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Number 216 | juNe 2013


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42 28 36

28 An “Ark”-load of Wall Coverings BY JEFF WOOTEN

An inspirational study of the art & install of wall graphics.

Find Your Way Forward BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Revolutionizing the role of wayfinding. Plus some pointers on ADA requirements and installations.



Erecting the tallest sign on the Las Vegas Strip.

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


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013



Building a Lady Liberty prop (and more NYC scenery) for WrestleMania XXIX.

58 62

Brushing Up on Sign Design BY JEFF WOOTEN

Sign makers fulfill a big dental appointment.

A Winning Manufacturing Model BY JEFF DRUM

How to beat offshore competition in the retail fixture market.

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.


How-To Columns



NEC 2014 Changes, Part Two: Articles 600.10-600.33

JUNE 2013 June 6-8: The 2013 SEGD Conference, Above the Fog, converges at the storied Fairmont Hotel San Francisco in San Francisco, California. ( June 8-14: InfoComm 2013, a tradeshow produced by the audiovisual communications association, is happening at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. (

Driving Clients to Window Perfs

20 Driving Clients to Window Perfs BY MARK K. ROBERTS

How to make marketing magic for your automobile dealership clients.

24 NEC 2014 Changes, Part Two BY RANDY WRIGHT

Previewing additional upcoming changes to the National Electric Code.

Departments 8


Colors can have different meanings, and Editor Jeff Wooten thinks sign designers may want to take time to understand some of them.



Touching on Design & Install



Sign Show


SBI Marketplace

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.



Shop Talk

September 8-12: PRINT 13, produced by the Graphic Arts Show Company and reflecting the ever-changing face of the graphic communications industry, is taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. (

The latest news from around the industry.

Lori Shridhare details how one neon sign business with nearly a century of experience has remained vital by expanding its horizons.


NUMBER 216 | JUNE 2013

Perforated Vinyl Graphics


Sign Makers of the

New Ark On the Cover > Wayfind Design > LED Displays

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JULY 2013


The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.


June 25-29: FESPA 2013, the largest focused event for the wide format print industry, is scheduled to take place at the ExCel London Exhibition Centre in London, England. (

The Ark at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas features wall coverings, wood trim, and animatronic animals. Photo by Rudkin Productions.

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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

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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

June 2013, Vol. 27, No. 216 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

True Colors

executive offices

You may like a certain shade of color, but do you know why?

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


ince the sign and graphics industry is so tied into the visual, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a PANTONE® or CMYK world and we’re all just living in it. After all, it can appear that there are a limitless number of shades, hues, and profiles (and paints and vinyls) out there. But when it comes to design, why do some colors work while others fail? Why does one respond a certain way toward a certain color selection or combination? The number-one oft-cited rule in sign and wrap design is using an appropriate color contrast. But taking the time to understand what a color means or why it works should also be considered (a Crayola psychology, if you will). A couple of “shares” circulated recently across our magazine’s Facebook newsfeed ( and may have even crossed yours too. One was a chart compiled by the Daily Infographic explaining how colors affect branding and purchases. For instance, did you know that color increases brand recognition by 80 percent, since it links directly to consumer confidence? It also broke down what certain colors meant to the North America population. For example, the color yellow represents youth and optimism and is employed to grab the attention of window shoppers, while blue creates a sense of trust and security and therefore is often used by banks and businesses. The “aggressive” orange urges one to buy or sell, while green is the “easiest color for the eyes to process” and relaxes folks. And wouldn’t you know that “sleek and powerful” black is utilized to market luxury? Another “shared” report from Treehouse 8

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

Ashley Bray

Blog ( also recently made the social media rounds, discussing how color effectively communicates meaning and informs design decisions. It stated that colors mean different things in different places. For example, did you know that yellow represents courage in Japan? But in Egypt, it’s the color of mourning. Yet here in the United States and Canada, yellow is a popular color with children, but this fondness decreases as they move to adulthood; the older one gets, the more one tends to shift preference toward blues, greens, and purples. So if you’ve ever wondered why it seems that every elementary school sign you work on has to have bold, bright colors, this might be a reason. (And I guess the older one gets, the less one wants to think about “stepping into the light?”) But does this colorful pop psychology truly work? Purple is cited as “soothing,” but try telling that to a toy store owner in Walla Walla, Washington who was ordered to pay hefty fines and remove his painted 22-foot-wide-by-29foot-tall giant purple octopus from the front of his building. Although many of the area’s citizens did fall under the spell of his purple painting, this owner couldn’t “soothe” the ones who counted the most—the city managers. It was 500 square feet too large under the city’s sign ordinance. (Lesson: Color might work on the people but not on regulations and ordinances, so do your research first!) So maybe understanding why people respond to certain colors can help you better design even more effective signs for your clients. Doing so may also keep you from getting the blues over why your work didn’t generate more green. It might even leave you tickled pink!

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

Butch “superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Briana Cummings, Jeff Drum, Wendy Friedrich, Jim hingst, hank McMahon, Peter Perszyk, Mark roberts, lori shridhare, 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


ISA 2013

International Sign Expo Alexandria, Virginia—ISA International Sign Expo 2013 closed as one for the record books. For the first time ever, the exhibit hall floor topped 202,000 square feet and was a total sell-out. Education attendance was significantly higher than in previous years, with many courses standing-room only. Overall attendance surpassed 2011 and 2012 figures and approached the all-time record with over 19,500 attendees. 10

The event, held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center in Las Vegas April 3-6, drew 593 exhibitors (a 7 percent increase over 2012). Nineteen companies comprised the new Dynamic Digital Sign Park, an area devoted to showcasing the latest in the rapidly expanding field of digital signage. “No doubt about it: ISA International Sign Expo 2013 was a rousing success,” commented ISA President and CEO Lori

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

Anderson. “The energy was extremely high, and our industry is clearly on a path for growth. New opportunities and new ideas for business were literally at every turn.” The ISA International Sign Expo 2013 kicked off with a day-long dynamic digital signage workshop, with top educators helping sign companies understand more about the opportunities in the field. In addition, dozens of leading architects and designers attended a dedicated

ORACAL USA & ORAFOL Americas Merge Black Creek, Georgia—ORAFOL Europe, GmbH (“ORAFOL”) announces the merger of ORACAL USA of Black Creek, Georgia and ORAFOL Americas Inc., of Avon, Connecticut. Effective July 1, 2013, both entities will be restructured to form ORAFOL Americas, Inc., with Randall Mertz and Andrew McNeill named as CEO and President respectively.


Success! tional track. Other new features for 2013 included peer roundtables, more networking events, and tours to help firsttimers make the most of the massive Expo floor. (A "flash mob" even kicked off the event on the first day.) “One of our slogans this year was ‘Signs Mean Business,’” said Anderson. “Sign Expo has proven that to our sign companies, end-users, and influencers with a variety of educational events and

networking opportunities. Each year, we hear about business deals begun at Sign Expo and new alliances forged that successfully impact sign companies throughout the year. “I have every reason to believe that Sign Expo 2013 will lead to greater opportunities for our members and attendees.” ISA International Sign Expo 2014 is scheduled to take place April 23-26, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.

ORACAL USA manufactures and markets a wide range of premium pressure-sensitive films and industrial tapes for sign, screen print, and digital imaging applications. ORAFOL Americas Inc., supplies a full range of reflective solutions sold into a wide range of reflective applications (including traffic signs, vehicle conspicuity, personal safety, and maritime safety applications). Together ORACAL USA and ORAFOL Americas have complementary product lines and a longterm strategic view focused on innovation, and both are driven by the highest standards of quality and customer satisfaction. Together they will provide an enhanced manufacturing capability and product offering to their current and future customers. “The merger of ORACAL USA and ORAFOL Americas Inc. will create more efficiencies in the marketplace,” said Randy Mertz, CEO of the newly merged ORAFOL Americas Inc.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches + Remembering “Efi” Arazi, 1937-2013 Meredith, New Hampshire—EFI ™ Founder and CEO Efraim “Efi” Arazi passed away on Sunday, April 14. Arazi created his namesake company in 1988 after a pioneering, twenty-year career as the founder, president, and CEO of the first Israeli high-tech firm, Scitex Corporation. Arazi served as chairman, president, and CEO of Electronics for Imaging (EFI) from 1988 until 1994, guiding the business from modest beginnings, with eighteen e m p l oye e s i n N o r t h B e a c h , S a n Francisco. Under his leadership and technical guidance, EFI launched Fiery™, the printing industry’s first color server in 1991. The product was an immedi-

ate success, leading to significant OEM partner contracts with the world’s leading color printer manufacturers. Arazi completed an initial public offering for EFI in 1992. In 1994, Fortune magazine named EFI the nation’s fastest-growing public company. “We are all deeply saddened by the passing of our founder and one of t h e m o s t i n f l u e nt i a l leaders in the history of our industry, and we send our sympathies and condolences to Efi’s family,” said current EFI CEO Guy Gecht. “Though no longer with us, Efi’s spirit of entrepreneurship, brilliant creativity, and love of innovation will always remain at EFI.”

LuciteLux® Just Imagine Awards Chicago, Illinois—Lucite International, owner of the LuciteLux® acrylic brand, has launched its inaugural JUST IMAGINE Awards program. Lucite International will celebrate the winner with a full-page spread in Architectural Record as well as a making-of documentary that tells the story of the designer’s work with LuciteLux. The documentary will debut at an exclusive screening party at the site of the installation this fall. “Our vision for the JUST IMAGINE Awards is to celebrate designers who have embraced the uniqueness of working with and creating designs using LuciteLux,” said Lucite Business Director Simon Ellis. “We’re very proud that this material continues to inspire creative thinking and to bring those ideas imagined into real life—from back-lit signage that arrests attention to a floating wall in a hotel lobby and everything in between.” The company will accept entries at until September 27,


Fifth Annual Epilog Challenge Open Golden, Colorado—Epilog Laser is excited to announce that the Epilog Challenge contest is back for round five, and will be hosted on The DIY “Epilog Challenge V“ runs through July 15, 2013. The lucky Grand Prize winner will receive a 30-watt Zing 16 Laser from Epilog. is a popular project-sharing online community that provides publishing tools to help passionate, creative people share their most innovative projects, recipes, skills, and ideas. “We’re excited to partner with the folks at once again and anticipate seeing some very unique and creative entries,” said Mike Dean, vice president of sales and marketing for Epilog Laser. “I’m always amazed by the fantastic projects the Epilog Challenge inspires,” said Eric Wilhelm, founder of Instructables. com and director of communities at Autodesk. “I hope to see even more mind-blowing projects this year!” Previous Epilog Challenge winners include the DIY High-Speed Book Scanner, the 8x8x8 Animated LED Cube (pictured), the Arduino Powered Chess Playing Robot, and Build a Laser 3D PrinterStereolithography at Home. To read the Epilog Challenge V official rules, visit contest/epilogv.

2013. To be eligible, the work must be completed using LuciteLux between 2011 and 2013 to be eligible. The judging criteria will be: To what extent does the entry optimize the properties and design qualities of LuciteLux continuous cast or cell cast acrylic? To what extent does the entry meet its defined purpose in a highly creative way? And to what extent does the entry demonstrate innovation and uniqueness?

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

SignSHOW A DA S I G N A G E /M AT E R I A L S ADA Compliance Unites with Durable, Aesthetic Versatility There have been several advancements made to the HID Interior Sign System from Howard Industries. A redesigned, aluminum-extruded frame provides a simplified, lighter-weight, more cost-effective alternative in interior signage. End-users can choose between radius and flat profiles of either portrait or landscape orientation, standard or custom end caps, and ADA-compliant components. The paper graphic inserts make copy changes a breeze, and the company’s new rubber divider strips create individual lens sections maximizing readability and functionality. The HID Interior Signage System comes standard with a five-year warranty and is backed by the unequaled customer service synonymous with the Howard Industries name. 800/458-0591;

AE Sign Systems & Small Balls Inc., Introduce the EZ Bit Holder The new, easy-to-use EZ Bit Holder from AE Sign Systems and Small Balls Inc., is stainless steel and designed for top-loading engraving tables with 11/64-inch and 1/4-inch spindles. EZ Bit Holder is used in conjunction with AE Sign Systems's specially designed solid carbide spiral braille bit for ADA Braille dot signs, as well as most sizes of engraving bits. Made to easily change out bits of different sizes, simply insert the desired bit and tighten the set screw. All holders come with a set screw and an Allen wrench. 888/444-5131;

D I G I T A L P R I N T I N G / E Q U I P. / S U P P L I E S CET Color Introduces the New K-Series 1000 Printers CET Color’s new K-Series 1000 true flatbed and hybrid UV printers—X-Press 1000K UV flatbed and X-Press 1000HK— allow users to print very high quality at speeds that surpass traditional production speeds. The printers include native 600-dpi Kyocera printheads, which feature five-level greyscale imaging, 2,656 nozzles per head, and a 4.25-inch print swatch. The customizable print spooler improves imaging workflow with pre-set media settings, a faster RIP, and the ability to change print quality without re-RIPing. The printers can handle media up to 60-by-120 inches and four inches thick. The integrated four-zone, reversible vacuum table holds media stationary and features a unique pin registration system for accurate and consistent rigid media placement and full-bleed printing capability.

INKS Mimaki Premiers New Latex Ink LX 101 Mimaki USA has announced the availability of its new Latex ink LX 101 for the JV400-130/160LX printers. The new ink achieves a more vivid, higher image quality by improving glossiness and increasing the density of black ink. Higher color reproduction and a wider color gamut are also available via six-color process printing by adding Orange and Green inks to the standard four-color lineup. White ink allows for printing on clear substrates to fulfill a variety of needs in the sign and graphics industry. Since six-color process printing is compatible with Mimaki’s original RIP software, RasterLink6, the total solution of ink, printer, and software is provided. Fast drying times allows for users to immediately move on to lamination and/or installing, improving the total work-efficiency.

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS CAO Group Gets Some Sizzle™ in the Latest Innovation of its Fire™ Series The CAO Group (CAO) continues to innovate signage and general lighting by adding Sizzle™ to its LuxemBright® Fire Series product line. The LuxemBright Sizzle LED channel letter illumination system is a low-voltage, low-profile, highly efficient lighting module alternative to traditional neon and fluorescent lighting. It is used for low-profile channel lighting, accent or cove lighting, backlighting, architectural lighting, and other 12VDC lighting applications. The three-LED-per-module and five-modules-per-foot Flex PCB design allows for bright and homogenous lighting, and its water-resistant qualities make Sizzle able to withstand the harshest of environments. The new LuxemBright Sizzle system is available in six different colors for all applications: warm white, cool white, red, amber, green, and blue.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

SignSHOW Now Available: LED Signage & Display Kit SK14 JKL Components Corporation has announced the availability of an LED Signage & Display Kit—Part Number SK14. It includes a full selection of LED technologies appropriate for use in the signage, display, gaming, and architectural industries. The SK14 LED Kit allows the designer to test an array of LED designs that vary in intensity, design, LED pitch, and color. Having these materials on hand allows for rapid design creation, quick prototyping, and a fast time from development to market. The kit also serves as a sales tool for craftsmen and designers to showcase lighting options for potential clients to turn quotes around faster and ultimately capture more business. The comprehensive LED Signage & Display Design Kit comes in a convenient canvas bag and includes 12- and 24-Volt adapters, twenty-three Linear LED options, five varieties of channel lights, and an assortment of based LEDs, along with sockets, joining connectors, mounting accessories (including an LED-compatible dimmer), and much more. 818/896-0019;

MAGNETICS Get Attracted to Magnum Magnetics’ New DigiMag® PLUS 2 Magnum Magnetics Corporation announces the availability of DigiMag® PLUS 2, the next generation in printable magnetics technology with a revolutionary printable film for HP Indigo and offset presses. Patent-pending DigiMag PLUS 2 features a waterproof printable surface, boasting improved UV stability and weatherability performance over BOPP and polypropylene films. The printable surface is bleed-through and scuff resistant, tree-free, durable, and tearresistant. Available in two versions for digital and offset printing, this product is specially designed to cut cleanly using the guillotine and die-cutting process, leaving no residue on cutting blades. Both versions are currently available in printable magnetic sheets. DigiMag PLUS 2 is easily finished with a post-press magnetizer, making the production process trouble-free. It offers consistent, strong magnetic pull and a superior printing surface for vibrant images that make a statement and stay where you put them.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S Thin is in! A.R.K. Ramos Meets the Demand for Thinner Profile Plaques As many cast plaque applications are now calling for an edge thicknesses of 5/16-inch to 3/8-inch, A.R.K. Ramos has introduced its thinner profile plaques, which are available in aluminum, bronze, and brass. They do have some limitations in border styles due to the reduced thickness, but on the other hand, they offer up to a 15 percent cost savings on sizes ranging from 160 to 720 square inches. In addition to the new, thinner profile, A.R.K. Ramos continues to also offer cast plaques in the standard 5/8-inch to 3/4-inch edge thicknesses. 800/725-7266;

S I G N C A RT S / T R A N S P O RTAT I O N Hello, Dolly Max! The Versatile New Dolly from Saw Trax The 25-inch-wide-by 30-inch-long all-terrain, multi-function Dolly Max from Saw Trax takes the traditional function of a dolly and amps it up by adding posts to the base to extend it either vertically or horizontally. These posts greatly increase the carrying capability and usefulness of the dolly, which can be used as everything from a mobile material rack to a pallet dolly. In the mobile material rack version, six extra posts are used (four come standard with the dolly) to create four slots to carry sheet material and/or banner rolls. In the pallet dolly use, the posts are inserted horizontally to increase the base length. The posts can also be used horizontally and vertically at the same time for combination use. The internal post design ensures the vertical strength in the steel posts but also makes it very easy to reconfigure the dolly. 770/974-0021;

Aluminum Sign Solutions Snap nap Frames, Snap Bases, Poster Snaps Available in Standard & Custom sizes Check our website for more information


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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


SignSHOW 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 Collect Meaningful Data with EFI’s SmartSign Analytics System EFI introduces SmartSign Analytics (SSA), a system that automatically captures and analyzes signage viewership and engagement data. A single SSA unit includes a webcam attached to a sign, connected to a computer or tablet running a partner facial recognition software and EFI’s proprietary SSA software for data organization, analytics, and reporting. The SSA system’s webcam and software combination detects the presence of people within viewing range and determines which of them are actually viewing a sign. Eye-tracking tools on the SSA system also allow it to calculate how much time is spent viewing signage. Using advanced, proprietary facial pattern algorithms, the SSA system assigns a gender and age range to each viewer, providing a wealth of market-segment information. The SSA system discards facial pattern data on the fly, with no actual images of faces stored during operation. SSA will enter beta testing this quarter. 800/875-7117;

S T A N D O F F S / M O U N T I N G E Q U I P. Shed Some Light on Your Signs with Outwater’s LED Standoffs Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc. + Architectural Products introduces its new series of LED Standoffs for Signage & Displays, which utilize the acrylic or Plexiglas™ sign holders to which the standoffs have been affixed as the medium to diffuse backlit illumination to mounted graphics, posters, and promotional messages. Comprising six diminutive cool white (6000-6500K) LEDs integrated in between the body of the Standoff and its screw-on flat cap, Outwater’s 12-volt LED Standoffs simply plug into an available junction box via an included connecting cable and derive their power from an optional power supply that can run up to ten LED Standoffs. Outwater’s low-cost, energy-efficient LED Standoffs consume merely .4 watts per unit, yet have a 40 lumen output with an approximate 10,000 hour bulb life. 800/631-8375;


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

Brooklyn Hardware LLC Reports Success with its Lightweight Panelclip® Brooklyn Hardware LLC has produced a revised panel hanging hardware to accompany their already popular Panelclip® Classic. The new profile, called Panelclip® Second Edition (SE), lowers the customer shipping costs while still providing the same security, ease of installation, channel, hole placement, and material thickness as the Classic Panelclip®. By simply removing ¼-inch of aluminum from the non-locking edge of Classic Panelclip, Brooklyn Hardware is helping the construction, sign, product manufacturing, and art industries. Because Panelclip SE is lighter, it reduces customer unit costs while easing and shortening project installation time. Panelclip SE mates perfectly with the Panelclip Classic, so stocks of either product can be used together. Clients have reported added satisfaction with the new product and substantial cost savings. Meanwhile Classic Panelclip is also still available. In addition to creating high-quality manufactured trademarked hanging system products, Brooklyn Hardware provides accurate, on-time deliveries and careful packaging.

Torino Illuminata is an All-in-one Solution for Attention-grabbing Signs As a manufacturer of quality sign brackets, lighting, hardware and other related products, Sign Bracket Store is in the business of helping its customers create memorable first impressions, and the company is continuing this mission by announcing that its newly released Torino Illuminata sign bracket combines graceful style with bright light to showcase a double-sided sign day and night. Graceful curves adorn the bracket, which is made of durable powder-coated steel for indoor or outdoor use. Compatible with all kinds of architectural styles, the Torino Illuminata sign bracket comes standard with a sturdy backplate for wall mounting, however mounting options can be customized for special projects. The low-profile 120V bullet lights featured with this bracket spotlight the sign to draw in foot traffic even after dark. Also available from the Sign Bracket Store is an energy-efficient, low-voltage option with a 12V transformer and 50W MR16 lamp.

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Mark k. roBerts


Driving Clients to Window Perfs

How to make marketing magic for your automobile dealership clients.


ne of the most competitive businesses in existence today is the retail automobile industry. Yet successful dealerships know what it takes to entice buyers into their showrooms and service departments. All automotive makers furnish point-of-sale posters, banners, and other branded company decorations for these dealerships; however it’s the local personalization of these products that could be the determining factor in closing the sale of a new car or truck. My company, The InterSign Group in Houston, has been successfully servicing automobile dealerships with these graphics for over thirty years. I thoroughly enjoy designing and creating these products, which enhance and simplify sales efforts. One of my favorite dealership products to work on is the design, fabrication, and installation of custom, full-color window graphics printed onto perforated window film. We work closely with the dealer to arrive at the most enticing graphic that will generate immediate interest in their product(s)—such as a new car or a service (oil changes, alignments, repairs, etc).

Our latest venture involved creating and putting up perforated window wraps for a nearby AutoNation Mitsubishi dealership. The owner walked the service department over with me and explained what he wanted on each window. From there, we took accurate measurements of every window in the service facility. I took the designs for these window perfs from the provided AutoNation style sheets and entered them into Adobe® Illustrator®. I created a layout for each window and sized them all to fit. I then filled in the vector shapes with the appropriate colors and saved them as “one window” jobs. After creating all the graphics for this project, I saved each window design to a file of its own. I then opened up the Adobe Illustrator files in my Roland VersaWorks program and sized them to shape. When all the files were loaded, I inserted Oracal 3675 perforated window film material into our Roland VersaCAMM VP-540 printer/cutter and began the production process. For window perf jobs, I always increase the heat about twenty degrees higher than I normally

Printing the window perf film for installation to the glass surfaces.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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Collision center window perfs.

The author applying window perf film to two windows inside the AutoNation Mitsubishi service department.

A finished double window perf project.

The customer waiting area with window perfs.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

A side office window with installed window perf.

use on my everyday air-release vinyl. I find that the ink is slower to dry on the window perf material, so this adjustment guarantees nice, dry, and perfect prints. After each window perf had been printed, I attached an adhesive tag with a unique numbered identification for the window the back of them. This eliminated any confusion later out at the job site. The number-one rule before installing window perf graphics: Clean, clean, clean your glass windows before you install your window perf film. I use alcohol and lint-free paper towels to clean windows, and I take the time to do this correctly. Nothing is worse than installing a beautiful window perf project and returning the next day and seeing various “runners” in the material. Don’t let this happen to you. Be meticulous about your window cleaning. You should also exert enough pressure on your squeegees to make sure that the film stays flat. When marketing your perforated window graphics, you should create a nice sales board to show potential clients your capabilities for this service. I always take photographs of all the windows that are candidates for perforated window film advertisements. From there, I will create scaled mock-ups of the finished window graphics; these show the clients exactly what they’ll be getting for that given window. Not only does this method enhance the sale, but with scale photos of each and every window showing the graphics, simple mistakes can be corrected before any film gets printed. This will save you money in the end, so never skip this step! As sign professionals, we are visual marketing experts. We should always look for ways to build and enhance our client’s business, marketing methods, and products, and perforated window film is one such way. These graphics could be the marketing miracle your client has been looking for— so be a hero and help build and promote their businesses to record levels! Mark K. Roberts is the owner of The InterSign Group in Houston,Texas. Established in 1980, Mark’s company offers personalized advertising solutions for all types of businesses. For more information, make sure you visit

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Randy WRight


NEC 2014 Changes, Part Two: 600.10-600.33 Previewing additional upcoming changes to the 2014 National

issue of Sign Builder Illustrated. Now just like this time last month, I’m going to ask you to open up your current 2011 NEC Code book, as we review the industry-related sections together that will be changing for 2014. (Note: As mentioned last month, the only change could be a successful appeal that would be presented at the Annual meeting in Chicago June 2-6, 2013, but I don’t forsee this.) Each of the sections will have [ROP 18-#] to indicate the successful proposal submitted to make the change and [ROC 18-#] if a comment was entered to change the proposal again. Each change (other than new sections like the Article

all Photos: dave forrest.

Electric Code.


ast month, I began previewing the changes that will be appearing in the 2014 National Electric Code (NEC) related to Article 600: Electric Signs and Outline Lighting and made comments explaining why these changes were being made. (Note: There were fifty-four comments submitted to Code Panel 18 about the 2014 NEC that we dealt with at our meeting in Redondo Beach, California, during the first week of December.) To read my take on the changes affecting 600.2 Definitions; 600.3 Listing; 600.6 Disconnects; 600.7 Grounding & Bonding; and 600.9 Location, please check out the May 2013


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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100 definitions) below will have a red font citing deleted text or be underlined for newly included clarifying text.

600.10 PortaBle or moBile signs. (2) Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter. The manufacturer of portable or mobile signs shall be provided a listed with factory installed ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel. The ground-fault circuit interrupter shall be an integral part of the attachment plug or shall be located in the power-supply cord within 300 mm (12 inches) of the attachment plug. [ROP 18–108] [ROC 18-1] Comment: The proposal moved the responsibility of the ground-fault to the sign manufacturer, as opposed to the cord manufacturer. The comment added the words “a listed” to require a minimum level of safety with the device.

600.12 field-installed secondary wiring. Field-installed secondary circuit wiring for electric signs, retrofit kits, outline lighting systems, and skeleton tubing systems shall be in accordance with their

installation instructions and 600.12(A), (B), or (C). [ROP 18-109] Comment: “Retrofit kits” was added to include current technology and insure their installation per the manufacturer’s installation instructions. (B) Over 1000 Volts. Neon secondary circuit wiring of over 1000 volts shall comply with 600.32. [ROP 18–110] Comment: The panel rejected a change in “(A) 1000 Volts or Less” of this section because other wiring such as fluorescent is covered but did accept the change to (B) Over 1000 volts by adding “neon” secondary since it only applies to neon circuits. (C) Class 2. Where the installation complies with 600.33 and the power source provides a Class 2 output that complies with 600.24, either of the following wiring methods shall be permitted as determined by the installation instructions and conditions. [ROP 18–112] Comment: “Instructions and” was added to insure the wishes of the manufacturer when installing Class 2 equipment.

600.21 Ballasts, transformers, and electronic Power suPPlies, and class 2 Power sources. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 Power Sources shall be of the self-contained type or be enclosed by placement in a listed sign body or listed separate enclosure. [ROP 18–113] Comment: “Class 2 power sources” has been added to the power supply section along with some requirements about the supply and where it shall be installed. The panel accepted the change and added the word “listed” to separate enclosure for continuity. 26

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

(A) Accessibility. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 Power Sources shall be located where accessible and shall be securely fastened in place. [ROP18–114] (B) Location. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 Power Sources shall be installed as near to the lamps or neon tubing as practicable to keep the secondary conductors as short as possible. [ROP 18–114] (C) Wet Location. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 Power Sources used in wet locations shall be of the weatherproof type or be of the outdoor type and protected from the weather by placement in a sign body or separate enclosure. [ROP 18–114] (D) Working Space. A working space at least 900 mm (3 feet) high, 900 mm (3 feet) wide by 900 mm (3 feet) deep shall be provided at each ballast, transformer, electronic power supply, and Class 2 Power Source or at its enclosure where not installed in a sign. [ROP 18–114] (E) Attic and Soffit Locations. Ballasts, transformers, electronic power supplies, and Class 2 Power Sources shall be permitted to be located in attics and soffits, provided there is an access door at least 900 mm by 562.5 mm (36 inchesby-22-1⁄2 inches) and a passageway of at least 900 mm (3 feet) high by 600 mm (2 feet) wide with a suitable permanent walkway at least 300 mm (12 inches) wide extending from the point of entry to each component. At least one lighting outlet containing a switch or controlled by a wall switch shall be installed in such spaces. At least one point of control shall be at the usual point of entry to these spaces. The lighting outlet shall be provided at or near the equipment requiring servicing. [ROP 18–114]

(F) Suspended Ceilings.clean Ballasts, made the sign surfaces and transready formers, electronic power supplies, and for the top coats of paint. Class 2 Power Sources be perWe applied a high gradeshall of custom lamitted to be located abovetosuspended tex semi-gloss paint tinted the exact ceilings, enclosures are blue that provided we’d usedtheir on the two previous securely fastened in place designs. This paint dried nicelyand andnot quickpendent the able suspended grid ly, and weonwere to paintceiling the raised for support. Ballasts, transformers, and portions of the sign with Ronan Aqua electronic supplies installed in Coat Ivory power paint in less than one hour suspended ceilings not be connectafter application to shall the background. edWe to the branch cord. coated the circuit back ofby theflexible sign, which [ROP 18–114] is a 3/4-inch piece of marine-grade plyComment: “Class power wood laminated to 2the backsources” of the has ceingdar season. the meantime, the combeen added the balance of thewood power supfacesInto with industrial glue. pany alsoformore found success wrapping ply has sections continuity. This wording was We applied paint, which matched also inserted intoonto theonCode book show that custom designs motorcycle and the brown paint the leg to assemblies. they receive treatment asofthebrown other (Note: This the wassame the same shade racecar helmets. poweron supplies. used the originalcan signs, so ait person does pay “Painting helmets cost to keep paint samples the cli$2,000 and takeswatch a couple of in weeks,” 600.32 secondary-cirent’s workneon order file!) says Baumann. “But we can wrap one over 1000 volts, Thewiring, leg assemblies consisted of four in cuit about forty-five minutes at about a nominal. 4-inch-by-4-inch-by-96-inch treated pine quarter of that cost. Many times, they (A) Wiring Methods. per As we docan’t on every justposts have onesign. helmet and giveproject, it up (1) beveled Installation. Conductors shall be we the tops of each post so they for two to three weeks. For us, it’s just a installed retain in rigid metal conduit, interwouldn’t water. matter of figuring out the shape of the mediate metal conduit, PVC conduit, For this project, we used a full 45-devisor and where the vents are located. RTRC, liquid-tight flexible nonmetallic gree cut on one face of all eight posts. We “In addition to lamination, we’ll also conduit, flexible metal conduit, liquidthen fitted each sign with two posts on shoot a clear coat over it because helmets tightfront, flexible metal conduit, the as well as the back. electrical getmetallic banged around dropped.” tubing, and/or metal enclosures, We determined that six sections on of Panther Graphics has also noticed the insulators in metal raceways, or would other 1/2-inch-thick steel threaded rod increasing popularity ofuse using vinyl equipment listed with neon secsecure each of thefor posts to the sign.for Affullter color changes on vehicles. They apondary over 1000ofvolts. [ROP somecircuits minor trimming the threadplyed specific-color ORACAL 970RAenamel cast 8–117a] rod, we sprayed oil-based wrapping vinyl straight out of the Comment: The acronyms weretobox inadonto the rods and allowedthat them dry. andWe onto the car or truck—no vertently added during anotherprinting, cycle have then used our high-speed cut-off no saw lamination. wrappers rods just stick been removed. to trim “Our the threaded to be Meanwhile Panel also rejected other it on,” says “There’s no waitflush withBaumann. thethe nuts. to add a large other Our sign number was nowof ready ingproposals on art four-legged files or approvals.” acronyms to the sections the code, which to be lowered into company theofholes! Due to the Meanwhile recently would create change in the weight ofpromotional thenosign (as activity well asenforcement the weight concluded on their of the of thesection. four posts), definitely Facebook page wherethis they solicitedproved for to be a two-person job. unique projects and offered to do free some that leveling, and wrapsAfter for those reallytamping, challenged wiping down, the sign was ready for them creatively and professionally. Notthe final on its legs. only didpaint thesetouch-ups better improve theirFortucanately we had learned how to protect the pabilities, but they also found that this painted poles, so our touch-ups were acworked as a method of free advertising tually minimal. for their full wrap services. Finally we poured, troweled, and surfaceBaumann and his crew spent last year smoothed four bags of concrete per hole. getting Panther Graphics up to speed to The client was thrilled was the end-rebe sult ableoftothese servetwo their race team and the hand-crafted signs. Not general public. Now thanks this experionly did we receive ourtobalance check ence and their recently receiving Master without having to ask, but he also gave Certification from the PDAA, us a plate of cupcakes for all they of usdefito ennitely slowing down with their joy won’t on ourbe way back to the shop. (Note: wrap in 2013 (andwas beyond). Letwork me tell you, this a nice bonus!) This turned out to be a major project

600.33 sign illumination in terms led of the size and weight of all the systems, secondary wiring. components, the hand-tooling involved, The wiring methodsperformed. and materials shall and the installation However be installed in accordance withsigns the sign I feel confident that these two will manufacturer’s be on the job forinstallation many yearsinstructions to come. using any aapplicable wiring methods So have great month and “keep sellfrom Chapter in’ those signs!”3 and the requirements for Class 2 circuits contained in Part III of Article 725, applicable. [ROP Mark Roberts is aasthirty-five-year 18–124] veteran of the commercial sign inComment: insureinformation, and clarify thatvisit not all dustry. ForTo more sections apply, “as applicable” was added. and

Questions or comments related to the 2014 NEC changes in this month’s (or last month’s) article are always welcome via email at Randy Wright is currently the Special Expert to the Code panel. He had represented sign associations as a panel member while owning an electric sign company since the 1987 code cycle. His background is shared between electrical indus8 One of thethe finished try and the fire service. replacement signs!

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27 49 25


An “Ark”-load Wall Coverings An inspirational study of the art & install of wall graphics. To attract younger people, some churches are employing “spectacular” results. Take the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, for example. Thanks to donations from its 8,000-plus congregation, this church recently added a $5 million, 28,400-squarefoot children’s building on its property called The Ark. 28

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Environmental Graphics / By Jeff Wooten

Wood trim, simulated candles, synthetic grass and trees, and a menagerie of animatronic animals (lion, elephant, rhinoceros, zebra, giraffe, etc.) fill The Ark’s central hull.

Photo (left): rudkin Productions; Photos (right): signs now san antonio.


Photos courtesy of ???.

Each of The Ark’s thirteen classrooms features a theme, including a “cold” room (top right), a “forest animals” room (middle right), and a “monkey” room (bottom right).

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


inside The Ark; each classroom features carpet resembling wood and high-resolution wall graphics featuring a bevy of life-sized animals. And the sign shop responsible for printing and installing these graphics, Signs Now San Antonio (, had less than forty days and nights to work this wall covering miracle (thirty-seven, to be exact). Rudkin Productions in Boerne, Texas, the ad agency in charge of designing

The HP Greenguard® wallpaper used is “kid-friendly.”


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

these wall graphics, has been a long-time client of this Signs Now, and they came to the store initially seeking recommendations on durable materials. “The Ark is also a children’s learning center, so the church wanted materials that would be ‘kid-friendly,’” explains Scott Milgrom, owner of Signs Now San Antonio. Milgrom adamantly believes that many customers can’t make an informed material decision until they actually get upclose-and-personal with said-materials.

7,800 square feet of vinyl graphics were installed.

Photos: signs now san antonio.

On the outside, The Ark looks like a typical brick building; but on the inside, its interior has been crafted as a two-story replica of Noah’s Ark—complete with six miles’ worth of wood trim; two acres of plywood; a custom-painted sky that changes scenes from day to night; 400 simulated candles; synthetic grass and trees; and a menagerie of animatronic animals in the central hull (lion, elephant, rhinoceros, zebra, giraffes, ostrich, etc.). There are also thirteen classrooms

Photo; signs now san antonio.

About Signs Now San Antonio Scott Milgrom is actually the fourth owner of his Signs Now location in San Antonio, Texas, which he has operated since 2004. Before moving to Texas, he ran a Signs Now in Naperville, Illinois for fourteen years, where his shop managed to do between $1.4 million to $1.6 million annually. However this Signs Now in San Antonio was a very low-volume store. “I went from a store that did $100,000-plus a month to one that was doing about $100,000 a year,” he says. Milgrom eventually added new digital printing equipment, increased his marketing, and upped his staff. “When I took over, the store was just a manager, a production person, and myself,” he says. “We now have nine very skilled employees.” Four years ago, Signs Now San Antonio moved from a 1,500-square foot building to a 2,500-square foot facility. Today the shop has noticed increased requests for retractable banners, tradeshow

displays, and vehicle wraps. “Having a bay area to control the conditions for wrapping has really helped,” he says. Thanks to his success, Milgrom is currently planning a move soon to a new 5,200-square foot building.

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

“Farm animals” is another classroom theme.

The animatronic elephant in The Ark’s hull stands ten feet tall.

Photo: signs now san antonio.

eco-friendly HP PVC-free Greenguard® wallpaper. “We flipped panels while printing, to minimize the color change during the print process,” he says. Fortunately printing onto wallpaper is pretty much like printing onto regular vinyl, so no change in techniques was necessary. “We did rotate images as we printed, so nothing would be out of alignment when lined up on the wall,” adds Milgrom. The number of panels for each room ranged from sixteen to twenty. And

Photo: rudkin Productions.

“I discussed a latex product with them and its lack of fumes and odors; but until the client really gets it, they don’t really get it,” he says. “It wasn’t until another vendor showed up afterwards with a solvent-printed canvas material that they really noticed the smell.” Rudkin Productions opted for latex and, since Milgrom’s company uses two HP Designjet L25500 latex printers, brought them onboard to print out and install graphics onto two walls for each classroom—twenty-six walls in total. Milgrom and his staff had dabbled in a few wallcovering jobs before, but this Ark project was the first wallpaper project they’d ever taken on. Every room has a theme—for example, a “bird” room, a “monkey” room, a “domestic animals” room, a “farm animals” room, and even a “cold room” with polar bears and penguins. “The biggest and most dramatic room is the ‘rainbow room,’ featuring a combination of all the animals on each side of the wall,” says Milgrom. “The design and thought process that went into this was unbelievable—you needed a male and a female of each animal (because it is The Ark), photographs of the animals in the right position, and the correct lighting.” Milgrom and Rudkin Productions Account Executive Meg Guillory made several pre-design trips to the still-under-construction Ark site and carefully measured the walls of every classroom twice to make certain their numbers were correct. Some classrooms featured full uninterrupted walls, while others had a set of doors to a restroom in the middle of them. For the design, they had to also take into account electrical outlets, A/C controllers, light fixtures, and fur downs in the front and back of certain rooms. “You didn’t want an animal cut off by some type of obstruction,” he says. Rudkin Productions provided all the file designs and separated them into panels that Milgrom’s shop would output. Milgrom only specified that he needed 80-dpi resolution images to reproduce them as life-sized. “We had a small Passport hard drive that we’d just run back and forth, as [Rudkin] completed the approved files,” he says. Signs Now San Antonio printed out and installed twenty-six-inch panels onto two walls of each classroom, using

when you’re talking about 7,800 square feet of vinyl graphics needing to be installed, it was important for Milgrom to stay ahead of the game. “We were on a pretty tight production schedule,” he says. “The grand opening was March 16, and we received our first files the tail end of January. “We were printing as we were installing. We planned the installation for about a room a day, so we tried to stay ahead of the curve by printing graphics

for the next room while we were installing in the current classroom.” (Note:Although these type of latex graphics don’t require lamination, a rollon type of varnish can be used.) The small ladder installation proceeded like any typical water-based wallpaper install. Milgrom wet the back of the material with a heavy nap roller and then folded the graphic onto itself and the backing. “This helped release the adhesive, so we could place each panel up,”

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Designers and installers had to take into account electrical sockets and fur downs, so as to not interrupt any animal imagery.


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Some of the animatronic animals had been featured in films (2012, for instance) and TV commercials and were bought at discount price.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated 33 sbi.indd 1 4/25/13 5:04 PM

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Photo: rudkin Productions.


he says. “They all had about a 1/4-inch overlap seam.” However Milgrom learned that, when this wallpaper material gets wet at the start of application, it can expand anywhere from 1/4-inch to 3/8inch. On normal applications, this wouldn’t be a big deal; but when you’re talking about a room of some twenty panels with images of animals and other scenery, there was the risk of losing a graphic element. “There are a lot of wood barricades and wood beams within the graphics, so we had to make sure the graphics and the beams didn’t fall off one wall or not match up the same,” says Milgrom. Milgrom fortunately discovered the wallpaper expansion during the first wall install. “We had started at one end and worked across the wall,” he says. “At the end of the wall, we realized expansion could happen.” Fortunately no animals or significant imagery were lost on the first classroom wall, but Milgrom did make adjustments to the remaining artwork with this “expanded” knowledge. He also had to change installation techniques. “We started from the center instead and worked one way and then the other way to make up for that difference,” he says. The Ark is designed to handle more than 800 children and is used for youthtargeted church programs. It’s definitely attracted attention: Church officials were expecting 5,000 visitors for its grand opening back in March—only to be greeted with an estimated 28,000 members of the public (with long lines stretching around the building). Milgrom is ecstatic that his shop was able to work on something different that hadn’t really been done before. “Someone touring the facility on opening day turned to [Guillory] and me and said that we’d raised the bar as far as wall graphics go,” he says. “That was a feather in our hat!”


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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Wayfinding / By Lori Shridhare //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Find Your

all photos courtesy of fd2s.

revolutionizing the role of wayfinding.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013


Way Forward


efore wayfinding systems are designed and the plans for signage are presented, a thorough, indepth analysis of the site creates the foundation for launching a successful project. This critical initial step provides direction for the work and lays the groundwork for continued dialogue on the long-term management and assessment of the system once installed. We recently spoke with Steven Stamper, founding principal and chief strategist of the Austin, Texas-based wayfinding and environmental graphics design firm fd2s ( about their unique process and their success working with high-profile partners and clients. The company originally started in 1984 with writer Larry Paul Fuller (“f ”), architect Herman Dyal (“d”), and Stamper (“2s”). The combined skill sets and experiences of these three founding principals still inform a rich mix of disciplines and service offerings that include branding and identity, environmental graphic design, donor recognition design, and wayfinding consulting. The company’s clients tend to be architects, developers, private corporations, public and private educational institutions, academic and healthcare organizations, and public entities such as transit authorities and municipalities. These partnerships each come with their own unique requirements for wayfinding and other environmental graphic implementation. Thanks to advances in computer software and fabrication

equipment, Stamper finds that terms like “environmental graphics” and “wayfinding” have become more pervasively used beyond the design community, which has helped move their discipline further up in the project team hierarchy.

What best practices do you employ in designing wayfinding signage? Steven Stamper: At the root of our wayfinding philosophy is the conviction that an effective wayfinding solution must be based on the actual needs of the end-user. This conviction is supported by our project methodology, which includes the following key components: An in-depth period of review and analysis before considering any actual design concepts. By studying the ways users interact with the system, looking closely at the underlying project architecture and facilities program, and developing a thorough understanding of the project’s graphic identity and brand message, we can build the foundation for a system that is truly centered on the needs of the end-user. The use of standardized methodologies for rapid prototyping and testing throughout the design process. We do this to validate conceptual directions. Clear documentation of the design process and resulting standards. This maintains project momentum and focus during dynamic, long-term engagements.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


An emphasis on the integration of wayfinding messages across multiple delivery vehicles. Users expect wayfinding content and style to be consistent, regardless of where it’s obtained. An emphasis on flexibility and expandability. This approach is essential for large, dynamic clients like healthcare institutions. It lengthens the life of the system, reduces its costs over time, and makes the system more sustainable by minimizing waste. A commitment to seeking innovative solutions that minimize the number of actual signs in the environment. Excessive signage creates clutter that limits its own effectiveness and creates an unpleasant visual experience. With smart signage placement and messaging and the utilization of non-signage wayfinding tools, strategies can be deSPEC SHEET - for reference only veloped that reduce this clutter.

Fasten Up for ADA Advice

Styles. While the number of ADA-com- interior spaces pliant fonts was reduced substantially of a site or its faand the rules for Braille replacement cilities, and they tightened three years ago, some of the affect practically biggest challenges are related to visual all of the noncharacters, which are usually not raised raised character/ Braille signs in a and do not require a Braille descriptor. The ratio of letter thickness to spac- building. Another huge ing is a major issue, along with the letter height of visual characters (now a issue with compliance that has surfaced minimum of 0.625-inch). Once you in the last year is stairwell life safety get past the new letter height mini- management. The National Fire Promum, the rules governing visual char- tection Association (NFPA) has issued new guidelines that are quickly being acters are arcane and math-intensive. Character proportions shall be se- adopted by inspectors nationwide. This lected from fonts where the width of new set of regulations requires photo the uppercase “O” is 55 percent mini- luminescent signage in addition to the mum and 110 percent maximum of ADA signage in the stairwell. The inspector community will take a the height of the uppercase “I.” In addition, the stroke thickness of few years to get totally up to speed with © COPYRIGHT 2013 SWELL MEDIA GROUP the uppercase letter “I” shall be 10 per- the new regulations, and in the meanCLIENT: Nova Polymers DIMENSIONS: 7” (width) x 4.875” (height) / No Bleed DATE: 05/02/13 cent minimum and 30 percent maxi- time, there will be several times when PROJECT: Nova Polymers “Signs or Art” PAPER SPECS: N/A CONTACT: a regulation is misconstrued. Like it or mum of the height of the character. Have clients become more educated PUB: Sign Builder Illustrated - 2013 COLOR: 4 color process, special colors: N/A APPROVED: PRINTING SPECS: N/A These rules apply to signs that give not, all interior sign companies are now about the need for intelligent direction to or information about the in the regulation compliance business. wayfinding systems? All legal rights including, but not limited to the ownership of all intellectual property, copyright ownership and design patent rights, in the designs, arrangements and plans shown here within are the property of SwellMediaGroup. The designs contained within these If I bylook at healthcare a project type, documents are developed SwellMediaGroup, as propertyas of SwellMediaGroup, and extended under a non-exclusive license for use solely on this project. The designs and intellectual property contained within may not be used, utilized, duplicated, replicated or reused, in whole, in part or similarity, except in connection with this project, without the prior written consent of SwellMediaGroup. Written dimensions on these designs shall have precedence over scaled dimensions. Printers, vendors, suppliers, pressmen, our have become more forsophistimanufacturers, and their clients sub-contractors of all tiers shall be responsible verifying all dimensions and conditions on the design and the project, and are required to notify SwellMediaGroup of any variation between the design, dimensions and field conditions.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

Other signs may require mechanical fasteners, which seem to be a favorite of design firms and architects. Using a level to insure the sign is straight, mark the wall through the screw holes. Drill holes and insert anchors. Holding the sign in place, fasten screws into wall anchors. For signs with frames and screw holes, first remove the sign face. Next position

the frame on the wall and follow the above instructions. Finally replace the sign face. It’s important to note that these signs can be very cumbersome and time-consuming to install and can inflect severe damage to a wall when you have to take a sign down. —Hank McMahon, President,

photos courtesy of signmojo.

Installation. The sign manufacturer, architects, and/or design firm managing the signage system will first need to go over the building’s floor plans with a fine-tooth comb. You may need to even tour the facility. Make certain that the sign company you’re working with guarantees compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will be willing to replace anything that is deemed to not be compliant. The choice of materials/substrates you use will also determine the installation method. Most signs are very light plastics requiring only adhesive tape for application, but others can contain several layers of materials (which can make them heavier). These types— along with those made of solid surface or even natural stone—will require silicone along with the standard doublesided tape. Just use a level to insure the sign is straight and then press the sign firmly to the wall.

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



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cated as they directly relate visitor/patient stress, patient satisfaction, and lost productivity of staff to poor or non-existent wayfinding programs. Of course, this also has a direct effect on the hospital’s brand, as any inaccuracy in the wayfinding experience directly impacts the perception of the hospital brand. Because of this, we developed an Integrated Wayfinding approach that analyzes all the touch points of a patient/visitor wayfinding experience from before they leave home until they are leaving their destination to return home.

Speaking of healthcare, you’ve worked with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. It operates in an enormous physical environment (9 million square feet of space). Describe the wayfinding design process you created for these navigation challenges. We began the project with an in-depth analysis of the needs of the Center’s patients and visitors and the staff that serves them—including a combination of on-site observation, patient and visitor interviews, mock admission and arrival exercises (with our staff members assuming the role of patients), and work sessions with institution staff and other stakeholders. The understanding cultivated during this intense analysis phase led to the development of a strategy that called for the creation of a unified and highly recognizable system that addressed the needs of users at every possible point of contact. This strategy recognized that an effective system would need to reach across every aspect of the hospital’s environment and operations—including architecture and interiors, signage and wayfinding, communications, services, and internal processes.

Can you provide further details about how you worked closely with the staff? The elements we conceptualized, designed, documented, and produced in the implementation of this strategy ranged from facilities and information technology to marketing and public relations. These activities included: The creation of a unique, user-focused brand position for the overall wayfinding and orientation effort; The development of a name, “Access,” 40

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

Communication is vital. If you’re

planning an ADA sign install in a brand new building, contact project managers to confirm construction completion deadlines. You want to be sure the walls are finished, painted, and ready for signage installation. In addition, inquire about wall substrates; different materials (i.e., drywall, concrete, glass, etc.) will require various mounting methods.

and a graphic identity for the program; The creation of an innovative “pathway and landmark” wayfinding approach; The development of names and identifying symbols for ten distinct landmarks within the facility, as well as architecture and interior design for the environments at these landmarks; Programming, design, documentation, and production supervision for all of the individual signage and environmental graphics elements associated with the system; Concept, design, and copywriting for the printed elements of the Access system (such as maps and visitor guides); Creation of the concept and content for touchscreen kiosks and a wayfinding-oriented Web site, along with the development of a software tool that allows M. D. Anderson staff to easily update all aspects of the system; Recommendations regarding refinements to service offerings in areas such as transportation assistance, volunteer guides, and information desks; and The creation of tools to educate institution staff about the importance of Access and also build excitement for its launch.

What does the future hold for wayfinding? As mentioned, we’ve designed custom touchscreen wayfinding software and wayfinding Web sites that are optimized for mobile devices. We’ve also used LEDs in a number of interior and exterior projects (such as donor walls). That said, there is—and always will be—a need to know when one has arrived and how to move about the environment. There has to be a “there.” It has to be identified and experienced, and there will always need to be artifacts to support this.

For aesthetics, determine a single measurement from the floor to either the bottom or top of all the wall signs. If you have

varying sign heights within a building hallway, it’s pleasing to the eye to have them all fall in line either top or bottom (customer preference) of each sign as you look down the hallway. Take into consideration tactile baseline placement

on all the signs and determine a measurement that works with all sign sizes. —Briana Cummings & Wendy Friedrich, Howard Industries


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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


photo courtesy of howard industries.

Tips for ADA Installations


A Tall Order

Erecting the tallest sign on


hey say what happens

in Vegas stays in Vegas, yet the reputation of the doublesided, convex pylon sign outside of the Las Vegas CityCenter has extended beyond the city limits to receive national attention. But at a towering 260 feet tall and 65 feet wide, the Aria™ Resort

sign’s intention was never to blend in at all—it was to draw more attention to CityCenter and its attractions. And it does so as the largest freestanding LED sign in


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

all PhotoS courteSy of yeSco.

the world.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// LED Video Display / By Ashley BrAy

the Las Vegas Strip.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


iaGroup, and extended under a non-exclusive license for use solely on this project. The designs and intellectual property contained within may not be used, utilized, duplicated, replicated oject, without the prior written consent of SwellMediaGroup. Written dimensions on these designs shall have precedence over scaled dimensions. Printers, vendors, suppliers, pressmen, or verifying all dimensions and conditions on the design and the project, and are required to notify SwellMediaGroup of any variation between the design, dimensions and field conditions.

Finally a Wayfinding Solution Designed for


“At first, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about putting up a sign in front of the place. I think the focus was on the architecture being the sign,” says Rick Juleen, managing director of Sales at YESCO (, which created the sign. “It wasn’t until they were open [for almost two years] that they realized they needed to do a better job of advertising all of their destinations within the destination.” Management also realized that the

sign could serve as a branding and wayfinding aid, as well. “They were missing that. People didn’t know where to enter,” says Jim Gietzen, design & creative director at YESCO. “They didn’t know if they were actually at CityCenter or not.” With a sign clearly needed, the design and construction team at MGM, owner of the property, created a design competition and invited sign providers to submit proposals.









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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013



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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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YESCO’s team created an elaborate presentation that included schedules, pricing, logistics, and a full-blown animation of the completed sign design. The presentation won MGM over, and after some price negotiations, work began on the sign. One of the first steps was to conduct a full site survey. “We drove up and down the Strip at every angle to determine the optimum height,” says Gietzen, who adds that YESCO also traveled off the Strip to check out viewing angles from other prime locations like McCarren International Airport and Tropicana Avenue. YESCO chose to place the sign at the front of CityCenter. The decision to make it such an impressive height was influenced by the surroundings. “It sits in amongst some very significant towers,” says Juleen, “and it was sized to fit within that environment.” Due to the large size of the display, YESCO was able to choose a lower pixel pitch. In total, about 11,000 square feet of 25mm LEDs covers each side of the sign. “What happens with really large LED displays is, when you get the pixel density at that size, you actually have the ability to go to a lower resolution,” says Juleen. “So it appears to be higher resolution, but that’s because we have such a large matrix.” As for brightness, the YESCO LED display system monitors ambient light levels real time (24/7) and automatically provides the required brightness or dimming adjustment to meet the environment. “All light level parameters (dimmest to brightest) are preset in the system during initial testing and commissioning,” says Juleen. YESCO worked for about four months to perfect the design, with an additional six months spent on figuring out engineering details. Throughout the roughly ten-month period, design and engineering frequently worked together to revise plans and make adjustments. “There was a lot of very high-level modeling that had to happen on the computers before we were comfortable building it,” says Juleen. One of the elements that needed some adjusting was the Aria logo, which features twenty-six-foot-tall letters at the top of the pylon.YESCO made some minor changes to the logo so that the letters were legible on the large scale required for the sign. They also placed a smallerscale Aria logo with

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tall letters on the pedestrian-level bridge the sign straddles, as well. Both sets of letters have Lexan® faces and are internally illuminated with white LEDs. For fabrication, YESCO brought in specialists to help with the footing, excavation, electrical, and infrastructure and served as general contractor (as it oversaw the work while also building the LED screen and structure). The sign’s footing proved difficult, as one of the footings penetrates two floors

of an existing underground parking garage. “Those floors had to be obviously excavated and then shored back up to be functional,” says Gietzen. There was also a large slab of concrete that had to be partially excavated. “We worked with the engineer record on the facility to develop that footing using as much of the existing structure and footings in that area,” says Juleen. Construction of the footings took a few months. Once they were in, two steel

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

truss columns were erected and a charcoal metallic Alpolic® material “skin” was affixed over the structure. At the same time, YESCO’s Logan, Utah facility was manufacturing the LED displays and shipping them to their Las Vegas facility. Here they applied the displays to the skin and brought them to the site in sixty-five-foot-wide, tenfoot-tall frame sections made from fourby-four-inch steel square tubes. It took twenty-six sections to build the sign. “We would bring that section over to the site, basically wired and ready to go,” says Juleen. “We would drop it down onto the vertical trusses/columns, weld them off, and then as we would stack up, we would actually do the field electrical and connect those sections to each other and do all of the final adjustments.” A massive crane that was put together on-site did all the heavy lifting. The placement of the LEDs was a complex process, as the tolerances had to be perfect so they wouldn’t affect the video quality—the screens could be no more than 1/16-inch apart. Wind load was also considered. As skyscrapers are built to move with the wind, so too was this sign. “We had to factor in all of that movement and transition that all the way through our LED faces so, when it was moving, it wouldn’t disrupt our video quality,” says Juleen. In addition to the large pylon sign, YESCO was also tasked with remodeling the Aria sign that abuts the freeway. They tore this sign down to the structural pole and rebuilt it to match the new pylon sign for a cohesive branding look. Content for the system is run on the Four Winds Interactive system, and MGM Branding and Marketing Group is playing off the vertical orientation of the sign in the content it designs. The sign may be finished, but YESCO Service and Maintenance crews do a daily drive-by of the sign to make sure everything is operating properly. And for a city that never stops, YESCO also has a Webbased camera that provides remote viewing of the display 24/7, 365 days.

For more of the story behind this sky-scraping sign, visit

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dimensional / By Mike AntoniAk /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The Main

Building a Lady Liberty prop for WrestleMania XXIX.


s pro wrestling fans entered MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, for WWE’s WrestleMania XXIX on April 7, they were greeted by a stage set every bit as sensational as the events about to unfold in the ring. Eighty feet above the stadium floor, the New York City skyline had been reproduced on backlit signage (with 3D renderings of the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge) all capped with the set’s centerpiece—a precise, seventysix-foot-tall rendition of the Statue of Liberty towering to the very top of the stadium.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013


all photos: propmasters.

Event Conceived and designed by WrestleMania Chief Graphic Designer Jason Robinson, the dazzling set—80 feet long along each of its four sides and rising a total of 165 feet from the stadium floor—was brought to life thousands of miles aways in Hialeah Gardens, Florida by stage and scenery specialists Propmasters (, its subcontractors, and consultants. “This whole project was the most ambitious thing we’d ever worked on. The statue itself was one of the largest single props we’d ever produced,” says Propmasters Owner Peter Glynn. “All twenty people in my shop were involved with it.” Robinson’s plans called for the statue to rise 1:42 to scale (or 76 feet from the platform) to be constructed 80 feet above the stage. Recreating the American icon was the most complex aspect of this challenging project. In addition, Propmasters was also responsible for construction of the foursided backlit New York City skyline, a 75-foot-tall version of the Empire State Building, and a 150-foot-long rendering of the Brooklyn Bridge.

To see a time-lapse video of the set and statue going up, visit June 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 Advance Corp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 2 AE Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

38 Nova Polymers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 39 Oracal USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4

67 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

3 AGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 4 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 66

40 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

68 AE Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

41 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

69 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

5 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 66 6 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

42 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

70 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

43 Ornamental Post

71 CET Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

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9 AXYZ Automation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 10 Bitro Group, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9


11 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 12 Cab-Sign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59


13 Cab Top Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 14 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

46 48 49

15 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 16 Clearpath/Rowmark . . . . . . . . . . . 33


17 Coastal Enterprises/


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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 SGIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Sign America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Sign Bracket Store By Hooks & Lattice . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Signs By Benchmark . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Signs By Tomorrow . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Small Balls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Stamm Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Syntech Of Burlington, Inc . . . . . . . 23 Trans-Lux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 USSC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Value Vinyls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 VKF Renzel USA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Wilkie Mfg . LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3

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Preliminary Cuts and Carving Working from Robinson’s design, the staff at Propmasters purchased and enlarged 3D renderings of the Statue of Liberty to match the set requirements. To speed up the process, Propmasters subcontracted the rough cutting of the EPS and HDU foam for the statue to another company, PrimeTime Amusements ( in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “The statue was created in eight-foot sections, which were picked up by the Propmasters team in semi-trucks and finished in sections,” explains PrimeTime Amusements President David Goldfarb. Working from its modified 3D renderings, PrimeTime Amusements divided the file into eight-foot sections on the vertical and then sliced them into teninch sheets so they could be carved on the CNC router using a large bit. “We treated each eight-foot section as a complete job,” explains Goldfarb. Finer details were later added by hand with utility knives, rasps, sanding sponges, sandpaper, and specialty tools to get into crevices or sand specific shapes into the foam. Each eight-foot section had its own deadline. “The schedule called for completion and delivery of a new section every three days,” continues Goldfarb. “We cut one day, cut and glued the second day, and sanded the third, which would also be the day for the pick up of that section.” As each sheet was cut, CNC operators numbered them so that artists and sculptors could glue each section together and then sculpt and sand the final piece. Propmasters handled all the finishing touches and painting. “They had a very clean substrate to work with,” says Goldfarb.

3D renderings of the Statue of Liberty were used to create the set prop, which was routed out of EPS and HDU foam in eightfoot sections. Fine details were later added by hand (using tools like rasps, sandpaper, and utility knives).

Structural Expertise Before those finishing touches could be applied, the staff at Propmasters had to again divide the sections for installation of the steel frame and attachment points to secure the statue to its base, tie the sections together, and support its weight. “We broke each eight-foot section into four or five pieces, then fitted the steel frames to bolt them together and support the section above it,” explains Glynn. Working from the base up, as structural work on each section was completed,

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Sports fans around the country had something to cheer about when SCORE! Las Vegas, a 10,000 square-foot interactive sports exhibit containing more than two-hundred prized pieces throughout eight galleries, opened inside the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. But it’s the display area showing authentic pieces that belonged to famous athletes that’s truly exceptional. For this reason, the designers had special requirements for the flooring in

these display areas, including:

+ The flooring had to convey quality, creativity, and fun, and the ability to add custom graphics was a must. + The graphics had to pop in color and detail and flow seamlessly between areas. +

The flooring had to be durable to withstand the 15,000 monthly visitors and be easy to clean.

+ The cost of the flooring had to stay within budget, including the installation labor. Ultimately the designers chose to go with G-Floor Graphic from Better Life Technology (BLT). G-Floor Graphic ( is an imaged vinyl floor with a clear vinyl top surface to protect the graphics and a white backing for crisp images.

they were stacked three pieces high and bolted together for application of fiberglass, gel coat, and paint. To ensure the consistent look and patina the length of the statue, as each bottom section was completed, it was removed, disassembled for shipping, and the next section stacked on top.

Open Air Challenges Work progressed for about four weeks before Glynn learned New Jersey codes for the open-air stadium (home

to the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets) stipulated that the statue must also stand up to high winds, something not figured into his original plans. “It was the first time in my career that every piece of scenery had to be built to withstand seventy-mile-per-hour winds,” notes Glynn. Glynn contacted structural engineers Clark-Reder Engineers of Cincinnati, Ohio, since they specialize in outdoor events and venues. “Without their help, building this statue to meet those re-

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

SCORE!’s designers worked with BLT to develop a custom look for the exhibit floors (which included football and baseball field graphics). BLT ended up delivering eighteen rolls of 75-mil custom-printed and -fitted flooring, which took up 5,500 square feet of the location. The flooring was installed by Master Craft Carpet in Las Vegas. The company unrolled the flooring and trimmed it to fit each room. Due to the high-traffic location, the flooring was glued down to keep it in place. The final result scored a homerun, a touchdown, and a goal all-in-one because SCORE! is considering using G-Floor for the entire floor of its second location. “The artists at [BLT] not only developed custom renderings for each exhibit, but they were helpful and timely with all of our shipping and installation needs,” says Jim Beckman, CEO of SCORE! “We couldn’t be happier with their product.”

quirements wouldn’t have been possible,” says Glynn. “All the weight had to be transferred down the center column to resist those winds.” Co-Owner Daniel Clark was excited about the project. “It was more challenging than most because the statue was going to be installed so high in the air, and no two sections were exactly the same,” he says. “[Glynn] contacted us at a critical time—just as they were working on the framework where the torch, the arm, and the head all attach.”

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photo: scoRE! LAs vEgAs.

Floor Graphics “SCORE!” a Touchdown

After conferring with the Propmasters staff, Clark reviewed the internal framework already completed and plans for the remaining sections. “We did a structural analysis of the skeletal frame to make sure the weight was evenly distributed and could resist the wind load,” he says. Clark had to tweak several things that had already been done, necessitating some changes in their plans. His recom-

mendations included additional framing members, connection stations, and welds to evenly distribute the weight and meet the wind requirements. The design also called for lighting in the crown and torch area, and Propmasters had to run wire through these sections, as well as hollowing out areas of the crown and torch for illumination. More than five million LEDs were used here.

Glynn estimates the entire statue (framework and all) weighed approximately 18,000 pounds, with each completed section ranging from 2,500 to 4,500 pounds.

Electrifying the Stadium When all work on the statue was complete, it was divided into eight sections of varied shapes and sizes. Unassembled these pieces filled five tractor trailers,

Working from the base up, as structural work on each section was completed, they were stacked three pieces high and bolted together for application of fiberglass, gel coat, and paint. Glynn estimates each completed section weighed between 2,500 to 4,500 pounds.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

which delivered them to the stadium. Assembly and installation took place over the week leading up to the event, under the watchful eyes of Glynn, Robinson, and WrestleMania Production Director Brian Petree. Section by section, as the set and statue gradually took shape above the ring, they could see the scenery visually transform the stadium and raise expectations for the event.

But it wasn’t until the sellout crowd finally took their seats and the worldwide pay-per-view broadcast began that the team could take full pride in its work. Accompanied by fireworks, their Statue of Liberty stood tall as the centerpiece of an elaborate set as dazzling and entertaining as professional wrestling’s main event. “The most rewarding part was to see the final finished

project and hear and watch the reactions of people viewing it for the first time,” says Goldfarb. For Glynn, the entire project was a labor of love, a challenging example of what’s possible when people pool their collective expertise and talents to create and leave a lasting impression. “It was just a remarkable team effort, something to be proud of for everyone involved,” he says.

New Jersey codes for the openair stadium stipulated that the statue be built to withstand seventy m.p.h. wind loads.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Identity Sign / By Jeff Wooten ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

on Sign DeSign


teve Avery, co-owner and chief designer at Avery Brothers Sign Company ( in Sioux City, Iowa, knows that the sign his company recently created for a local dental practice works. In addition to just simply looking at it, he can also tell because lots of parents are stopping by and taking pictures of their eager kids in front of it. “You know it works when kids love it,” he says proudly. “They’re not biased or influenced. They just know what they like.” The dentists love it too and when it comes to their bright, new sign—a ten-foot-tall toothbrush attached to an electronic message center—they’re as eager to show it off as a patient 58

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

who wants to flash his or her freshly cleaned pearly whites. Drs. Kevin Lilly and his wife Jane operate Lilly Family Dentistry (also in Sioux City). They had doubled the size of their office and turned to Avery Brothers for a new sign. Over the years, Avery Brothers had made two other signs for them— first a sandblasted redwood sign with gold leaf lettering and then a similar design but featuring internal illumination—yet this time, Kevin wanted something more attention grabbing. His request: An illuminated sign of some type accompanied with an electronic message center. But arriving at that “just right” design took some back-andforth: Discussions with Avery and his then-Art Director Angie

photos: avery brothers sign company.

Sign makers fulfill a big dental appointment.


photos: signs by benchmark.

LEDs illuminate the toothbrush bristles. With LEDs, the wires are smaller, and the end-user has greater control over colors and patterns. Kennedy lasted over eighteen months. “I have multiple files with multiple designs on this job,” says Avery. “Even though we’re trying to make money, we’re still going to do what the customer wants.” Avery wasn’t particularly thrilled with Lilly’s last suggestion of just using a picture of a toothbrush on the sign. “I told him to at least let us make a large-size, three-dimensional prop of it instead,” he says, “and we could illuminate its bristles and make them change colors. “This idea excited him, so we went out and bought a toothbrush at the grocery store and used it as a model to design this bigger one!” For this project, Avery Brothers also created steel frame cabinets with aluminum skins, as well as backlit copy and the logo for Lilly Family Dentistry routed out of acrylic with vinyl overlays. The EMC is a 16mm resolution screen.

Meanwhile Avery Brothers turned to Signs By Benchmark ( of Watertown, South Dakota to create the giant toothbrush. Avery Brothers had worked with Signs By Benchmark in the past (“Monkey Business,” January 2012), so they were already familiar with their capabilities in creating three-dimensional sign components. “We really like working with Avery Brothers. [They] have a way of designing one-of-a-kind sign projects where form follows function,” says Matt Frey, division manager at Signs By Benchmark. Signs by Benchmark fabricated the toothbrush from expanded polystyrene (EPS) cellular plastic. They began by importing the image of the giant toothbrush from the Adobe® Illustrator® file provided by Avery Brothers into AutoCAD to create the CNC cutting files. Benchmark then CNC-cut the tooth-

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brush components, assembled them, and then hand-sanded the toothbrush to form the desired finished shape. The toothbrush was then cut in half in order to accept a steel armature. “We hand-assembled the parts around a steel armature we had made for additional support and for mounting provisions to the main sign,” explains Frey. “We then sandwiched the pieces back together and fully encapsulated it with our signature polyurea.” Next Signs By Benchmark primed and finish-sanded the toothbrush to achieve a smooth, seamless shape. They then painted it with PPG basecoat/clear coat automotive paint. For the illuminated bristles, the original idea was to use fiber optics. However Avery Brothers Fabricator/Installer Eric Lawson suggested LEDs instead. “This way, [Lilly] would have the ability to con-

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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


trol colors—including different patterns,” says Avery. “And this would reduce the physical size of the actual wiring.” There are forty-two bristles in this giant toothbrush (the same as the smaller one Avery purchased), and each 1-1/4inch opening in its acrylic base has its own RGB LED cluster. Avery Brothers attached the LED modules for the bristles to a 1/8-inch aluminum plate that acts as a solid mounting platform. “It also provided a very efficient heat sink for the LED modules themselves,” says Avery. (Note: Signs by Benchmark drilled mounting holes for the plate inside the structure of the toothbrush head before sending it back.) Watertight gaskets were added to a lip above the modules, after which the “bristle plate” was set flush to the surface. “The ‘bristle plate’ consists of 3/4inch UV-resistant acrylic routed with forty-two one-inch-diameter holes,” says Avery. “We then glued 1/8-inch UV-resistant acrylic rods into these holes.” Avery Brothers used digital point control LED modules from that are controlled independently from

one another with DMX software designed for stage and venue lighting. “The lighting effects are literally endless,” says Avery. “Multiple patterns, colors, and scenes can be stored and changed at any given time with the swipe of a touch panel.”

To see more photos of this project, visit After almost two years of designs and redesigns (and redesigns of redesigns), it only took two months to build the entire sign. The Avery Brothers team of Lawson, John Dailey, and Dave Roberts installed the EMC screen and toothbrush in multiple stages at the main entrance to the dentists’ property. “Initial install of the main structure took just a few days—including all of the concrete work, the electrical work, and actual sign structure install,” says Avery. “The toothbrush only took a few hours.” To deter thrill-seeking bandits (or drunk college kids), Avery Brothers told

Benchmark that, instead of bolts, they wanted to weld the toothbrush to the steel sign frame. “So we added bracing inside the structure and extended the steel from the armature long enough to allow welding,” says Frey. Avery Brothers crafted a steel plate with square holes and installed the toothbrush into the sign structure via square steel tubes and welded from there. The LED bristles have a four-conductor cable exiting one of the structural tubes, which is then connected to the DMX controller and power supply located inside the cabinet structure. Kevin Lilly is thrilled with the result and credits the sign for helping with their patient numbers being up by almost 30 percent over this time last year. Avery is pleased, as well. “We don’t look at this as a sign; we view it as an architectural monument,” says Avery. “We’re glad Kevin stayed with us during the almost-two-year-long design process. “It takes a special client to stick with an artist who keeps challenging them to arrive at a design everyone can be proud of.”

Call Signs By Benchmark today at 800.658.3444 with your next project details.

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Point-of-Purchase / By Jeff Drum //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

A Winning Manufacturing Model M

idland Metal Products (www.midlandmetalproducts. com) of Chicago, Illinois recently demonstrated the competitive advantage of high-velocity domestic manufacturing by delivering 10,000 point-of-purchase displays to nationwide stores in just four months, a feat that could not be matched by offshore competitors who now dominate this industry. Midland used a combination of 3D CAD/CAM, advanced machine-tool technology, lean operations, and attention to detail to design, produce, pack, and distribute the time-critical fixtures without a single mistake—even taking last-minute changes from the ad agency in stride. The fixtures hold pre-paid phone cards and phones (a big revenue generator for the retailer), and the customer was eager to get them into stores. “This is a prime example of how ‘time is money’ in retailing,” said Marc McDonald, co-owner of Midland (along with his parents Sue and Bernard McDonald). “Certain products 62

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

and promotions have a limited window of opportunity, and the customer made clear we had to hit this window.” The project also made use of green material—steel from recycled retail fixtures. “Our Illinois metal supplier is very active in this trend,” added McDonald. “In fact, the new displays replaced old units made in 2007 that were already earmarked for recycling.” The start of this project occurred last year when Midland was approached by a Georgia ad agency about producing 9,555 end caps and 1,700 in-line displays composed chiefly of wire, sheet metal, and tubing. The schedule called for production of 750 end caps and 150 in-line displays per week. The project put Midland’s efficiency to the test—requiring the shop’s 2,200-hour production week to increase more than twofold to 5,000 hours per week. “We ran 24/7 and brought in temporary help for the assembly and packaging, but we felt the investment would pay off. If you can deliver for customers in this industry, you earn long-term business partners,” said McDonald.

all photos: midland metal products.

a manufacturer shows how to beat offshore competition in the retail fixture market.


Opposite Page: A 3500-watt laser cutting system was one of Midland’s first CNC machine tool purchases. It was quickly followed by CNC wire formers, press brakes, robots, mesh welders, and tube lasers. Right: Midland designed, produced, and delivered more than 9,500 end cap displays for a large national retailer in just four months. Midland laid the foundation for its success with this project long before it began, with a program in 2003 to build up its manufacturing infrastructure with new technology aimed at reducing delivery times. The company is a fourth-generation, family-owned manufacturer of retail fixtures occupying 110,000 square feet on Chicago’s South Side and is also one of only a handful of woman-owned metal fabrication businesses. The investment in new technology has allowed the company to carve a niche delivering top-quality fixtures with quick turnaround times. Its first new machine was a CNC turret press, followed by a 3500-watt laser cutting system. The shop quickly moved down the path to complete CNC automation by adding wire formers, press brakes, robots, mesh welders, a tube laser, and another 4000-watt laser cutting system. The company then looked to lean manufacturing models to optimize its newly acquired automation on the shop floor. “We realized that the key to automated equipment is using it efficiently, and lean principles like the ‘Five S’s’ and the ‘Rule of Adjacency’ are important to efficient production,” said McDonald. “We

recently received our ISO 9001 certification, and the certification audit reminded us just how efficient our operations are.” With an eye toward constant improvement, Midland installed a state-ofthe-art powder coating line with quick color-change capability last October. This allows the shop to switch from one color to the next in less than one minute, further improving lead times and quality and reducing costs. For this project, the agency presented conceptual designs for the end cap and in-line display, which were then made “manufacturable” by Midland through the use of SolidWorks design software. This software allowed Midland to seamlessly go from design to production through direct communication with the CNC machines on the shop floor. “We prepared for production in the engineering phase,” said McDonald. “And once the designs were approved, we were able to immediately start fabrication.” Domestic production also played a huge role in ensuring the project did not get sidetracked when a security risk was identified in the original design, after production had begun. “We had to make a fairly major modification in the design

of the fixture’s lock bar, which we were able to make on the fly,” said McDonald. “If these pieces were produced overseas, the delays would have been significant.” Production delays in projects of this magnitude have ripple effects across the supply chain. Having completed units ready to ship is critical as shipment is tied to transportation, which is tied to distribution, which is tied to installation, and which is tied ultimately to sales.

June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


A sign shop can have the fastest printer, the best cutter, and the most detailed engraver, but if the machines aren’t operated in an efficient way, valuable time and money is still being wasted. Establishing a workflow that eliminates redundancies and gets all employees on the same page is key, and sign software can help. Sign Builder Illustrated recently spoke with Kevin Kennington, business development, at sign software provider signVOX (, about the benefits of investing in a software system. “Essentially it’s for a shop that’s looking for organization, to have a better handle on where things are at, and a collaboration environment between sales staff, production, customers, and vendors,” says Kennington. An additional advantage is that many software products are now cloud-based. This provides users with a more reliable way to back up data and enables them to access that data from anywhere with an Internet connection. If software systems sounds complicated, don’t worry. The learning curve is similar to any new piece of equipment: about thirty to forty-five days, with most of that time spent inputting information and tailoring the software to the business. “You have to see how you do what you’re currently doing and then fit that into a software in a box,” says Ken-

nington. “Not everybody’s going to use it exactly the same way. Not everybody’s going to use all the same tools.” Despite the benefits, some shops still view software as too costly an investment, especially if the model requires a monthly payment. However these payments actually cover the costs of maintaining the system and its value—something the user would otherwise have to worry about. The ROI on the system can also be a swaying factor. “When you put a dollar amount to the time that you not only save, but the time that you can spend getting more work out or finding and keeping more customers, actually it can give you four times your investment every month,” says Kennington. “We’re seeing guys that are finding about an hour a day per employee.” All shops should evaluate their operations and see if its time for a more efficient system. “There comes a point when you need a system in the shop,” says Kennington. “And when you deploy something like this, it creates a system automatically and adds more value to your business.” —Ashley Bray

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2013

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Midland also recently installed a solar panel array on its roof to help offset its energy usage.

Once production started, delivery trucks were scheduled to arrive at a rate of two per day. “These trucks are scheduled weeks in advance, and they show up like clockwork to pick up the load and keep to the schedule,” said McDonald. “We had to be on top of our game, every day for four months, because if you miss a delivery, you’ll hear about it.” The injection-molded and acrylic parts, along with fixture hardware, were shipped to Midland for assembly and packaging. “We pre-screened our temporary help to ensure they had manufacturing experience because the second requirement after ‘be on time’ was ‘no mistakes,’” said McDonald. The shop implemented a packing system that included completion of quality control checklists at the end of each line and digital photographs taken of each unit before it was packed and loaded. “After all the deliveries were made, we only received one field call out of 10,000 stores,” said McDonald.


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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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June 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



B y Lo r i S h r i d h a r e

Fresno Neon Sign Company

West Coast Vintage Neon


any neon sign companies throughout the U.S. were successfully launched during neon’s heyday, but few can boast consistent business into the twenty-first century. One company that’s still going strong is Fresno Neon Sign Company (www.fresnoneon. com), founded in the 1930s by John McKenzie as a small neon shop and currently one of the California city’s oldest and most respected sign manufacturers. “Some of this city’s most memorable signs are part of Fresno Neon’s history,” says K.C. Rutiaga, the company’s vice president who works under her father, President Bill Pratt. “Although neon is no longer a primary part of [our] everyday business, its classic and timeless style still delights both industry leaders and customers alike.” Recently relocated to Fresno Industrial Park, the company now has optimal space to work with automated machinery, expand their graphic design capabilities, and operate a large spray booth to facilitate high-quality sign painting. Remaining true to their namesake, Fresno Neon recently added a modern glass plant to increase their neon capabilities. And they’re not just all about neon. The business has also become quite well known for using LEDs in school marquee signs. So when customers approach the shop, they’re offered a choice of lighting sources for their channel letter projects. “Some customers desire the energy efficiency that LED offers, and we enjoy the fact that LED is

faster to install,” says Rutiaga. “But overall, we feel that neon is still a superior choice because of its brighter and more even light output.” The company’s tradition of working in neon extends to its personnel who take pride in their artistic lineage. “We have a third-generation neon tube bender who operates in-house out of what we would consider a traditional neon shop,” says Rutiaga. “He’s a true artist and professional and can do anything from a standard channel letter neon unit to a highly artistic, custom design.” In addition to its in-house neon facility, the company employs many installers, several experienced metal fabricators, a second-generation service technician, and a designer who has spent over twenty-three years exclusively at Fresno Neon. Over the years, Rutiaga has watched neon become a nostalgic novelty item to some and a medium to be collected and cherished by others. And with the rise in popularity of television shows such as American Pickers and Pawn Stars, Fresno Neon has seen an increased interest in refurbishing vintage neon. “Every week, customers walk through the door with vintage signs that they’ve purchased from eBay or Amazon and interested in us fixing them up,” says Rutiaga. Neon continues to be requested by a diverse client base in Fresno, but its greatest popularity is within the restaurant and retail industries. “It appears the nostalgic look of exposed neon is coming back into vogue,” says Rutiaga.


Sign Builder Illustrated

photos: fresno neon.

For more Fresno Neon information, visit www. // June 2013


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Sign Builder Illustrated June 2013  
Sign Builder Illustrated June 2013  

This issue features articles and columns on wall and window graphics, wayfinding signage, EMCs, NEC Code, and more!