by-13-foot-wide sign measures 149 square feet and was built in three sections: (1.) The Mr. Squeaky logo is a vacuum-formed sphere that’s been decorated with second-surface vinyl. The face is internally illuminated with high-output fluorescent lamps, while the hands holding the sponges are lit from within by white LEDs. Meanwhile the “Mr. Squeaky” name is an aluminum cabinet with precision-routed faces backed by 3/4-inch pocket-milled acrylic (with 1/2-inch push-thrus) and white acrylic that’s illuminated by high-output fluorescent lamps. (2.) The red-and-yellow “Car Wash” section is an aluminum cabinet with flat faces and two-inch-deep embossed copy. It too is internally illuminated by high-output fluorescent lamps. It houses the 120v-20 Amp primary disconnect switch (located on the side exterior). (3.) Finally the aluminum decorative base features a light-texture surface coating with the address copy reliefpainted in white semi-gloss to it. Customers and city officials (including the District Commissioner) have 28

raved about this new sign. The local newspaper even deemed it “a new landmark” and “iconic.” And since setting it ups this past February, Sasso has even noticed an increase in its weekly vehicle car wash counts. Although Mr. Squeaky Car Wash boasts a quick three-minute average processing time for cars that come through, it actually took nearly three years to get

Richard Sasso wanted an on-premise, retro-looking icon sign that utilized the logo he designed.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

this sign installed. In the process, Sasso learned just what goes into setting up a stylish sign of this sort.

Getting Started Sasso began his new sign quest by approaching the City of Pompano Beach’s zoning department to show them a conceptual drawing of the new sign he had in mind. The city’s zoning staff was supportive of his aim to build the largest sign that would be allowable under the City code. This measurement was determined based on factors like the parcel size and the street frontage. Mr. Squeaky’s parcel fronts the major arterial roadway in Pompano Beach, yet it also fronts other smaller side streets. “So the Code allowed us to combine the street frontages, which [calculated] to a single sign up to 150 square feet,” says Sasso. Before bringing a sign company onboard, Sasso still needed to address sign placement. This is where patience would prove to be a virtue—as it took two years! During this timeframe, Sasso had to file paperwork, attend County and

The “Mr. Squeaky” name is an aluminum cabinet with precision-routed faces.

photos: don Bell signs.

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City hearings, negotiate with the County staff, and perform field surveying. Sasso felt that the original monument sign was placed too far off the side of the road, resulting in it being obscured somewhat by the surrounding foliage. In order to move his new sign out closer to the sidewalk and the street, Sasso had to petition the County and City to vacate a right of way between his car wash’s property line and the sidewalk. Through recommendations from other business, he hired McLaughlin Engineering ( of Fort Lauderdale to handle this task, since this firm had seventy-five years’ worth of experience and a top-notch reputation for providing results. There were many private meetings, public hearings, and votes that took place during this vacation approval process. Sasso had to receive approval at each stage before continuing on to the next. “It wasn’t possible to speed up this process in any way,” he says. Although there were times McLaughlin Engineering and Sasso thought they may have to abandon the vacation request, everyone decided to soldier on.

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Ultimately officials granted the Mr. Squeaky property a vacation of this right of way. The sign could now be placed much closer to the sidewalk (with just a four-foot setback). “The visibility of the sign from the adjacent arterial roadway would be dramatically increased, thereby increasing the impact and value of the sign,” says Sasso, fully crediting McLaughlin Engineering for being instrumental in getting this done. (Note: Throughout the lengthy land vacation process, Sasso also stayed in touch with the City’s zoning department, to be safe and ensure his proposed sign would still be approved and allowed by the sign code.)

The Bidding Process Sasso next solicited bids from sign shops on the cost to build this icon sign using his preliminary drawings. He soon realized his sign vision would cost him more than he had budgeted. “But knowing that it would be something that could be a new landmark in the city for years to come, I decided it was worth the ad-


ditional expense to go ahead with the project,” he says. Sasso reviewed bids and met with many area sign manufacturers, however he ended up awarding the job to Don

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

Bell Signs ( in Port Orange, Florida (nearly four hours away). While they didn’t provide the cheapest figures, Sasso was bowled over by their confidence. “They’ve worked a lot on

photo: lucas carreira.

Moving this new sign closer to the street involved Sasso petitioning the County and City to vacate a right-of-way between his property line and the sidewalk.

Florida’s theme park signage and seemed to understand how to best bring this type of sign to life,” he says. Interestingly Don Bell Signs built the original Mr. Squeaky sign eight years ago. Still Sasso wanted to give other contractors an opportunity to bid as well. He admits to being disappointed with them, citing unorganized presentations or failure to return phone calls. “I remember sitting in a meeting where I wanted the follow-up with this company,” he says, “and ten days later, I was still trying to chase them down.” Sasso says this negative vibe given off by some sign shops definitely affected his decision. “My gut feeling was telling me that if it feels bad now, it would only get worse later,” he says. “If I’m going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars on a sign, I don’t want to end up with a lemon.”

After ironing out the final details of the sign’s design with the zoning department—including the size, height, proportions, colors, and materials—Sasso submitted the application. The final step in the permitting process was going to be a review by the City’s Architectural Appearance Committee (AAC), so Sasso hired an attorney to prepare him for this meeting and to support him at it. The AAC board approved the sign unanimously.

Sasso submitted the permit package (including electrical and structural plan reviews) and the AAC’s approval letter to the building department for final permit approval, which he received a few weeks later. Construction of the three-section sign took Don Bell Signs about three months to complete. They used 2-by-2-by-3/16inch steel angle pipe cradles bolted to the aluminum cabinet frame for later attachment at the install site.

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Design When coming up with his initial sign idea, Sasso looked at old-school Krispy Kreme, Randy’s Donuts, and McDonald’s signs from the distant past for inspiration. “The McDonald’s signs back in the day weren’t just arches. They had a ‘hamburger man’ on them, as well,” he says. “That’s what prompted me to use my logo as part of the sign. I thought it could be iconic like the Hard Rock guitar.” Sasso and Don Bell Signs spent several weeks fine-tuning the design through phone calls and emailed PDFs. “There were approximately ten complete revisions of the sign from the original draft sketch I’d developed,” says Sasso. (Note: To see detailed blueprints, visit Cost concerns led Sasso to modify his sign plans along the way. For instance, he originally envisioned a giant foam sponge on the sign. Although Don Bell could’ve done this in custommade foam, this would’ve cost more, so he opted to instead use red and yellow colors with two-inch-deep embossed copy and second-surface paint on this cabinet. “You don’t need much imagination to see it suggests a sponge,” he says.

Permits & Construction With a design selected, it was then time to begin the formal sign permitting process with the City of Pompano Beach.

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


The sign sections were painted using custom red, yellow, and blues, in order to match the existing color theme of the car wash’s exterior. Sasso went to Lowe’s® and Home Depot® stores, picked a few of the standard paint cards he liked best (bright yellow, radiant red, light blue, and dark blue), and mailed them to Don Bell Signs. The paint production department produced a custom batch of a few samples of each color and sent them to Sasso (who judged sheen, finish, and colors). Don Bell provided the final paint colors on metal and plastic samples for approval by the City’s Architectural Appearance Committee. Then they made the paints in-house and painted the metal faces and retainers with a semi-gloss and the metal returns with a satin finish.

Installation Don Bell began installation by first demolishing the old sign. They then delivered the three separate sign sections to the Mr. Squeaky property on two of its large flatbed trucks. Next Don Bell used their truck to auger drill a ten-and-a-half-foot-deep, three-foot-wide hole in the ground. They reinforced the hole with a steel tube, installed rebar, placed the twenty-sixand-a-half-foot center pole in it, poured concrete, and let it cure. Then a crane dropped each of the three pieces of the sign over the pole (starting with the bottom base) and welded them on. This was followed by more inspections, electrical hook-ups, testing of the sign, and touch-up paint. “In the end, everything turned out perfect,” says Sasso.

Final Thoughts The final project cost—including attorney fees, engineering fees, right of way vacation costs, permit fees, and sign construction fees—exceeded the original budget, totaling more than $100,000. But Sasso believes the effort and monetary cost to build this icon sign was worth it. “We have the entire life of this car wash business to recoup that cost,” he says. “Since my wife and I plan on keeping this business for many years and passing it on to our children as a family legacy, we can spread the cost of this new sign out over that long and bright future.” 32

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013


A medical complex gets a new buildingmounted logo (pictured), main identity signs, and post-and-panel wayfinding signage. Photo (main): aGS; Photo (inSet): michael mandracchia-Swell media GrouP.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Architectural / By Jeff Wooten


 Solutions Installing widespread signage for a new medical facility.


ow do you make a hospital with over ninety-three years of history into something more up-to-date and “with the times?” The University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, New Jersey answered this question with a new, artfully designed hospital (along with other medical facilities) on its 171-acre property. The complex boasts sustainable materials, increased energy efficiency, an improved transportation infrastructure, and indigenous landscaping. It also features a variety of exterior signage that perfectly reflects the new construction’s commitment to health, environment, and identity: a building-mounted logo, main campus identity signs, and post-and-panel wayfinding signage. AGS ( of Exton, Pennsylvania won the bid to fabricate and install these signs after first being contacted by officials from the hospital (already an existing AGS client) to assist in the structural design of the “P” logo that was to be mounted on the exterior facade of the main hospital. They were a logical choice, since the company’s understanding of materials, fabrication methods, typography, code requirements, and building construction makes them experts in implementing a signage program. “Our company started out fifty-one years ago in engraving, donor recognition, and primarily interior work and then progressing to more design + build, standard products, and partnering with other designers and architects for custom manufacturing,” says AGS President Neil Jacobson, who has been with the business since 1978. The company currently has fifty employees and does mainly environmental graphic design (EGD) projects—working typically

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Photos (this row): ags.

A combination of aluminum tubes, frosted acrylic, and stainless steel letters were used for the main campus identity signs.

with sheet metal fabrication and materials like acrylics, glass, and photopolymers. AGS became involved with consultation almost ten months before the request for bid was solicited. They also had a long relationship with this project’s contractor, Turner Construction. (Note: Turner’s design team was also instrumental in bringing AGS onboard this project.) However since the hospital was still under construction, there was no way to do a site survey first. “The building was only eight stories high when we came onboard. The floors where the ‘P’ logo would be mounted didn’t exist then,” says Jacobson. In addition to Turner Construction and the hospital, AGS worked closely with project architect HOK and project EGD 36

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

firm Merje to determine what structural steel needed to be manufactured and installed prior to the exterior curtain wall that was installed. “This hospital was being built as a steel building with an aluminum and glass curtain wall system,” explains Jacobson. “There is a membrane water barrier system that basically wraps the building. Today’s [building owners] try to minimize how many times a contractor can penetrate a structure.” The AGS engineering team had to develop a methodology to get the steel structure to come out of the building, before the sign project could go out to bid. AGS developed the survey in a documentation point of view. “We documented our construction intent, so the steel fabricators could price and construct these supports,” says Jacobson.

Photo: michael mandracchia-swell media grouP.

Photo: ags.

Brackets were added to the back of the “P” logo to make installation to the building easier while 160 feet up in the air in a bucket truck.

Post Photos: michael mandracchia-swell media grouP.

Directional signs are double-post (above and below), while parking signs are single-post (below left).

AGS shared PDF drawings with architects, designers, and construction management via ftp site uploads and in face-to-face meetings. They were able to show where the brackets should be sticking out of the wall for this sign. When the bid requests went out, AGS’s hard work earned them the job. “The project presented several unique challenges,” says Jacobson, “but at the end of the day, the signs looked great, and the client was happy.” Let’s look at these three sign types:

al, which AGS painted a metallic bronze to achieve a nice day/night effect. “It appears brown during the day, but when dark, it shows up white,” says Jacobson. The “P” logo features a mix of blue halolit LED modules and white face-lit LEDs. Installation was accomplished 160 feet

Princeton “P” Logo


in the air with the aid of a sub-contracted boom truck. “We put brackets on the back of the ‘P’ beforehand and just mounted it onto the brackets that were already there,” he says. “But up in the air, we still had to run the wiring and electricals through the walls into a room inside the building.” Before manufacturing the final product, AGS created a full-size section mock-up (pictured) for final color and design review.



Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

Photo: ags.

This exterior building-mounted “P” logo sign was manufactured in three layers with perforated metal faces. “The hospital initially wanted this sign to be three separate pieces, but we built it as a solid background with three pieces attached to it,” says Jacobson, noting they had to minimize the number of penetrations and brackets needed to hold the sign. “We were able to just have three brackets sticking out of the building.” The face of the letter is white polycarbonate behind a darker perforated met-

Main iD Sign The main campus ID signs were manufactured from custom-fabricated aluminum tubes. The logo is embedded into a frosted acrylic material. All of the letters are custom-fabricated stainless steel. Although Jacobson rated the “P” logo as the most challenging to build, he says these main ID sign had their own set of complexities. “This sign is basically a series of aluminum extrusions. We had to place a window curtain wall system used in glass buildings called Kaneer inside the sign structure,” he explains. “The Kaneer houses the 1/4-inch acrylic material and the aluminum.” You’ll currently find a translucent vinyl on the back of the acrylic, but Jacobson stresses this is temporary. Plans are already in place for redesigning this. AGS used multi-color adjustable LED lighting for the ground illumination. “Since we didn’t make the wall accompanying them, we had to get the footers and all the wiring in place under the wall before it was built,” says Jacobson.

An Easier Way to get Your Message Across

PoSt-anD-Panel SignS There is an assortment of fifty double-post directional and single-post parking lot signs. They were fabricated from a SignComp™ Half Round extruded post with custom-fabricated rolled aluminum faces. AGS custom silk-screened reflective 3M™ Scotchlite™ material with applied cut vinyl graphics onto the backgrounds. All of the aluminum is clear anodized. “Maintenance was the main reason for using clear anodized aluminum,” says Jacobson. “When you have signs placed in the grass, there’s always the danger of a weed-wacker peeling off the paint. “You could always put a planter around the sign, but the clear anodized aluminum matched the finish on the building.”

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Photo: ags.

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dimensional / By Jeff Wooten //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////

Signing at the

Trading PosT

A Maine sign maker brings art and the outdoors together for a new pole-mounted sign.


he Indian Hill Trading Post is a general store located near Moosehead Lake in the small town of Greenville,

Maine. The current father-and-son owners decided it was time to replace their longstanding, yet very plain, double-pole-

supported sign. However they not only wanted a new sign that captured the spirit of the surrounding wildlife and outdoor activities, they also desired something artistic. The owners contacted Tom Stade, well aware of the artistry he personally gives all his sign creations.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Stade began by drawing up five designs on his computer for the new Indian Hill Trading Post sign. The owners picked the version featuring a canoe, logs, a duck, a bird, freshwater, and reeds, as well as “Indian Hill” and “Trading Post” letters in different font styles. “I find myself designing things and then later saying, “Now how am I going to build this?” laughs Stade. The aluminum framework serves as the sleeve for mounting the sign to the existing posts. A piece of plywood inside it distributed weight evenly while adhesive dried, and OSB spacers placed between maintained proper spacing support.

all photos: moosehead signs.

Stade is the second-generation owner of Moosehead Signs (, also in Greenville, and he comes by his artistic talents naturally. Before starting this business, his father, Harold B. Stade, had attended the New York Trade School for Fine Lettering and Showcard Artistry after serving in the 82nd Airborne during World War II. (Note: In fact, Stade’s father continued hand lettering until he was ninety.) Today Tom is the sole employee (except when his brother Spike helps out part-time). In 1978, he started a business called AllSigns, Inc., in Westwood, New Jersey. However Tom moved back to Maine in ’97 and works entirely on hand-made commercial signs.

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated








(L-R): 1. An overview of the tools that were used for building

added stability), in order to move the heavy HDU around the

the aluminum framework of the sign. 2. Setting up the blank

shop. 4. The “Indian Hills” letter template crafted out of Luan

Precision Board HDU panels in-shop prior to carving. 3. Stade

material and nailed to the Precision Board. 5. Hand-drawn pat-

took three four-wheeled dollies and connected them together

terns for later carving. 6. The “Gifts” lettering and scrolls were

using 3/4-inch plywood along with a wider piece of plywood (for

created via a CNC router.

Because his shop space has low ceiling height in the daylight basement of the building he owns, Stade determined that he was going to have to build this sign as two separate pieces. The top half would feature the canoe and nature scenery and the bottom half would be the logs. Stade crafted everything out of multiple sizes and thicknesses of Precision Board™ high-density urethane, which he’s been using for a long time now. However he first had to build the supporting aluminum framework that would also serve as the sleeve for mounting to the existing posts. When gluing this piece together, Stade placed a piece of plywood inside it, in order to distribute the added weight evenly while the adhesive dried. Stade also cut 6.25-inch OSB spacers and placed them between the framework, in order to maintain proper spacing support for the custom-cut 5-foot-by-10-foot-by-4.5-inch-thick Precision Board side panel. “I wanted to have that true flat face, so those spacers in hold the aluminum framework the right dis-

tance apart,” he explains. “This way, they wouldn’t sag.” Stade then inserted a vertical piece of aluminum, which would be later used when sliding the piece over the poles on-site. In order to move the two un-carved block sections of Precision Board around his shop and allow for carving on all sides, Stade took three four-wheeled wooden furniture dollies and connected them together using 3/4-inch plywood along with a wider piece of plywood in the middle for added stability. “This way, they wouldn’t tip over,” he explains. Stade mounted and braced six-by-six post pieces onto the dolly base, keeping the exact-same distance as the spacing of the poles on-site. These custom-made dollies also enabled Stade to move the two sign pieces outside and onto his transport trailer for temporary attachment. This method allowed him to make the necessary transitional carving. “I had to make sure that they were carved accurately at the bottom of the top piece and the top of the bottom piece, to make sure they’d fit tight. I also had to carve the transition of the log where they met,” he says, noting that he would then take the pieces down and move them back inside his shop for further work. Most of the sign was hand-carved by Stade. One notable exception was the “Indian Hill” lettering, which was CNCrouted with an extra-bit of hand carving). In order to figure out the depth of the letters, Stade laid out all the letters in his design software program and viewed the sign at side-profile. This helped him realize what kind of relief he needed on the canoe for letter placement. Stade created a template for mounting the Indian Hill let-

“I find myself designing things and later saying, ‘Now how am I going to build this?” — Tom Stade, Moosehead Signs 46 42

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013 July 2012

ters on his CNC router out of 1/4-inch Luan plywood material and nailed it to the Precision Board using four thinwire, rosin-coated nails. “I then handrouted that ‘cookie-cut’ relief into the HDU block so that my letters would line up, because I knew when everything was done, it wasn’t going to be flat and square,” he says. “I just pulled [this template] off when I was done.” When routing out the original template, Stade had to allow for the offset of the router template guide; this way, when hand-routing later, he would have the same exact size as the outer dimension of the letter. “If I didn’t cut out the mounting reveal first, it would’ve been a heck of a job trying to line up those letters,” he explains. “Doing so allowed me to go ahead and carve into the curved canoe and then my letters would mount right where I wanted them.” Stade credits his father’s work for coming up with the birch bark “Trading Post” letters. “My dad used to hand-letter them all the time to give them a realistic look,” he says, noting that he designed the font and routed out their basic shape from 1.5-inch Precision Board using a CNC router. He then whittled each one with a knife to get the look he wanted. For the logs, Stade created a pounce pattern off his plotter for the different lettering fonts of these remaining lines. (Note: The Barnum used for “Supermarket” was his own design.) He used a ruler to line up the top and bottom of the lettering’s placement and then handdrew “supermarket,” “liquor,” “clothing,” “footwear,” and more with a pencil over the pounce for clarity. Stade then hand-carved the words into the Precision Board. Stade brought back his CNC router to carve the “G-I-F-T-S” lettering and scrolls for this contour button piece. He then epoxied it onto the Precision Board before carving the log textures. Speaking of “log textures,” it proved challenging for Stade to figure out its “right” bark look. He tested carving techniques on several samples of

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated








sion Board, until he reached the texture he wanted. He used wire and abrasive brush wheels, along with chisels, to achieve this effect. In addition to hand chisels, Stade actually worked with an electric chainsaw to rough out the details of the sign, such as the watery wake trailing the loon. The use of special grinding wheels also proved invaluable. Stade also employed a 1-1/2-inch-wide plastic scrape with a bit of a curve to it (similar to a hunter’s bow) that one would find in an auto body shop. “It’s a very handy tool,” he explains, “especially when I had to scribe the contour of the canoe onto the back of the birch letters in order for it to fit nice and snug.” Stade’s brother, Spike, artfully carved the chickadee bird out of Precision Board. “I drilled holes into the canoe and epoxied the birds’ legs (aluminum) right into the canoe,” explains Tom. With the exception of lettering enamel brush-painted for the decorative scroll work around the top of the canoe, Stade used Behr latex paint and his four-stage HVLP Sherwin-Williams® spray unit to paint a lot of the sign. (Note: The birch letters, bird, and smaller elements were also hand-painted.)


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

after The logs were (L-R): 1. Carving the pounce pattern. 2. painted with flat Carved pieces. 3. The two sections of the latex and the rest sign. 4. Transitional carving. 5. Inserting with gloss. Stade “Indian Hills” letters into relief. 6. Attachfinds that latex paint is cost-ef- ing “Trading Post” letters to the canoe. fective and holds up better than traditional oil-based enamel paints, which start to get chalky over the years. “It also dries quickly, enabling you to keep on painting. With certain enamels, you have to wait awhile before being able to apply a second coat or additional colors, especially if you’re taping and covering,” he says. Stade would leave little Popsicle sticks underneath the painted carved pieces on the table, so they wouldn’t dry onto the paper underneath them. For the canoe section, Stade covered the parts not being painted with protective wrapping and moved from the top downward with his painting. Once finished, Stade attached all the letters to the canoe using silicone adhesive and epoxy. On the day of the install, Stade rolled the two sign pieces out

Stade estimates that he worked on the sign for about five months (from design to

Some pieces (such as the bird) were

installation) while juggling other smaller jobs in-between. “The [Indian Hills Trading

hand-painted by brush, while other com-

Post] owners were very patient,” he says. “I try not to worry about how many hours

ponents (such as the canoe and water]

I put into a project. Instead I’m more concerned about being able to give my custom-

were given protective wrapping and then

ers the best sign that I can possibly give them.”


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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


of the shop. A friend of his used the cherry picker on his logging truck to load each of the heavy pieces onto his wood-decked trailer. “Before strapping them in, I nailed two-by-fours down in front and in back of the wheels on each unit, along with diagonal bracing, so they wouldn’t move,” he explains. The Trading Post owners removed the old sign before Stade showed up for installation, so that was one less item to worry about. The logging truck boom moved the sign pieces so that they slid over the pre-existing posts, while a person on a ladder helped guide the pieces into place.

Stade designed the signs Loading the sign, taking it out (and aluminum framework) to the site, and installing it to just drop down over the only took three hours. In fact, existing sign poles. “The it took longer to put the sign poles actually sleeve into the aluminum framework I onto the trailer for its trip. created,” explains Stade. “There was a plate on the very top section that the sign would rest on, along with mounting two one-and-a-half-inch steel angles onto each post at the base of the sign frame.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013



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Digital Printing/ By Ashley BrAy ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

ThE Door To

Dye-Sublimation printing


ne of the fastest growing niches in digital printing is dye-sublimation. Fabric signage, displays, and promotional products are everywhere, and the market is far from saturated. “We have seen a rise in the number of companies interested in dye-sublimation, and I think a couple of things are driving it. First dye-sub has come fully forward as a process,” says Dan Marx, vice president of Markets & Technologies for SGIA. “To me, this means that the technology is there, and sign and graphics companies fully understand the strong opportunity in dye-sublimation. “We’re also seeing an expansion beyond printed fabrics and into the many other dye-sub receptive products in the market.” The door to this opportunity may be wide open, but shops shouldn’t rush in just yet. The dye-sub process can be complicated, and there are quite a few things to consider before purchasing equipment. Let’s take a look at just what a shop needs to know to break into this market.

Timing is Everything To determine if the dye-sub market is a fit for them, sign


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

shops should start by examining their customer base. If demand for sublimated products is there—or is a process the shop has had to outsource—it makes sense to enter the market. Dye-sub is also an opportunity to serve clients who are requesting prints with photographic quality because the process offers unlimited color possibilities. “One of the biggest challenges may be selling a new line of products to customers—both existing or new,” says Marx. “The wide format market today is competitive, so the ability to sell product should always factor into any decision to adopt a new technology.” Shops should also take a look at the physical space in their shop. In addition to the dye-sublimation printer itself, they will need room for a heat press. Bringing the entire process in-house may not be an option for everyone, and a shop can choose to align with a local provider. They can also opt to start with a smaller machine and experiment. “Dye-sub equipment offerings lends itself to a very broad range of sizes, applications, and entry costs,” says Randy Andersen, product marketing manager for Mutoh. “This allows many customers to test the market with a low entry cost. Many will start with a small printer and add additional units of the same model to increase output and provide some redundancy.”

photo (top): velvet M / ShutterStock; (right) Dave forreSt.

Your key to getting into this growing market.


All the right Tools Once a shop enters the dye-sub market, printer size isn’t the only equipment decision they have to make. They must also decide if they want a printer that prints directly to fabric or employs a transfer paper process. Choosing whether to attach the sublimation process to the printer is another consideration. It may appear that attaching the heat press will make things easier, but it can actually make the entire process more difficult because separate settings for the printer and the press are no longer possible. “If you’ve got an in-line sublimation process, that means you need to develop the in-line sublimation settings for each one of these speed settings [on the digital printer] for each one of the materials that you print on,” says Mike Wozny, strategic product manager for EFI. “It becomes very complex, as compared to having the same sublimation settings independent of print speed.” It’s also important to choose a quality heat press. “Having a good heat press where the heat and the temperature is even and constant throughout the platens/fabric will see that your output is good every time,” says Catalina Frank, product manager for the F-series of Epson Professional Imaging. Beyond the printer and press, software and consumables (transfer paper, ink, sublimatable media, etc.) are necessary. Some finishing equipment may also be required depending on the application. In fact, Dan Barefoot, president of Graphics One, recommends shops focus in on one application in the beginning before moving into other dye-sublimation venues so that they know what they need. “As in large format imaging, there are so many different types of sublimation—whether it be for apparel, hard goods, soft signage, or promos,” he says. Barefoot also offers some tips for how shops can properly maintain their equipment and materials: + “Prepare the environment prior to printer installation. Humidity above 25 percent and below 80 percent is preferable.” + “Performing regular maintenance will help keep your printer running in tip-top condition. Clean the wiper and cap assembly once a week with cleaning solution.” + “Make sure your paper can hold the amount of ink you need. Too much ink is not the same as good color.” Above all, when purchasing equipment, shops need to be sure they are partnering with a provider who can offer them the support they will need—on both products and process.

Shops need to consider their customer base,

equipment requirements, and the learning curve

before entering the dyesublimation market.

The More You Know Support is essential because the learning curve of dye-sub can be steep. “The expertise is probably the most significant barrier to

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


market on this; that’s what keeps a lot of people out,” says Wozny. For this reason, a shop should start arming itself with knowledge right from the outset. “Printers must spend the time studying what they can and cannot print on or transfer to before they start purchasing equipment,” says Dave Conrad, marketing manager at Mutoh. “An educated print shop owner will be able to make better decisions on how to get into the market and grow his or her business more quickly than if they do not take the time to learn the market.” One of the largest contributions to the learning curve is the enhanced profiling required for the dye-sub process. “With UV printing, you have one output profile, maybe two, for hundreds of different materials. Whereas with dyesub it takes a little more upfront work,” says Wozny. “There’s just a very wide range of materials that are out there. And you need the profile for each material to have the proper settings. “So the guys that are truly optimized on quality that produce a very highquality print are the ones that have a specific profile or environment for every application and every material.” This is why it’s important to find a supportive provider who can supply basic color profiles and information to get started. For example, Barefoot cautions that when building a profile, for accurate results, users must measure the color on the transferred media, not the dye-sub paper. Frank further explains why this distinction is important. “What you print on your transfer paper is not the same as what you see after it’s heat-pressed onto the fabric,” she says. “What you’re looking at after you press, that is the fi-


(Top) Dye-sublimation first gained traction in the tradeshow sector. (Bottom) Dye-sublimation must be done on polyester fabrics.

nal output. And sometimes the paper will look washed out and have banding, but after it’s put on the fabric, it looks absolutely perfect and vibrant.” The media side of dye-sub is much simpler—the fabrics must be polyester or polyester-coated. And the higher the percentage of polyester, the more vibrant the image. Fortunately today’s polyester is nothing like the pantsuits of yesteryear.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

“Many new types of weave and finish give polyester the look and feel of soft quality cotton,” says Andersen. Conrad adds that the equipment is making it ever easier to produce highquality images either directly onto fabric or transferred to material. “So the pace at which new substrates become available will continue to grow,” he says. Frank warns, however, that shrinkage can occur when transferring an image to

Dye-sublimation is about more than just T-shirts, and it has grown to include applications like fabric signs and displays and promotional products.

polyester. “Because it’s polyester-based, some of the fabrics shrink more than others when you’re heat pressing and this could cause ghosting,” she says, then offering a solution to this problem. “Preheat or pre-shrink this polyester fabric at the press. When you apply the paper onto the fabric, then your substrate is pre-shrunk and it doesn’t cause that ghosted image on the output.” Frank goes on to say that the transfer paper quality is as important as the material. “If you’re using the right transfer paper for your application, you’re transferring the better part of the ink that you need for a better color,” she says. “If you’re using bond paper for transfer, you’re leaving all your ink money on the paper and not really transferring all the color to the substrate.”

Stepping into Digital Entering the dye-sub market can be an entirely new experience for screenprinters, who are often also crossing into the digital realm for the first time. “Going digital is the first concern of

screenprinters who have previously been using analog methods,” says Barefoot. “The major difference is that a screenprinter can image a one-off shirt digitally, but to break even with traditional methods, one may need to produce 100 to 200 garments.” While going digital allows for smaller runs and customization, it also cuts down on turnaround times because there are fewer steps. However this can be a mixed blessing for former screenprinters. “When you start getting into digital, customers want it that same day,” says Wozny. “It’s a different workflow when you’ve got to turn something around the same day rather than having a week to produce it.” Despite the growing pains, learning curves, and equipment requirements, dye-sublimation printing can provide an impressive ROI and a profitable niche to break into for many shops and screenprinters. “It’s a huge growth opportunity,” says Wozny. “We see it as just a good market to be in.” July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


When it comes to flexibility—both in the sign medium and the options for usage—banners rank as a top choice for end clients. “From retail stores, airports, schools, religious centers, sporting events, and tradeshows, banners are ubiquitous,” says Will Godfrey, general manager of custom exhibit manufacturer Godfrey Group ( in Durham, North Carolina. “As long as there are products to sell and events to promote, they will be a fixture of everyday life for the foreseeable future.” For indoor banners, the first consideration is the display mode. Will it hang or be freestanding? If the client is looking to dominate the indoor space, a large hanging banner that sits above the flow of traffic might do the trick. A


vertically hung banner will create a dramatic, streamlined effect and will showcase the quality, flow of the fabric, and any design elements. (Note: While vinyl banners and other graphics printed with solvent inks are still a mainstay of outdoor banner applications, dye-sub printed fabrics have also become popular options for outdoor use.) As specialists in this industry, the Godfrey Group encourages the use

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

of best practices when designing and displaying banners. Their first tip is to keep it simple. “Your primary objective is to get the attention of those that you wish to reach with your banner, rather than to convey the full scope of your company, product, or event at a glance,” says Godfrey. He stresses that banners should include only sharp, clear headlines or names with a logo or graphics. “Concise and clean graphic design is one of the best methods of connecting with your target audience,” he says. “Obviously graphics need to convey something about your product or service, however that association can be loose. It is more important that your graphics are eye-catching and arresting.” —Lori Shridhare

photo: Dave forreSt.

Banners: Stretching the Parameters


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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Awnings / By kenny peskin

Permit Me to Talk About Awnings! It’s Important to understand how communItIes regulate awnIngs.

photo: Kenneth sponsler /

Awning signs present several unique challenges based on their treatment in the municipal sign ordinance.


s commercial real estate

other traditional sign forms repre-

that require visibility but use an

development continues

sent an increasingly important tool

awning as their primary signage.

its emphasis on pedes-

available to the creative designer

and then some sign designers don’t

and sign company.

always fully consider the unique ob-

trian-scale mixed-use projects, retail businesses must consider their signage needs in locations that often

But several additional challenges arise with this opportunity.

in awning projects.

don’t accommodate freestanding

For example, many municipal sign

signs. In these places, awnings and

codes are ill-suited for businesses

stacles and opportunities presented In this article, I’ll discuss four unique awning issues to be aware of here.

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Your Direct Source for Sign Information 3 Easy Steps

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1. Choose up to 10 categories of interest and check off on card. 2. Select up to 28 suppliers and record InfoDirect # on card. 3. Mail card to start getting info! InfoDirect # Company



InfoDirect # Company


1 3A Composites USA . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 2 Advantage Sign Supply . . . . . . . . . 44

37 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 38 Plaskolite, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

59 Agfa Pitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

3 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 70 4 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 70

39 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

60 Aurora Specialty Textiles Group . . 12

40 Rapid Tac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3

61 Bird-B-Gone, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

5 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 6 Belles Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

41 Roland DGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

62 Chemetal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

42 Safety Speed Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

63 Creative Banner Assemblies . . . . . 12

7 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 8 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

43 Sign America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

64 Cyrious Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

44 Sign Bracket Store By

65 LaserBits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

9 Car Top Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 10 Chemical Concepts/LORD . . . . . . . . 3

Hooks & Lattice . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 Signs By Tomorrow . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Small Balls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Stamm Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Stimpson Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Trim-Lok, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Ventex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 VFK Renzel USA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Y J Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

11 Cirrus Systems, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 12 Coastal Enterprises/ 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36


InfoDirect # Company

Precision Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Elliott Equipment Company . . . . . . 47 Estimate Software Corp . . . . . . . . . 30 Fastenation, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Flexmag Industries, Inc . . . . . . . . . 63 Gemini, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 GH Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Gill Studios, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Graphics One LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Hendrick Manufacturing . . . . . . . . 69 J Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 L&L Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Magnum Magnetics Corp . . . . . . . . 65 Manitex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Master Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Matthews Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 MBS Standoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 MultiCam, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Mutoh America, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 N . Glantz & Son LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58

Companies in the Sign Show

66 Light Beam Industries . . . . . . . . . . 17 67 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 68 Permlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 69 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 70 Trotec Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 71 Ultraflex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 72 Velocity Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

If no place for freestanding, awning can be used as sign.

Some cities restrict awning text to only the front valance.

A city might consider an awning part of the architecture.

Gooseneck lamps can be installed to avoid backlighting.

photos (this page): dave forrest.

Adding an Awning In some buildings (especially multi-story office buildings), awning placement is specified as part of the site plan required to be filed with the municipal permitting office. In these instances, adding an awning, changing the color, or applying signage to a specific surface other than as previously designated could require an amendment to the approved site plan. Modifying an awning may be considered a change in the building’s architecture. In Arlington County, Virginia’s pre2012 regulations said that amending an approved master site plan could require an application fee of several thousand dollars—and that’s just to file. To their credit, County staff identified the code’s inflexibility and limited creativity in a presentation delivered at the 2012 American Planning Association (APA) conference. The new regulations, which passed in June 2012,

greatly simplify this process and now allow for staff approval.

Measuring the Awning Sign Area Last year, the International Sign Association (ISA) developed a Web video, along with supporting materials, to explain the limitations of certain methods that are used to measure sign area (www., “Measuring Sign Area”). Many cities measure the area of a sign by drawing a rectangular box around the outer edges of any copy or logo. Others utilize a more accurate method. For example, Baltimore, Maryland measures “the entire area within a single continuous perimeter enclosing the extreme limits of writing, representation, emblem, flag, device, or other figure of similar character, together with any frame or other material or color forming an integral part of the display or used to differentiate the sign from the

background against which it is placed.” Baltimore’s method doesn’t punish the use of arched text or offset logos. Additionally some cities base their allowable awning signage on a percentage of the area of the larger background. Indianapolis restricts awning signs to 45 percent of the area of the awning, which is further defined as “limited only to the area of the awning or canopy which contains the graphics or sign.” That distinction is crucial, because it may exclude the valence, face, and/or side panels from the calculation.

Restriction on Location of the Message Sometimes awning signs are subject to regulations that appear illogical and confusing. Most often, this occurs when the overall regulations are a combination of a citywide ordinance (written by planners) and overlay regulations (maybe written

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


by a historic preservationist). An example of this phenomenon can be seen in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. Much of Georgetown is regulated by Historic Preservation overlay guidelines, because it’s a historic neighborhood with very narrow streets and buildings over 250 years old. Generally businesses here are encouraged to use hanging or blade signs mounted 90° from the building front and perpendicular to primarily pedestrian traffic. But awnings (retractable shed-style only) may not have signage on their sides (which can project out only sixty inches). Instead all signage must be placed on the front valance—with letter height no larger than twelve inches. The overall effect of these mismatched Georgetown regulations is that the preferred hanging signs are visible to approaching pedestrians, while awning signage (including street numbers) is parallel to approaching traffic and can only be seen as the viewer is in front of or passes the business.


Illumination of Awnings Some cities disapprove of the aesthetic appearance of backlit awnings, often believing that it transforms the entire building into signage. In Minneapolis, the City discourages backlit awnings by applying a penalty to the area calculation: “When signs are incorporated into awnings, canopies, and marquees, the sign area shall be determined by computing the area of an imaginary rectangle drawn around the sign. Backlit awnings and canopies, with or without signage, shall be considered a sign and shall be included in the calculation of total permitted building sign area.” In Indianapolis, the City specifies a minimum distance from residential uses or historic areas: “Illuminated awning or canopy signs shall be located at least six hundred (600) feet from a protected district.” Other cities (such as Jonesboro, Tennessee) prohibit illuminated awnings entirely. The preferred means of lighting is where “the fixture shall be designed, fitted, and aimed to place the light output onto and not beyond the sign.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

This means that, if a business wants to illuminate its awning sign, gooseneck lamps must be installed. While this easily can be accomplished from an engineering and design perspective, the result may present interesting challenges for relamping and maintenance without the use of a bucket truck.

Conclusion Awning signs present several unique challenges based on their treatment in the municipal sign ordinance. Depending on the specific rules, using them as part of a corporate identity program may be discouraged. But understanding how to examine the ordinance will help you design an awning sign that best serves retail and business customers. Kenny Peskin is State & Local Government Affairs Manager at ISA (www., and works full-time assisting member sign companies with local regulations and developing improved sign ordinances.

photos: capitol awning (far Left), ashley Bray.

Your Sign as Cover: Maximizing Retail Awnings Signage draws attention to a business, either as a standalone unit or attached to the façade, and normally, there’s not much functionality for signage beyond advertising purposes. Yet with its classic, timeless appeal, an awning can be another way to get the most out of display real estate on the front of a building. However awnings can take on a practical role for a business. “Awnings can cover a lot of ‘hurts’ on a building, hide the building, and save money on having to redo a storefront that’s old or dated,” says Mike Catalano of Jamaica, New Yorkbased Capitol Awning (www. Capitol Awning is a dealer for several retractable awning manufacturers and makes architectural metal canopies, serving clients that include property owners, developers, and franchise owners primarily in New York City. After serving clients for almost seventy years, the company has seen the many phases awnings have gone through. The trend in awnings today, according to Catalano, is “Main Street America,” taking the product full circle to its roots in the ’50s. “This might mean awnings over windows and doors to give that ‘hometown’ feeling,” he says. “All the towns in our area are trying to cut down on sign clutter, as they’re looking to attract people to shop there by making the towns look welcoming. “Many towns are requesting signs to be attached up on a wall with awnings below them.”

Awnings can also add an elegance, formality, and even a softness to the exterior of a building, often at an affordable price. In addition, Catalano finds that clients choose awnings for weather protection, cost-effectiveness (awnings can be less expensive than traditional signage), and as an exterior design element by illuminating the awning. The downsides to awnings? Wear and tear, for one. Of course, they should be occasionally cleaned, and some awnings will need to be recovered completely. —Lori Shridhare

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Magnets / By Jeff Wooten //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Flexible Magnets 101

When it comes to magnets, there’s no such thing as too much education. 60

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013


Although flexible magnet sheeting can be quickly and easily employed by sign makers such as yourself in plenty of different end-user applications—vehicle graphics, point-ofpurchase campaigns, display decoration, etc.—your knowledge of this medium shouldn’t be limited to just cut-vinyl. Either through lack of education or communication, some sign professionals still might not be fully aware of how to use magnet material or even how to work with it. So let’s help change that, shall we? Welcome to our “Flexible Magnets 101” course! Several manufacturers will be your professors and instructors this month, in an effort to help graduate you to a better understanding of this “attractive” medium. Open Class Question True or False: You can print directly onto magnetized material.

Magnet curl caused by too much heat used in the printing process.

If you answered “true” here, then you may very well already be starting on the path to our class valedictorian. In fact, almost any type of printer— digital, flexo, offset, wide format inkjet, etc.—is capable of printing directly to the flexible magnet sheets that are out there today. “The only decision to make is whether to use pre-magnetized media or un-magnetized media,” says John De Leon, director of Sales and Marketing at Arnold Magnetic Technologies (www. “If your printer does not have metal parts—or if you can cover up any of these parts with cardstock (so the magnetic material does not stick to them as it passes through)—then you can print directly to pre-magnetized media. “But if the metal parts are difficult to cover, you can print onto un-magnetized media just like paper, cut out the shapes, and then magnetize it with a hand-held or motorized magnetizer before providing it to your customers.” Although you can easily print onto magnets, you still must utilize caution. For instance, if you’re running such a sheet through a hot printing press, be aware that the vinyl could move around on the magnet.

Meanwhile if the magnet will not feed over the metal parts of your printer, you may need to create an air gap mask.

Pop Quiz: How do you create an Air Gap Mask? Nicole Sheridan, marketing manager at manufacturer Magnum Magnetics (, provides the following four essential steps for creating an air gap: Step 1: “Cut a piece of the magnetized magnetic media to fit the shape of the metal parts on your printer.” Step 2: “Apply double-sided tape to the non-magnetized side of your shaped magnet.” Step 3: “Remove the backing to expose the adhesive.” Step 4: “Lay a thick piece of material over the tape. This can be a thick mesh screen purchased at a local home improvement store, canvas, vinyl, chipboard, poster board, card stock, etc. Ensure that the layer is thick enough to interfere with any magnetic pull. If the printable magnetic media still sticks, repeat this step until the material feeds smoothly.” While Sheridan points out that there is not one official “correct” way to create an air gap, these four mentioned steps should prove ideal. “We encourage our customers to get creative to incorpo-

July 2013 // Sign July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


a different cosmetic appearance, such as a glossy or matte finish,” says Steve McLevey, product manager at Arnold Magnetic Technologies. Melissa Thompson, sales manager of Flexible Magnetic Products at Master Magnetics ( adds that a clear laminate is absolutely necessary for outdoor applications when printing onto the magnet with dye- or pigment-based inks, since the printing surface required on the surface of the magnet is paper. “However on the pigment ink-printed magnet, the overlaminate will only protect the top surface and not the edges,” she warns. Lamination failure can usually be noticed at the corners or in an isolated area where outside debris has chipped the laminate. “Even the smallest chip can allow air between the laminate and the magnet, resulting in a failure of the finished product,” states Sheridan.

rate this into their current process,” she says. “My suggestion is to ensure the magnet will feed smoothly over the material used to create the air gap and that the material will not jam or create head strikes as it is feeding.”

Lesson: Overlaminates Many sign shops will still print onto a layer of vinyl and then laminate that layer onto the magnetic sheet. However these extra layers can delaminate over time, causing the magnet to fail. Then the print provider will take the magnet that’s already covered in vinyl and output it onto a film or overlaminate with adhesive backing and apply this to the magnet. They’ll then put a clear film over the entire project. The multiple layers laminated to the magnet can prevent the magnet from laying flat. This will result in a curl or a wavy edge, which leads to delamination of the layers. So if direct printing is easy, why would a sign maker take this chance by laminating? “The only reason for overlamination is to protect the ink that they have printed the product with or to give the product


Creating an air gap with a material like a thick mesh screen can keep magnetic material from sticking to the metal parts of a printer.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

Cram Session: Troubleshooting Tips Delamination is but one troubleshooting factor to keep on the lookout for. Sheridan points out the following ad-

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Using too much tension when applying the overlaminate to the magnetic sheet can result in delamination.

+ Tension Issues. This happens when you use too much tension when applying the overlaminate to the magnetic sheet. This will pull the magnet (creating a “curling” effect). Your end-result will be delamination. Solution: Use the lowest tension settings to allow the product to lay flat. “Test a small piece first with the overlaminate process and the least tension setting,” says Sheridan. “Let the magnet relax to ensure that it lays flat.” + Heat Issues. Be careful that you’re not using too much heat. And if you have to apply hot glue to the back of a laminate, this can cause the vinyl to shrink—thereby cracking the magnet and damaging the laminate. Solution: “Instead of hot glue, use a pressure-sensitive overlaminate (like a peel-and-stick),” remarks Sheridan. + Adhesion Issues. The overlaminate being used isn’t consistently sticking to the mounting substrate. Solution: “Use consistent pressure when you apply the overlaminate to avoid inconsistent stick,” says Sheridan. “If the overlaminate doesn’t stick consistently over the printed parts of the mounting substrate, you need to pay attention to the ink coatings. The ink flood coat can cause the overlaminate to stick differently than the unprinted surface.” + Magnetic Memory Issues. When approaching the end of the roll, you may find that the magnet will not lay flat for 64

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

printing. This is because the magnet is rolled on a three-inch core, which means the magnet will curl due to “memory.” Also you can find bubbles in the middle of the roll when approaching the end. Solution: “The magnet will need to lay flat for a little while to relax before printing,” suggests Sheridan.

Final Exam: Storing Flexible Magnet Sheeting Most magnetic media is safe to store for one year, but keeping this material in your shop (whether in flat sheets or rolls) requires a low humidity and a constantly cool storage area. “What also helps in storing magnetic material is to buy material with a clear protective coating on the back side of it to prevent it from adhering to other magnetic material while being stored, otherwise known as ‘blocking,’” says De Leon. “This clear coating will also prevent the promotional magnet from sticking to its mounting surface, as long as normal cleaning procedures are followed.” Once you’ve finished printing onto the magnet, lay the product flat until you’re sure the ink is completely dry. “Then if you’re going to roll the magnets after print, always roll onto a cardboard core with the printed side facing out,” states Thompson, noting that this will prevent the curling effect from taking place on the applied surface. (Note: And be sure to store the finished magnet in a container, so the exposed graphics won’t get damaged.) Remember earlier when we said to store magnets in a constantly cool area? Well you have to make sure the room is not too cool.

all photos: magnum magnetics.

ditional problems and solutions:

It is important to frequently remove the magnet for cleaning. Here’s an example of damage from road salt. Thompson advises that it’s important to not roll magnetic material in temperatures below 60°F. “Cold temperatures can cause magnets to stiffen,” she says. It’s also important to read the “Clean and Care” instructions included with the magnet product and remove it frequently for cleaning and inspection. “Always use a mild detergent soap to clean the magnet,” advises Sheridan.

A magnet after being unrolled from a core can be wavy due to “memory” and may need to lay flat for a while to relax.

Extra Credit: Reusing Magnets After the client is finished with their magnetic sign, can you recycle this sheet or is it straight to the landfill? The final answer really depends on how the original vinyl graphics were applied to the magnet. “Ultimately the more layers of vinyl you add to the magnet, the more your chances increase of the overlaminated vinyl layers producing

product failure,” says Sheridan. “The magnet will remain magnetized, but the finished surface may fail.” However magnetic material by itself can be recycled and reused to make more magnetic material in its plain state. “But once an adhesive or film, such as polypropylene or paper, is added to it, it’s no longer a good candidate for recycling,” adds De Leon.

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July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Lighting / By Lori Shridhare ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Diversification in lighting


n last month’s “Shop Talk,” we profiled Fresno Neon Sign Company, one of the California city’s oldest and most respected sign manufacturers. So how does a company with “neon” in its name move forward? Diversification. Founded in the 1930s as a small neon shop, the company today manufactures everything from storefront letters to vehicle graphics to mammoth illuminated freeway signs. In addition to neon and its full-service signage capabilities, the company has 66

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

also become known as specialists in school marquee signs that are lit with LED modules. So when customers approach them for channel letter projects, Fresno Neon always offers them the choice of neon or LED. “Some customers desire the energy efficiency that LED has to offer, and we enjoy the fact that LED is faster to install,” says Fresno Neon Sign Company Vice President K.C. Rutiaga. “However neon is brighter and [features] a more even light output.”

all photos: fresno neon sign company.

Some ReaSonS to embRace all lighting componentS.


Adding accent lines can send channel letters or a sign in a new direction.”

—K.C. Rutiaga, Fresno Neon Vice President

Fresno Neon Sign Company offers its clients both neon and LED as channel letter illumination options and has worked with both lighting types on other projects.

Fresno Neon recognizes that the lighting source is dependent on the project. The small size of a tenant sign for a Grandville Homes urban project called Biz-Werx didn’t allow for neon, so they used LED. On another job for Paul Evert’s RV, Fresno Neon utilized neon’s brightness to build a neon ring around a clock.

For Fresno Neon, LED and neon options often price out relatively close, mainly due to the fact that they’re able to manufacture the neon in-house and have the expertise and facility to produce it quickly and efficiently. (Note: See “Shop Talk,” June 2013.) Clearly the numbers wouldn’t add up for a sign shop that has to outsource the work—and this may be one of the keys to Fresno Neon’s continued success. Neon’s color palette is also expansive. “Neon is a very unique lighting source,” says Rutiaga. “Properly used, the possibilities are endless. Some of the common applications are in channel letters, where a combination of neon colors and face material can give off a very cool effect.” Rutiaga has founds that, at this point, LED still has improving to make with some power supplies before it can be promoted as a total neon replacement. “As LED technology advances, we may see a further decline in the use of neon; however neon will remain a classic choice for customers who prefer the bright, eyecatching look of exposed neon glass,” she says. “It’s hard to predict whether LED will catch up with neon’s brightness.”

July 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Rutiaga also finds that just a touch of neon added to a sign can go a long way. “Adding neon accent lines can send a set of channel letters or a pylon sign in a new direction,” she says. For example, Paul Evert’s RV, a long-time customer of Fresno Neon, requested a new sign to capture the attention of drivers on Highway 99. They proposed a design for a sixtyfoot-tall, double-faced sign that incorporated a neon ring on an analog clock at its peak. The architectural features included two four-foot-wide pole covers with neon accents. “We incorporated an access ladder into one pole cover and a changeable letter storage cabinet built into the other just above the catwalk,” says Rutiaga. “The 12-by-36-foot main ID section was so large that we used vinyl-decorated flex faces.

Pa Cne 4 lS aw

Neon lighting is often chosen for channel letter projects

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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2013

because of its brightness and wide color selection.

“The two lower cabinets located between the column covers and under the main ID have vinyl-decorated polycarbonate in one and an aluminum zip change track in the other.” On the sloped top of the sign, they tucked a 1000-watt floodlight, keeping it hidden from the freeway side of the sign and aimed at the 100-foot-tall flagpole standing between the two 80-foot-tall flagpoles that they installed on site. But Fresno Neon is also able to recognize when LED is the better choice for a project, which happened recently when the shop worked on a small tenant sign for a Grandville Homes office complex urban project called Biz-Werx. The company first designed a single-face sign featuring halo-lit tenant names, as well as halo-lit neon illumination against the wall. After reviewing several choices, the client ended up choosing a specific green color for the illumination. “The sign has fif“Even with the use of teen halo-lit, 3/4-inchthick, clear acrylic UL 2161-compliant Plexiglas® push-thru tenant panels,” says transformers, proper Rutiaga. “Each tenant panel has a matte black grounding of all comvinyl background, and the edges were left ponents is absolutely machine-finished for light dispersal. A 60 critical for safety and percent white diffuser fire risk prevention.” vinyl was used for the tenant names.” The “Biz-Werx” lettering and the address were routed out of the top and bottom aluminum sections and backed up with white acrylic then overlaid with brilliant green translucent vinyl. The cabinet was made to look like it was spaced off the wall for effect. “But at this stage, we determined that the small size of the sign would allow for neon after all, so we turned to LED instead,” says Rutiaga. “Because LED colors are limited, we experimented with a combination of yellows and greens to [achieve] just the right color of halo light around the sign. “All of the planning and solutions here made for a very happy customer and a creative, bright sign.”

photo: sloanled.

Revamped SloanLED Power Supply When SloanLED 701507-MODW power supplies began experiencing problems in the field, the company had to figure out what was going wrong and how to get to the root cause of the failure quickly, in order to make sure their customers would have a reliable product. “We knew we had to be proactive and aggressive in addressing the problem and making it right,” said Steve Shotwell, general manager of SloanLED ( “Our goal was not only to fix the problem but to ensure we were taking care of our customers experiencing problems in the field.” The analysis of the failed power supplies found that the cause was a series of solder cracks. “Thermal expansion and contraction was the root cause of the solder cracks,” said Bruce Quaal, director of Engineering at SloanLED. To further back up the redesign, SloanLED had Reliant Labs, the world’s largest HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) lab based in Sunnyvale, California, test SloanLED’s revised 701507MODW power supply against three top industry competitors. The results show that 100 percent of the SloanLED units tested supported high-reliability performance and showed no signs of solder cracks after 75 cycles (158°F to -22°F to 158°F), the equivalent of 5.7 years. In addition, 90 percent of these revamped units showed no signs of solder cracks after 100 cycles, or the equivalent of 7.6 years of typical field use. The tests also exhibited that 100 percent of SloanLED units showed no water intrusion after an underwater thermal cycle test. “This allows the sign maker to use

the power supply in harsh, wet applications without the need for a cover or transformer box,” said Shotwell. (Note: For more details about the in-depth testing performed, visit Reliant Labs found that the robust 701507-MODW power supply is able to withstand the harsh environments of its stated



operational temperature range and weather exposure. For the past twenty-four months, SloanLED has put more than 300,000 MODW power supply units into the field (installed on rooftops with the primary end threaded into a wet location junction box, inside sign housings, inside sign raceways, inside rooftop-mounted electrical enclosures, etc.). “We knew we needed to take care of our customers in an industry that unfortunately had some of these power supplies that didn’t work as well and failed prematurely,” says Shotwell. “We not only went as far as helping people with cost reimbursement to repair their signs, but we also encouraged them to replace units in ‘suspect’ manufacturing lots with brand-new, fresh power supplies. “We also developed our own program where we actually do the repair work, if our customers want us to.”

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B y J e f f Wo ot e n

Element Graphics & Design

Rockin’ Out with a


Bike Wrap off the ground.” Even though this project wasn’t as large as a full vehicle wrap, Element Graphics still found it fun to work on. “This BlueVelo Quest bike had a fiberglass body, so it was not that different than a car,” says Minetti. “We first prepped and cleaned it with alcohol, making sure it was dry and clean before installing the vinyl.” They wrapped the outer shell body with 3M™ Scotchprint® Wrap Film 1080 in Matte Black wrapping cast vinyl. They then applied the graphics, which had been printed onto 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film with Comply™ v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3-10 with 3M™ Scotchcal™ Gloss Overlaminate 8518 over it. “The solidcolor 3M film itself doesn’t need lamination,” says Minetti, “but we added it to all the printed graphics for abrasion and UV protection.” From the onset, the Element Graphics team knew that the big challenge on this project was going to be the bike’s convex and concave curves. “It was like wrapping an egg,” says Minetti. “There was plenty of heating involved to stretch the material around the body.” The wrapped bike itself is quite a marketing tool for the sports drink company, and it has really made the rounds after its Lollapalooza debut. In fact, you can catch it these days all over downtown Chicago and along its lakefront. And if you’re in the area, be sure to keep your eyes open for other large format and wrapped graphics— there’s a good chance Element Graphics might’ve worked on them, as well!

all Photos: ElEmEnt GraPhics & DEsiGn.

lement Graphics & Design ( of Mokena, Illinois has been around for twenty-one years, starting by cutting vinyl for signs and truck doors. Today the company has progressively kept up with the times and evolved to designing, producing, and installing high-quality fleet and vehicle wraps, large format signs, banners, point-of-purchase displays, floor graphics, and even “coming soon” barricade walls for stores under construction. “If it’s ‘wrap-able,’ we’ll make it happen,” says Operations Manager Lisa Minetti, noting that they’ve even wrapped an escalator. “Nothing is out of the question.” The company is made up of six employees and uses its Roland VP-540i printer/cutter, a plotter, and a laminator to produce its output. “We enjoy special projects that are out of the ordinary,” says Minetti, “because we’re always up for the challenge.” This philosophy really came into effect when one of Element’s long-time clients—Greater Than, a start-up company in the sports drink market—came to them with a request to create and install a wrap for a unique bike that would be displayed at last year’s Lollapalooza festival. This project was music to their ears. “This sports drink company approached us years earlier to help out with their branding and their guerilla marketing in getting their name out there,” says Minetti. “So we had already made banners, decals, signs, cooler wraps, vehicle wraps, and anything in between to help them get

No vinyl projects are out of the question. 72

Sign Builder Illustrated

// July 2013

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Sign Builder Illustrated July 2013  
Sign Builder Illustrated July 2013  

This issue contains stories on icon signs, channel letters, dimensional signs, dye-sublimation, awnings, magnets, and LEDs and power supplie...