SIgn Builder Illustrated July 2012

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Finishing Touch






Number 205


Nu mb er 205

july 2012

on the Road

Sponsored by



S ig n B u i l d er I l lustr ated

Cinematic Lighting > Pylon Soldiers > Awning Installs

july 2 01 2

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July 2012



Letters and LEDs lead to a movie theater getting its name up in lights.


The Sign Lighting Market BY JEFF WOOTEN

Designing illuminated signs for today that capture the look of yesteryear.


March of the Pylon


A Wrap for the Victory Lane


A retrofit marches to its own beat with customized elements.


Take a pit stop to learn about a winning full-color wrap.

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, 345 Hudson Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10014. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions printed or digital version: 1 year US $105.00; foreign $197.00; foreign, air mail $297.00. 2 years US $149.00; foreign $267.00; foreign, air mail $497.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $158.00; foreign $296.00; foreign, air mail $396.00. 2 years US $224.00; foreign $400.00; foreign, air mail $600.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2012. All rights reserved. Contents may not be


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

photo courtesy of capitol awning.


Box Office Attraction


57 62

Putting Up With Awnings BY MIKE ANTONIAK

Keys to mastering the most challenging awning installations.

Safety First! BY JEFF WOOTEN

First-class cutting and marking tips for avoiding first-aid situations.

reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Art Sutley, Publisher 212-620-7247 or For Subscriptions, & address changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (402) 346-4740, Fax (402) 346-3670, e-mail or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 10, Omaha, NE 68101-0010. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 10, Omaha, NE 68101-0010. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The pub­lisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities pub­lished in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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How-To Columns


Agenda JULY 2012 July 26-28: The Mid South Sign Association (MSSA) Convention & Trade Show will take place at the Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Alabama. (

Shop Talk

SEPTEMBER 2012 September 5-6: IMI’s Ink Jet Technology Showcase will be conducted at the Rosemont Hyatt in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois. (


Taking the Message Out on the Road

20  Taking the Message Out on the Road BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Take a look at what’s driving vehicle graphics at three sign shops.

26  The Adhesive-toSubstrate Matrix BY MIKE SANTOS

Getting stuck on finding the right adhesives should no longer be a problem.

30  The Latest on the CPSIA BY JIM HINGST

Environmental regulations can affect certain segments of your output. HOW-TO






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8  Dispatches

The latest news from around the industry.

14  Sign Show

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

69  SBI Marketplace

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.

72  Shop Talk

The Full Wrap Experience.


Cinematic Lighting > Pylon Soldiers > Awning Installs

JU LY 20 12


When it comes to marketing, Editor Jeff Wooten stresses that signage is a visual industry.

OCTOBER 2012 October 7-10: GRAPH EXPO 2012 graphic communications exhibition and conference will take place at McCormick Place South in Chicago, Illinois. (

Finishing Touch



6  UpFront

September 21-22: CONSACImagemakers, the Sign Association of Canada’s national tradeshow, will be held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. (


JULY 2012

on the Road


On the Cover LED lighting proves box office boffo in this photo by Rite Lite Signs of Concord, North Carolina.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

October 18-20: The 2012 SGIA Expo, featuring the industry’s most innovative imaging developments, returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (


by jeff wooten

July 2012, Vol. 26, No. 205

A Picture is Worth a $1,000 (More or Less)

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

President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher arthur j. sutley

After finishing a sign install, don’t be camera-shy.


ow that you’ve probably got some Fourth of July celebration still bursting through your system, thoughts might be turning toward different ways of getting out of the shop for a spell. This could involve an out-of-town summer vacation or, more profitably, working on an outdoor sign install. Whichever solution floats your summertime boat, one bond these two very-different options share is photography—whether snapshots of geographical scenery or of a bucket truck crowning the tops of pylon signs. After all, we’re all one big, happy, picture-taking family here. Or are we? Although the sign industry is a visual one, it seems some (not all!) sign shops have a difficult time showing off and marketing their work. They treat photos as an afterthought. Now I’m not saying one needs to tap his or her inner Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, some sign makers and cameras do mix like vampires and garlic. And this shouldn’t be the case. In addition to portfolios, newspaper coverage, and magazine articles (which we love around these parts!), smart phones, social media, and Web sites have opened up new avenues (and new viewers) for imagery in your marketing. Don’t shun this aspect. Here are a few helpful tips for some of you out there (you know who you are): + Place a camera is your toolbox. When out in the field (or even in-shop), take photos of the different steps of the process—not just the finished sign. While I’m always amazed when I


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

345 Hudson Street, 12th floor New York, NY 10014 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 editorial editor

Jeff Wooten

323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 252/355-5806; fax: 252/355-5690 associate editor

stumble across a sign installer who fails to even get this shot, don’t stop there. Really let customers know what you can do (and what they should expect) by photo-documenting the various stages of your fab or install. + Avoid blurry shots. Save any artistic effect here for your personal scrapbook. It’s not going to help if possible clients can’t develop a good idea of what you’re showing them. Try not to cut off portions of the sign either. And if there are any obstructions in front of the sign, find a better angle. Don’t be afraid to reshoot. + Make sure your “before” photos don’t look better than the “after” ones. If the “before” sign was taken on a sunny day, don’t shoot the “after” sign on a dreary day. Even if you’re not able to go back out and take photos on a day with better conditions, Photoshop is a wonderful tool to touch up skies and the such. You don’t want clients more attracted to the sign you replaced just because its photo is brighter. Remember you’re working in an industry where image is everything. Be a vital part of it. And speaking of photography… Correction! In our May 2012 issue, we printed a photo of a True Religion Brand Jeans sign that was credited in “Shining a Light on Acrylic Signage” to Impact! Signs. This sign, its design, the specifications to achieve the visual, the manufacturing, and its installation (as well as all True Religion Jeans signage) should have been attributed to Superior Electrical Advertising, Inc. ( of Long Beach, California. We apologize for this mistake!

Ashley Bray

345 Hudson Street, 12th Floor New York, NY 10014 401/722-5919; fax: 212/633-1863 contributing writers

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

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Associate Art Director Phil Desiere production

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers circulation

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney advertising sales east coast regional sales director

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

Kim Noa

212/620-7221; fax: 212/633-1863

For reprint information contact Art Sutley 345 Hudson St 12 Floor New York, NY 10014 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389

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beh i n d th e scen es on

Undercover Boss Carrollton, Texas—In the wake of FASTSIGNS CEO Catherine Monson's, appearance on CBS's tv series Undercover Boss on May 4, the interest in FASTSIGNS ( and the sign i n d u s t r y h a s s ky ro c ke t e d . S i g n B u i l d e r Illustrated recently spoke with Monson to learn more about her experience on Undercover Boss and how it has affected her business. “I really wanted to go undercover to before find out what kind of additional training we might need for our people so that they could fulfill and live the brand promise of being more than fast, more than signs, more than order takers, [and] more than just a vendor,” says Monson. 8

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

To learn all of this, she became “Louise,” a rocker chick turned reality show contestant who was trying to find the right career. The disguise was something Monson herself helped producers to craft. “If you look at me as a CEO, I ’m a l ways d re s s e d a certain way,” she says. “I thought the black nai l p o l i s h, the tattoos, and the all-goth look would fool people. And it did.” In fact, one of the after employees Monson worked with was Scott Koehler, a franchisee she had met on a previous occasion. Monson worried her cover would be blown, but the disguise held up, as Koehler didn’t recognize her. For anyone who doubts that the employees

were actually fooled or that the show was authentic, Monson maintains that it was all very much real. She didn’t know what cities she’d be visiting or who she was working with until right before filming. “They [Undercover Boss] very much don't want the boss to over think it, to plan ahead, to know who they’re going to work with,” she says. “They very much want it to be an authentic experience.” After taking on all aspects of the industry from site surveys to production to installations, Monson came out the other side with some insights about her company. One lesson was the need for the company's new marketing campaign to reach even prospective customers. The other was related to training. “I

have a truly enhanced appreciation of the skill set it takes to make signs,” she says. “It really was a good lesson to understand that we’ve not done the training we need to do on large, exterior projects, and we’re really working hard to remedy that.” Monson also emerged with insight into her own life and the necessity of making time for the things she loves— like horses. The show has led to a number of riding invitations from stables in her area, which she plans to take advantage of. “Being on the show has exceeded all of my expectations,” she says. “It was really great to see the business from a completely different view.” —Ashley Bray

Logan, Utah—YESCO Electronics ( has created the new electronic signs for Coca-Cola and Samsung operating at Piccadilly Circus in London. Among the fifty different brands that have been showcased at the site over the past 100 years, Coca-Cola has been advertising since 1955, and Samsung has been promoting its brand for the past 17 years. The new signs provided by YESCO went live last December, and they will be on full display through the 2012 Summer Olympics. One of the determining factors in Coca-Cola and Samsung’s choice of YESCO as the signage provider was the totality of the company’s package. “YESCO had a complete package that actually, for both clients, gave us the best proposition— not only for the purchase and installation, but for the longterm monitoring and maintenance of the screen,” said Bob Kronman, managing director at Kronman Associates Limited, which worked with Samsung as the LED consultant and project manager for both clients in the selection of new LED displays.

photo courtesy of yesco.

all photos courtesy of Studio Lambert.

YESCO at the Circus

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches +

Milwaukee, Wisconsin—A recent Sign Effectz, Inc. ( project for the 120,000-square foot Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee received an International Sign Association (ISA) 2012 Sign Contest award, an annual competition that recognizes design excellence. When Discovery World set out to create a large-scale, eye-catching internal graphic for its Cat® mining exhibit, they turned to custom sign manufacturer Sign Effectz. Several concepts were considered before settling on a simple, larger-than-life 3-D sign consisting of just one word: “BIG.” This “BIG” sign invites visitors into the exhibit and serves as a container. The six-foot-tall letters are very visible and house approximately 300 pounds of charcoal nuggets. Wire cloth face material and welded studs retain the nuggets of charcoal, which give the sign a real mining “feel.” It is externally illuminated with directional lighting, has all welded aluminum construction, and is finished with acrylic polyurethane. “I am very impressed with Sign Effectz’s ability to turn a unique sign design idea into the real thing,” says Discovery World Museum Executive Director Paul Krajniak.


New, Soaring Ad Medium Miami, Florida—Vector Media (www. is taking to the skies with its latest advertising offering specifically for Miami and its 86 million visitors—parasails. Vector Media already offers Miami advertisers a wide array of media including double-decker busses, shark fin taxi tops, and phone kiosks. Now clients can choose to rise above the advertising on the streets with high-flying ads on parasails. “With the exclusive rights to parasail advertising in Miami, our advertising partners can now impact this highly coveted audience from the air, on the streets, and inside the hottest venues,” said Gary Greenstein, national sales director of Vector Media. “Last year, Vector Media introduced double-decker buses to Miami; this year we’re headed to the beach with the introduction of parasails.” Vector is working exclusively with Miami Beach Parasail (the exclusive provider of parasail rides in Miami), to offer this new advertising medium. “We are excited to work with Miami Beach Parasail and deliver on our promise of creating the largest and most attention-grabbing outdoor advertising opportunities for our clients,” said Greenstein. Clients will have the opportunity to display their message to Miami at

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

heights of up to 350 feet above the water. The ads will remain on the parasails for four weeks and will also be available for purchase to promote special events in the area. Each parasail is built individually for each new advertising program. Custom Chutes ( in West Bradenton, Florida will be manufacturing the custom parasails.

all photos courtesy of vector media.

photo courtesy of sign effectz, inc.

Sign Effectz Wins ISA Award

Dispatches +

LED Lightning


A Fetching Ad Campaign New York, New York—All work and no play—and you know the rest. Beneful® Dog Food attempted to infuse more fun into busy commuters’ lives with its latest ad campaign, titled "Play," which featured five interactive dog parks in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, St. Louis, and New York City. A sixty-four-inch-long, interactive digital wall and massive vinyl display was installed in New York’s Columbus Circle subway station for the month of May. The Play campaign was created by Fallon Minneapolis, Beneful’s Agency of Record. Fallon worked together with Inwindow Outdoor ( to create the digital installation in New York City. Inwindow Outdoor designed feature 3D cameras and gesture recognition technology for the project, and it all came together to create a park that featured dogs with artificial intelligence. “To our knowledge, no one in the advertising world has ever created a digital screen this size and with this level of interactivity,” said Steve Birnhak, CEO of Inwindow Outdoor, who also partnered with CBS Outdoor on the project. “The wall was a can't-miss, can't-ignore highlight of one of the busiest subway stations in the world. “We were excited to watch weary subway riders take a minute out of their

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

day to have some fun.” Commuters who walked past the screen were instantly detected, and a dog would run up to chase and play with t h e m . U s e r s w e re e n co u ra g e d t o customize their own puppy playmate— by choosing its color, size, snout, tail, and fur pattern—and to play fetch with a Beneful tennis ball. T h e d o g s s h o w e d a va r i e t y o f emotions and responded in life-like ways such as pawing at the screen and rolling in the grass. At the end of the play session, users could take a photo with their virtual dog, send it to their phone, and share it on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. “I think our team struck on a universal truth,” said Mike Buchner, Fallon's CEO. “We can all use more play in our day.” all photos courtesy of inwindow outdoor.

photo courtesy of daktronics.

Brookings, South Dakota—Visitors to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida will soon enjoy watching not only the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL hockey team but also the largest high-definition video display in any United States or Canadian arena. After transforming the arena last year with Daktronics (www. LED ribbon boards and a digital dasherboard, the Tampa Bay Times Forum knew it was time for a state-of-the-art display. The new suspended video display system will include four large 6mm video displays. The two largest displays measure 28 feet high-by-50 feet wide with 1,296 lines of resolution. The two smaller displays measure 28 feet high-by-20 feet wide, and they will be positioned at the ends of the larger displays. All of the displays will utilize the latest surface mount LED display technology. “We appreciate the trust and confidence the Lightning have put in the Daktronics team to deliver this incredible, one-of-a-kind system that will certainly ‘wow’ their fans for many years to come,” said Daktronics Regional Sales Manager Brent Stevens.

Wrap-friendly latex

Vehicles love latex wraps and installers will love them too. Why? They’re wrap-friendly, super fast drying, flexible and require no special shop ventilation. Vinyl prints can immediately be laminated right off the printer and applied to the vehicle – a real production boost! Mimaki’s new latex printer, JV400LX, is wrap-friendly too. Just check out the “wraptastic” features below.




The JV400LX is ideal for any type of vehicle graphic on:

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Low heat ink curing, 140°F, with no additional special electrical setup or installation. Featuring the industry’s only WHITE latex ink along with a full 4-color, CMYK, ink set. Mimaki’s newest RIP – RasterLink6 – is an easy-to-use software that enables three ink layers to be printed in one pass. Scan for more JV400LX features Or go to: 888-530-3985 LA 888-530-3987

EMAIL INFO ATL © 2012 Mimaki USA, Inc.





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 GSG Now Offers Roland BN-20 Printer/Cutter for On-demand Jobs With the Roland VersaStudio BN-20 inkjet printer/cutter, you can now provide custom print/cut jobs on demand without a large investment in equipment. Offered by Graphic Solutions Group (GSG), this unit creates graphics for indoor/ outdoor-durable applications as well as heat-applied graphics for just about any fabric. The twenty-inch desktop printer uses ECO-SOL MAX ink in CMYK and CMYK plus metallic silver. The silver option allows for striking text and special metallic effects and pearlescent colors. Roland’s automated ink circulation system reduces waste of metallic silver ink, ensures exceptional image quality over the long term, and minimizes maintenance requirements. The BN-20 also includes a simplified media feed system that automatically aligns roll media from six inches to twenty inches in width. 800/366-1776;

Marabu Makes its Mark with TexaJet DX-SHE Sublimation Ink Marabu North America offers TexaJet DX-SHE sublimation ink, which is suitable for both transfer and direct digital printing. A premium water-based sublimation ink developed specifically for the commercial sublimation printer, TexaJet DX-SHE is ideal for applications such as soft signage, fine art pieces, apparel, and more. The ink features intense colors and rich blacks; outstanding light, wash, and perspiration fastness; excellent print quality; and a convenient bulk system. Marabu also announces that Axiom America is now an authorized reseller for its TexaJet DX-SHE sublimation ink.

FASTEN ERS/GROMMETS ClearPath’s New Products Offer More Creative Options for Sign Makers and Designers New mounting fixtures from ClearPath Signage Systems include the Zip® Dacapo™ grip strip bar for changing information, Fisso® Button™ for connecting suspended panels, and the Fisso® Klipser™ hidden dimensional support system. Fisso® Pixfix™ is suited for quick, drill-free sign replacement, while Fisso® Flag™ is designed for flag and ceiling-mounted signage in a variety of orientations. ClearPath has also introduced two new heavy-duty stand-off sizes for oversized signage projects: the 40mm (1.57-inch) Fisso Mix and the 50mm (1.97-inch) Fisso Steel. New stand-off and mounting fixture accessories include the Fisso® Rosett™ (designed to create a clean look for stand-offs on glass) and Fisso® Clamper Tappo™ (which allows the Clamper™ to support vertically mounted substrates)..

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS SloanLED Launches a Phone App LED lighting manufacturer and innovator SloanLED has launched an industry first: the Quick Count phone app. Quick Count is the handy, mobile calculating tool for estimating the amount of SloanLED product needed to populate your channel letter sign. It is also another prime example of how SloanLED is finding ways to make the sign maker’s job easier. Other key features associated with this app: It is user-friendly; you can easily switch from Imperial to Metric units and vice versa; and it is available in seven languages (English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Portugese, and Spanish). Best of all, Quick Count is free! SloanLED’s Quick Count is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Android devices via the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play.

MAGNETICS Visual Magnetics Offers New InvisiLock® Magnet Sheet with Surface Protect™ Visual Magnetics introduces the new InvisiLock® magnet with a white scuff-resistant coating called Surface Protect™. InvisiLock is a custom-engineered, flexible 30- to 40-mil-thick roll or sheet magnet that may be applied to virtually any surface, incorporated into frames and fixtures, or simply applied to wall surfaces. With the addition of the white Surface Protect coating, InvisiLock can now be layered on top of graphics or light-colored walls without concern about scuffing of the application surface. 855/847-6244;


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Quality Above All In any city or town in America, just look up and you will see our work. Our quality stands out. Sign America, Inc. specializes in quality wholesale Channel Letters and wholesale Custom Cabinets. Both illuminated and non-illuminated. 800-668-6366

SignSHOW ROUTERS/ENGR AVERS Kern Laser Systems: Acrylic LED Panel Manufacturing High-performance laser cutting and engraving machines manufacturer Kern Laser Systems has introduced an LED Panel Manufacturing Laser System. Lasers are well known to be very productive machines for one pass cutting of acrylic with a flame-polished edge quality; however the capabilities of the Kern machine reach far beyond simple plastic cutting applications. For example, a popular application that is making news in the sign industry is using lasers to make LED edge-lit signage. This process is accomplished by lightly laser-etching acrylic panels with logos, words, and shapes. An LED light strip is then attached to the sides of the panel. When the LED strip is turned on, the etched portions of the acrylic surface illuminate. Dots or lines can be etched, and a thin translucent plastic sheet can be placed over the panel to diffuse the light evenly over the entire panel surface for different backlighting applications. 218/631-2641;

S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S New 3A Composites USA Recyclable Rigid Print Media 3A Composites USA announces the availability of FiberMate, a wood-fiber panel comprised of 100 percent recycled fiber that is manufactured into a high-density fiberboard available in the 3.2mm thickness. FiberMate graphic display boards are finished with Eco-Finish™—a white, water-based UV print coating on both sides. FiberMate’s Eco-Finish is designed to provide excellent ink and paint adhesion on both sides of this graphic display board (enabling double-sided printing and other double-sided finishing applications). FiberMate can be cut with a saw and routes extremely well. Providing that printing inks and/or mounting or other finishing materials applied to the media also are recyclable, California Air Resource Board-compliant FiberMate can be recycled in either “wood” or “paper” waste streams (depending on local community resources). FiberMate is stocked in 49-by-97-inch sheets and is designed for creating medium-term pointof-purchase displays, interior signage, and exhibits/kiosks. 800/626-3365;

Sihl's Matte Canvas is a Real Virtuoso™ Sihl Digital Imaging has introduced 3133 Virtuoso™ Matte Canvas, which is a premium, bright white, inkjet-coated canvas designed to produce solid blacks, vivid colors, and smooth gradients. The 17-mil polyester/cotton blend provides a flexible base for easy stretching without cracking. Compatible with solvent, UV, and latex printers, the material combines maximum ink loading and extremely fast dry-times to produce excellent print quality and color gamut. 3133 Virtuoso Matte Canvas works with both solvent and aqueous liquid laminates, and if the print requires no protection, the textured matte finish is itself water-resistant. The new material is available in 54-inch-by-50-foot lengths with a 3-inch core. 800/366-7393;

SIGN SUPPLIERS Browse N. Glantz & Son’s Product Line with the New Master Catalog N. Glantz & Son announces the availability of its Master Catalog with over 350 pages and updates to reflect the everevolving product line. New sections include: expanded digital media and inks; expanded banner stands, frames, and mounts; HID and induction lighting; and digital displays. As with past editions, the catalog also contains many industry cross-references and product information application tips. To request the new catalog, call 866/645-2689.

S O F T WA R E - P R I N T/C U T/ R I P/ R O U T E / E N G R AV E / E ST I M AT I N G ONYX Graphics Releases Version X10.2 Production RIP Software ONYX Graphics, Inc., has upgraded to version X10.2 of its RIP products: ONYX® ProductionHouse™, ONYX PosterShop®, and ONYX RipCenter™. The new version includes features to help reduce ink usage, optimize color handling, and reduce manual intervention (all to improve the workflow). The Gray Color Replacement Plus tool has also been added to ONYX PowerChroma™ black generation technology in ONYX ProductionHouse software. This tool maintains smoothness in highlights and mid-tones, while saving ink in shadow areas. A new Vivid Color gamut mapping tool that enables brighter tone mapping is also included for ONYX ProductionHouse software. For all software packages, users will see better spot color control, further improvements to PDF processing, and a Reduce Size to Fit feature that automates the workflow in the Quick Sets module. 800/828-0723;


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

SignSHOW TOOLS Saw Trax Introduces the Ideal Job Site Cart What criteria would you use for the ideal shop and job site cart? Saw Trax has unveiled its new 2012 Panel Express shop and job cart, which was designed with capability, portability, ease of use, and maneuverability in mind. Without increasing the 26-inch-wide footprint of the cart, Saw Trax has increased the cart’s all-terrain carrying capability by 250 percent so it can now carry ten half-inch sheets of dry wall or up to a 700-pound slab of granite. With the optional pivoting shelf, the cart can carry up to eighteen sheets of drywall. The large, twelve-plus-inch pneumatic tires allow the cart to traverse over job site obstructions, while its small size and 360-degree maneuverability allow it to easily pass through doorways. For added ease of use, a patented and padded bracing mechanism clamps the load onto the cart. A brace lock keeps the braces open so more than one sheet can be loaded at a time. Optional accessories like a storage box and a pivoting shelf are also available. 770/974-0021;

VEHICLE GRAPHICS Rev Up your Vehicle Graphics with Wrap Design Studio from Aurora Graphics Aurora Graphics announces the availability of Wrap Design Studio (WDS), an online graphic and wrap design tool. Free and easy to use, the virtual tool allows the user to select the make, model, year (and correct paint color) vehicle template, and then apply graphics to the template for a "try before you buy" graphic experience. Users can select graphics, backgrounds, and design elements from over 1 terrabyte of Aurora Graphics digital artwork. The WDS allows for up to seven layers of graphics to be applied to the template, with each layer remaining editable. This auto-clipping editor also supports transparency, according to the company. Customized “skinned” WDS sites are also available for individual branding of your shop for a minimal fee.;

It’s Easy to Print Magnets™ Discover Inkjet Printable Magnetic Media • Save Time & Money by Printing Directly on Magnet • Use with RubberSteel® to Make Interchangeable Graphics • Easy to Use — Die-cut, Shear or Punch It • Works With a Variety of Solvent, Eco-Solvent and Latex Inkjet Printers • Available in Matte and Gloss Finishes • Perfect for Car Signs • Download Printer Profiles From Our Website

800.258.0991 18

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Avery Dennison Introduces New Accent Film for Vehicle Wrap Market Avery Dennison’s new Conform Chrome accent film provides a shiny, mirror-like finish for various automotive features providing automotive detailers, hobbyists, and wrap shops with another option to personalize vehicles of all types. Ideal applications for Conform Chrome include gas caps, side-view mirrors, stripes, and door handles. Decorative accents and details with Conform Chrome can be applied to vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs, and RVs. (Note: The film is not recommended for full vehicle wraps.) Conform Chrome is an affordable alternative to real chrome and a perfect complement to Avery Dennison’s digitally printable MPI 1005 Supercast Easy Apply RS films and opaque Supreme Wrapping Film vehicle wrap products. Conform Chrome will slide over surfaces before it is in place and allows air bubbles to be removed, saving valuable installation time. The film is extremely conformable, allowing for installation on rounded or curved vehicle components. The film has a three-year durability on vertical applications and allows for long-term removability. 800/282-8379;

VINYL/VINYL FILMS/SUPPLIES Arlon Announces Two New Films Arlon has launched the new and improved DPF 4560GTX and the all-new DPF 4500GX. The DPF 4560GTX is a 3-mil calendered film with a new, brighter white finish and a light grey-tinted air-egress adhesive. The new adhesive is specially designed for opacity to directly cover existing graphics or dark substrates while removing cleanly for up to two years. The film is very easy to install and is great for a variety of applications (including fleet and vehicle decals and P-O-P displays). The DPF 4500GX is a 3-mil bright white calendered film with clear bubble releasing permanent air-egress adhesive. The high-quality yet economical film is a low-cost solution that combines vibrant prints with ease of application for short and medium-term graphics. 800/232-7161;

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Lori Shridhare

Vehicle Graphics

Taking the Message out on the Road Take a look at what’s driving the vehicle graphics at three sign shops.


ehicle graphics still remain one of the most popular choices for OOH media, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. So let’s take a look at how sign shops are getting the most mileage out of this trend.

Ads on Wheels, Inc. “Corporate downsizing and the overwhelming growth of small businesses across the country have led the way in developing new and economical ways of advertising,” says Christopher Dyson, president of Ads on Wheels, Inc. (, based in Merrimack, New Hampshire. “Many companies have vehicles as existing assets and are electing to utilize and maximize the ROI on these assets by advertising on them.” Dyson started his company in 1999 after

working in the financial industry trading equities. Observing traffic one day, he realized that there seemed to be a great deal of wasted space on eighteen-wheeler trucks. “There are about four to five hours a day wasted in traffic by 80 percent of the work force,” says Dyson. “This gives a huge opportunity to advertisers to capitalize on the time and the assets—their company vehicles—during this time. “Vehicle wrap buyers know this. This is just another reason for the fast growth of this industry.” After spending nine months forming a business plan, Dyson launched his company in 2000, at first specializing in mobile billboards. In addition to serving clients, Ads on Wheels has a reseller program that allows local sign shops to offer vehicle wraps to their customers. The company provides wholesale pricing to sign shops.

Ads on Wheels depends on

optimal choices

for materials.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Ads on Wheels, Inc.

Graphitek faced a tight deadline for

the Rachael Ray bus wrap, which was installed Graphitek

Their 5,800-square foot facility includes a large, temperature-controlled bay that can accommodate vehicles from 45-foot coach buses to 53-foot trailers. For wraps, Ads on Wheels designs and prints in-house. The software used includes Adobe® Illustrator®, Adobe® Photoshop®, Bryce 3D Pro, and Xenofex. “These templates generally allow our customers to view what the vehicle

will look like upon completion—covering the driver and passenger sides, rear, front, and roof,” says Dyson. Like many vehicle graphics shops, Ads on Wheels depends on having optimal choices for materials. “We always end up using the best material we can find,” says Dyson. “The reasoning behind this is that if the material doesn’t perform properly, you’ll have to reprint the wrap, remove

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in just one day. the bad wrap, and reinstall the new wrap. This costs a great deal of time and money—not to mention a dissatisfied client.” The material they currently use is the 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film with Comply™ Adhesive 180C with a matching 3M™ Scotchcal™ Luster Overlaminate 8519. The printers they work with are the Seiko ColorPainter 64S, Mimaki JV3-250SPF, and HP Scitex TurboJet Printer. When a client approaches Ads on Wheels with a new project, the average time for completion is typically two to three weeks. “We can—and have—completed vehicle wrap projects in less than four days,” says Dyson. “However there are certain elements that we need to accomplish for such a timeframe. “Generally the longest phase of a vehicle wrap project is the design. The actual install procedure for an average-sized vehicle is approximately one full day. Bus wraps and other complex-curve vehicles can take up to three days to install.” When it comes to pricing, Ads on Wheels charges by the project. The variables considered include: installation location, design requirements, and vehicle type. “With all of our vehicle wraps, we include four to five hours of free design time, materials, printing, and nationwide installation at a facility local to the client,” says Dyson. “Generally speaking, an average-sized vehicle will cost approximately $3,000-$4,000. [Note: Larger and more complex vehicles are priced on a project basis]. This price includes design, printing, and installation.”

Graphitek Another pioneer in the industry is Graphi22

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012


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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

tek (, founded in 1967 by David Post. In 1974, they became the first company on the east coast to offer die-cut vinyl lettering and logos nationwide, according to President Al Randle. In 1999, the company expanded to offer wraps and graphic design for high-profile clients. To date, Graphitek has wrapped over 7,000 vehicles and boasts the honor of being the first company in the U.S. to wrap an F16 fighter jet. Some trends the company has recently seen include the advent of new base vinyl materials and laminates with textures and finishes that mimic carbon fiber, wood grain, matte, and brushed looks. “Some of these new vinyls from 3M and MACtac have fueled the development of the personalization market for vehicle wraps using appliqués,” says Randle. “Now we see ordinary people completely changing the look of their personal vehicle with wraps and spot graphics.” Randle’s company is also noticing more and more vehicles being used as company mascots with graphics that include Quick Response (QR) Codes to tie into digital strategies. But even with all of the possibilities technology and new materials provide, it still comes down to the message. “The challenge is trying to find the balance between people remembering the vehicle versus the message,” says Randle. “It’s still all about the message, product, brand, and information that hopefully pops out of even the busiest backgrounds.” Two recent Graphitek projects reflect the diversity of vehicle graphics’ work on the market today. The first conveys a unique and creative way to transform a vehicle into a moving business. Bettie’s Cakes came to Graphitek to get help transforming their red 1963 Bristol London Double Decker bus into a mobile bakery—the first of its kind in the U.S. “This vehicle was massive! That was the first challenge,” says Randle. “The other issue was the number of curves and crevices all around the bus that had to be completely covered in order to change the color of the bus from red to pink.” Despite the complexity of the installation, it had to be done right. “Poor installation is the number one reason for premature wear and vehicle wrap failures,” says Randle. “Successful installation should make use of proper relief cuts and primer for deep channels to eliminate


Top Wraps

Top Wraps may be

new to the market,

but the company is banking

on the evolving

nature of the wrap industry. tunneling that can occur as the vinyl retracts in cold weather. 3M Primer and Edge Sealer is an absolute must for any installation regardless of vehicle type.” To achieve the proper installation, the company designers had to measure the bus and create a custom template. Over 2,000 square feet of 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film with Comply™ v3 Adhesive 180Cv3 and 3M 8519 overlaminate was used to complete the project. The graphics were printed on Graphitek’s EFI VUTEk and applied by their team of four installers over five days. Another high-visibility project came from the producers of the Rachael Ray Show. They approached Graphitek to completely wrap a bus for a one-day photo shoot and then unwrap it once the shoot was over. “The goal was to brand the bus that would shuttle VIPs around town for the day with graphics to complement the luxurious custom interior,” says Randle. “With only days to finalize the design and produce the graphics, time was the biggest challenge for this project.” This wrap was printed on their EFI VUTEk using 3M™ Controltac™ Changeable Graphic Film with Comply™ Adhesive 3552C and 3M 8519 overlaminate. “Our experienced installers completed the wrap in one day and removed it in a half day,” he says.

Top Wraps Although fairly new to the market, Top Wraps ( in Vancouver, Canada (a subsidiary of Endeavor Print Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia) immediately recognized the importance of vehicle graphics. In fact, the company is banking on the evolving nature of the wrap industry. Founded in January 2011, Top Wraps offers large format printing services, including vehicle wraps, window graphics, storefront signs, tradeshow banners, and sports team vinyl signage. Recent sales leads for Top Wraps include full-color wraps. “While the commercial side hasn’t changed much, private clients are changing the trend by wrapping solid colors (matte black and matte white) on their vehicles, as well as carbon fiber for hoods and trunks for sports car drivers,” says Patrick Chin, president of Top Wraps. On full-color wraps, flawless installation is key. “Even if an installer has the right skills, if he or she doesn’t have patience, then the installation can turn out to be a disaster,” he says. Chin also offers advice for installing wraps with graphics. “Aligning logos and text can be oversight,” he says. “So the installer must work hand-in-hand with the graphic designer to achieve a successful installation.”

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Mike Santos

How-To: Customization

The Adhesive-toSubstrate Matrix

Getting stuck on finding the right adhesives should no longer be a

The Plan During a trip to Missouri last fall, I met with Bill Baker, president of Park Place Sign Systems ( in Hannibal, to discuss some of the changes he has been implementing in his shop. Park Place has been around since 1980 and manufactures and supplies interior and exterior sign products for many fields. “One of the things we’ve found in our business is that we cannot recover time. We always have the ability to acquire more work and generate revenue, but time is something we cannot recover,” said Baker. “Like many other companies, we try to do more with the same size staff.

all photos courtesy of park place sign systems.



s the economy continues to recover, so too does the optimism in many business sectors across the country—including signage. The last few years have been difficult for many companies, and those that have made it through these uncertain times have had to make some changes in the way they operate. The idea of doing business as usual has changed and the need to rethink everything from business operations to the products that are being used on a daily basis has become the new reality. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

A CNC router cuts the outer shape of one of the signs from processed photopolymer plate.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

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“We cannot recoup the time and expense associated with correcting problems during production or after the product ships. Our customers are expecting quicker delivery—even on custom projects.” Baker and his team started looking at reasons why some jobs were taking too long to produce. They also accessed the causes for certain failures in the field (most of which had to do with variable environments and dissimilar substrates). A detailed analysis of his company’s manufacturing processes, materials, and staffing were necessary to improve efficiency in production and the durability of Park Place products. “We quickly realized that some of the products that we were using in the field were not the best or proper products for the situation,” says Baker. Baker uses adhesives as an example. “We had chosen some of the adhesives we used for various reasons over the years—whether it was recommendations from various manufacturers, experimentation on our part, or decisions based on material cost,” he says. “We still lacked confidence in the performance of some of the adhesives we were using.” Baker reached out to all his vendors and analyzed his products to make sure he was using the right tools for the job. Costs aside, performance became the main concern, as reducing production time and increasing throughput was the ultimate goal. During my meeting with Baker, we discussed bonding NovAcryl Series Photopolymer to different back plates. Photopolymer can have a PETG base or an aluminum base that potentially gets adhered to a second substrate (such as acrylic, polycarbonate, ABS, etc.) before being mounted to a wall. This combination creates many challenges—especially when you consider that the mounting environment can be interior or exterior. The adhesive mounting conversation led into a real-life scenario. Park Place had recently completed a sign package for a sports stadium that included exterior wayfinding signage, and they were having issues with the plastic faceplate separating from the aluminum bases that were adhered to the wall.

The Solution

A final inspection of the sign finishes, identification, and marking of location numbers. 28

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

After discussing several possible solutions, I reached out to our partners at 3M™ in hopes of finding the proper adhesives for this application.

While we were able to help Baker with his immediate need, we found that there had not been any in-depth testing done that could recommend the proper adhesive solutions for all the different scenarios that a typical architectural sign company faces. Most sign shops choose adhesives by trial-and-error or vendor recommendatios—not from lab results conducted by the material manufacturer. Baker and his team started working closely with Nova Polymers and 3M to perform an in-depth review of all the materials PPPS uses in its shop. A PETGbased photopolymer ADA sign may be mounted to acrylic, aluminum, or PVC foam. And any of these substrates may be painted or decorated with a digital print (creating a multitude of scenarios). Our goal was to truly understand the unique materials being used and the varying environments that signage is installed in. 3M and its staff of technical professionals made several visits to PPPS to get a hands-on feel for how an architectural sign company operates. The feedback was taken back to 3M

where an in-depth testing program was performed in their lab. “Working with [Baker] and his team allowed us to see first-hand the challenges that our sign shop customers face on an everyday basis,” said Jim Mallace, market development manager at 3M. “We welcomed the opportunity to work closely with Nova Polymers and Park Place Signs to bring an even higher level of consistency to the sign mounting process.”

The Results During my initial conversation with Baker, our goal was to find a solution to a specific problem and evaluate how photopolymer was being mounted to various substrates. With the help of our partners at 3M, we ended up creating a Materials/Applications matrix ( that can be used by sign fabricators to reduce waste and failures in the field while giving shop owners the confidence they need when installing a job. The 3M lab tested a broad range of materials/substrates over six months and could recommend several adhesives with most of

them. However with a few of the substrates, it was clear from the test data that only certain adhesive types would be successful. The testing program gave valuable insight into the broad range of materials used in this type of application, as well as how to select the appropriate adhesive solution. “We are thrilled with the results of this project. As we incorporate many of the recommended materials from this study, we expect an increase in the durability and performance of our sign products,” says Baker. “In addition, we now have confidence that we are providing the best materials available.” Baker believes that working closely with his vendors/partners will make them a better company and even benefit their customers. “We started with a series of simple questions that led us to look internally at everything we do,” he says. “Continual analysis and improvement in all areas of our business is one of the keys to our success.” Mike Santos is director of development at Nova Polymers (



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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Jim Hingst


The Latest on the CPSIA

Environmental regulations can affect certain segments of your output.


re you manufacturing any products intended for use by children ages twelve or under? Keep in mind that a children’s product could be something as innocuous as a screen or digitally printed T-shirt or an embellished blackboard in a daycare or school. If so, the requirements for product testing and documentation stipulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) apply to you. Implementation of the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) law went into effect at the end of last December. So if you plan to manufacture or import children’s prod-

ucts, ongoing testing and detailed documentation will be a requirement.

Ongoing Testing One-time testing just doesn’t cut it (even if you’re ordering the identical raw materials from the same vendor). If the raw materials came from different batches, each batch must be tested. As a printer, if you order a variety of base colors, each color must be tested for each batch. If your vendor has submitted the inks or other raw materials for testing, you are responsible for maintaining the documents that validate compliance. Don’t take the manufacturer’s word that everything is hunky-dory. The vendor’s assurances that they are in compliance frankly doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. As Ronald Reagan once counseled: “Trust, but Verify!” You (not your supplier) are required to maintain records. Your documentation should include the following: l The name and physical address of the accredited testing facility; l Physical proof that the lab conducting the testing was accredited by the CPSC; and l Documentation of the test method used and a test report for each component tested.

Who is Responsible for CPSIA? President George W. Bush signed the bill into law near the end of his administration in August of 2008. But while our politicians wrote and implemented the law, the real boogey man responsible for


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

the CPSIA is China. Fear over high levels of lead in Chinese toys forced Congress to respond to the public outcry for stricter regulation of children’s products. Meanwhile environmentalists took advantage of their window of opportunity to push for regulation of phthalates (a type of plasticizer that makes plastics softer). One major objective of the CPSIA is to greatly reduce the amount of lead allowed in coatings such as paint from 600ppm to 90ppm. Levels of six phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, and DnOP) are also restricted in articles intended for children to a level no greater than 1/10 percent. Compliance with the law also encompasses requirements for testing and documentation—lots of documentation that affects manufacturers printing and heatpressing appliques on children’s clothes.

Fines for Non-Compliance Don’t take the law lightly. Fines for noncompliance are astronomical. For serious violations, go directly to jail (up to five years), do not pass “Go,” and do not collect $200. The CPSIA, designed to remedy the shortcomings of earlier legislation, will definitely take a big bite from any violator’s hide. For first-time violations, fines are at least $5,000. For serial offenders, you could fork over $100,000 for an infraction.

A Few Exceptions Textiles are exempt from the CPSIA testing requirements. “Natural and synthetic fibers don’t typically contain phthalates and generally do not require testing,” says Kinter. There are, of course, a few exceptions to this textile exemption. The garment must be comprised of a natural fiber, such as cotton. But, if the garment has buttons, zippers, beads, or other baubles, the individual components will need to be tested. Heaven forbid that the garment is screen printed or has been decorated with a heat transfer applique. “Inks may contain plasticizers,” Kinter says, “which means that printed materials must be tested.” There are absolutely no exceptions for screen inks, especially those nasty plastisol inks. Even if there are no plasticizers in modern plastisol inks, we better just test them anyway. Digital inks are no better. Test them all! Costs for testing lead content are as

LEDs look much better in uniform. Makrolon® LD polycarbonate sheets deliver uniform light diffusion for today’s LED signage. They feature an advanced light diffusion technology that provides excellent light uniformity. LED hot spots and shadowing are eliminated in flat or formed applications. Makrolon LD is available in a range of standard sign colors and can be custom matched to industry colors. Don’t limit your design flexibility with LEDs. Makrolon LD delivers now. Call 800-254-1707 for samples or visit to locate your local, authorized distributor.

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Which Products Require CPSIA Testing? You may be wondering whether your product falls into the government’s category of a children’s product that requires testing. According to Marci Kinter, vicepresident of Government & Business Information at SGIA, there are a few questions to help you make that determination: l  Have

you made any statements that your product is intended for use by children?

l  Do

your advertising, marketing materials, packaging, and labels promote the product as being appropriate for children?

l  Is

your product generally regarded by the public as something intended for children?

Answer yes to any of these questions, and the CPSC will probably classify your product as being intended primarily for use by children ages twelve and under. You’ll need to test for and satisfy the requirements for lead content, provide a tracking label for the batch produced, and provide a General Conformity Certificate for each order shipped. Any plasticized item must be tested and satisfy the requirements for phthalate content.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

little as $50 to $100 per test. Testing for phthalates can cost as much as $350 per test. (Note: To find accredited test laboratories, visit

Component Part Testing In Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood delivers one of my favorite movie lines: “Life as you know it has just ended.” For component part testing, document every test for every component and identify who did what test and where they did it. And maintain those records for at least five years! The good intention behind component part testing is that it should reduce the cost of finished product testing. That’s the concept. Whether actual testing costs are reduced is questionable. Why am I so skeptical? Every time a component changes, another test is required. What that means for printers is that each base color must be tested for each batch or each lot number. When your supplier sends you a new batch of ink, it must be tested again. None of the previous tests on previous batches of ink are valid. Who pays for these tests? When the manufacturer pays for the new test, he passes his cost on to you. In turn, you pass this cost on to your customer. In the end, it’s the American consumer who pays the piper. The six-dollar T-shirt now costs ten dollars.

Under Construction Regulations are always evolving, which makes understanding the requirements for compliance with the CPSIA challenging. While Congress passed the CPSIA umbrella legislation, it’s the bureaucrats who write the specific regulations, which are intended to comply with and enforce the spirit of the law. Like it or not, that’s the way Washington works. As the CPSC adopts new rules and policies, you will need to understand how this affects your business and what you need to do to comply. SGIA monitors governmental regulations that apply to printers, and you can find information on environmental policy, testing requirements, and changes in legislation that could affect screen printers and digital printers at SGIA also regularly hosts Webinars on environmental issues, which you can attend if you’re a member.

“Life as you know it has just ended.” — Clint Eastwood, ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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

Box Office Attraction A

ttendance at movie theaters across the country has been booming this year thanks to massive blockbusters like The Avengers and The Hunger Games, and films like Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises promise to keep crowds hot through these remaining summer months. And if you happen to catch one of these flicks at the Consolidated Theatres Royale 14 in Hyattsville, Maryland, you’re also going to view a sign-and-light show on its front façade that’s an attraction all in itself. Full-service Rite Lite Signs ( in Concord, North Carolina built and installed a new canopy for this location that incorporates accent lighting, channel letters, and an illuminated tower. “We’ve done some canopy work at various Consolidated Theatres locations in the past,” says John Sullivan, vice president of operations at Rite Lite, “but this was probably the largest we’d ever done for them.”


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

all photos courtesy of rite lite signs.

Letters and LEDs lead to a movie theater getting its name up in lights.



entertaining sign-and-light


July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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The main all-aluminum, forty-four-foottall pylon-tower sign was built in eight sections. Its front side features raised, LEDilluminated, red acrylic plex-face channel letters spelling out “R-O-Y-A-L-E 14” in descending order. These were mounted onto removable aluminum panels. Rite Lite also built the aluminum enclosure surrounding the panels and provided secondary tubing and angle support systems. Each channel letter measures twentyeight inches tall and thirty-four inches wide. Their faces are attached to black channel returns and feature one-inch black Jewelite trim. There’s also a twoinch-thick secondary support system mounted onto six-inch structural metal stud framing built by the architect. Four-foot-tall sections of red-tinted LED-backlit acrylic replicating a lighthouse effect rest atop the pylon. This is topped by an aluminum fin. The pylon sign tower features a separate panel showing an illuminated Consolidated Theatres logo (with the “CT” resembling film strips). This portion is a 45-1/8-inch logo channel, with a 261/8-inch Sintra® circle and a 19-¼-inch center logo channel. Mounted onto a 1-½-inch-deep aluminum cabinet painted Pure White, the self-contained back-lit/face-lit “C” is a five-inch-deep aluminum return also painted Pure White with a 3/16inch plex face, 3/16-inch white Lexan® backs, one-inch white Jewelite trim, and white LED modules. The backlit-facelit “T” boasts the same specifications but features exposed white plex on top with black vinyl details. “We used a blue vinyl overlay to achieve the logo colors,” says Sullivan. While the “Royale 14” channel letters were flush-mounted to the panels on the tower, Sullivan says, “We attached the ‘CT’ logo to the Sintra with 1-½-inch stand-offs to achieve a halo-lit effect. You have to play with light a little bit that way.” For even more Hollywood-style, Rite Lite also spaced LED chaser lights sixteen inches apart along the border of the pylon tower and bottom of the marquee. A dimmer in the manager’s office controls its speed and brightness (due to a college located across the street from the complex). “The chaser lights are actually socketed bulbs built into the structure via CNCrouted holes,” explains Sullivan. This main elevated sign rests on top of 36

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Trailers and vans hauled the sign pieces from North Carolina to the Maryland site, where Rite Lite used its boom trucks for a tight-fit installation, due to the narrow street.

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


a four-plus-foot-long cast stone cap base that matches the stone on the surrounding exterior façade and four-inch brick veneer with galvanized adjustable anchors sixteen inches apart. On the sides of the pylon tower, LED -illuminated acrylic-face “Royale” channel letters are the same dimensions as the front letters, but the “14” panel at the bottom was crafted on a CNC router and backed with 2283 Red Acrylic. Other offices share space above the theater in the same building, so its employees can look down at the backside of the tower. Because of this, the rear of the elevated sign extends the roof membrane up over the structural metal stud framing and ½-inch exterior-grade plywood sheathing and is secured under the aluminum coping. “It’s a span-type canopy. Behind it is open-air in front of the windows and doors,” explains Sullivan. “So if it’s raining, you will get wet when you walk past it.” (Note: Storm drain leaders were run down though the base of the sign and connect to the site’s storm drainage.)

A dimmer in the manager’s office controls the speed and brightness of the sign’s LED chaser lights, which are socketed lights built into the structure through CNC-routed holes.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

To add to the rear view appearance, Rite Lite Signs did a complete finish job on the underside, using a suspended layin ceiling grid with perforated aluminum panels to create a metal drop ceiling. Rite Lite also built the two front marquee sides that branch out from and complement the elevated sign tower. “The angled red section and the two red pieces at the bottom underneath the CT logo is all one ‘big knuckle,’” explains Sullivan. Red SloanLED strip lighting is continuous around the corners of the marquee. These pieces were snapped into the coves underneath the pylon and marquee. (Note: The power supplies for everything are contained inside the marquee tower.) The theater’s contractor first provided the stud works, the steel I-beam work, and the roof deck; then Rite Lite did the full cladding on three sides (the front, the underside, and the rear). Rite Lite Lead Fabricator/Structural Designer Eric Wray and his team built the entire sign in about eight weeks at the company’s 55,000-square foot facility. “Since there was more work out in the field than could be achieved in one trip, we rolled out each section as we finished it,” says Sullivan. “We did the big knuckle center section first, then the horizontal pieces, and then worked our way up.” The sign company used its twentyfour-foot-long box van and four open trailers to deliver the sign. Using its boom trucks, the three- to four-man installation team led by Production Manager Robert “Boomer” Frazier and Lead Installer Tim Shaffer started with the “CT” logo first and then worked their way from the bottom of the tower up. As mentioned earlier, the Royale 14 is located on a narrow street across from a college. This meant there wasn’t a lot of lane closure here. “We had to [install] during restricted hours,” says Sullivan, “due to college pedestrian traffic.” The sign was built with ease of serviceability in mind. “The metal retainers make it easy for service technicians,” says Sullivan, “and the chaser lights are accessible through the tower. “The channel letters are on individual aluminum panels. Each panel can be removed to access the back side—not only the socket wiring but also the letter wiring.” Rite Lite Sales Manager David Cornelius

and Account Executive Bobby Holder sold this job, and Senior Project Manager Renae Hartsell oversaw it. One thing that Rite Lite really enjoyed about this sign job was the in-depth involvement from the start with the architect behind the project and being able to meet with the engineer and theater owners David and Tasha Catchpole before beginning any work. This also helped Art Director Brian Goss in the design stage. (Note: The architect, engineer,

and Consolidated Theatres headquarters are located in nearby Charlotte.) “We [were able] to coordinate with the building engineer about what we wanted to provide and what we needed him to design structure-wise,” says Sullivan. “This doesn’t happen every day, but we wish it did. “Normally you get the drawing and are told, ‘Hey, build this.’ Then if you need to make changes, it’s all back to the drawing board. But not here!”

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Illumination / By Jeff Wooten/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The Sign

Lighting Market


Designing signs for today that capture the look of yesteryear.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

all photos courtesy of pacific neon company.

he recently opened San Pedro Square Market is a mix of new construction and redevelopment located in downtown San Jose, California (in the heart of Silicon Valley). The complex houses older and newer restaurants, bars, and a farmer’s market. Its owner had spent years working on this urban marketplace, and toward the end of the development process, he recognized the need for iconic identity signage. Taking visual inspiration from the famous signage at the legendary Pike Place Market in Seattle, he wanted a sign marriage of modern with retro.

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

Initial contact from the customer to completion of the project covered a year. Permit issuance to erection of the channel letters and clock took about sixty days. Thirty days later the blade sign went up.

Enter Pacific Neon Company (, a full-service, third-generation sign company in Sacramento, California. They became involved when one of their clients told the San Pedro Square Market owner about their dynamic work. (Note: Pacific Neon was also involved in “A Towering Illuminated Pylon Sign,” May 2012) Here the owner specifically wanted the “look” that neon offers. “He was looking for a throwback to the era of marketplaces and was attracted to the energy and vibrancy that exposed neon creates,” says Ralph Cundiff, Jr., vice president of Pacific Neon. The first challenge: Sifting through all the ideas the customer had. Thanks to Google, the property owner visited Pacific Neon and brought along numerous examples of similar-type neon signs from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. “The Internet can be a wonderful research tool at one’s disposal,” says Cundiff, “but sometimes you can find so many examples that it can be overwhelming. “But our designer was able to take in all the examples and execute them in a

contemporary, yet nostalgic design.”

Channel Letters Pacific Neon designed and built openface channel letters with four tubes of exposed red skeleton neon. These letters would be attached to one of the roofs on the new building. The design process involved lots of back-and-forth interaction with the property owner and included various signage prototypes, design layouts, and neon color combinations. Despite Cundiff ’s suggestions for a multi-color neon appearance, the client ultimately decided on red because, well, the aforementioned Pike Place Market signage was red. The tallest channel letters (the first letters of each word—“S,” “P,” and “M”) are 5-½ feet tall, while the remaining letters are 4-¼ feet tall. After finishing the channel letters, Pacific Neon then fabricated a retrostyle gridwork frame and mechanically bolted the letters to clips welded to the frame. The channel letters and frame were pre-assembled in sections at Pacific

Neon’s production facility. “We used our crane to lift [everything] into place,” explains Cundiff.

Illuminated Clock Since Pike Place Market uses a clock with its signage, Pacific Neon also set up an internally illuminated clock to accompany the red-glow channel letters. This clock measures a little over eight feet in diameter and, because of its shape and size, features fluorescent lighting. Pacific Neon didn’t build this clock; they purchased it instead. “You don’t reinvent the wheel,” laughs Cundiff. “This would’ve been our firstand-only time of actually building a clock, so we opted to go to someone who makes clocks on a regular basis.”

Blade Sign Meanwhile the owner had also retained the outer shell of another adjacent building and gutted its interior for development. For this particular location (and to aim for another days-gone-by design), Pacific Neon designed, constructed, and installed a 16-foot-tall-by-5-foot-wide

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


neon-illuminated blade sign. The company designed the blade sign turnkey from start to finish (originating about four different concepts for it). “The owner was very enthusiastic as we walked him through our design and prototyping processes,” says Cundiff. “He developed a lot of confidence in our abilities and in our understanding of his vision for this project.” The white, acrylic-faced “San Pedro Square” letters at the top are internally illuminated with white neon, while the descending “Market” letters are backlit with white neon. Red neon is used as a border throughout. Green skeleton neon makes up the arrow on the sign, while yellow skeleton neon forms its tip. Pacific Neon also designed and built the framework that anchors this sign to the parapet and rooftop of the building.

An Enlightening Reaction One extra-special aspect of this project for Cundiff was that this customer wasn’t a client used to buying signs on a regular basis. This meant he was still

“fresh” about the sign-buying process. “We put up a sign, and thirty minutes later, he’s calling to tell us how thrilled he is with it,” says Cundiff. “That was rewarding for us as a company (and as a salesperson) to get that immediate reaction and feedback from a client.” The owner was so excited that he even held an official sign lighting ceremony at the Market attended by 200-plus people. The event even included a self-made, six-foot-tall light switch mock-up and a countdown display. “It’s a lot of fun to do work with customers who have that type of enthusiasm and appreciation for your work,” says Cundiff. This ceremony even generated media coverage. Thanks to it, a prospective client called to ask if Pacific Neon could possibly do signage with a ceremony for them—having no idea of Pacific Neon’s involvement in this project. “You could imagine my pride when I told him that we did that sign,” says Cundiff. “It was a beautiful completion of the circle.”

Red, white, green, and yellow neon help the blade sign present that “just-right” retro look.

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/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Pylon Sign / By Ashley Bray

March of the Pylon

A retrofit marches to its own beat with customized elements.


photo courtesy of peachtree city foamcraft.

he Nut Tree, a historical shopping center in Vacaville, California, recently decided to update one of its three pylon signs in an effort to get more shoppers marching into its stores. Fluoresco Lighting & Signs (www.fluoresco. com), a fifty-year-old, familyowned, full-service sign company with a history of its own, was called in to lead the troops on this project. The Nut Tree, owned by Westrust Properties, is ideally located off I-80. Established in 1921, this shopping center was, in fact, the state’s first major road stop. After closing in the late 1990s, the Nut Tree was reborn and now features a variety of restaurants, retail shops, and kid rides.

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


photos courtesy of peachtree city foamcraft.

T photos courtesy of Fluoresco lighting & signs.

he retrofit was the less expensive option, but it came with its own challenges, including the need for larger footings.

Before any new construction could begin, the sign had to be stripped down. The old cabinets were removed, and the stonework base was demolished to reveal the lower 46

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

portion of the wide-flange beams that make up the sign structure. The sign was then cut off at the bottom, picked up, and relocated a few feet to the east.

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To keep business going, Westrust Properties decided it was time to change one of its pylon signs, which sit adjacent to I-80. Together with Fluoresco, they looked at erecting an entire new sign versus retrofitting the existing one with new elements. In the end, the retrofit proved the less expensive option by $15,000. Westrust Properties though did opt to add new cabinets to the sign, along with electronic message centers (to better advertise the tenants of the center to potential shoppers, as well as possibly draw in new ones). The company also chose to incorporate two toy soldiers, which are a theme throughout the shopping plaza. Before designing the new elements, Fluoresco went out and flagged the sign in question with its 10-by-20-foot aluminum frame banner to help determine the size. “We put it up and hung it in different places to help determine the height and the feasibility of the project and also to help size the EMC,” says Jared Burns-Coffin, Northern California sales manager for Fluoresco. Before any new construction could begin, the sign had to be stripped down. The old cabinets were removed, and the stonework base was demolished to reveal the lower portion of the wide-flange beams that make up the sign structure. “We literally torched those off at the very bottom, picked the sign up, and then we had to lay it down,” says Burns-Coffin. The only portions of the sign that were left were the steel structure and supports and the aluminum cabinet at the top featuring the Nut Tree logo. (Note: The aluminum cabinet features a TEX-COTE® finish, and the Nut Tree logo is a reverse pan in a halo-lit screen.) Next the sign had to be moved because its footprint was going to overlap with a new parking lot. Using a ninety-ton Hatton hydraulic crane, Fluoresco moved the sign a few feet to the east. However once they tried to drill new footings, they ran into a concrete obstruction, so the sign was moved another fifteen feet further east. With the new site determined, Fluoresco’s next problem was the California building code, which had changed since the sign originally went up in 2006. The wide-flange vertical beams were strong enough and compliant with the new code, but a larger footing was now required. Fluoresco drilled new 4-by-20-foot




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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


photos courtesy of Fluoresco lighting & signs.


hen you’re looking at it on paper, it’s sometimes hard to physically imagine the size of it.” – Jared Burns-Coffin, Sales Manager Northern California, Fluoresco


footings for the sign. Meanwhile the shop’s crew also fabricated new base plates. “We had to engineer and weld new base plates onto it,” says Burns-Coffin, “so we created a J-bolt-type footing.” Once the new three-by-four-foot, oneinch-thick base plates were finished, the crew set the footings with the J-bolts, welded the new plates on, and stood the sign up and into place. It was now ready for the EMC installation. The EMC design went through more than one iteration. “Originally we started off with the LED flagmounted to one side, and we had one soldier holding it up,” says Burns-Coffin. The city thought this was



unbalanced, so the shop chose to center the EMC with a soldier on either side. To make room for the EMC, two of the existing horizontal steel tubes were moved down and placed above where the cabinets begin. The lattice structure between the cabinets was trimmed and moved down, as well. Fluoresco constructed new steel supports for the EMCs and mounted them onto the structure. Once the displays were delivered to the site by truck, they were mounted to the sign using Fluoresco-owned eighty-fivefoot Elliott and ninety-seven-foot Manitex trucks. Two 15-by-30-foot, 20mm Daktronics

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Galaxy Pro displays were chosen for the sign. These two EMCs sandwich the vertical wide-flange beams running up through the sign to create a double-sided display. “All the trimwork around the EMC that we did to fill it in had to be made after it was installed,” says Burns-Coffin. Fluoresco fabricated the EMC’s trimwork, enclosures, and expanded metal bottom and top for ventilation. All of this had to be done after the installation, so that Fluoresco could take proper measurements for these additional parts. Being a 1/4-inch off was not an option with these enclosures. When the EMCs were finished, Fluo-

resco set to work on the new tenant cabinets. “We actually made an entire new cabinet, and we changed the color of the faces and the way they lighted,” says Burns-Coffin. Originally the sign faces were a rusted color with cream copy. Fluoresco changed them to white polycarbonate with reversed copy. The cabinet backgrounds are painted opaque, and the copy uses vinyl treatments to match the tenant’s colors. As a result, only the copy lights up when the cabinet’s fluorescent light source is turned on. With these elements in place, the sign was hand-roll-painted using a special metal paint. (Note: The team could not spray any paint in the field due to environmental precautions.) The final addition to the sign was the two soldiers. Fluoresco contacted Peachtree City Foamcraft ( to handle this portion. The sign company has worked with Peachtree in the past on other custom jobs, and it knew the manufacturer would be a good

fit on this project. The other soldiers in the shopping center are made of reinforced fiberglass, but this material was not an option for these two pylon sign soldiers. “The cost and structure became prohibitive of doing it in fiberglass on such a larger scale,” says Michael Fetter, sales manager at Peachtree. Instead these two soldiers were constructed out of Foamcore. To complete the job, Peachtree took the 2D shape of the soldiers, created a 3D model from it, and then constructed each soldier in two ten-foot halves for shipping purposes. An interesting part of the design is that Peachtree drilled an 8.75-inch hole through each soldier—without any seams. “What this allowed [Fluoresco] to do was slip these down right over a pole that they had in the shop and adhere it to a plate that was supporting it from the bottom,” says Fetter. “Then they took them out as one big piece on a flatbed truck, lifted it with a crane, and put them in place.” In addition, 1/2-inch-wide-by-24inch-long all-thread rods inserted into

the hands of the soldiers were used to screw them into place. When put together, one soldier measured 208 inches tall and the other 1161/2 inches tall. (Note: The difference in height was to account for a slight slope in the ground the sign sat on.) In the end, the entire project took about five weeks with three installers working onsite at any one time. The project would’ve taken less time to produce, but a two-week rain delay prevented installers from working. (Note: Prior to the start of construction, it took two years to sign the deal on the project.) With the retrofit, it was difficult to project how long things would take, as well. “It’s hard to gauge how long it’s going to take you to [tear down] and reweld,” says Burns-Coffin. Despite the challenges, the sign was completed, and Westrust Properties likes the results. “The [client] was very happy with the effect that the [EMCs] were receiving and the appearance of the toy soldiers,” says Burns-Coffin. “The sign was pretty much brought to life.”

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



all Photos courtesy of Lafa Photography.


The finished product on the road!


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Vehicle Graphics / By Ashley Bray

A Wrap Fit for the

Victory Lane Take a pit stop to learn about a winning full-color wrap.

With the vehicle graphic market booming, people

“I want them to think my wrap is a paint job.” Steve Carney owner/founder

Carbon Wraps

have become accustomed to seeing flashy, eye-catching wraps. But sometimes, a basic, full-color wrap can have a bigger impact. Steve Carney, owner/founder of Carbon Wraps in Winter Park, Florida, knows this fact well. He has been wrapping for eight years, and just a year ago, rebooted his business as Carbon Wraps. His shop wraps everything from busses to planes to amusement park props, but its specialty is racecars. Recently Carney completed a wrap on a 2006 custom Mitsubishi Evo racecar for a private client. This particular client found out about Carbon Wraps after seeing Carney’s work on a drift racing car in the area. The client was already impressed, but after seeing Carney wrapping with matte white vinyl at this past ISA Sign Expo show, the deal was sealed, and Carney got behind the wheel of the project. The client liked the matte white so much that he decided to wrap his entire car in it. Carney chose Matte White #010M Oracal® Series 970RA Wrapping Cast with Rapid Air® Technology and White #010 Oracal® Series 975 Carbon Fiber Cast vinyl for the wrap. He used Turquoise #199 Oracal 951M Premium Cast Metallic for a few vinyl decals, which he cut out on a Graphtec FC 5100 150 plotter. No lamination was required for the wrap since the vinyl’s thickness—4 mil—acted as a double layer. wrap

continues on page 54

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



Tips Techniques #1

When the vehicle is cleaned properly and ready for install, it does not hurt to wipe the area one more time before installing the panel. “I prefer a new microfiber rag for this because most matte and gloss wrapping films are not as busy as the typical printed film,” says Steve Carney, owner/ founder of Carbon Wraps. “Any spec of dust or dirt that just happens to fall on the vehicle before the install is finished will be more noticeable.”


all Photos courtesy of Lafa Photography.

When installing with matte or gloss wrapping colors, it is best to trace out the door crevices and other areas with your finger or squeegee, to find your cut areas or breaks in-between body panels.


Always double-check your work by heating the finished wrap either by heat gun or placing the vehicle in sunlight. This will expose any trapped air, which would make bubbles or show any film that may contract due to stretching the film or pushing the film into a deep channel. “Also heat or sunlight clears up most squeegee marks on gloss film,” adds Carney.


Take a few more minutes after the install is completed to clean off any fingerprints or smudges in the windows or the wrap itself.


Following some tried-and-true tips and techniques can help any shop ensure its vehicle graphics look their best. Full-color wraps especially require careful attention to detail because there are no graphics, logos, or text to cover up mistakes. Preparation, patience, and the right tools make all the difference.

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

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continued from page 51

Before designing the wrap, Carney double-checked the Pro Vehicle Outlines template measurements. “I do take my own measurements on every part of the vehicle—the full length of the vehicle— and then I break it down into panels of the vehicle,” he says. “This way, I know exactly everything that I’m doing to it.” An additional aspect of the wrap design were the wheels, which were painted with powder-coated paint to match the Oracal metallic turquoise vinyl. With the design ready, Carney began the install by first disassembling the Evo. “We clean everything thoroughly—behind the bumpers, different cracks that you can’t normally clean when it’s on the car,” he says. Once the mirrors, headlights, bumpers, etc., were off the car, it was time to apply the vinyl. Carney utilized stands to place the pieces of the Evo on. This raised them off the ground and simplified the install. Carney installs with only two others—his brother Clint Carney and his friend Chino. “I keep it in small groups (no more than three). I [oversee] everything to make sure it’s to the T,” he says, “and do all the finish cuts and things like that.” The wrap was a dry application. Carney explains, “Wraps nowadays are made air-release, so you don’t want to use liquid behind that air-release channel; it just won’t dry properly, and you can’t tuck it into certain edges. “Now if you use a vinyl on top (like a stripe or a decal) and you prefer to use application fluid at that point, then I could see it coming into play.” Due to the custom nature of the racecar, the installers had to account for some unique areas. “There were some areas that were custom-made and we had to do custom installs on it,” says Carney. “Certain areas had different fluids that we had to really clean very well so the material wouldn’t fail later on. The type of gas he uses—we had to protect that area with some of the matte clear so that it doesn’t stain the film.” (Note: Carney shares space with his friend, who specializes in protecting

For more information about

Carbon Wraps,

check out “Shop Talk”

on page 72.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Photo courtesy of Lafa Photography.

wraps with clear film. This film was used on the front bumper and around the area where the gas is put into the racecar.) The entire install, from disassembly to reinstalling the parts of the car, took three to four days. The client loved the final product—as well as the price. Carney completed the wrap for half the cost of a paint job. Aside from price, the wrap has other benefits over a paint job. For one, if the car is damaged, Carney can switch out the bad vinyl section for a new one, and the color will be consistent with the rest of the wrap. With paint (especially matte colors), the entire car would have to be repainted to achieve an accurate color match. In addition, the vinyl wrap protects the original paint and keeps the car looking fresh. “One of the problems with a matte white paint job is that, if you get a rock chip in it, it will show the primer underneath,” says Carney. Carney also stresses the importance of achieving quality in vehicle graphics, whether it takes more time or not. Of course, having a zest for the job is also important.When you love what you do, it shows.



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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


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

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



3M Commercial Graphics . . . . . . . . 23 ADA Wholesale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Alpina Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . 71 Alpina Manufacturing. . . . . . . . . . . 71 A.R.K. Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 A.R.K. Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 ASE Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Bayer Material Science. . . . . . . . . . 31 Brooklyn Hardware. . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 CAO Group, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Chemetal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Chemical Concepts. . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Coastal Enterprises/ Precision Board. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Computerized Cutters. . . . . . . . . . . 39 Delcam International . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Duxbury Systems Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . 69 Fastenation, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Fastsigns International, Inc.. . . . . . 32 Formetco Powered By Adtech. . . . C4 France. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Gemini, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Gill Studios. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Gill Studios. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Graphic House. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 International Sign Assn. . . . . . . . . C3 Justin Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 L&L Industries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Lancaster Sign Company. . . . . . . . . 70 LedTronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 LMT Onsurd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Lucite International.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Magnum Magnetics Corp. . . . . . . . . 18 Manitex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Matthews Paint Company. . . . . . . . . 7 Metal Arts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Mimaki USA, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

InfoDirect # Company

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67


Mimaki USA, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Multicam, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 National Signs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Orbus Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Ornamental Post Panel. . . . . . . . . . 69 Outwater Plastics Industries . . . . . 55 Pizazz Display Systems. . . . . . . . . . 19 Principal LED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Rapid TAC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 SGIA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40A Shopbot Tools. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Sign America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Sign Bracket Store By Hooks and Lattice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Sign Fab. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Signs By Tomorrow. . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 SloanLED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Small Balls .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Stampcrete. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Stimpson Company Inc. . . . . . . . . . 61 Superbright LEDS.Com . . . . . . . . . . 47 Techno, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Thermwood Corporation. . . . . . . . . 38 Trim-Lok, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 TriVantage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 US LED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Ventex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Walls & Forms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Z-3 Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

InfoDirect # Company


Companies in the Sign Show 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82

3A Composites. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Arlon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Aurora Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Avery Dennison. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 ClearPath Signage Systems. . . . . . 14 Graphic Solutions Group. . . . . . . . . 14 Kern Laser Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Marabu North America . . . . . . . . . . 14 N. Glantz & Son. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 ONYX Graphics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Roland DGA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Saw Trax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Sihl Digital Imaging. . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 SloanLED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Visual Magnetics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Awnings / By Mike Antoniak

Putting Up With

Awnings Keys to mastering the most challenging awning installations. Beneath the tautly stretched fabric that makes an awning hides a carefully crafted support structure. It’s there where installers really show their stuff by combining standard practices with constructive improvisation to secure the awning as a custom-fit enhancement.

When people in the sign business turn down an awning project because they think it’s too complicated, they’re only sending customers to the competition.”

photo courtesy of dave forrest.

mike yopp, president of wholesale signs

and awnings provider z3 graphics ( in greenville, sc

Yopp asserts that if you can build or install a sign, then there’s no reason you can’t do the same for an awning. “There haven’t been any situations

July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


photo courtesy of ap sign group.

photo courtesy of illuminated image.

Even standard projects carry challenges—be prepared.

One recent job incorporated an awning with a pergola.

photo courtesy of peachtree awnings.

Every install is different, but permits are always involved.

photo courtesy of peachtree awnings.

Awnings must conform to the ins and outs of the facade.

where we couldn’t figure out some way around all the challenges a building presented,” he says. For both seasoned pros and those new to this service, Yopp offers the same practical advice: “The key is identifying good points of attachment. Only with a thorough inspection of the project on the front side can you foresee potential problems that may come up.” And there’s other advice to take into account: When contracted to install an awning on a building still under construction, make the contractor aware of the need for plating to support awning framework. On older buildings, check inside or above walls to see what’s going on. “A wall might look one way from outside and entirely different once you can get a look at it,” adds Yopp, “so there may be some improvisation required.” 58

Controlling the Variables Sign companies that want greater control over the awning process can simply pick and choose their projects. “Some companies focus strictly on awnings for new construction,” notes Barry Adams, president of custom awning manufacturer and installer Peachtree Awnings ( in Norcross, Georgia. Because every job is different, Peachtree’s installers are equipped for any contingency. “We carry the equivalent of our own hardware store on our trucks—eight to ten different types of fasteners—and are prepared for any situation we might find out in the field,” remarks Adams. Whether it’s a one-of-a-kind custom project or something more routine, the work done before the frame is built determines success. Peachtree always does a site visit for lots of prep work and dig-

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

ital photos so it knows all the details. “When planning an awning for a new building, sometimes you have the luxury of watching the building go up, so you know what you’ll be working with,” says Adams. “But on older buildings, you may have no choice but to cut an exploratory hole to see what’s there.” On one recent project in downtown Atlanta, Peachtree had to install an awning on a seventy-year-old building that had been repeatedly modified. “Although you can always look at available building plans, they seldom help if a lot of changes have been made over the years,” states Adams. “You just have to do your own investigative work to get down to the walls.” A job at Atlanta’s Marlow Tavern required installing an enclosed patio awning over a wooden pergola already in place. “The good news was we didn’t

have to build support posts,” remarks Adams. “But we had to build awnings large enough to cover the pergola, as well as rent boom trucks so we could lift these large sections into place.” For those new to awnings, Adams advises developing your knowledge base with manageable small projects. “Pick small jobs that are challenging to learn from,” he says. “If you take on a big job to learn, you’ll get an education, but you can also lose a lot of money in the process.”

The Site Survey The foundation for every successful installation is a thorough site survey, according to Chris Reber, vice president of sign solutions wholesaler Illuminated Image (www. in Angola, Indiana. One common mistake clients make is leaving behind drawings of how the finished project should look when they go measure for the job. “An awning becomes part of the facade and has to conform to all the ins and outs of that building, where the lights and window mullions are situated,” explains Reber. “You want to understand how well


those drawings represent the building and take multiple measurements.” For new buildings, Reber advises waiting until construction is finished before designing a custom awning. “Often times, the building isn’t ready for an accurate survey until additional material like Dryvit has been added,” he says. Reber finds that some new buildings are so architecturally complex that they can present some special challenges— offering curved buildings as an example. In one large project for the cylindrical entrance of a new restaurant, Illuminated Image designed a series of awnings that curved out as well as along the exterior. The project started with extensive site survey measurements of the restaurant entrance. Based on these measurements, the company built a full-sized mock-up of one window on the tower, matched the awning radius to it, and used it as a template for designing all the awnings. “Working with a compound radius can be really tough,” states Reber. “These aren’t the kinds of things you want to try and figure out when you’re on a job site.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Some Customization In the New York City metro area, there’s no such thing as a routine project, according to Mike Catalano, president of awning and architectural fabric specialist Capitol Awning ( in Jamaica, New York. “Designers and architects are just starting to realize all the things they can do with fabric,” he notes. Combining their expertise with frame and fabric, Catalano and his staff have created the illusion of a blimp descending through the ceiling of a SoHo loft to crafting giant wings for the new Virgin Airlines Terminal at JFK International Airport. Capitol also built the framework and underlying structure to suspend 60-by-60foot fabric prints from the 90-foot ceiling of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall. But even seemingly straightforward projects in New York City can carry challenges uniquely their own. Earlier this year, Capitol Awning installed a series of twelve large fabric banners on the front of a 100-year-old building at City University of New York in Manhattan. But before the company could begin

the installation, two-by-two-foot exploratory holes had to be cut through eighteen inches of the stone and facade to find the underlying steel. Capitol’s installers welded support brackets to that framework and put a protective pan in place to protect the building and pedestrians from welder’s sparks—all while working on a specially erected seventy-five-foot-high scaffold. “Every job brings its own challenges,” says Catalano. Catalano’s formula for success— whether it’s a routine awning or a oneof-a-kind project—is the same: Learn everything about the building and its infrastructure, use only the best materials and skilled labor, and honestly communicate with clients about time, costs, and what variables could impact each. “We make sure at least two pairs of eyes see every aspect of every project we bid on,” he says. “I’ve got thirty-one years of experience, and my senior project manager has forty-seven years of experience, so we have a lot of knowledge to draw on.” Satisfied clients who benefit from that expertise help promote Capitol’s reputa-

tion as a company up to any challenge. “We like to work with people who trust our judgment and [understand] what we need from them in order to meet their deadline,” says Catalano. “Ultimately the success of every job comes down to how well we communicate with our clients.”

Every Installation is Unique With its roots in the awning business, sign wholesaler AP Sign Group (www. in Indianapolis, Indiana continues to do its own installations. “Awning styles remain the same, but every installation is different,” says President Steve Sommer. “There’s a lot of nuances and, almost always, permitting is involved. You’ve got to think about what part of the country the awning will be installed, what the local codes are, how high off the ground you can work, what kind of fasteners to use, etc.” For new buildings, developing a good relationship with the general contractor is essential. “The awning is the last thing that goes on the building before the job is finished, so it’s important we coordi-

nate and work together,” says Sommer. The ability to adapt to whatever the project presents is often a make-or-break factor. Sommer says one of his more challenging recent jobs involved installing four stories of awnings on all four sides of the new Hyatt Siesta Key Beach Vacation Club in Florida. “We couldn’t get a lift on the water side of the building, and there was drainage that prevented us from getting on one of the other sides,” recalls Sommer. “We ended up having our installers lowered from the roof in swing chairs.” For the custom work that’s part of every installation, anticipate all that could go wrong. “Too often, people assume the best case scenario is what they’re going to find on a job, and that’s where an installation can start to go wrong,” states Sommer. “You want answers to all the questions that are going to impact your job before you arrive—how far you are from the road, what the setbacks are, when can you work, what else is going on there at the time, do you have easy access, etc.—then you’re prepared for whatever comes up.”

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Safety / By Jeff Wooten /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////


First First-class cutting and marking tips for avoiding first aid situations.

photo: Dmitry Kalinovsky / shutterstock

here is a variety of equipment that can be utilized by your shop to help construct dimensional signage and components. Let’s focus this month on three of them—CNC routers, laser engravers, and vertical panel saws—and how to use them to not only produce clean cuts and marks but also to keep you and your employees safe and avoid OSHA violations. In addition, we’ll check out the best advice for setting these machines up on your production floor and how to keep them clean and well maintained, so that they will operate properly and efficiently for as long as possible. One piece of safety advice all these devices (except Class 1 and Class 2 engravers) share comes down to fashion sense. Since these are cutting tools, avoid wearing loose clothing, ties, or jewelry. Tie up or net long hair. And always employ eye and ear protection.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012


July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


There are a flexible number of substrates you can work with here—wood, foam, HDU, PVC, acrylic, plastics, and that’s to name just a few. John Harris, director of sales and marketing at Multicam (www., stresses, “It’s important to use the correct router bit, depending on the materials—especially for Fiberglas, aluminum, and soft materials.” Set Up. When setting up a CNC router in your shop, realize that because the router is also a cutter, there will be material debris. “Although there are ways to minimize the debris, you still don’t want to place the router next to a vinyl printer or a laminator. You’ll no doubt find debris in your prints,” advises Tony Guglielmino, senior applications specialist at Vision Engraving & Routing Systems ( There needs to be plenty of space around all four sides of the router, in order to be able to walk around it and handle/load materials without any obstruction. “Five to ten feet of free space should be devoted around the machine,” says Roy Valentine, sales manager at Techno

CNC ( Consider pinch points too. “The gantry is very powerful, as it moves up and down the machine,” remarks Harris. “If you only have six inches of clearance between the gantry and another machine or a wall and somebody gets in there and slips, they won’t have room to get away from it.” Operation. Securing materials is handled either through vacuum hold-down or clamps. “Vacuum tables are great for large pieces, but keep in mind that they pull pressure over the area. So the

smaller the part, the harder it is for the material to be held securely,” says Guglielmino. Harris adds, “Program the router so that it’s not going in there a thousand miles an hour to cut a two-by-two-inch part. Doing so could knock the piece off the table or cause the bit to catch it and throw off the mark.” If the filter on the vacuum is clogged, clean it, as this could cause problems down the road. Harris points out that safety options such as low-pressure

ut shapes out of materials cleanly, while reducing the risk of injury.

Photo courtesy of vision engraving & routing systems.

CNC Routers

To achieve smooth edges, care must be taken with feed rates and the type of tooling used. 64

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

shutoff valves are also available. “These valves shut off the machine, if the vacuum falls below a safe level,” he says. If using clamps to secure materials to the table, Harris advises employing common sense. “Test your software programs to make sure you won’t run into the clamps,” he recommends. “If this happens, something could fly off and hurt somebody.” Guglielmino adds this suggestion: “Put low-tack transfer paper on the sacrificial (spoil board) and on the bottom of the material to be cut. Once covered, use a 3M™ spray adhesive between the layers of transfer paper and place the material down on the table. Allow adequate time for the adhesive to tack. “This is a great trick when cutting dimensional letters, as this process will not only hold the letters in place but also helps to keep the insides of the letters in place too [i.e., centers of “O,” “R,” etc.].” Only qualified, trained people should operate a CNC router in-shop. And they should always pay attention to the machine while in use. Like any automated piece of equipment, care must be taken to ensure safety. “Be sure to have the feed rates within safe boundaries,” suggests Guglielmino. “When in doubt, always start slow. You can speed up the machine once you’re confident in the process.” Valentine mentions that it’s important to never lean or reach into the machine’s working area. “The spindle head is constantly moving at a high rate of speed and will make rapid moves when repositioning,” he says. Another peril Valentine has noticed is that some operators will reach into the machine work area while processing is taking place. “Many times, when the CNC is cutting, it will remove internal small pieces from the work piece,” he says. “These pieces tend to lift away from the vacuum table. The operator will reach into the machine’s work area to grab this piece. Do not do this!! The router’s vacuum shroud brush will sweep the part aside.” Cleaning. Harris stresses that, in addition to keeping its pinions and bearings clean, it’s fundamental to grease the CNC router at least once a week, depending on what you’re cutting. “If you’re cutting real abrasive materials or MDF dust is getting in everything and sucking up the grease,

This green company runs lean with the help of a ShopBot. Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls processes mixed plastic to produce signs, park benches, picnic tables, and more. Every year they recycle more than 5 million pounds of plastic into environmentally sustainable products. Bob Mestdagh, VP of Production, says, “One of our services is engraving plastic park benches, signs and the like. We used to do this with a hand router, which was labor intensive, prone to mistakes and waste. So about 15 years ago we looked into CNC.” Their ShopBot 96 X 48 tool has been in constant use ever since. Bob says, “In a word, it's reliable. We've decided to purchase another ShopBot to be sure we can handle the increase in orders.” Learn more at and then give us a call. We'll help you choose the tool you can rely on for years to come. 888-680-4466 July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


you might have to grease the machine every two or three days,” he adds. Harris also recommends keeping the CNC clean even during operation. “At the end of the day, the whole machine is full of dust. But if you blow the router off during operation, it’ll run much better,” he explains. “And give a quick wipedown with a rag at the end of the day.” Cleanliness isn’t limited to just the router itself; the working space around it also needs to be kept neat and clean from

dust and debris. “This will prevent someone from slipping or tripping over scraps that may have been removed from the machine,” says Valentine. (Note: He also recommends dropping dust collection and electrical lines from the ceiling for this reason.) Overall one positive thing to remember about CNC routers is their good safety record. “They’re definitely safer than manual, because you’re away from the actual cutting!” states Harris.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

Laser Engravers A wide range of materials can be marked via laser engraving—organic materials (marble, glass, paper, wood, etc.), laminated plastics, acrylics, bare metals (aluminum, brass, stainless steel, etc.), to name a few. “However materials containing PVC should not be processed with a laser for safety reasons,” states Anthony Harris, signage industry business development manager at Gravograph ( Set Up. When placing an engraver in your shop, pick a location that meets the manufacturer’s guidelines for environmental temperature and humidity. “In order to perform at optimal levels, the laser will require a friendly environment and good fume extraction,” says Harris. Laser engravers should be properly ventilated to not only remove material residue and odors but also protect its optics. According to Harris, there are two popular venting options. “The most costeffective is to exhaust using an in-line blower and vent to the outdoors,” he says. “The other option is a self-contained fume extractor and filtration unit. This system has three to six stages of filtration, including particulate, HEPA, and charcoal for odor removal.” When selecting a filtration unit, consider the materials being processed and in what quantities. “For high particulate or odor materials (rubber, wood, and some plastics), a filtration unit with higher air flow and more filtration stages will be appropriate,” says Harris. Operation. Never leave a laser engraver alone while its in operation (especially when processing thin materials or textiles). “It’s a good idea to position a fire extinguisher and smoke detector in the area adjacent to the laser,” advises Harris. Cleaning. Preventative maintenance is also important for safe, efficient operation. “It’s easy to keep your laser system running its best, if you always keep it clean. That includes ensuring the area around the laser is free of clutter, combustible materials, explosives, or volatile solvents (such as acetone, alcohol, or gasoline),” says Mike Dean, vice president of sales and marketing for Epilog Laser ( Materials for regular system cleaning include a soft cloth, mild household solvents like Isopropyl alcohol, and cotton

Photo courtesy of saw trax.

Photo courtesy of mark roberts.

You should have enough room to walk around the router and be able to load materials without obstructions.

“All of the maintenance techniques are simple and easy to perform,” says Dean. For the vector grid/table portion of the CO2 laser engraver, there’s always a small potential for small pieces (particularly wood and acrylic) to fall through and collect in the table tray; this can cause a fire hazard if not cleaned regularly with a

Vertical panel saws are ideal for cutting large sheets of raw material in a compact, space-saving design.

small brush or a vacuum cleaner. If you detect an odor while engraving or can see smoke from the cabinet in the area of the lens carriage, inspect the exhaust system for leaks and obstructions. “Ensure all connections are properly secured and check for loose or broken duct connections,” says Dean. “Use a wire brush to clean the plenum and exhaust

port of your machine.” (Note: Dean also advises periodically cleaning the exhaust blower and duct system to remove any built-up debris.) Dean does stress that his tips are more general in nature, since every laser manufacturer is a little different when it comes to their equipment maintenance. In the end, it’s always important to fol-

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


low their recommended advice.

Vertical Panel Saws Before starting up with production and maintenance, it’s important that you’re first familiar with the operation manual of a vertical panel saw. Next think about safety and maintenance. Set Up. Install your panel saw in an area where there’s enough room to easily load and unload large sheets of material. “Ensure that this area has proper lighting and

that there’s enough room around the saw for housecleaning and maintenance,” recommends Dan Wiggin, president of Hendrick Manufacturing Corporation (www. “And be sure that the operation area isn’t too close to any high traffic aisles.” Ideally you want your machine located near your stored full sheets (to make getting material on the saw easier), but due to the dust that’s going to be created by a saw, don’t place it next to a dust-sensitive


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machine such as a printer. “When rip cutting [cutting parallel to the grain], the saw’s blade will throw dust at the user on the initial cut,” says Michael Della Polla, president of Saw Trax (www.sawtrax. com). “There should be some kind of barrier to keep this from happening. We use a dust brush that surrounds the saw blade so the user doesn’t become a ‘snow man’ covered in saw dust.” Operation. When crosscutting [cutting at a right angle to the grain], Della Polla stresses to be aware of the position of the saw’s electrical cord so you don’t cut it by accident. “This is also true when retracting the saw after the cut,” he adds. It might seem obvious, but it bears mentioning: Never manually hold material in place during the cutting process. Make certain the material is fully loaded onto the vertical panel saw’s horizontal squaring fences and that the saw blade carriage is fully engaged in the “cut” position before cutting. “It’s important there’s adequate support for the material when rip cutting through a stationary blade position or that the rip cut material stop is in place and the material is firmly up against it,” says Wiggin. “If the panel saw utilizes pneumatic or springloaded hold downs, make certain that they’re engaged prior to cutting. “Also check that any spring-loaded lower saw blade guards are working properly so that they can ride up over the material and help hold the material in place during cutting.” And to prevent foot injury from any heavy falling objects, Della Polla advises, “Wear steel-toed work shoes.” Cleaning. To clean a vertical panel saw, Della Polla mentions to first unplug it. “Remove whatever cutting head was in the machine to thoroughly clean the carriage,” he adds. “Replace the saw when cleaning the bearings, so that the carriage is weighted and can be easily moved.” Della Polla recommends cleaning every 120 minutes of saw use or four months (whichever comes first). “A clean rag with some glass cleaner will usually work on the frame and clean the guide tubes,” he says. “Compressed air can be used on the type of bearings that use black rollers on a U-bolt. “If there’s a buildup of dust on the bearings on our machine, use a piece of plastic or your fingernail on the bearing to scrape any off.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

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Mimaki’s CG-FXII Series are the perfect precision contour cutting plotters to use in combination with any wide format, roll-to-roll printer. They feature registration mark detection for accurate, reliable cutting and a patented half-cut function. The CG-FXII cutters are ideal for: • Vehicle wraps • Decals, stickers, labels • Brand merchandising . . . and much more.


41” media width

62” media width

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74” media width


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EMAIL INFO 888-530-3986 888-530-3987

ATL 888-530-3988 | BOS CHI 888-530-3985 | LA

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SENIOR ESTIMATOR HOUSTON, TX National Signs is searching for the best and brightest estimators in the industry. We are a 20+ year old, stable company in a thriving geographical market. Candidates should have experience estimating for Custom Sign Manufacturer, able to spec aluminum materials, direct labor, structural elements & support foundations. Competitive pay and benefits with relocation potential.

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Allen DAtAgrAph

Get the full experience:

536 GTS PloTTer


· Adjustable for use of 15 inch to 36 inch wide media · Handles media widths from 5 inches to 36 inches · Gold Touch cutting head provides selectable settings from 5 to 550 grams · Cost $10,200, only used for 3 months, selling at $5,750 Contact Bob Williams at Stampcrete International 800-233-3298 or email



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Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

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July 2012 // Sign Builder Illustrated



B y A s h l e y b r ay

Winning Techniques: Carbon Wraps

Steve Carney:

The Full Wrap Experience


e took a look this month at a project from Steve Carney, owner/founder of Carbon Wraps, in “A Wrap Fit for the Victory Lane” (see page 50), and when asked about the art of vehicle wraps, he says it’s about the time you put in, rather than a sprint to the finish line. With eight years of experience installing vinyl, Carney knows building business can take time too. He originally established his company as Auto Graffiti in 2004; but then the recession hit, and many people saw wraps as a luxury. Carney re-launched his business a year ago as Carbon Wraps in Winter Park, Florida, and he has been going strong ever since. “I typically have a new car every three to four days, whether I’m completed with one job or not,” he says. “The cars just keep coming.” Carney specializes in wraps for racecars and high-end vehicles, which typically translate into full-color wraps designed to look like paintjobs. These wraps are popular because, unlike a paint job, they aren’t permanent. With a wrap, the owner

has the option to change the look of the car; the original paint remains and is protected so that the car’s value doesn’t depreciate in the process. Even with eight years of experience, Carney is planning to do more training through programs offered by 3M, HEXIS, and Oracal. “Just like a college degree, you kind of want to have that under your belt,” he says. “You could be the best installer or you could be the worst; you don’t really know until you do these kinds of things and have another professional test you.” Carney believes proper training isn’t just important to the individual installer or shop—it’s crucial to the industry as a whole. “There are too many shops that are used to just getting the job done. Then on the higher end, people notice that there’s a lot of mistakes,” he says, “and it hurts the industry.” On a positive note, Carney says that, with proper training, there is still room for new installers to enter the trade, which signifies a healthy market. “I love doing what I do,” he says. “I’m glad to be a part of the wrap industry because it’s growing.”

all Photos courtesy of Lafa Photography.

At Carbon Wraps, no seams are left behind.

Steve Carney’s attention to detail has put his vehicle wrap business into overdrive.


Sign Builder Illustrated // July 2012

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