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The Cohabitation of Signs


It's Time for Signs on the Grill

NUMBER 228 | JUNE 2014




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

Custom Engraving and Signs Richmond, VA Speedy 300 75W

Steve’s predicament was one that every shop faces, “What can I do to make my work shine above my competitors?” That’s when he turned to Trotec. Steve uses a Trotec Speedy 300 laser engraving machine, one of the fastest in the market with engraving speeds up to 140 in/sec. The 29”x17” working bed allows for multiple items to be engraved in one job. With the CeramiCore laser source, he can achieve top quality results with a higher laser power, even with senstive materials. “Higher wattage translates into faster cutting and engraving and that’s helped us maintain our pricing, or even reduce it in some cases, while others are raising their prices. We couldn’t do that without our Trotec.” Increase your profits - Call us today!


Speedy 300 • • • • • •

Available in 30w - 120w 29” x 17” working area CeramiCore ceramic laser source JobControl X InPack TechnologyTM Ready for flexx

June 2014


28 28

Dynamic Digital Signage BY DENNIS WELLS

Unlocking the profit secrets of DDS.

34 42

Sign on the Grill BY JEFF WOOTEN

Cooking up details of a tasty sign project.

A “Valiant” Rebrand BY MIKE ANTONIAK

A winning line-up of graphics for an athletic department.

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


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

54 50

Wall to Wall Coverage BY LORI SHRIDHARE

The writing [and the imagery] is on the wall.


The Art Behind Sign Codes BY JEFF WOOTEN

A sign shop gets proactive in its civic duty, as new downtown signage is built.

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


Automated diagnostics Cloud control via LED cloud Simple front and rear access faster assembly and lower cost Side diffused connections for simpler mounting

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877.636.2331 CIRRUSLED.COM


How-To Columns



JUNE 2014 JUNE 14-20: InfoComm 2014, an audio-visual industry conference and tradeshow, plugs into the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

JULY 2014


Cool Cure for Heat-related Issues


18 Cohabitations BY PETER PERSZYK

A single sign shall serve them all. But how well designed is it?


A Sign Tune-up


Signs for automotive service locations can rev up profits.


JULY 24-27: The Mid South Sign Association’s Summer Convention and Tradeshow will be held at the Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana. (

Cool Cure for Heat-related Issues


Test driving a new generation of latex printers.






Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk

Editor Jeff Wooten speaks with the ISA about their view of dynamic digital displays and sign makers’ role with them.

The latest news from around the industry.

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. SHARED SPACE

The Cohabitation of Signs


It's Time for Signs on the Grill

NUMBER 228 | JUNE 2014


Lori Shridhare speaks with GameDay Vision of Massillon, Ohio, as they pitch why wall graphics score at sports venues.


On the Cover An interactive dynamic digital sign kiosk is decorated with vinyl at the recent Digital Signage Expo. Photo: DSE. 4

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

SEPTEMBER 2014 SEPTEMBER 19-20: CONSAC Imagemakers Sign Expo is the Sign Association of Canada’s national tradeshow and is scheduled at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. ( SEPTEMBER 28-OCTOBER 1: Graph Expo ’14, the industry event spanning the realms of print, online, and mobile, is taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. (

OCTOBER 2014 OCTOBER 9-11: USSC Sign World International 2014 will be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (www.ussc. org/main_signworld.html)

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated




June 2014, Vol. 28, No. 228

Enter the Digital Pool?

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

President and Chairman ARTHUR J. McGINNIS, JR.

When it comes to DDS, why so worried?

Publisher ARTHUR J. SUTLEY 55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 EDITORIAL EDITOR

Jeff Wooten

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


s you can tell from this month’s cover, we’re venturing back into discussions on the dynamic digital sign (DDS) market. On page 28, you’ll find an informative feature penned by Dennis Wells explaining not only how to make profits with these DDS systems but also why sign shops should be interested in making profits with them. But soaking in all the technologies and opportunities in this field can possibly be quite dizzying. And although there’s been some significant traction and evolution regarding DDS within the signage industry, current communication between the two industries can be considered “unstructured,” which can hamper those interested in dipping their toes into the DDS pool. I recently spoke with Glenn Feder, director of business development at the International Sign Association (, who has been working extensively with the digital sign market for nine months now. He breaks down DDS acceptance into three groups: those fully embracing this technology, those that believe it’s a passing fad, and, well, everyone in-between. The ones who have embraced DDS opportunities, observes Feder, appear to be forwardlooking entrepreneurial types less afraid of change. “The larger national sign companies have more resources to put into this direction and are doing so,” he says. “It’s a bit more of a lift for smaller shops to do this, because of the percentage of resources they need to staff up to or invest in. “Also some sign makers say they’re not going to venture down that road until they see more stability within the [DDS] supplier base. That way, if they do deploy with one of their key customers, they won’t end up with egg on their face later on.” 6

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


One of the big selling points made to sign shops when it comes DDS entry is “content provision.” This shouldn’t be surprising, as most sign makers deal with content every day (no matter the sign type). “The margins are much healthier in content and on anything that’s reoccurring— content, maintenance, maybe even installation,” says Feder. “And once you move into other areas where you can refresh the content and maintain the solution, there’s more upside.” When starting out and trying to figure out how to market DDS, Feder recommends looking at where your niche is now. “If 50 percent of your business is menu boards, that’s where I’d begin targeting,” he says. “If most of my business is hospitals, I’d first test DDS out in those environments (i.e., the ones that you’re already strongest in and could easily move forward).” Feder also cautions not to start your customers full-speed ahead on DDS right away. “I would encourage sign companies to get some basic training and information first,” he says. However the single most important question a sign shop needs to ask their customers to ensure success with DDS is: What are your objectives with this deployment? “I think a lot of people move too quickly—both end-user and sign companies/deployers—to product solutions without asking what they’re trying to accomplish,” says Feder. “Without asking this question, you don’t know what the target is, nor do you have any way of measuring success.” Over the coming months, we’ll be presenting more articles on DDS—like helping you understand 4K systems and installing networks. But in the meantime, we’d be interested to hear if this is a topic you’d like to see covered more.

Ashley Bray

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

Butch “Superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, Jim Hingst, Peter Perszyk, Mark Roberts, Lori Shridhare, Dennis Wells, Randy Wright ART

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Designer Emily Cocheo PRODUCTION

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers CIRCULATION


Jeff Sutley 212/620-7233; fax: 212/633-1863 WEST & MIDWEST REGIONAL SALES MANAGER

Kim Noa

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

To read our full discussion with Glenn Feder about DDS, visit

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A FASHIONABLE, LIGHTWEIGHT, REUSABLE Statesville, North Carolina—As one of New York City’s largest and most well-known design schools, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)—a State University of New York college of art, business, design, and technology—is known for its high-profile public exhibitions. Each year, The Museum at FIT hosts nearly 100,000 visitors, who are both entertained and educated about the art of fashion through innovative exhibitions. Additionally the nine-building campus features several other large exhibition spaces, including FIT’s main-entrance lobby that opens to a highly trafficked midtown Manhattan street as well as a major auditorium. These exhibition areas accommodate any number of displays (including departmental shows, outside conference exhibits, and senior projects). “These exhibitions often require reinventing the wheel each time they are developed, including spending thousands of dollars for materials and systems that will be thrown away,” said Craig Berger, assistant professor and chair of the Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design Department, FIT School of Art and Design. Previously these temporary displays were created with structural fiberboard panel systems, which, according to Berger, were “exceedingly heavy and almost impossible to use for exhibits.” Department staff envisioned a better way to accommodate these temporary exhibits by creating their own reusable display system using heavy-duty-yet-lightweight Gatorfoam® graphic display board by 3A Composites USA ( attached to 8

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

ISA International Sign Expo Breaks Records Again Alexandria, Virginia—For the second year in a row, ISA International Sign Expo 2014, held April 23-26 in Orlando, Florida, has broken attendance and exhibit hall records for its show. Attendance topped 18,110 (up more than 10 percent over 2012, the last time the show was held in Orlando). Total exhibit hall space, at 198,900 square feet, was also a record-breaker for Orlando, up five percent from 2012. In all, more than 580 companies were represented on the expo floor.

DISPLAY SYSTEM The Museum at FIT replaced heavy structural fiberboard panel systems with Gatorfoam, for a more effective custom modular solution. Autopole and Octanorm display pieces that already were on hand at FIT. Fifty Gatorfoam graphic display boards in the 3/8-inch thickness and the 48-by96-inch sheet size were utilized (with some cut to 40-by-96 inches on a table saw). The Gatorfoam panels (featuring white facers and white foam) were used in either their natural state or covered in burlap fabric in a light-gray color to create a surface for high pinholes. The burlap was adhered to the Gatorfoam with

Other highlights: + The Dynamic Digital Park included twelve new exhibitors and was 34 percent larger than in 2013; + The Hosted Buyer Program, which brought designers and architects to the show, doubled in size over 2013; and + Overall attendance at educational events was up 34 percent from 2012. A new educational track, Project Management, proved very popular with attendees. ISA International Sign Expo 2015 is scheduled for April 8-11, 2015 in Las Vegas. For more information, visit

cone adhesive. FIT’s new custom modular display system with Gatorfoam has already been utilized for a photography exhibit and has been requested for three more displays this year. “We expect this system to have a long, bright future enhancing the image of the college and its departments,” said Berger. “This modular system can be used for all temporary exhibits at the school and is adaptable for any number of uses.” June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches + USSC Awards 2014 Scholarships Bristol, Pennsylvania—The United States Sign Council (USSC) believes that the future is in tomorrow’s business entrepreneur…or sign designer or computer genius. That’s why the USSC has funded scholarships for deserving young people for over twenty years. Each year, the USSC Board of Directors sets aside 1 percent of the gross revenues from Sign World International to fund these scholarships. Three students are selected yearly, and they can renew their scholarship of $1,000 for an additional three years (for a total of $4,000). In any one year, the USSC can have twelve students that they are helping with their tuition.

This year’s recipients are: • Mary Kate McCrystal of Valrico, Florida (sponsored by Creative Sign Designs of Tampa, studying Graphic Design at Flagler College); • Hayley Niland of Paramus, New Jersey (sponsored by Niland Signs, studying Advertising/Marketing at Purdue University); and • Dan Whalen of Frankfort, Illinois (sponsored by Matthews Paint/Spraylat, studying Marketing at Butler University). USSC Sign World International 2014 ( will be held October 9-11 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Image360 Launches Radiance Fund Columbia, Maryland—As part of a nationwide effort to help unite and strengthen local communities by assisting eligible nonprofit organizations and associations in building their awareness and increasing local support, Image360 ( recently launched the Radiance Fund. The Image360 Radiance Fund allows centers across the nation to make annual awards to nonprofit organizations and associations seeking financial assistance for the design and creation of signage, graphics, posters, vehicle wraps, and other visual communications tools. “The Radiance Fund was created to provide a means of helping our franchise 10

members assist their local area organizations in receiving assistance in an area that may not be addressed by other funding sources,” says Image360 President Ray Palmer. To be considered for a Radiance Fund award, nonprofit groups, associations, and charitable organizations with a presence in participating local areas must submit a completed application and go through a selection process—all managed by Image360 business owners on a local level.

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow Rebrands Bloomingdale, Illinois—Ideas have always been big at Bloomingdale Signs By Tomorrow. As one of the largest full-service sign shops in the country, the company takes pride in being able to give businesses of all sizes the advantage of premium-quality grand format printing. The company is now known as ER2 Image Group. The new tagline—“Ideas are bigger here”— highlights the philosophy of taking a concept and making it larger than life. Although the rebrand means a new name, a new logo, and a new focus after more than twenty years in business, ER2’s dedication to innovative technology, high-quality images, and exemplary customer service will remain intact. “Our rebranding is meant to position us as a major player in the grand format printing market,” said Gary Schellerer, Sr., president and CEO of ER2. “Customers we have worked with already know what we can do. "We want to make sure everyone else knows as well.” ER2’s work speaks for itself. The company has taken on large projects for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Kraft Foods, Budweiser, Pepsico, Google, and Disney to name a few. However ER2 remains dedicated to helping local businesses, schools, and trade shows realize their unique visions. For more details, call 800/499-4951 or visit


Light is creative LED building blocks for eye-catching signage BoxLED ® Plus and BoxLED Plus DS LED Chain Modules — Ideal signage solutions to light single-sided and double-sided box signs — Flat-Ray optical lens technology delivers uniform illumination of the sign face

— Long-life, energy-efficient alternative to fluorescent lamps in new construction and retrofit applications — Mounting track and accessories make installing the modules fast and accurate

Make your signage pop with advanced lighting solutions from OSRAM SYLVANIA. Learn more by contacting our exclusive nationwide distributor, N. Glantz & Sons, at 1-866-645-2689 or visit Light is OSRAM

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


SignSHOW D I G I TA L P R I N T I N G E Q U I PM E N T/ S U P P L I E S Mutoh’s New Twenty-four-inch Eco-Ultra Printer for the Signage Market For shops looking to expand applications, increase production, and improve efficiency, Mutoh America, Inc., has enhanced its signage printer line with its new ValueJet 628 – 24-inch printer using Mutoh’s Eco-Ultra ink. Available for shipment this July, the VJ 628 includes an automatic sheet off function, Mutoh edition FlexiPrint SE RIP software, one-year limited on-site warranty, VJ Total Install CD with Windows print driver, and optional stand. Smart Printing features include Intelligent Interweave (i²) print technique to virtually eliminate banding and a ValueJet Status Monitor (VSM) app for remote printer monitoring. The machine prints up to a blazing 433 square feet/hour. Using 220ml ink cartridges, you can print CMYK x2 or CMYK with Lc, Lm for optimum color reproduction on a variety of different applications. Create custom T-shirts, decals, P-O-P signage, corporate in-house graphics, and more!

PrinterEvolution Advances the Textile Printing Market Space with the Eos126 DS PrinterEvolution has introduced its new Eos Series of industrial digital textile printers. Based on its latest Neo Series of commercial textile printers that feature an on-board sublimation unit, the Eos line is a complete, industrial soft signage printing solution for high-end printers. The 3.2m printer is designed for high-volume production. The Eos126 DS onboard fixation unit is a true calendar, utilizing even heat and pressure. It also employs a cork roller that allows users to print on stretchable fabrics like Lycra, spandex, and other sports textiles. Additionally it uses a smart trough and sponge system for printing on open-weave products like mesh and flag without marking the back with “blow-by” ink. Built-in efficiencies like an optional in-line cutting system and automatic turn-off control finish the curing and shut off the calendar automatically when the printer is unattended. The in-line cutting system uses cold knife technology, which speeds up the finishing process with sharp, precise cuts. 855/593-4089;

Exceptional Wide Format Color—Inside and Out

D I G I TA L S I G N / E M C / V I D E O D I S P L AY S Roland DGA Enters the Dynamic Digital Signage Market with Roland DisplayStudio™ The Roland DisplayStudio™ digital sign system allows traditional sign shops and print service providers to increase profits by adding digital signage to their product mix and transform a wide variety of graphics into eye-catching digital presentations that can be changed on demand (while allowing users the option to manage them remotely). Roland DisplayStudio is a turnkey solution featuring all the elements needed to get started in digital signage—content management software; a powerful, compact digital media player; mounting hardware; and a choice of high-resolution, commercial-grade LCD displays ranging from thirty-two to fifty-five inches. (Note: For end-users already with a monitor, Roland DisplayStudio is also available in a package that includes just the software, media player, and mounting hardware.) Professionally designed presentation templates are included with the software, allowing the user to easily combine images, text, and logos into dynamic presentations. 800/542-2307;

LED MODULES/STRIPS/TUBES AgiLight® Launches the Next “Great Idea” in Cabinet Sign Lighting—BoxRayz® 600 New BoxRayz® 600 LED modules from AgiLight® provide an industry-leading light output of 600 lumens per module, replacing linear fluorescent lamps in deep cabinet signs at large sizes. They feature a new generation of VersaLenz® optics that creates a four-way batwing beam pattern to further increase the light coverage to up to 2.66 square feet per module at 8 inches sign depth. This greater light coverage (as well as the high light output of BoxRayz 600) reduces the initial cost to end-users of replacing linear fluorescent lamps in large cabinet signs, and it generates significant energy and maintenance cost savings over the lifetime of the system. BoxRayz 600 LED modules feature AgiLight’s ONEwhite® technology, providing a global color consistency in both Daylight White and 4100K color temperatures. The LED modules also feature the Capzul® UV-resistant, waterproof encapsulation with IP68 rating. And installation in signs is simplified with BoxRayz’s industry-first “Plug-and-Play” interconnection system.

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014




The RICOH® Pro L4130/L4160 wide format color printer was designed for efficiency and fast throughput and produces brilliant signs, banners, wallcoverings, wraps, and more for indoor or outdoor advertising and point-of-sale displays. The RICOH Pro L4130/L4160 uses eco-friendly, aqueous latex ink and up to a six-color process printing (including orange and green, plus white) for a much wider color gamut. Vibrant pastels and accurate spot colors for corporate logos are the results, enabling you to meet a wide range of your application needs. It intensifies black ink density and enhances gloss for bolder, more compelling graphics. The ink can also be used on an array of substrates (including plastic, vinyl, clear film, backlit materials, etc.). An array of heaters on the platen maintains proper temperatures during pre-printing, printing, and the drying process to ensure that any additional finish can begin immediately.







for retrofitting pylon signs Fast installation

Easy to install

No special tools


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

SignSHOW GE’s LineFit Light LEDs Transform the Visual Appeal of Illuminated Cabinet and Box Signs The new, reliable GE LineFit Light LED System is designed as a simple replacement for upgrading fluorescent cabinet and box sign lighting with energy-efficient LED technology—providing 58 to 76 percent energy savings compared with T12HO fluorescents. Available in eleven sizes and three color temperatures, the easy-to-install LineFit Light LED offers versatility for a multitude of double-sided signage sizes and styles to improve overall visual aesthetics with bright, uniform light that is virtually maintenance-free. Utilizing existing fluorescent sockets (R17d) for a quick and easy four-step installation, the GE LineFit Light LEDs can be up and running in just minutes per fixture (immediately slashing installation labor time and costs). LineFit Light’s specialized rotating end caps also ensure proper alignment and ultimate light output directed toward the sign face. And GE’s patented OptiLens™ optical lens technology ensures that light is used efficiently, while also helping to protect each LED against moisture, humidity, damage, and corrosion.

LETTERS/LETTERING Gemini Publishes New 2014-15 Price List Gemini Incorporated has announced the availability of its 2014-2015 Professional Signage Catalog. At 224 pages, the price list is Gemini’s most comprehensive signage catalog to date, with prices effective through October 2015. While this year’s publication features many new products and options, the most important changes are the numerous price reductions on many popular product lines (including fabricated, flat cut metal, flat cut acrylic, and custom cast). In addition, Gemini has also improved its already renowned customer service by revamping its sign designer tool on its Web site and updating online order tracking capabilities so that customers may check the status of their orders either online or with Gemini’s new mobile app. Another improved feature to the price list are separate pricing tables and descriptions for cast and architectural precision-tooled plaques—also with simpler custom cast letter and custom formed plastic pricing. 800/538-8377;

PA I N T S /COAT I N G S / F I N I S H E S Genesis® G4 Basecoat Clearcoat System Delivers Premium Color Matching for Sign Manufacturers The Genesis® G4 Basecoat Clearcoat System from Sherwin-Williams® Automotive Finishes is formulated to provide outstanding performance and enhanced color-match capability for fabricators and painters looking for a long-lasting, premium-quality finish in the sign industry. This two-component, 3.5 pounds-per-gallon VOC-compliant urethane basecoat delivers excellent appearance with durability and superior flexibility over most properly prepared sign substrates. This system offers fast dry times, which results in more rapid paint production. This allows sign manufacturers and fabricators to turn around more projects with less time in the paint shop. Genesis G4 Basecoat may be recoated after five minutes and up to seven days without sanding or scuffing with a ten-minute dry time for clearcoat application. It is resistant to exterior wear factors like paint chipping, corrosion, UV exposure, and cleaning chemicals and solvents (even in most types of extreme outdoor conditions). 800/798-5872;

ROUTERS/ENGR AVERS Installing a Laser Exhaust Fan The Laser Exhaust Fan from LaserBits is a top-quality fan designed for exhausting smoke and fumes from a laser engraving system. Connection to the ductwork is made easy using standard four-inch inlet and outlet duct fittings. The continuous duty fan features an industrial bearing motor and powder-coated steel enclosure. The Laser Exhaust Fan is prewired for 110-volt with a three-prong plug and double-pole on/off switch. The Laser Exhaust Fan meets or exceeds laser manufacturer’s specifications for CFM and static pressure for laser systems with a table size up to 39-by-24 inches. Complete how-to instructions for installing a safe and effective laser exhaust system is available in the “Tech Tip” section of LaserBits’s Web site.

MultiCam’s 5000 Series CNC Router is Here for Your Heavy-duty Machining Tasks The 5000 Series CNC Router from MultiCam is designed for high-speed, nested-based cabinet production and other CNC routing applications requiring a heavy-duty machine. Standard features—such as the precision ground helical rack, digital AC servo drives (2200 IPM rapid traverse), a heavy box frame design, and 25-millimeter linear bearings—provide virtually vibration-free cutting. In addition, the 5000 Series CNC Router includes standard vacuum tables and vacuum pumps tailored to the specific application. MultiCam’s 5000 Series Router is available in widths up to ten feet and lengths up to sixty feet with various spindle configurations and functional options (such as the gang drills and aggregate heads that are commonly utilized in woodworking, plastics, and non-ferrous metal machining applications). Another useful option for the 5000 Series CNC Router is the rigid tapping spindle with automatic tool changer.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


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SignSHOW SIGN ACCESSORIES Stainless Steel Panel Hanging System for Mounting Building Envelope & Curtain Wall Panels Monarch Metal has launched the new MFSS-CHAN stainless steel hanging system to aid its customers in mounting curtain wall, building envelope, or rain screen panels. The system is manufactured from corrosion-resistant stainless steel; the design of the system allows for a one-inch air space, which is required by building code in many areas; and the MFSS-CHAN is constructed from 1/16-inch-thick stainless steel with a 70,000-psi strength. It is shipped with both continuous lengths of the MFSS-CHAN and matching clips to attach to your panel. To attach the system, mount the four-foot continuous length to the mounting surface and install the smaller clips to the rear side of the panel. Next engage the clips on the backside of the panel with the continuous length along the wall. Now the panel is mounted one inch from the wall, and there are no visible fasteners in the face of the panel.

S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S Vycom’s Celtec® Keeps Images Sharp For images that come to life with amazing visual clarity, check out Vycom’s Celtec® graphic display materials. Celtec Expanded PVC is a foamed PVC sheet with a matte finish, available in a wide range of sizes, thicknesses (from 1mm to 30 mm), and colors. Ideal for outdoor signage, Celtec Ultra White is a PVC substrate featuring a high-gloss finish that resists UV degradation. Vycom’s Celtec family of graphic and display materials is designed with a unique combination of features that make them ideal for digital and screen printing, signage, exhibits, P-O-P, and more. Made in the USA, both Celtec Expanded PVC and Ultra White are free of heavy metals, allowing optimal performance while being better for the environment.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

S I G N C A RT S / T R A N S P O RTAT I O N The Improved Dolly Max: Sometimes Going Sideways is a Good Thing Saw Trax has introduced a new version of the Dolly Max rolling material rack that can go sideways. The two all-terrain pneumatic tires of the Dolly Max have been replaced with locking casters that mount to the corners of the cart, making the new all-caster version of the Dolly Max go sideways with a full load. A lot of sign shops use their rolling racks in confined areas within small shops. Trying to move material in these small areas is difficult with a fixed wheel cart because they are not as maneuverable. With an all-caster version, the carts can be moved in all directions to get to where they need to go, making rounding a corner or going through a doorway with eight-foot-long sheets of material much easier. 770-974-0021;

WALL GRAPH ICS Presto Tape’s CanvasTac is Now Classified as a Category VI Type III Class A Material Presto Tape has tested their digitally printable wallcovering, CanvasTac, and it is now classified as the highest classification of Category VI Type III Class A Commercial Wallcovering per ASTM F793-10a. CanvasTac meets or exceeds the requirements as a Class A material as specified in ICC IBC (2012) section 803.1.1. The material was tested under UL723/ ASTM E84 requirements and procedures. With this classification, CanvasTac can be used in high-traffic areas such as schools, restaurants, museums, government buildings, and much more without any restrictions. CanvasTac is an adhesive-backed canvas that is removable and repositionable. It is printable with UV, latex, solvent, eco-solvent, and aqueous inks. When removed, CanvasTac will not peel paint or damage walls. It is available in both matte and gloss finishes. Presto Tape can provide written documentation of this classification, if requested.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated





Cohabitations A single sign shall serve them all. But how well designed is it?



here’s a concept out there that’s more than likely dictated by sign codes than by client desire. Of course, I’m talking about the single sign that’s shared by several tenants (whether said tenants have shared interests or not). I love these oft-humorous anomalies. In fact, we could even call these types of signs “cohabitations” (Photo 1). The idea of a single sign shared by several unified words, tenants, or logos can be found worldwide. But why is this the case? Well it’s a simple concept that can take care of multiple functions: Limit the number of signs needed, contain multiple messages in one location, communicate a brand (or two or three), etc. However one panel might not be able to say it all. Additional elements to these cohabitation signs are like an addendum to the design. They drive home a point when there’s the need to differentiate one’s location in a crowded market (Photo 2). Even if the tenants appear to be in a single group sharing a single interest, there still may be that need for separation on the sign—an identification provided by distinct ID panels. An example of this could be a building or organization using a cohabitation sign that’s so big one never really know who’s residing there (Photo 3). Sponsorships may also reside in cohabitation. I’m not talking about a quick directional instruction (“turn here now”). Instead I mean information that’s intended for repetitive viewing by the populace (Photo 4). Convention would have a basic entrance pylon or monument, stating where you are and often with the numerical street address and the reason most people would be stopping there, i.e., the anchor store (Photo 5). Slip in a few other tenant names below it and voilà! When there’s no primary establishment though, the divisions take on greater equality. Or the name

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

of the mall may take the primary position with others following below (Photo 6). And then some shopping center layouts need their own street names. You know the kind of sign that’s needed: When the GPS puts the “arriving at destination” flag inside a ten-acre plot, and the driver still don’t know where to go! Smaller versions of these signs provide cohabitation and serve as directionals, maybe with a unifying look or theme (Photo 7). Potentially cohabitation is the result of expansion, when there’s the need for signage without the need to establish a new or better sight line. An existing structure equates to cost savings. Related businesses do well when they advertise together or physically are together (Photo 8). This can be considered true cohabitation. A singular sign may not be the only solution when it comes to cohabitation: + For example, you can make a design that repeats yet plays well together, and the communication is very functional (Photo 9). Where are you seeing this from—the roadway or the sidewalk? This photographic view plays off the telephoto blend of a long distance. Independent panels run together almost as though they were on a

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


single sign. + You also have to consider how much time one has to read the cohabitation sign and still maintain the grace of the building (Photo 10). The viewer going fortyfive miles per hour isn’t going to notice as much as a person on a stroll. Stylized mounts on a classic bit of architecture make this simple to read by anyone. + Even the confines of the surrounding city may dictate repetitious individuality in signage. When there’s no setback because, well, there’s just no place for a setback, smart design provides for a diverse group of tenants unified into a refined image (Photo 11). Notice that it even features the location name set inbetween several times.



Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014







More cohabiting clients on the sign hinders the ability to single out a specific one. Here the key is recognition of the logo shape, corporate colors, etc. These play a role in pulling this unit back from the edge of overwhelming. If I was headed to Home Depot, then fine, I’m doing great. But Hallmark? I’d probably drive right by it and miss it.




A Sign Tune-up Signs for automotive service locations can rev up profits.


here will you take your vehicle for its next service appointment? Chances are if you’ve just purchased a new car or truck, you’ll take your pride and joy back to where you made your purchase. But there are a lot of auto service centers in cities around the country, and the competition is pretty fierce. Word of mouth recommendations are always great, but if you need a service department now, chances are good that, if you see a nice, large auto service sign prominently attached to an exterior wall, you’ll stop in. Over the course of my thirty-seven-year sign ca-

reer, I’ve made and installed numerous aluminum signs for all kinds of automobile dealerships. These signs need to be read in five seconds or less, as the prospective customers are driving down the street. These signs should also feature two to three colors. I’ve seen some beautiful full-color automotive repair signs; however the basic, simple, easy-toread aluminum wall signs are hard to beat for effectiveness. On a recent job for a local Mitsubishi service department, we made a sign from a single sheet of 4-by-10-foot yellow aluminum, using Oracal® 751C high-performance cast black vinyl with

Installing a new 4-by-10 aluminum sign for AutoNation Mitsubishi.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


red perimeter one-inch stripes. This sign was attached to a concrete block wall, about twelve feet off grade. For concrete block wall installations, we use Zamac tap-in fasteners. Using our rotary hammer drill, we drilled into the blocks on a horizontal frequency of sixteen inches from both ends of the sign panel. Next we installed the Zamac fasteners—from the left-hand side of the panel at one inch, sixteen inches, thirtytwo inches, forty-eight inches, and sixty inches (which is the center). Then we repeated the process from the other side, meeting in the middle. The bottom of the sign was fastened in the same manner. The forty-eightinch sides of the sign have five Zamac tap-ins per side. This particular type of installation is rock-solid, and the wind will never be a factor for failure. Advertising signs of this type are great for businesses like this one (with its long and tall walls). The speed limit on the street facing the building was another factor in determining the size and height of the sign. Luckily the speed

Top: Mark was later asked to install additional signs for the garage area. Right: Mark showing off the newly installed wall sign. limit on the street parallel to the building is thirty miles per hour, which works out perfectly for the size and height of the sign. Although this sign is a basic informational sign without any bells and whistles, it was designed for the job at hand. This is what advertising is all about. Many times, the first sign installed will quickly be followed with requests for many

more signs—signs that you’ll gladly make for them! In fact, I later installed more advertising signs throughout the property (such as in the garage area). Mark K. Roberts is a thirty-sevenyear sign industry veteran, seminar speaker, and teacher of all things signs. Please visit his Web site at

© 2014 Mimaki USA

24Mimaki_JFX200_H_WFI0614.indd Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014 1 5/2/14 2:52 PM




Cool Cure for Heat-related Issues

Test driving a new generation


cause tunneling of vinyl films on their release liners. High heat could also deform some films and discolor others. Today latex inks and printer technology have improved in several areas, but two key features set the Mimaki JV400LX latex printers apart from earlier generations of latex printers. They’re the first latex printers on the market with white ink (a huge development, because it provides the operator with the capability of printing on colored media, reflective sheeting, and metalized films). It also permits production of double-sided window graphics on clear films. The other significant difference is that the Mimaki latex printers cure at much lower temperatures than the first-generation systems. Those printers typically required curing temperatures of 100°C or 212° F. At these high temperatures, the water in the ink boiled and turned to water vapor. Heating also coalesces the individual latex resin particles into one mass and binds these particles to the substrate. All of this sounds great, but temperatures of the earlier units could fluctuate greatly. You could set the temperatures in the profile at 212°F, yet the


of latex printers.

bout five years ago, latex inkjet printers were introduced to the sign market, rapidly gaining acceptance as affordable alternatives to solvent and eco-solvent systems. This novel technology certainly filled a big void in the market. Any of the curling issues that printers encountered when printing on some pressure-sensitive vinyl films with solvent and eco-solvent inks were resolved because latex inks are water-based. Latex inks also dry instantly, if cured at the recommended temperatures and printed in a controlled environment. That meant that you could laminate prints immediately after printing. Solvent inks, on the other hand, are not completely cured after printing. Before laminating printed vinyl graphics, shop owners had to wait for the prints to outgas. That takes time (a minimum of twenty-four hours under ideal conditions). Who has that time today, especially when you have an anxious customer breathing down your neck? As wonderful as the first generation of latex printers were, they weren’t without their issues. The high heat required to cure inks could

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


actual temperatures at the printer could reach as high as 220°F (or higher). That’s hot enough to fry an egg! What’s more, after the printer had stopped printing, the media could remain under the heater and continue to cook. At high temperatures, some media could discolor, while others (such as polyester film) could permanently deform. There are a few games that you can play to successfully print heat-sensitive material. You could lower the curing tempera-

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ture, for example, to 88°C or 190°F. The tradeoff is that the ink may not be entirely cured and you’ll have to wait for the ink to dry. Another solution is to lower the ink density. The problem is that some colors may look a little washed out. Or you can increase the number of passes. While you get a nicer looking print, production time is increased. With the new Mimaki JV400LX latex printer, heating consists of three stages: pre-heating of the media; heating during the print mode; and post heating. Most media cures at 60°C or 140°F. Some media, such as polyester, does require curing temperatures as high as 70°C or 158°F. At any rate, the temperatures are significantly lower. And when you’re done printing, the prints are completely dry and ready for lamination.

THE ADVANTAGE OF WHITE INK The Mimaki JV400LX printers are the first latex printers with white ink. One of the problems with white inks is that the pigment (which is suspended in water and is heavier than other pigments) tends to settle at the bottom of the ink reservoir. The solution here is incorporating a recirculating feature into the system. The addition of white ink opens up a number of design possibilities. After printing a base layer of opaque white, you can print colored images on top of it. The white blocks out where the image is, leaving the colored or metalized media as the background. When printing on clear films, a white layer allows you to print double-sided window graphics. In imaging on both sides of clear film, the printing sequence is to print a wrong-reading image, then print block-out white, and finish by printing a right-reading image. For printing on colored substrates, Mimaki recommends the Color-Logic software, which allows spot printing of white inks to mask the substrate prior to printing process colors.


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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

Because latex inks are water-based, you have none of the hazards of solvent inks. There’s no obnoxious solvent odor, nor dangerous VOCs to pollute the

ment. In turn, there’s no need for a special ventilation system, and no hazardous waste is produced. If you’re allergic to latex rubber, there’s no need for you to worry about skin irritation caused by the latex inks. The latex in the inks isn’t the same as natural rubber. These synthetic inks are non-allergenic. Latex inks are not only more ecofriendly, but they also provide outstanding outdoor durability, adhering to a wide variety of non-topcoated print media used in the sign market—banner material, polycarbonate film, polyurethane heat transfer films, and pressuresensitive vinyl. Latex inks embed into the surface of the substrate. Good adhesion and robust pigments allow the ink to withstand the elements. These inks were specifically formulated to meet or exceed the demanding requirements of the billboard and sign industries. They’re ideal for exterior applications such as outdoor advertising, banners, transit advertising, and vinyl lettering and graphics on signs and vehicles. The second-generation of latex inks produces denser, more durable colors, which provides greater hiding power when printing on colored media. The dried ink is also very flexible, which makes it suitable for vehicle wrap graphics (which are stretched during vinyl application). Outstanding durability is not at the sacrifice of production speed or print quality. The latex inks are suitable to print high-resolution prints with the vibrant colors of indoor applications such as P-O-P displays and wall graphics. Another difference between the newer latex printers and the first-generation is that Mimaki has incorporated piezo rather than thermal inkjet printheads. The piezo printheads are permanent fixtures rather than consumables. That’s a big deal because piezo heads allow for variable dot printing in three different droplet sizes, resulting in smoother tonal transitions and a grain-free, higher quality image. R Tape Business Development Manager Jim Hingst has over thirty-five years of experience in the Graphics Arts market. His career includes product development, estimating, production planning, vinyl application, sales, and marketing.

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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Digital Signage / BY DENNIS WELLS ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////


A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


Unlocking the profit secrets of DDS.

Dynamic digital signage is making an impression in our industry, and sign shops should be educated on how to make a profit from this technology.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated




hether you’re a small sign shop with a single roll printer or a large sign shop making electrical signs, the profit secrets regarding Dynamic Digital Signage (DDS) are the same. There is no doubt in my mind that these “TVs” are, in fact, signs, and if we, as an industry, don’t stake our rightful claim and make them a part of our industry, we’ll miss this exciting opportunity. To make it clear, when I use the term “Dynamic Digital Signage,” I’m talking about indoor digital displays—the ones you see in airports, banks, restaurants, malls, bars, gas stations, etc. They’re going up everywhere and are, many times, being used where a printed sign or poster would’ve normally gone. Two years ago, the comments I heard at the ISA Sign Expo about DDS had a skeptical tone to them: + “I’m not certain if a ‘TV’ is really a sign.” + “I’m not sure that we can handle this. It’s too complicated.” + “What is an AV Integrator, and why should I care?” + “Too much geek talk for me!” I believe some of these comments originated from a fear of the technology or possibly a lack of understanding. Sure words and phrases like fiber optics, composite video, audio bandwidth, unshielded twisted pair, 1920x1200 pixels, HDMI signal, HDTV compatible, etc., can be intimidating and sound like a foreign language to even the most advanced sign maker. But at last year’s ISA Sign Expo, the tone became more inquisitive: + “How do we get started?” + “Where do we get the training that we need?” + “Who are the key suppliers to work with?” + “How do I pull together a complete system?” With the help of the International Sign Association, Brawn Consulting, and others, the necessary training is easily accessible. Certain distributors have pulled together the various system pieces and made the process much simpler. Manufacturers like Samsung have merged various components into the display with their Smart Signage Platform, reducing complexity. If we’re going to make DDS part of our industry, I believe there has to be some degree of sharing—even when it comes to information about making profits.

Getting Started Looking back at recent product shifts in our industry, it’s easy to see where the profits lay. One of the elements of profit in the shift from neon to LED was the reduction in labor and equipment costs to make a set of channel letters. Glass blowing was expensive, but anyone could pull the tape off the back of an LED module. The shift from cut vinyl letters to digital print was also a reduction in the labor required to manually produce a banner. It’s very easy to look backwards and see the trends. It’s much more difficult looking forward. Many sign shops have already made it through DDS training, picked a distributor, purchased a demo unit, and made a beta installation. Some have already completed their first real “invoice-able” project and completed a post mortem on Sign shopsDDS typically outsource the the profits. I’m going to guess that the gross margin was somefabrication of dimensional letters, but whereCustom between 5 percent and 45them percent. Engraving laser-cuts Those sign and shops thatgreater came profits. in at 5 percent (or less) are sayin-house earns ing, “What’s the big deal with DDS? There’s not enough profit to make it worthwhile.” Those at 45 percent (and above) are out there quietly trying to find their next project. The following information are tips to help you unlock the profitability with DDS. Digital signage is more than a “TV” mounted to a wall. It should be considered signage that blends into and complements the environment—for example, displays embedded in a custom kiosk and surrounded by print media.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

The DDS business is truly a project or system type of sell. Each piece of the bundle brings its own piece of profit with it. The Display Although the most visible part of the project is the display, it’s not the most profitable. Even with the commercial digital signage units that include embedded software and media players, the margins are very tight. These are electronic devices, and the competition for market share by Samsung, NEC, LG, and others is fierce. Single-digit margin is the norm rather than the exception. Make sure to ask your distributor to submit a SPA (Special Pricing Allowance) to the manufacturer for projects with any volume, and you might pick up a couple of points of margin. (Note: Don’t forget to add on the extended warranty; there are good margins in warranty.) I’ll tell you upfront, if the end-customer wants a “TV,” send them to the discount electronics store. Run, don’t walk, from a project, if you can’t convince the end-user on the benefits of a commercial digital signage unit. You cannot compete with the big retailers selling “TVs.” As you learn in a DDS training course, the features of a “TV”

The screen may be the most visible part of a digital signage project, but it’s not the most profitable part. when compared to a true commercial unit aren’t even close. The mounts, cables, and connection boxes are a different story. I’m not talking about a simple wall mount. Instead I’m talking about creating a beautiful sign using DDS embedded in a custom kiosk, surrounded by print media in a corporate lobby. This is what we do, right? We’re not the “geek squad” coming in and sticking a “TV” on the wall. We’re creating signage that blends into and complements the environment. There’s good margin here for those who can upsell and create the right signage solution for the end-user.

A sign shop’s graphics department can create video, streaming, or interactive content.

Installation Installation is also an excellent source of margin. Whether you do it yourself or outsource it to a partner, don’t give this part of the project away. Many sign shops install and repair signs on a daily basis and will have no problem taking on this part of the project. Some sign shops focus only on printed signs and will need to outsource the installation. Talk to your distributor and make sure you find an installation partner who will allow you to participate in the revenue stream, rather than working directly with the end-customer.

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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Software Software is another area where good margins can be found. Many display manufacturers include software embedded in the display; however it’s only for basic applications like full screen playback or basic template designs. Most end-users will get bored with this quickly, so you need to upsell to higher-end software that allows for split screens, live Internet feeds, multiple messages, etc. There are so many options on software out there that it’s quite confusing. Focus on one or two basic products that your distributor supports and become knowledgeable on its features.


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Content is the most misunderstood and confusing part of the project. It’s also the most profitable. Many sign shops have a graphics department that can easily learn how to make dynamic content (videos, slides, streaming info, etc.) for the end-user. Those leading the pack are offering not only the initial content at installation, but also a monthly or bi-monthly refresh for a fee. If you don’t have the ability to create dynamic content, check with your distributor and identify a partner that will do it for you. Many will let you participate in the revenue stream. Remember you own the relationship with the end-customer. What a great way to get re-occurring revenue (and profits) from a sign!


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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

The DDS business is truly a project or system type of sell. When sold and managed as a project, it can be quite profitable—especially when you add content creation and refresh along with installation into the bundle. Each piece of the bundle brings its piece of the profit with it. Learn how to pull all the pieces together. Check your total system margin at the end of your first project and adjust for the next one. I think you’ll be surprised by the total system margins available with DDS. Dennis Wells has been active with signage, lighting, and building automation for over thirty years. He is now the COO for Glantz Dynamic Solutions (a division of N. Glantz & Son) and leads their efforts with Dynamic Digital Signage. To reach Dennis, email

©2014 FDC Graphic Films, Inc.


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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


Cooking up details of a tasty sign project.


e love a challenge,” states Stephen Hoey, an “Old World craftsman with Twenty-First Century tools” and president of KDF Custom Graphics ( in Rockleigh, New Jersey. “Usually our challenges come in the form of a tight schedule, a difficult design, or a slew of creative ideas that need to be quickly conceptualized, sifted through, and executed on.” However KDF not only had to solve all these aforementioned challenges on a recent project, but they also had to deliver an extremely detailed custom dimensional sign featuring layers of HDU, steel tubing, and LED modules. And they had eight days to build and install it for a restaurant in time to greet patrons on St. Patrick’s Day. “So we were going to earn our pint of Guinness on this one!” says Hoey.

First Course: Getting Started A year ago, KDF had successfully designed, printed, and wrapped vinyl graphics onto a Bailey’s Smokehouse van. Because of this, the restaurant owners told Hoey they’d keep his company in mind for any future projects. Bailey’s Smokehouse ( in Blauvelt, New York has earned a reputation as one of the best BBQ places in the area, and its owners are always on the lookout to make their restaurant even better. But one thing causing them fits

was an old light box hanging over the restaurant’s original front door. “It didn’t look good any more, nor was it functioning properly,” explains Hoey, “so they removed it.” However this left the owners with an empty space. So a year after the van wrap, they tapped KDF with a bigger request—a complete logo redesign and brand-new custom sign! KDF is far from your traditional sign shop. Their wellrounded employees are always pushing their creative limits when it comes to large and wide format graphics, flatbed printing, wraps, dimensional signage, and custom fabrications in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. Hoey told the owners upfront that they could do either inexpensive, reverse-printed graphics to cover the empty light box space or create something that would “blow everyone’s minds.” Fortunately for all involved, the owners eagerly opted for the latter. (Note: Bailey’s Smokehouse gave KDF carte blanche in the sign and logo design.) Here Hoey promised them the “best sign that anyone had ever seen” but admits he gave them what he considered a decent estimate without really knowing how his shop was going to build it. “We always go in promising a lot, however we want to make sure that we’re going to hit it out of the park and give them even more than what we promise,” says Hoey.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Most of the sign was built from fifteen- and thirty-pound Precision Board HDU, which was cut on a MultiCam 3000 CNC router and then further shaped with different-sized ball end mills and hand sculpting. Posts were welded to the back of the steel tubes. The entire sign was painted with Matthews Paint Systems to achieve the final grilled-to-perfection look.

Second Course: Designing the Logo KDF’s idea was to redesign the Bailey’s Smokehouse logo first and then use it as springboard for building the “best anyone has ever seen” sign. There was a lot of back-and-forth over the course of three to four days during the logo design stages, trying to figure out the textures and feel. The restaurant owners wanted a logo that was traditional but high end. But the design team wanted to include elements that would appear cool in a finished sign. “We incorporated everything that was important to the client—the fonts, the colors, the overall theme etc.—and then kicked it up a notch,” Hoey states, noting that they successfully convinced the owners to add items like filigrees to the finished logo. Most of the new logo is an original KDF design. The only thing kept from the original logo was the font. “Since it had that desired high-end look, everyone agreed to keep it,” says Hoey. Because there were so many elements, the KDF graphics department created the logo and signage ideas in a vector format using Adobe® Illustrator®.

Third Course: Constructing the Sign With the logo design finalized and approved, it was time to build the sign from it. The finished double-sided Bailey’s Smokehouse sign resembles a grill (all KDF’s idea). It measures forty-two inches high36

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

by-seventy-six inches wide and is about sixteen inches deep. (Note: Originally the sign was supposed to have been even bigger, but city officials didn’t approve it.) The large “Bailey’s” letters were cut out of one-inch-thick fifteen-pound Precision Board HDU. In fact, most of the sign was made from fifteen- and thirty-pound Precision Board HDU. The only things that weren’t are the smaller “Smokehouse” letters (1/2-inch black PVC) and the grill portion (steel tubing). Hoey is adamant not letting budget dictate the need for cheaper substrates. In fact, they always consider the best materials in the initial estimate. “We want these signs to last,” he says. At the start of production, two teams were designated for this project: (A.) Hoey and Production Coordinator Mark Pilcher would design the sign parts in EnRoute Pro and cut them on the MultiCam 3000 CNC router, and (B.) Business Development Manager Brian Hamilton and Shop Manager Greg Gardula would fabricate and paint the sign pieces. The first layer of the sign was cut out of two-inch-thick fifteen-pound Precision Board on the MultiCam 3000 CNC router. KDF created a middle layer of HDU and cut a pocket into it out of a steel hanger. On the MultiCam 3000, KDF used a 1/8-inch ball end mill around the top and bottom of the filigree areas. On larger pieces, KDF started with a half-inch end mill and then took off all the material on the rough pass. Depending on how much detail was needed, they next came in with a smaller ball end











T 866 972 9191



The grill was built from scratch out of one-inch steel tubing. Underneath the grill tubes, KDF created 3-D carvings of charcoal pieces. The shop then “lit” these charcoal pieces by placing red and yellow LEDs on the inside contour of the frame below the grill, as well as along the bottom of the sign interior, for a mouth-watering lighting effect. mill and added texture to them. Hoey worked out the depth of the overall sign and programmed the basic shape of the face and ribbon with the text in EnRoute Pro. After cutting, he sent the carved HDU to Hamilton for some hand sculpting to remove the “machine cut” look. In addition to detailing the ribbons and face of the sign, Hoey extruded the accent lines on the font. “Then I cut a pocket into the ribbon to easily register the letters, which I cut separately,” he explains. KDF 3D-cut the face of the ribbons and left the accent lines of the font on the ribbon. “This way, it would create a dramatic depth when placing the letters,” says Hoey. The letters are mounted to the sign via custom stand-offs that Hamilton fabricated himself.

Look closely and you’ll notice glowing charcoal pieces underneath the grill tubes. KDF created these 3-D carvings on their MultiCam 3000. Hamilton then went in with a die-grinder (“a wonderful tool”) to give them a lot more definition. KDF placed red and yellow LEDs on the inside contour of the frame below the grill, as well as along the bottom of the sign interior. “The LEDs are tucked up underneath, following around the curve of the bottom and coming up underneath the ‘Bailey’s’ on top,” explains Hoey. “It casts light perfectly over those faux-coals.” They placed the LEDs in this fashion because people walking underneath the sign were going to be able to look up and see right through it. “We wanted it to feel like you were looking into a real grill,” says Hoey.

Fifth Course: The Painting Fourth Course: The Grill The grill section of the sign was built in layers from scratch. Hamilton made these grills out of one-inch steel tubing. “Even though you can’t see 60 percent of it, the grill is fullsize,” reaffirms Hoey. The steel tubes were eventually glued into the frame. Hamilton welded a set of posts all around the back of it. “Because of this, it had a really nice seat,” says Hoey. “We had to put this together and take it apart multiple times for fitting purposes and things like that.” After bending the outside tubing around the form, Hamilton welded it. 38

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

The sign was disassembled and reassembled plenty of times during sculpting, in order to make sure everything fit the way it was supposed. Hamilton sanded a lot of the sign and then registered all the parts and pinned them. Then he disassembled everything again, so he could apply priming. The entire sign was painted using Matthews Paint Systems, as well as with a gloss overcoat. KDF had to finish all the pieces separately. “There’s so much depth when you look at this,” remarks Hoey. “Everything had to be painted separately and then put together for clear-coating.” (Note: Hamilton also touched up the “warmed up” area on the left and right sides of the bottom ribbon, by experimenting

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KDF worked out the depth of the overall sign and progammed the basic shape of the sign face, the ribbon with the text, and the filigree elements using EnRoute Pro software. After carving the HDU pieces, they performed some additional handsculpting and hand-scuffing to remove the “machine cut” look from them. with warm airbrush colors.) Painting was achieved multiple ways. The small pieces were all painted on tables. “Once assembly started, we hung the pieces from a piece of steel attached the ceiling, so we could paint both sides,” he says. Hoey usually pockets out where all the text is going to go on a sign, then paints everything and inserts the letters afterwards. But because of the font type being used, this wasn’t going to be easy to do. “So we pocketed out where part of the font was and then cut a thin line onto the face of the Precision Board that follows the rest of the font,” he explains. Hamilton painted all the grills and welded them onto the framework. He also hand-painted the gold details and the filigree.

Sixth Course: Installing the Sign After painting, the PVC letters were stud-mounted to the HDU. Everything else (the front face pieces and the grill) was either glued or screwed to the sign. The finished sign weighs 200 pounds and was rolled out the garage doors to where KDF’s bucket truck picked it up and placed it on its bed for transportation. It currently hangs approximately twenty feet off the ground on a giant L bracket over the original front entrance of the restaurant. The three-inch steel L brackets were attached to the building via a bucket truck a few days before the install. That way, KDF would only have to focus on delivering and installing the finished sign on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day (on a Monday this year). 40

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

The power supply for the LEDs is mounted inside the L bracket frame, and an electrician ran the power from it to the source from their old light box. Before the install, KDF took some final measurements to be on the safe side. They then rope-tied the sign to the bucket truck and lifted it up. “I was on the ground with a guide rope, Installer John Friscia worked the bucket, and [Hamilton] was on the roof guiding the sign into place” says Hoey. KDF had to make sure they set up their bucket truck in a location where they could not only pick up the 200-pound sign but also be able to level it right at the L bracket. “Because there’s a curve on the top of the sign, we had our threaded rod coming up just a little bit above the top of that curve,” explains Hoey. “We needed to make sure we were literally right at the connecting points.” Installation lasted about five hours. “They were really busy that day, which was kind of cool,” remarks Hoey, “because a

Brian Hamilton (left) and Stephen Hoey rope-tie the sign to their bucket truck, which lifted it twenty feet off the ground.

Installer John Friscia attaches the sign to the three-inch steel L brackets, which had been installed a few days earlier.

lot of people out there were passing by and commenting on how amazing the new sign looked.” In the end, installation went smoothly. “There’s a wire harness on the building as well, which helped,” says Hoey, noting with a smile that working only feet away from Guinness and smoked BBQ caused its own personal challenge.

Hoey believes that working with clients open to doing something different are the best kind of customers. “This allowed us the opportunity to come up with the coolest sign to design and build for them,” he states. “We were able to keep the traditional look they wanted but also add creative touches (like the glowing grill) to it.” The client’s reaction was priceless. “They’d never seen anything like it before,” boasts Hoey. “They thought it was going to be something traditional or even v-bit carved. They had no idea!” And for KDF, they were just as excited constructing something super-fun. “While building this sign,” says Hoey, “we just loved knowing that it was going to blow the owners away when they saw it. “We couldn’t have been happier!”

Seventh Course: After-Dinner Talk Bailey’s Smokehouse is located in an older house, and the owners have slowly been trying to update its appearance. “Now that they’ve got this nice, new sign with its ribbons and filigrees, they’re pushing to make the exterior redo happen a little bit quicker,” says Hoey.


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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


A r c h i t e c t u r a l / BY M I K E A NTO N I A K / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

A winning line-up of graphics for an athletic department.

A Valiant

REBRAND PRINT PROVIDER MERRITT GRAPHICS ( of East Hartford, Connecticut, showed its muscle last year in an ambitious rebranding of the athletic department at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, home base for the Valiants, who represent the school in twenty varsity sports. The initial phase of the project was

completed in time for the new academic year last fall. “Our company is known for this kind of athletics department enhancement program,” says Merritt Graphics Vice President Pat Freer. Freer estimates that his company has completed more than two-dozen of these rebranding projects to date. “We

know what works and what to do (and what not to do) to create a nice graphics environment,” he says with confidence. “And we can do that—whether the project is small or large—and meet their budget and timeframe.”

First Impressions When Freer accompanied his daughter,

The “Hall of Fame” exhibit consists of painted aluminum panels attached to support posts installed in a garden box. 42

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014



The “Wall of Champions” mural features photos of Manhattanville’s winning sporrts teams.

a high school soccer star, on a recruitment tour of Manhattanville last spring, he liked the program but not the look of the athletics department. “It was cluttered, outdated, and wasn’t representative of the school,” he recalls. He conveyed his impressions to the school’s athletic director, suggesting that such a tired-looking facility could undermine recruitment efforts. When the athletic director immediately agreed, the seed of the Manhattanville College rebranding project was sown. “I explained to him this is something we do for a living,” says Freer, “that Merritt Graphics rebrands athletic departments all the time.” After their meeting, the athletic director followed up to advise Freer that his comments were well timed—college administrators were well aware of the need to update the facility. He asked to see samples of Merritt Graphics’s work. “I sent photos of other projects to show what we had done, what we started with, and what we were able to accomplish,” says Freer. Impressed by these photos, the director asked what could be done at

Students in the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program used Dibond® panels to create the “Bending the Rules” exhibit pieces.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


BEFORE. The main lobby was tiredlooking, which led to thoughts it could affect the school’s recruiting efforts.

AFTER. The improved lobby now features a wall mural, custom poster frames, team boards, and floor graphics. Manhattanville and the potential costs.

The Approval Process Freer already had some concepts in mind and advised he could prepare mock-ups of the space. But before committing the time and talents of his design team, he wanted some assurance Merritt’s investment would lead to an actual project. Once that was given, Merritt’s designers went to work combining school colors, logos, and archival photos into examples of how the facility could be transformed at different budget levels. Freer met with the athletic director and key team members


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

in late May to present those PDF mock-ups and discuss Merritt’s proposals. “They loved our ideas and what we wanted to do,” he says, “and they told me, ‘Now we just have to go to the people who are going to pay for it. “The biggest challenge on this project was that approval process, getting that final sign-off so we could proceed.” By summer, they had snared a “mid-range budget” with a target deadline of September (the start of the fall semester).

A Showcase for Company and Client Once final approval of the plans was received, Merritt’s team had

The area overlooking the swimming pool: A header combines imagery of the school’s logo with aluminum letters, while full-color vinyl graphics celebrate the school’s championship history on the windows underneath. little more than a month to transform the place with its new look. The channel letters, wall murals, sign panels, window and floor graphics all work together in color and theme to announce that Manhattanville’s multi-sport history of athletic excellence is still being written. Phase One called for a complete rebranding of the athletic department’s main lobby, which included a team photo board and new graphics on the floor, outside entrances, and windows overlooking the pool. It took three weeks for production of the various graphics elements of the package and another week for installation. Merritt’s VUTEk® QS2000 and HP LX850 were important tools for achieving the desired look. With the exception of the

aluminum channel letters and logos, everything inside the facility was printed using one of these presses. “The biggest advantage to digital printing is that it makes a lot of different materials available to us,” says Freer. “We can go ‘outside the norm’ to create a great-looking exhibit on a project like this.” Large full-color renditions of the Valiant team symbol welcome visitors on the glass doors at the main entrance. Once through those doors, visitors are greeted by an eight-by-eightfoot floor graphic. A “Wall of Champions” mural evokes Manhattanville’s winning history with photos of past championship teams in a variety of sports. Measuring 14 feet wide-by-8 feet high, it was

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


printed on 3M pressure-sensitive vinyl with an overlaminate, then applied to wooden blocks that comprise the mural. “The gutters (between blocks) were also filled with 3M film,” points out Freer. “We actually trimmed around each square to work the vinyl into the gutter gaps between the squares.” Another wall is devoted to a photo board celebrating all current Valiant varsity teams. This team photo board measures 7.5 feet wide-by-4.5 feet high and

combines several graphic elements: ☞ The main panel itself is Dibond® with a brushed aluminum finish. ☞ Affixed to it is a slightly smaller 1/2inch PVC board, printed to match the school’s official colors. ☞ Individual photo panels are 3/16inch acrylic, with their edges and sides painted white with a black pinstripe. Each is raised and attached to the red panel (so team photos can be easily swapped out each year).

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☞ Topping this board is a 3D depiction of the school logo, digitally printed and cut from 1/2-inch PVC. 3D letters denoting the school year, installed on either side of the sign panel, were cut from black PVC. A four-by-eight-foot aluminum panel replaced the nearby bulletin boards that once cluttered the lobby. It backs three smaller Dibond panels, each imprinted with information on key dates and past achievements in Valiants competition (including conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances). The largest part of the installation claims an entire wall with windows overlooking the swimming pool. A header— measuring thirty feet long and three feet high—combines graphics with aluminum letters spelling out the school slogan: “To the Valiant of heart, nothing is impossible.” Beneath it, the four windows—each measuring 77 inches wide-by-44 inches high—are filled with full-color images celebrating the school’s basketball, hockey, men’s baseball, and women’s softball programs. Each image was printed on 3M window cling film using the HP latex printer with a white ink backing, then installed on the exterior of each glass panel. The project eventually grew to include installing new graphics for gym lockers and wrapping the school’s team bus.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

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For the school and Merritt Graphics, these varied components combined for an effective rebranding more representative of the program and its accomplishments. In fact, school officials were so impressed and pleased with the results, they contacted Freer last fall to inquire about adding a “Hall of Fame” to celebrate outstanding athletes. “They were interested in having us design something in place for their lobby, but we decided the available space wouldn’t allow us to do that effectively,” says Freer. Instead Freer suggested they consider making the Hall of Fame a freestanding outdoor exhibit, along the path leading to the main entrance. When he showed them a mock-up of what he had in mind, they enthusiastically agreed. It features a pair of full-sized aluminum sign panels installed in a large garden box, custom designed and built from Techo-Bloc landscaping stone.

Matching color drainage stone was also used here. The panels and support posts are separated by a smaller panel, identifying and explaining this exhibit as the Hall of Fame. They were custom-painted to match with the exterior-grade varnish. Plans are to eventually fill the panels with the names of those who have contributed to the success of Manhattanville’s sports programs. All graphics were painted to the panels, with a protective layer of clear coat, for extended durability. “I think the exterior exhibit is probably the most unique thing about this project,” says Freer. “It ties in with the inside branding. Everything just works together and shows what’s possible when you use graphics to create an entirely new environment.”

Materials List + 3M Pressure-sensitive Wall Graphics + 3M Pressure-sensitive Window & Floor Graphics + Acrylic-painted Letters and Logos + Aluminum Backer Panels + Aluminum Dimensional Letters and Logos + Dibond® Sign Faces + Drainage Stone + Sign Adhesives + Sign•Foam HDU + Stand-offs and Fasteners + Techo-Bloc Exterior Wall Landscape Materials

Tools List INTERIOR: + Ladders & Scaffolding + Hand Drills & Hand Tools for Fasteners + Laser Level and Hand Levels EXTERIOR: + Bobcat for Excavation & Landscaping + Box Truck + Landscaping Tools & Materials (including cement)

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Wa l l G r a p h i c s / B Y L O R I S H R I D H A R E / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Wall to Wall Coverage A CNC router is brought in for the finer details.

Quotes and memorable points were on (wall) display in a hotel lobby during a recent corporate meeting in Boston.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


The writing (and the imagery) is on the wall.



hen a client considers a large indoor display, a static sign may come to mind. Or perhaps a kiosk might be in order, if there’s interactivity planned. But these options may be too complex and/or costly for interior design or for a temporary display—and this is exactly where wall graphics come in. According to Taylor Campbell, chief operations officer of Ardon Vinyl Graphics & Signage ( in Boston, wall graphics can offer a professional, elegant look that can top other display media. Recently Campbell’s company developed stage graphics for the Westin Hotel’s corporate meeting in Boston. Each day throughout the three-day event, a different quote—perhaps a memorable point made at the meeting—was incorporated into the changing stage graphics. In addition, Ardon wrapped the interior walls of the lobby with four-by-four-inch photos from Twitter, posted by Westin guests from around the world. And the conference room walls were lined with 12-by-8-foot graphics of the Westin branding themes of wellness and fitness. “Overall, we relied on Photo Tex (adhesive polyester fabric) and 3M IJ-8150 series for this 2,500-square-foot project,” says Campbell. “Our biggest challenge was color-matching, since the client was very particular about color.

Wall graphics can offer sign shops and end-users a professional, elegant look that can top other Students in the Pratt forms of display media. Institute’s Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program used Dibond® panels to create the “Bending the Rules” exhibit pieces.

June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Color-matching can be a challenge with wall graphics.

For more pizzazz, Ardon can incorporate 3D elements into graphic displays. “Photo Tex is somewhat transparent, so when applied to a dark background, it changes the colors. We couldn’t reprint, so we had to wrap everything first in white and then apply the Photo Tex. Lesson learned!” (Note: When it comes to materials, Ardon uses only 3M products for its car wraps and large-scale wall projects and Oracal vinyls for smaller projects.) To keep up with the pace of a demanding business, Ardon has incorporated efficiencies into their system of ordering, learning from early-year hiccups resulting in “this is not what I ordered” or “the color is different on my screen.” “We truly hated having a displeased customer because negative word of mouth can kill a business, especially in such a small city as Boston and in our small industry,” says Campbell. “But every customer will potentially speak highly of you, if they’re satisfied.” Their simple system dictates that everything be put into

writing. “No verbal orders or ‘whatever you think is best,’” says Campbell. “We signed up with a cloud-based sign tracker system called SignVOX. What a world of wonders being organized and having a mandated routine does to ‘mistakes.’” Using SignVOX, the company sends over a quote via email, and the client signs off on quantity and pricing. The electronic proofs are approved, and Ardon will run test prints before initiating the final output. Because of the diverse nature of wall graphics, Ardon has had the opportunity to work with clients across the spectrum: interior decorators, rebranding firms, and media/PR companies. Typically a corporate client provides art files that include their logo, branding themes, and artwork specific to the purpose of the display. “There are so many variations when it comes to wall graphics,” says Campbell. “Every job is custom. Yes we have our standard methods of printing, laminating, pre-masking, etc. Those procedures are stepping stones to each other in the production process.” During the tradeshow season in Boston, the company keeps busy with almost a dozen graphics projects to meet the demand for tradeshow display graphics—ranging from 100 to 2,000 square feet.

Adding depth can make onlookers even more curious about wall graphics.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

With all of the possible variations in wall graphics, every job is practically a custom one.

The company can also boast having worked on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. They created a 100-by-24foot window graphic, which they produced in twenty-four hours and installed in eight, a task that fits entirely into the pace of an aspiring presidential candidate. As Ardon continues to work on national projects for clients, it’s possible that wall graphics may also expand their reach. “With the new materials coming out and the newer print-

ers adding features that weren’t available ten years ago,” says Campbell, “you’ll see richer graphics and more versatile media with a wide range of uses.” However, if the client is looking for more “pizzazz,” Ardon can incorporate 3D elements and channel letters into the display. “With the right vision and design, a wall graphic alone can be eye-catching,” says Campbell. “However adding depth will make the onlooker even more curious about the piece.”

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S i g n C o d e s / BY J E F F WO OT E N / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

A sign shop gets proactive in its civic duty, as new downtown signage is built.

San Marcos, Texas is a college town located about twenty-five miles from the seemingly boundless creative city limits of Austin, Texas. Yet even with its own vibrant, youthful atmosphere, the city’s sign code was being perceived by sign makers as very limited. However one area sign shop managed to not only work with the city council to loosen up the code and show them the value of artistic-driven signage, but they also inspired the plan for a new matching funds program Continued on page 58


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014


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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 #

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39 Scott Sign Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 40 Sign America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63


41 Sign Bracket Store By Hooks


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3A Composites USA . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Ability Plastics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 16 AdamsTech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Advance Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 62 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 62 A.R.K. Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 A.R.K.Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Arris Signs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 AXYZ International . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Brooklyn Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 CAB Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Central States Signs . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Cirrus Systems Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 ClearPath/Rowmark Inc. . . . . . . . 55 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 FDC Graphic Film . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Floyd & Associates LLC . . . . . . . . . 32 Formetco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Gemini, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Gill Studios Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 GH Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 GravoTech/Gravograph . . . . . . . . . 49 Hartlauer Bits, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 J Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Marabu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Matthews Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Mimaki USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 MT Displays LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 MT Displays LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 ORAFOL Americas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Rapid Tac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Roland DGA Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014




Companies in Sign Show

and Lattice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


42 Sign-Mart Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 43 Sign-Mart Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62


44 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 45 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


46 Small Balls, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 47 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 60


48 Stamm Mfg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 49 Sylvania. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


50 Syntech of Burlington Inc. . . . . . . 43 51 Trotec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


52 Trotec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 53 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37


61 63 65 67 69 71

AgiLight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 GE Lighting Solutions . . . . . . . . . . 14 Gemini, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 LaserBits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Monarch Metal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 MultiCam, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Mutoh America, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Presto Tape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 PrinterEvolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 RICOH USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Roland DGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 SA International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Saw Trax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Sherwin-Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Vycom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

54 USSC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3 55 VKF Renzel USA Corp. . . . . . . . . . . 62 56 Vycom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2

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Contact Jeff Sutley (East Coast) at or 212-620-7233 or Kim Noa (West, Central U.S.) at or 212-620-7221 Follow Us On: Sign Builder Illustrated @SBIMag

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Sign shops typically outsource the fabrication of dimensional letters, but Custom Engraving laser-cuts them in-house and earns greater profits.

An example of Blackout Signs’ work in the downtown district includes new letters for the LBJ Museum. Continued from page 54 for updating business signage in the San Marcos downtown district. Local shop Blackout Signs & Metalworks (www.blackoutsign. com) takes pride not only in imagining and creating one-of-kind signs and sculptures but also in knowing how the signage works with the visual landscape and complements the buildings onto which they’re attached. Frustrated by what they viewed as a restrictive sign code, the shop met with members of the San Marcos Planning and Development Services Department (headed by Director Matthew Lewis) to work toward updating the ordinance to allow for more creative signage. The result: Blackout Signs ended up being invited by the city to help brainstorm ideas and review case studies. “We understood the sign code was meant to be fair to everybody and prevent things from getting out of hand,” says Blackout Signs Owner Jay Gordon, “but it was horribly [limited] if you were trying to do something creative. “It didn’t address 3-D elements, different lighting sources, or designing signs to complement the architecture or environment.” Blackout Signs reviewed documents to see what was (and was not) allowed and what type of signage had been grandfathered into the ordinance. “And since we’d worked closely with the City Council, we were able to see them pass some revisions,” says Gordon, noting he even invited city officials out to his shop to check out the creative work they were building and meet the sign makers “behind the curtain.” Although Gordon admits that he and his shop occasionally encountered “creative differences” with city officials during the early stages, he does credit them for being open-minded. “They liked the work that we were doing and wanted to figure out a way to allow more [artistic] types of signs,” he says. Gordon provided input about the benefits of artistic-driven 58

Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

Thanks to the improved sign code, Blackout Signs has been able to artistically use neon more for exterior signage. signage and sculptures and credits the City Council for being open to suggestions. “I don’t think they knew what was possible with signage and how effective a well designed and crafted sign could be,” he says. For example, Gordon really loves building projecting, hanging signs. “The maximum square footage allowed for them used to be six square feet,” he says, “but after working with city officials, they changed it now to nine square feet. “For odd-shaped signs (circles, ovals, shields, etc.), the old way of calculating the sign area was to draw a square box around it. Now they measure the actual area of the sign. So we can work with something with a negative space around it, like a horseshoe or a donut.” Gordon is also pleased the city now allows for a minimum height for signs to project above a building. “This adds a bit more dynamic nature to some signs,” he says. And thanks to the city-and-sign shop working relationship here, a beneficial matching funds program to renovate the signage in the downtown area is being created.

“I don’t think [the City Council] knew what was possible with signage and how effective a well designed and crafted sign could be.”

—Jay Gordon, Owner of Blackout Signs & Metalworks


San Marcos officials are in the midst of transforming the downtown district into a more pedestrian- and bicyclefriendly environment. While fixing streets and roads there, they also noticed that the surrounding signage and awnings needed some serious updating. The downtown area covers thirty-seven-square blocks, yet a lot of signage being used by businesses in the area was nonconforming. Many were panels built out of plywood, without any consideration of it being part of the city’s makeup. Distressed city officials decided it was time to update the sign code to add a greater level of quality to the signs and push sign makers and business owners to be a little more creative. “The signs there were designed for high speeds,” says Matthew Lewis, “and signage increases in size as the speed goes up. “But now that we have twenty-fivemiles-per-hour speed limits, the signage can be custom-tailored for pedestrians and slow-moving traffic. This allowed us to open up the quality and type of signs.” The Planning and Development Services department first sent a group of interns to the area to make a checklist of the most out-of-compliant signage and created an inventory list of the ones they felt needed tackling quickly. After doing an analysis of the downtown area, the San Marcos Planning & Development services wrote a new development code to create organic, natural development patterns that would fit within the new sign ordinance. “We see signage as part of the architecture,” says Lewis, “and it needs to be done appropriately.” “[Lewis] and the Planning and Development Services department recognized how signs helped small businesses stand out and how they even improve the aesthetic look when they jive with their building,” says an impressed Gordon. Since the city already had downtown improvement funds in the budget, they’re considering a sign and façade improvement program for faster compliance. “These funds would allow downtown business owners to basically bring their sign into compliance,” says Lewis, “and we’ll do matching grant funds to get their signage brought up to the new standards.” According to Lewis, the city has been flexible as to what’s allowed—venturing more toward traditional downtown signage with a modern flair: a-frame

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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

signs, projection signs, hanging signs, wall signs, murals, and even neon. While working with some business owners in the area, Gordon has even uncovered and restored some old ghost signs that had been painted onto walls. (Note: Plastic-faced signs still aren’t allowed.) In addition to Blackout Signs, other sign shops in the area are helping out with this matching funds program. Each has their own approach, but when he meets with a client for this program, Gordon reduces the design time rates for them. “It’s a show of solidarity for what the city is trying to do,” he says. “Once customers come up with half the money for the sign, we get the budget squared away and design within that range. “Once that’s done, it’s just some simple paperwork to submit to the city. If it all meets the code, then we’re off to the races!” Working more closely with sign makers has allowed San Marcos officials to see that the type of signage is more important than the number. In fact, the new ordinance even allows for more signage. “It’s more that signage is now compatible with our downtown streets,” says Lewis. The matching funds program is slated to continue until it runs out of money. (There were an x-amount of funds budgeted at the project’s start.) “I think it’s amazing,” says Gordon. “It’s a huge commitment from the city to help their small businesses succeed. “It also keeps the money in the local economy, which is real cool.” For Gordon, his experiences working with the city has awakened his civic pride. “I’ve always loved my town, but getting to meet and work with all these different people from different departments has stoked us even more,” he says. “And if you’re passionate about something and believe in it, you really can change things.” Gordon feels there’s a real good “pulse” in San Marcos thanks to the “younger blood” getting into key city positions and considering signage more as art. “They’re putting time and energy into making it a cool experience for people getting around,” he says.” And for San Marcos and its sign makers, they can take pride that, thanks to these cooperative code revisions, the city is now generating its own fair share of sign cool.

Blackout Signs Does SXSW

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Blackout Signs & Metalworks returned to the music, film, and interactive South By Southwest Festival held this past March in Austin, Texas. Equipped with their creativity, Gordon and his team have long been fixtures at it. Over the past several years, they’d done signage and sculptures here for Spotify, Google, Zinga, Sonos, etc. This year, they were hired by an advertising agency called Guerilla Suit to do branding for Absolut® Vodka. One of the end products is a super-stylized low-rider paleta (Spanish for “ice cream”) cart with Absolut branding on it that was used to give away samples and swag at the festival. It featured hydraulics, lights, a horn, a programmable stereo, and functional speakers. It was built from scratch, painted with House of Kolor automotive-grade Kandy Color paints and clear coats, and used millfinished aluminum. “We designed everything to run off of DeWalt 18-Volt drill batteries,” says Gordon. They also built a stylized vodka still featuring a Texas boot and cucumbers/ peppers based off the designs of the Texas Absolut Edition bottle drawn up by artist Cruz Ortiz. “It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. If a [project] turns out to be easy,” says Gordon, “it doesn’t feel like we’ve worked at it enough. “We always challenge all the guys in our shop to push [things] further than needed and give the customer something that will blow them away.”

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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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June 2014 // Sign Builder Illustrated




GameDay Vision of Massiollon, Ohio

Sticking with the



hen it comes to making a grand impact, there’s no better market than sports. From electronic signage at national stadiums to bleacher banners at high school arenas, sports venues utilize any means to display big messages. For sports facilities, wall graphics serve as both interior design (showcasing team logos and colors) and as marketing splashes for team sponsors. GameDay Vision ( of Massillon, Ohio, is one company that specializes in this area, working exclusively in the athletic market and specifically for high school and college venues with a small portion of their work commissioned by professional teams. All of their work is custom-designed; they do not use any pre-made graphics. According to National Sales Director Brian Coon, most clients gravitate towards the 3Mtextured wall adhesive. “This product is heatapplied and takes on the cracks, crevices, and mad mortar joints of a wall,” he says. “Also very popular are 3mm, 6mm, and reverse-printed Lexan® logos. “We will also use flat panels of 3mm PVC for

high-traffic areas, as well as hung vinyl for extremely large jobs when other applications are too expensive or not able to be used.” When taking on a new job, GameDay typically does the design, printing, and installation of the graphics, following a series of steps that include an initial visit to discuss scope, an on-site survey, artwork proofs, and then final design. In choosing wall graphics over other displays, there are a few variables their clients keep in mind: impact, branding, cost, and space utilization. “While video and other displays are often integrated into sports facilities, they cannot create impact over large spaces,” says Coon. In working to create high-impact wall graphics, Coon has some advice on the Dos-andDon’ts of the trade: the graphics must convey the client’s desired message; they must include the right-sized materials for the space being utilized; and they must create a contiguous feeling with surrounding spaces, i.e., “They must become part of the space and not feel like they have been retrofitted to a space.” Coon’s final words of advice: “Don’t overdesign. Just because it can be printed does not mean that it should be.”


Wall graphics score at sports venues.


Sign Builder Illustrated // June 2014

SAVE THE DATE October 9, 10 & 11 Atlantic City Convention Center Atlantic City, NJ

Now you can enjoy Sign World Int’l in the Fall when the weather is beautiful and the summer tourists are gone. Walk the Boardwalk, dine outside and smell the salt air. And we have many exciting events taking place inside the convention center. Two full days of seminars, three days to stroll the exhibit hall and make new connections, see all the latest machinery, and find new products being introduced to the market. And as if that’s not enough, you can visit the American Wrap Master pavilion where some of the best wrappers in the country will be competing. And of course in the exclusive USSC BullPen you can see gold leafing, mural painting, pinstriping and more being demonstrated. On Thursday, join us for the Meet & Greet from 6 to 7 pm and on Friday make your plans to come to “The New Boardwalk Splash” from 5 to 7 pm. This is your opportunity to network and share a drink with your friends at the same time. See you in Atlantic City!

Make Your Plans Now To Be There - Registration Opens July 15 Go to or Call 215 785-1922 for a Free Brochure

Exhibit Hall Open: Thurs., October 9 - 3 to 7 pm Fri., Oct. 10 - 10 to 5 / Sat., Oct. 11 - 10 to 4 UNITED STATES SIGN COUNCIL 211 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, PA 19007 / 215 785-1922 / FAX 215 788-8395 / Sign World International is a Registered Trademark of the United States Sign Council, Inc.

Sign Builder Illustrated June 2014  
Sign Builder Illustrated June 2014  

This issue features stories on latex printing, digital signage, dimensional signage, HDU, wall graphics, sign codes, and much more.