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deliver wraps

led Module spacing Facts & Figures

Nu mBe r 219

Number 219 | september 2013

Beyond the Norm

Sign Bu i lder i l luStr ated

In Touch wITh

ADA Materials > Sign Brightness > Selling P-O-P

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PosterBOX Slim 2” to 4” can depths

PosterBOX 4” to 6” can depths


5” to 12” can depths

September 2013


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Expanding the Reach of ADA Signage BY LORI SHRIDHARE

Materials and mounting make the most of today’s ADA designs.

Selling Signs That Sell BY ASHLEY BRAY

A shopping list of considerations for creating and selling P-O-P signage.


Sign Shop Internships BY MIKE ANTONIAK

A little work for lots of short- and long-term benefits.

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015-805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564) (Bluechip Int’l, Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Agreement # 41094515) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions printed or digital version: 1 year US $105.00; foreign $197.00; foreign, air mail $297.00. 2 years US $149.00; foreign $267.00; foreign, air mail $497.00. BOTH Print & Digital Versions: 1 year US $158.00; foreign $296.00; foreign, air mail $396.00. 2 years US $224.00; foreign $400.00; foreign, air mail $600.00. Single copies are $36.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2013. All rights reserved. Contents may not be



Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

48 54

Leave the Lights On BY DAVID HICKEY

A look into both sides of the debate on sign lighting.

Every Cut is the Sharpest BY BRUCE AMARO

Panel saws cut across many materials and applications.

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


How-To Columns


LED Spacing in Internal Illumination

SEPTEMBER 2013 September 8-12: PRINT 13, produced by the Graphic Arts Show Company, is taking place at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. (



OctOber 9-10: The National Signage Research & Education Conference (NSREC), sponsored by the Signage Foundation, Inc. (SFI), will be conducted at the University of Cincinnati. (www.

Stretching the Vinyl Limits

Departments 18 Stretching the Vinyl Limits BY ASHLEY BRAY

A sign shop takes on some nontraditional wrap projects.



Need another helping hand in your shop? Editor Jeff Wooten explains why you might consider bringing on an intern.

22 LED Spacing in Internal Illumination 8TheDispatches latest news from around the BY BLAKE S. VINCENT

Since every sign made is different, there are different rules for LED spacing.



Sign Show


SBI Marketplace


Shop Talk

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. HOW-TO



Lori Shridhare shows how a vehicle wrap specialist is trending with bold designs and bold ideas.



Beyond the Norm




On the Cover


Class is in session this month when it comes to detailing ADA sign materials. Photo by Rowmark.

> Sign Brightness > Selling P-O-P






OctOber 23-25: SGIA Expo 2013, featuring the industry’s most innovative imaging developments, heads to sunny Orlando, Florida. (

NOVEMBER 2013 NOvember 5-8: The automotive SEMA Show happens at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

DECEMBER 2013 december 5-7: USSC Sign World International takes place at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (www.ussc. org/main_signworld.html)

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013


by jeff wooten

September 2013, Vol. 27, No. 219

An Education in Intern Management Getting schooled to learn the sign trade.

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

President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher Arthur J. sutley 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 editorial editor

Jeff Wooten

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

Ashley Bray


’m trying to recall if it was Whitney Houston or the metal band Pantera who once crooned, “I believe the children are the future?” Although this warbled lyric is some twenty-five-or-so years old, its sentiment still rings true today. The proof: internships. There are many reasons to be excited about the content of this month’s issue (ADA sign materials, LED spacing for internal illumination, specialty wraps, etc.), but coming from someone who got their start as an intern many, many years ago, Mike Antoniak’s piece on page 42 about how sign makers manage high school and college students in-shop (“Sign Shop Internships”) really piques my interest as to how the industry is embracing this concept. No matter how much we think working in the sign industry is one of the coolest jobs in the world, the reality is that we’re still a foreign concept to many in the younger generation trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. And if you’re not a family-ownedfor-generations shop, you may be puzzling over how your business will be run in the future. An internship would appear to be the answer to both these quandaries. This past January, we profiled how non-profit group Fresh Artists ( implemented a teen internship program designed to help students get more interested in the sign and graphics industry by taking part in their Print Studio teaching workshop (“Making ‘Invisible Children’ Visible”). They used this space to craft large format printing via donated equipment. “We take serious-minded high-school students with a good work ethic and introduce them to the sign profession,” Founder/President 6

Barbara Chandler Allen told me then. “These are jobs young people should know exist. They love the tools, and they love the results.” When it comes to on-the-job training, it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to bring in an inexperienced intern to help out in design, fabrication, or installation. But there are other “morale-boosting” opportunities where you can utilize this student worker: + Update and maintain your shop’s social media presence. Do you find yourself too busy or too confused to post projects on Facebook, promote specials on Twitter, or update your Tumblr? Today’s Millennials are already well versed in using this technology and can easily do these tasks for you—maybe even graduating to improving your Web site’s design and/or efficiency. + Make cold calls. Do you want to generate new business for your shop but can’t tear yourself away from the production area? Maybe an intern can instead make these inquiring calls or go doorto-door scouting leads. Not only could this provide them an early insight into what customers are looking for in signage, but even if these students end up moving into another industry, they can bring why-signage-works ideas to their new employers and/or recommend your shop to do so. + Organize your customer database. Are you waiting for that rainy day so you can still postpone updating customer contact information or filing those business cards? Wait no more. So if you find yourself complaining about how kids today are “always on their smartphones” or “driving like maniacs” (your words, not mine), why not put some of these traits to use at your shop? Check out our article for more details.

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

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

Bruce Amaro, Butch “superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, David hickey, Jim hingst, Peter Perszyk, Mark roberts, lori shridhare, Blake s. Vincent, randy Wright art

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams production

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers circulation

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney advertising sales national sales director

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

Kim noa

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

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


DIY Tradeshow Booth Runs Rings Around Competition 8

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Statesville, North Carolina—Tamera Lawrence has always loved circles. “Circles resonate with me; they’re never-ending,” said Lawrence, a Santa Monica, California-based graphic designer and the self-described “ringmaster” of Mobile Whimsy™ Greeting Cards. Each card in the contemporary Mobile Whimsy line features a minimobile comprised of three vertically placed circles and decorated with witty wordplay depicted on one side by graphics and on the other side by words. Lawrence’s hand-assembled greeting card line was officially launched at the 2012 National Stationery Show held at the Javits Center in New York City. Lawrence self-designed her 8-by-10-foot tradeshow booth with white cut-out circular frame displays of Mobile Whimsy cards and easy-to-install colorful striped walls—all created with lightweight-yet-durable 1/2-inch-thick Gatorfoam® graphic display board by 3A Composites USA (www.3acomposites. com) in the Bright White color and 48-by-96-inch sheet size. “In order to look like a substantial collection, I needed an innovative display; so I chose circles and bold-colored stripes to make us stand out,” said Lawrence, who also needed the booth to be lightweight so that she and a friend could handle show setup. “I knew we would be challenged to put up shelving. Using Gatorfoam to create round

shapes for displaying the cards highlighted my brand’s theme. It was consistent with the whole circle idea.” Lawrence designed her booth with Adobe® Illustrator® CS5 software and turned to New York City-based company

Coloredge ( for fabrication. Employees at Coloredge printed bold stripes in Lawrence’s signature contemporary greeting card palette of redorange, jade, warm gray, and yellow hues on inkjet paper with an HP Series inkjet printer, according to Coloredge Inside Sales Manager Dorothy Cherbavaz. The prints were then mounted to

1/2-inch Gatorfoam with pressuresensitive adhesive sheets. The white, 1/2-inch Gatorfoam frame rings, signage, and large hanging mobile were cut with a Zünd digital die-cutter by Co m p 2 4 , a d i v i s i o n o f Co l o re d g e located in Los Angeles. The tradeshow booth walls were attached to a metal pipe framing system with Velcro® fasteners, and the Gatorfoam circular displays were attached to the walls with 3M™ Command™ poster strips. Lawrence’s booth presentation attracted the attention of the American Folk Ar t Museum in New York, which gave her the opportunity to create both a window and instore retail display promoting sales of her Mobile Whimsy cards in the museum’s gift shop. “I reused two of the walls from my booth and added new information to the white bottom border to work with the window,” said Lawrence. “The walls were received (from storage) in mint condition.” Lawrence also reused the same colorful booth at this year's National Stationery Show, which was held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from May 19-22.

ISA Partners

With Manuf. Institute Alexandria, Virginia—The International Sign Assocation (ISA) has partnered with The Manufacturing Institute to help address the manufacturing skills gap. (Note: The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), is a leading authority on the attraction, qualification, and development of manufacturing talent.) “We are excited about this partnership because it allows ISA to tap into the excellent resources of the Manufacturing Institute so that together we can ensure the sign industry has a workforce prepared for the future,” said ISA Executive Vice President Rich Gottwald. The two organizations will work to provide and implement solutions in an effort to fill the talent pool and close

the skills gap. One such solution is the the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, which is the flagship education initiative of the manufacturing sector. This system is used to integrate nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials—their learning standards and content—into high school, community college, and university programs of study to build the nation’s technical workforce. The partnership will also provide opportunities to support talent recruitment—building on current initiatives like The Manufacturing Institute’s Dream It. Do It. Program and national Manufacturing Day.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Dispatches + New Santa Monica Pier LED Lights Improve Safety

Torrance, California—A well-known landmark and the number ten mostInstagrammed place in the world, the Santa Monica Pier and Carousel Building, were in desperate need of LED upgrades. According to Pervaiz Lodhie, CEO of LEDtronics®, Inc. (, his company’s new, directional LED lamps are helping this ninety-sevenyear-old landmark conserve energy by more than 30 percent, increase safety, and remove light pollution. The 413,056 square-foot Santa Monica Pier also includes one of the few surviving all-wooden carousels in the world, part of the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome, designed in 1916 by Charles Looff. A favorite for stars like Marilyn Monroe, Joan Baez, and W.C. Fields and film and television shows such as The Sting, Three's Company, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the

famous building housed hundreds of old, fluorescent bulbs that required constant changing and maintenance. “Now that the necklace lights on the carousel building have been replaced with LEDs, there are no gaps. They give off a nice, bright glow and really bring out the colors on the building,” states Jim Harris, deputy director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation. “We won't need to change these bulbs for years. "And the LED lamps added to the rest area and boardwalk outside of the building increase security and provide a welllit area for people to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Pier.” Finalized last December, the City of Santa Monica funded the LED project with a $668,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) award from the U.S. Department of Energy. For the project, LEDtronics provided: LED Light Bulbs, S14 Style for the Looff Hippodrome (consuming only 1.3 watts); 20-Watt LED Post Top Lights in a pendant style with mogul-base fixtures for the outdoor rest area (replacing 50- to 70-Watt MH/HPS bulbs); 27-Watt LED Post Top Pendant Lights for the Santa

Monica Pier Boardwalk (replacing the older, close to 150-Watt MH bulb types); and TRF-A19-TPW-02 LED Bulbs in the A19-Style, which were used in the hardto-reach beacon light fixtures around the Pier’s perimeter.

All Aglow at Station Renovation Chicago, Illinois—Nine illuminated teardrop bench planters have been incorporated into Light Rail Plaza as part of the first phase of a $4.7 billion redevelopment of Denver, Colorado’s Union Station. Dane Sanders, principal at Clanton & Associates, specified Plexineon White 1X Series linear LED luminaires from iLight


( to under-light the sculptural shape of the planters, which were designed by the landscape architect, Hargreaves Associates. “I knew it could be bent to follow the curved form," Sanders says, adding that the electrical contractor, however, was skeptical. Plexineon provided eight-foot product

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

samples so contractors could test the fieldbending capability before install. The product bent as needed, and the only other challenge was connecting the Plexineon beneath the seat wall overhang without cracking the concrete. The solution was to mount clips to the vertical face of the seat wall behind a metal band just beneath the overhang. Factory mounting clips were doubled up to provide secure, concealed reinforcement. The iLight team also coordinated with Hargreaves Associates to integrate flush-tograde power supply boxes into the space. The newly installed planters allow easy pedestrian circulation across the Plaza. At night, they appear to float, providing a glow that fits into the overall visual hierarchy.

The one water doesn’t put out.

Worry-free outdoor lighting a myth? Not anymore. Our unique potted modules produce unmatched outdoor performance, period. Whether its heat, cold, rain, salt or wind vibration – LuxemBright Fire Series LEDs will perform worry-free year after year.


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

Dispatches +

Easy Customized Labels Salt Lake City, Utah—Using Wasatch SoftRIP’s ( efficient workflow and powerful color tools, Creative Labels of Gilroy, California can now offer a wide variety of services and handle anything from simple to highly technical label applications. Equipped with Wasatch SoftRIP and an Epson SurePress L-4033A printer, Creative Labels is able to quickly produce labels for the medical industry, the beauty industry, food packaging, and even gourmet food, wine, and food traceability.

Using SoftRIP’s color management tools, Creative Labels can quickly make adjustments to their files to achieve their desired color (pictured). Using the Color Atlas Generator, the shop can print a range of color swatches on their target media and then use SoftR I P ’s Spot Color Replacement tool to enter LAB values for exact color matching. For example, Creative Labels recently finished a short-run

wine label that required a dense black that is often difficult to achieve. But with SoftRIP, the shop was able to produce the dense black it needed.

Sign Effectz Builds Collection Bin for RMHC Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Eastern Wisconsin has a program for providing aid to local families in need called the Pop Tab Program. It is a shining example of community outreach backed up by an impressive logistics system. They strategically place “collection bins” in their coverage area where folks can drop off pop tabs from their soda cans in support of this green initiative. The pop tabs are accumulated in the bins and then sent to the recycling center to be exchanged for money to support RMHC Eastern Wisconsin. Sign Effectz, Inc. (, a custom sign manufacturer in the area that blends creativity with technology to provide customers with visually effective and physically durable signage, helped Ronald McDonald House by building the pop tab collection bin. The bin looks like a small house to reflect the Ronald McDonald House’s goal of nearly doubling its capacity to house seventy families. To get things rolling on the collection bin, RMHC Marketing and 12

PR Coordinator Jacquelyn Wahlberg provided Sign Effectz with a small five-byfour-inch version of the pop tab collection house (pictured, left), and the design, fabrication, and logistics crews took it from there. They created several pencil sketches in a brainstorming session. Next the designer developed a formal drawing, which was followed by two more roundtable sessions to determine functionality. The production team recommended the fabrication methods and material thicknesses to ensure the end product would stand up to the rough conditions in the field. The finished product

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

was delivered to the Ronald McDonald House on Watertown Plank Road in Milwaukee. “I have been very impressed by the team at Sign Effectz, as well as the outcome of the project,” said Wahlberg. “I can’t believe how visually stunning the tab collection ‘house’ is. It looks just like the little boxes we use, and it is extremely functional.”

SignSHOW A DA S I G N A G E /M AT E R I A L S Find your Way Even in the Dark with Photoluminescent Staircase ID Signs The new International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) are requiring Luminous Egress Path Markings in high-rise staircases to help occupants evacuate from darkened buildings. This includes ADA-compliant Photoluminescent Staircase Identification Signs with the Floor Designation (e.g., B, 1, 10) raised and in Braille underneath for the Visually Impaired. To comply, American PERMALIGHT® is supplying the Code-required UL 1994 Listed photoluminescent (non-electrical) glow-in-the-dark substrates: Rigid PVC and Polyester Thin Films. PERMALIGHT Polyester thin films are perfectly suited for thermo-transfer printing, while its sturdy Rigid PVC sheets can get cut to size using a process cutter or guillotine shear. (Note: Even though the sheets are non-adhesive, you can easily apply double-sided tape for material installation to walls.) 310/891-0924;

B A N N E R S /M AT E R I A L S / E Q U I PM E N T Roland DGA Adds New RolyPoly™ Banner Film to Its Line of Tested and Profiled Media A premium-quality, 10-mil polyester film with a white backer, RolyPoly™ from Roland DGA is ideal for roll-up banners and other profitable applications, including signs, tradeshow graphics, and P-O-P displays. RolyPoly images beautifully, bringing out the best in Roland’s advanced large format printers and ECO-UV, Eco-Sol MAX®, and Eco-Sol MAX 2 inks. Designed for both indoor and outdoor display, RolyPoly delivers crisp, detailed, vibrant prints and won’t curl or tear like other roll-up banner films. Profiled for use with Roland VersaWorks® RIP software, RolyPoly Banner Film comes in 50-footby-20-inch rolls—as well as 100-foot rolls in 30-inch, 36-inch, and 54-inch widths.

SilkScape™ Print Media is Suitable for Latex Printing Drytac® confirms that SilkScape™, the latest product available in its digital print media line, is compatible with latex printers. (Note: A profile for the HP Designjet L26500 with Caldera RIP software is available upon request.) SilkScape is an 8-mil, 99 percent opaque white polypropylene film with a satin matte finish and single-sided, print-receptive coating. Its edges are curl-resistant and do not fray, making it an ideal choice for use with the Drytac line of retractable banner stands. A great option for customers who are looking for a cost-effective solution that acts like a higher-end product, Drytac’s SilkScape is available in thirty-six-inch-wide rolls and is also compatible with solvent, eco-solvent, and UV printers.

CHANNEL LETTERS Two New Types of Channel Letters from SignExpo Wholesale SignExpo Wholesale is offering two brand-new channel letter products to sign shops. The first item, Trimless Channel Letters (pictured), has been developed without the traditional trim finish that is viewable from the front and sides of the letter. Instead these letters have no trim whatsoever and feature clean edges for an elegant and modern look. The second product is Translucent Acrylic Channel Letters, which are made entirely of translucent acrylic. This results in razor-sharp edges and front, side, or rear illumination. The letters can be fabricated in a number of color combinations; meanwhile two-tone and clean edge versions are available as well.

D I G I TA L S I G N / E M C / v I D E o D I S P L AY S SunRise LED’s VERSAtiles™ Provide Easy Set-up and Displays of Any Size and Shape SunRise LED Inc., announces the availability of the next evolution in the LED display industry: VERSAtiles™. VERSAtiles feature (a.) ultra-slim TILEcrate enclosures that allow direct access through the front or back of individual VERSAtiles; (b.) an advanced industrial design that provides an easy setup; and (c.) modular diversity for curved and shaped displays of just about any size. Each VERSATile includes a TILEcrate enclosure that measures 22-by-17 inches and weighs just 15 to 19 pounds (depending on indoor or outdoor configuration). The compact VERSAtiles are available in 6mm and 8mm for indoor use and 10mm, 14mm, 20mm, and 24mm for outdoor. Each Steelcrate™ framing enclosure connects in a very intuitive, modular way. The modular nature of VERSAtiles enables end-users to customize their video walls in limitless ways—from “S” curves and half circles to shapes and artistic displays. 925/939-5505;


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Thrilling performance.

Unbeatable value. "Our VersaCAMM runs 20 hours a day without any issues. The print and cut feature is awesome, and the metallic and white inks give us a range of additional money-making capabilities in our motosports industry." Jace Wade, Impulse Design Company Now you can get a VS at its best value ever! VS-540 Now just $19,995

VS-640 Now just $23,995

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For details and a free print sample, visit Wrap graphics printed and cut on a VS printer/cutter. 64”, 54” and 30” models available.

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

What’s the hot topic this month? Sign up at to receive the newsletter and find out! Follow Us On: Sign Builder Illustrated @SBIMag

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


SignSHOW fASTEN ERS/GRoMMETS Create a Custom Display with New Additions to Outwater’s FOGA System Outwater [Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc. + Architectural Products by Outwater, LLC] has introduced new accessories for its FOGA® Exhibit & Display Fastening System. Newly introduced aluminum profiles, connectors, hinges, and accessories allow for the ability to create radii that can further accommodate the curvature of almost any inside, outside, or arch radius application without causing any profile deformation. This enables customers to easily create custom permanent and semi-permanent exhibits, displays, wall and store fixtures, and more. FOGA is built around a simple connecting device that rapidly joins extrusions with the use of only an Allen key, designed to provide a simple yet effective locking technique while minimizing labor and material costs. Available in anodized clear, black gold, and brite powder-coated finishes, all components of FOGA are intended to complement each other. 800/631-8375;

S I G N B L A N K S / PA N E L S / S U B ST R AT E S Strike Gold with Kodak’s New Metallic Photo Paper Brand Management Group (BMG) and Kodak have introduced KODAK PROFESSIONAL Inkjet Photo Paper, Metallic / 255g. The new inkjet photo paper was designed to replicate the characteristics of the classic pearlescent papers used in the traditional darkroom, while providing photographers and print shops with an expanded color gamut and higher Dmax for accurate color and deeper, richer blacks. It is not only compatible with the latest aqueous printer technology from Canon, Epson, and HP, but it was developed to take advantage of the latest printer ink sets for maximum image fidelity. The photo paper is available in 8½-inch-by-11-inch and 13-inch-by-19-inch sheets and rolls from 10 inches-by-100 feet up to 60 inches-by-100 feet.

• Available in 12” to 40” wide rolls

For printing with solvent, eco-solvent, UV and latex inks. Compatible with

and others Quality and compatibility testing is in process with other well-known brands.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

• Custom cutting available • Ideal for one-step printing of vehicle signs

Booth #972

Saves time and money printing direct to magnet. Ideal for P.O.P. displays, store signage, menus, calendars, sports schedules, vehicle signs and more.


wALLCovERI NGS Dreamscape's New Black Flash Lends Drama and Intrigue to Custom Murals DreamScape, a division of Roysons Corp., introduces new Black Flash to its line of Silver Flash and Gold Flash metallic wallcoverings. The new material produces head-turning wall graphics, wide format murals, and interior décor for retail, hospitality, corporate, tradeshow and museum displays and is especially effective in upscale, flashy venues like nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels. The glossy, deep-black surface Black Flash is a Type II commercial digital wallcovering with a Class “A” fire rating. It is ideal for both short-run and high-volume digital production applications and is available in 54-inch-width rolls of 75-, 150-, and 300-foot lengths. All are delivered on three-inch heavy-duty cores with no production splices. It should be noted that 27-by-15-inch trial rolls are available to you for sampling. 973/625-7923;

wAY f I N D I N G / I D E N T I T Y Clarke Systems Releases Its Newest Literature to the Sign Trade Focusing on the importance to the end-user of changeability and adaptability, the new, twenty-four-page brochure from Clarke Systems offers the sign trade a full menu of extruded aluminum component systems, graphic insert options in aluminum and acrylic, and digital signage software. New this year is SpringFrame™, extruded aluminum, changeablegraphic signage featuring a patented spring mechanism and a discreet locking function that allows for easy changes while thwarting vandalism in high traffic areas. Also new is Magneview™, which pairs a Lexan® face with a magnetized lens that lifts to enable frequent changes in an active communication environment such as a hospital or conference center. 800/331-1891;

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.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By AShley BrAy


Stretching the Vinyl Limits

takes on some nontraditional wrap projects.


an Dahlen is the third-generation owner of Dahlen Sign Company (www., a family-owned business that opened back in 1956. Dahlen says it was his grandfather’s love of painting that led him to start this sign business. Dahlen’s grandfather couldn’t make money just painting pictures, so he turned to signage. The shop started off in garages and basements before moving into an actual brick-and-mortar location. Currently the store is located in Shakopee, Minnesota and is run by four employees. One could say that Dahlen Sign Company has witnessed it all—evolving from painting to printing. Today paintbrushes have been replaced by the latest digital equipment, including two Gerber fifteen-inch plotters, a Mimaki forty-eightinch plotter, a Gerber EDGE thermal printer, a Mimaki JV33 printer, and a laminator.

The full-service shop has designed and created nearly every type of sign—including a lot of wrap projects. “It seems like people are starting to get a little more interested in wraps as they’re seeing more of them out there,” says Dahlen. The shop has wrapped cars, trailers, and walls. Their jobs range from full wraps to partial wraps to print-and-cut lettering. Dahlen Sign Company handles most wrap installs on its own, but for full wraps, it brings in specialists so the shop isn’t completely tied up working on one project. “This way, I can step away and do the other things I do, instead of dedicating that day to that one job,” says Dahlen. Dahlen admits that he’s “partial” toward partial wraps. “Just because there’s a lot of color doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good,” he says. “It still needs to say something. “Sometimes taking it back a notch makes it

The mailman surely smiled when he came across this mailbox, which is wrapped in 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film IJ180-10 vinyl. The install only took the sign shop thirty minutes to complete.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

all Photos: dahlen sign comPany.

A sign shop

Misplaced your favorite issue of We can help. Back issues are available.

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Dahlen Sign Company doesn’t limit itself to traditional wraps. It recently branched out and wrapped a dorm refrigerator (left) for a client. Not only does the fridge wrap outshine the boring, plain white units typically found in a dorm room, but it also serves to protect the appliance from any wear and tear. The shop has applied similar-type wraps to larger items, such as a cooler (right).

a little clearer. Plus it should be a little quicker coming off at the end, and it’s easier to make changes.” Dahlen has even had customers purchase cars in colors that will match their brand and suit a partial wrap. But the shop isn’t just about traditional graphics.They’ll wrap anything that comes through the door—and actually have. “We like taking on the odd things,” says Dahlen. “Why shy away from anything?”

You’ve Got a Mailbox Wrap

Dahlen Sign Company once hand-lettered graphics. Now the shop digitally prints them, as seen on some of its recent vehicle wraps.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Recently Dahlen wrapped the inside and outside of a mailbox with graphics featuring the owners’ picture and last name on a farm background. The flap of the mailbox reads “hi,” and when the mail carrier opens the lid, he or she is greeted on the inside by another picture of the owners and the words “thank you.” To layout the graphic elements, Dahlen used Gerber OMEGA™ software. He started by placing a background photo. Then he measured the images and text he wanted to use and drew shapes over the background picture to match the items. Dahlen then positioned the photos and text within the shapes. He used Adobe® Illustrator® for final print preparation of the image.

Dahlen then turned to his Mimaki JV33 printer to output the graphics onto 3M™ Controltac™ Graphic Film IJ18010 film with 3M™ Scotchcal™ Luster Overlaminate 8519. It only took Dahlen about thirty minutes to install the vinyl onto the mailbox. “I kept the vinyl off of where the ‘rub’ spots were where the door closes, so it wouldn’t cause any lifts on those points,” he explains.

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Cool profits With a fridGe Wrap Another unique project Dahlen Sign Company completed was a wrap for a dorm fridge, which features pictures of the student’s family and friends to remind her of home. Dahlen again used Gerber OMEGA software to layout the pictures and text on a blue background. He output the graphics onto 3M Controltac Graphic Film IJ180-10 film with 3M Scotchcal Luster Overlaminate 8519 using his Mimaki printer. Installation also only took about half an hour, and the fridge’s rectangular shape only made things even easier. “They’re nice straight edges, so you’re able to wrap around and overlap pretty easily in the corners,” says Dahlen. An added benefit of this wrap is that it protects the appliance. “When we do pull it off, it will look like new again,” says Dahlen. He posted both the completed fridge wrap and the mailbox project to the shop’s Web site and Facebook page to generate interest and give prospective customers ideas.

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Make sure You’ve Got it Covered When wrapping anything—a fridge, a car, a wall, etc.—Dahlen offers these tips: + Surface preparation is important— make sure it’s clean. + Don’t laminate too soon. In prepping out your prints, make sure your ink is dry before you laminate. + Don’t be in a rush. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself. You have steps that need to be separated by time. + Make sure everything lines up. + Be well prepared. In the future, Dahlen hopes to do more wraps as his customers catch on to the value in this investment. “We’ve just got to get our customers to realize how it helps them sell their product,” he says.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



By Blake S. Vincent


LED Spacing in Internal Illumination

sign made is different, there are different rules for LED spacing.


s a manufacturer, LED spacing is probably one of the most common topics we are asked about, whether through layout requests or customer inquiries. Every sign is different, so it should not be surprising that there are a number of parameters that will impact LED spacing for an internally illuminated sign. Sign Width or Stroke. Signs that require multiple rows or strokes generally require closer spacing, due to the lack of extra internal reflection from the side walls or return. Can Depth. Deeper signs can allow for wider spacing between the LEDs, since there is more distance for the light to “mix� (thus preventing hot spots). However less LEDs means less total lumens, so there is a practical limit that keeps

in mind the need for adequate brightness. Face Material and Vinyls. Acrylics and other materials can have varying degrees of transparency. Materials with low transparency may require more LEDs or closer spacing in order to provide enough brightness. On the other side, materials that are highly translucent may require less brightness but need closer LED spacing to provide an evenness of illumination. Once the sign type and materials are known, it comes down to choosing the right LED module. Most LED manufacturers have density guidelines recommending the maximum stroke between rows based on the various sign parameters. In the early days, many LED modules used

Photo: dave forrest/ge lighting solutions. all other Photos: PrinciPal led.

Since every

Deeper letters and signs can allow for wider spacing between the LEDs.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

5mm Lamps with various beam angle lenses compared to a modern SMD-type lamp.

5mm type lamps. These lamps had some benefits because the epoxycasted lens could be readily changed to provide different beam angles (10°, 30°, 60°, 165°, etc.). This gave the manufacturer a lot of flexibility to design modules that were optimized for different sign depths and strokes. The problem with 5mm lamps is that the only place to dissipate the heat is through the bi-pin leads, which limits both brightness and longevity of the lamp (less than 10,000 hours). As the focus moved to higher cur-

rent, longer life LED lamp surface mount devices (SMDs) became standard; in fact, they are still the most common type of LED lamp sold today for sign modules. Most of these lamps have about a 120° beam angle (plus or minus 20 degrees). These “standard”-type modules work well in five-inch (or greater) depth signs at five- to eight-inch row spacing and fit well with form factors established by their neon predecessor. There is also some great software available to provide quick and accu-

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

rate layouts for illuminated signs. One example is LED Wizard (a variation of Neon Wizard) from Aries Graphics ( According to Aries Graphics President Jeff Fassett, “The overall goal of LED Wizard 7 is to create a layout of modules that provides even lighting across the sign face. The four parameters that drive our layout software is stroke coverage for a single row, linear density (i.e., module per foot), clearance or distance of the modules to the return, and module rotation.” LED Wizard 7 contains “Density Guidelines” from LED supplier partners so that, for a given stroke width and can depth, a clearance value and a certain number of rows are entered for an auto population. This takes some of the guesswork out of determining the correct population density and can save a lot of time in choosing the right product and spacing. But what about non-standard sizes? Most questions regarding LED spacing that I see are for signs outside of this traditional five-inch depth: + For large and deep channel letters (multi-stroke and greater-than-eightinch depths), a number of manufacturers have high-output backlit modules available. Spacing for these letters depends more on getting adequate brightness than evenness of illumination. These products typically use larger and brighter LEDs and the spacing can be as wide as twelve inches at these depths. Their advantage: Reduced installation time versus peeling and sticking hundreds of lower output modules. Many manufacturers also offer specific backlit systems for single- and double-sided cabinet signs, while others offer a separate extrusion to mount the modules into cabinet signs. The other approach for cabinets is to mount the LEDs on the return. While many of these products use costly optics to “carry” the light into the sign, the cost can be justified due to the fact that the products produce a large number of lumens, and hence, less modules are required. (Note: It also reduces labor and the need for baffling or adding a mounting rail in double-sided cabinets.) Spacing and/or the need to mount on one, two, or all four sides can vary.

I recommend referring to the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines and, where possible, testing the material in the sign by temporarily placing the modules prior to permanent assembly. + The second spacing challenge is in shallow cabinets and/or small channel letters (two- to five-inch deep). This depth presents a problem for traditional SMD devices. The initial fix by manufacturers was to simply use smaller, lower profile modules with very close spacing (3.5 to 6) modules per foot. Examples of these products include: US LED’s Tadpole, CAO Group’s LuxemBright® Sizzle, Principal LED’s Eco Flex, and Permlight’s Nano. These products seem to work well in small, single-stroke channel letters that are two to five inches deep. However when more than one stroke is needed, the materials can hot-spot at conventional row spacing. The only way to compensate is to reduce the row spacing. But doing so can increase installation time and, in some cases, cause the sign to be too bright. A number of LED providers have

Module reduction using high-brightness LED module with batwing optic.

An example of auto-population in Sign Wizard 7 based on varying face depths.

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Beam pattern comparison: (A.) Lambertian profile of an SMD LED; and (B.) SMD with Batwing Optic.


been active in developing modules with wider beam angles to provide more evenness of illumination in multi-stroke letters and single-sided cabinets (three to five inches deep). SloanLED and International Light Technologies utilize SMD LEDs that are mounted to emit light perpendicular to the face. Sloan V-180 Series LED directs light out of the sides of the module in a 180° beam pattern and can handle five-inch row spacing at three- to fourinch depths on standard sign faces. Both GE and AgiLight have incorporated special optics into their modules that produce a batwing-type light profile. Both utilize lenses that preferentially send light out to the sides, while some of the light still goes out directly to the face of the sign. These batwing modules are especially useful in multi-stroke signs at three- to five-inch depths where they can evenly cover up to ten- to twelveinch row spacing. This can significantly reduce installation time and power consumption. It should be noted in any of these products that emit more light to the side that most spacing or density guidelines are based upon providing even illumination. Since much of the light in these non-traditional designs is forced laterally, there is less light hitting the face directly; therefore brightness should be considered when determining adequate row spacing. According to Fassett, “The trend towards populating with fewer modules that are brighter and more diffused points even more to the importance on the precise positioning of the modules, since there are fewer modules lighting a larger area.” While rules of thumb can be used for traditional channel letters, it is important to use all of the resources available (software, manufacturer’s density guides and estimates, etc.) to make sure that the sign is bright and evenly lit when it goes up and the sun goes down.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Blake Vincent has been selling LEDs specifically to the sign industry for over ten years. Blake has a B.S. in Business Administration from Angelo State University and is a managing partner at Principal LED (

ADA / BY Lori Shridhare //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Some elements of ADA signage, like raster Braille, are not changeable. But other aspects like materials, graphics, and hardware can be changed freely.

Expanding the Reach of

ADA SignAge

Materials and Mounting Make the Most of today’s ada designs. Although ADA signage must comply with federal standards, gone are the days when these signs need to remain purely utilitarian. Today a variety of materials, colors, and mounting Beyond aesthetic-improving advantages, a modernized design that draws attention can help ADA signage achieve its purpose of assisting and guiding persons with disabilities. 28

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

photo: rowMark.

options are available, making this form of signage creative and vibrant.


photos: advance corp. (

“Designers and sign makers alike now incorporate ADA-compliant signage as part of their larger signage vision,” says Jessica Heldman-Beck, marketing manager for Rowmark ( “Customers can decorate ADA-compliant materials through digital printing, custom painting, and full-color sublimation.” Steve Wethern, co-owner and vice president of AE Sign Systems (www. in Maplewood, Minnesota, is familiar with the ADA signage choices facing sign owners these days. Working in this field since the early 1990s, Wethern says he continually faces the “hundreds, if not thousands, of materials” that are available for creating interior ADA signs (acrylic, photopolymers, etched zinc, aluminum, magnesium, etc.). Wethern relies upon Rowmark products, as well as what he calls the “more exotic and unusual” materials—including polished and non-glare acrylics, Formica®,

Nevamar® HPL, Chemetal, DecoMetal® laminates, 3form®, Lumicor®, aluminum, and steel. “We have made ADA signs with everything from copper-plated roofing material to decorated wood,” says Wethern. “The sky really is the limit when it comes to materials.” Companies such as AE Systems face the decision of choosing industrystandard products (offered by material manufacturers) or custom options (such as painted acrylics). “Industrystandard materials are readily available, which makes replicating existing signs easy and cost-effective,” says Wethern. “The disadvantage of using custom materials is that it takes a lot of time and effort to replicate or bring in additional signs later if needed. “Painting a few signs, color matching, and ordering in substrates that aren’t readily available can also be cost-prohibitive.” AE Sign Systems relies on their in-

house sublimation capabilities for ADA signage. When it comes to engraving options, the company prefers to laser materials whenever possible, as they like the clean, finished edge on the materials and the raised text and polished edge for acrylic substrates. “Using lasers allows for much more detail in the finished products,” says Wethern. “We’re able to achieve more fine, intricate details than with the routing process. “Also lasers run much faster than engravers, which helps in reducing the overall cost of projects.” However the company uses its CNC routers and engraving machines for cutting thicker substrates and metals. (Note: Wethern also likes the fact that CNC routers have a four-by-eight-foot bed, allowing a full sheet of acrylic to be cut at once.) When discussing a project with a client, AE Sign Systems reviews the basics—including quantity and the types

You can utilize a variety of colors or a combination of different hardware (such as stand-offs for mounting) to add more character to your ADA signage.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


photos (this row): rowMark.

of signs required for each location. They’ll note if there are going to be multiple buildings that may require different types of signs. Communication on changes in a project is integral to the success of any endeavor, as Wethern found out in 2010. After being awarded a contract to work on a 252-unit apartment building that called for interior signs using Rowmark materials, Wethern and his team submitted their proposal and then later heard back from the architect regarding an expensive change. This client decided that they wanted

photos (this row): advance corp.

Companies today are using a variety of materials—everything from aluminum, acrylic, photopolymers, etched zinc, wood, magnesium, and “exotic” materials like Formica and steel—to create ADA signs. Decoration methods include digital printing, custom painting, and fullcolor sublimation.

to use a patina copper sheeting instead for the ADA signage, which was also used on the building’s roof. “It turns out this material is very expensive and a bit challenging to make into signs,” says Wethern. Still Wethern’s team moved forward, designing signs as directed and submitting samples. After submitting a change order to the contractor, the cost of these signs rose from the initial quote of $7,000 to $30,000, prompting the contractor to actually hang up on Wethern. “I wasn’t sure what to think, so I thought I’d give

him some time to digest,” he says. After some email exchanges, Wethern noticed the next morning that the change order had indeed gone through. Not only did AE Sign Systems utilize the new material, but they also worked on exterior channel letters for the project, bringing the ultimate total for this job close to $60,000. “What we learned from this is to bid projects per architect plans but also be aware that things can change in a hurry,” says Wethern. “And remember, contractors can be your best friend, if you’re upfront and honest when it comes to change orders.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



• What will the signs cost? • What will the budget need to be? “In addition to answering these questions, we think an important thing that typically needs to be explained to a client is that ADA signage shouldn’t be seen as a burden but as more of an opportunity to extend their brand within their space,” says Christiansen, adding that it’s important clients know that creating custom signage is a process. “Time is needed to determine messages, colors, design, etc. “Projects go through shop drawings, sample submittals, and production, so a good final product needs the appropriate time to process.” Minneapolis-based Accent Signage ( has been working with ADA signage for over twentyfive years employing a similar variety of materials as many of the companies featured in this article. “ADA signage can be interesting without a huge cost increase,” says Operations Manager Kim Russell. “Working with different shapes, adding logos, and combining different production methods such as tactile copy

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

photo: rowMark.

April Christiansen, sales and marketing director at Neiman & Company Architectural Signage ( in Van Nuys, California, advises sign makers working in ADA to always allow for changeability in the designs. “Some components of a sign aren’t changeable—raised numbers/letters and raster Braille—but the materials, graphics, layers, and hardware are very changeable,” she says. “You should know when ADA is applicable and when you have a free hand.” Working with this signage since the inception of federal ADA law, Neiman & Company was one of the first to develop ADA raster Braille. They also like to diversify when it comes to materials, using everything from glass, brass, and marble to stainless steel, aluminum, and acrylic. According to Christiansen, their preference is lasering, which she says provides greater capability for more detail. Christiansen finds that common questions from their clients include: • Which doors need ADA signage? • Where do signs need to be installed? • What sizes of signage do I need? • What should the messages be?

advice on Best practices Take it from the ADA experts: First, know the requirements. Second, know your signage and how to work creatively with it. “For those wanting to hire an ADA sign manufacturer, look at their compliance record,” says Rowmark’s Jessica Heldman-Beck. “Do they remain consistently ADA-compliant, yet still maintain creativity and functionality in their work? Do they keep up with changes in ADA law? Can they explain these changes to you? “It’s important to hold firm to compliance requirements from a legal standpoint yet still be able to think outside-the-box and make the ADA sign-making process easy and fun.” Neiman & Co.’s April Christiansen encourages sign companies to understand all ADA requirements before the design stage begins but adds to be creative. “View signage as jewelry within a space,” she says. “Signs can enhance the design of the space and add life while still being within the confines of regulation.” Christiansen also advises sign makers to research the availability of materials, to work in layers, and to not shy away from color and shape. “And always take branding into consideration,” she adds. “Clients love to see another opportunity to enforce their brand throughout their space. This could be done with colors and logos or partial logos.”


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(to meet the ADA standards) and rotary or laser-engraved design are all options. “You can also use multiple layers of material or a combination of different hardware, such as stand-offs for mounting, which can really add character to your signage.” This brings up a good point. For sign professionals looking to diversify their ADA signage designs, mounting can make all the difference between a sterile look and an inviting presentation. Mounting options include stand-offs, fixtures, easels, and rod and cable systems, as well as a range of accessories that support these options. With drill-free mounting, continuous reuse or switching out of substrates is possible. A simple clamper can be used to mount a sign at the base or side (flag sign), or multiple


A modernized design that draws attention can also help ADA signage achieve its purpose.

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

clampers on the sides of the sign face can be utilized for additional support. And then there are the potential features that will come with new technologies. “Things such as GPS tracking and LED messages and changing graphics will be incorporated more and more into designs as the cost allows,” says Christiansen. “We may also see more photoluminescent signs.” Christiansen adds that we’ll also continue to see a trend towards green signage in the ADA markets. “As more construction seeks LEED certification and more designers become environmentally conscious, recycled materials will become a huge part of many more signage programs,” she says. “EGD has become so much more mature over the past ten or more years.”

photos: advance corp.

Using multiple layers of material is another way to get your client’s ADA signage to stand out.

ADA Installation Ke e p i n g u p - t o - d a t e w i t h t h e Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAGG) and local regulations is vital to crafting successful, compliant ADA and wayfinding signage design systems. It is impor tant that way finding consultants follow any changes and sign companies provide ADAGGrelated training to continually educate all associates. Aside from the ADA-type sizing and style, character height, and Braille requirements, there are also ADA mounting requirements: Sign Position. The first guidelines to consider are in regards to sign position. The sign position requirements differ depending on the type of door. For rooms with a single door, the tactile room identification sign shall be on the latch side. For double doors with one active leaf, the room I.D. shall be on the inactive leaf. For double doors with two active leafs, the room I.D. shall be on the right-hand door. Mounting Height. Depending on the type of signage, mounting height requirements can differ. For room identification signs, tactile characters shall be 48-inch minimum above the

ground (measured from the baseline of the lowest tactile character) and 60-inch maximum above the ground (measured from the baseline of the highest tactile character.) For overhead signage, all signs shall have an 80-inch clearance from the floor to the bottom of the sign. For flag mounted signage, all signs shall have an 80-inch clearance from the floor to the bottom of the sign if the projection from the wall is four inches or greater. For directories, the ADA regulations say that signs shall be mounted a minimum of 27 inches from the floor with no more than 80 inches at the top.

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Common Exceptions to the Typical Mounting Location. In some cases, there are exceptions to ADA mounting location requirements. One of the most common exceptions is when there is no wall space at the latch side of a sign door or at the right side of double doors. In this case, signs shall be located on the nearest adjacent wall. Another common exception is when there are glass panels next to the door and the customer advises to not mount the signs on the glass. In this case, the signs may be mounted to an additional back-up panel or adjacent wall. —Moira Allen Moira Allen is marketing director at custom sign company Creative Sign Designs ( in Tampa, Florida.

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Point-of-Purchase / By Ashley BrAy ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Selling Signs That


A shopping list of considerations for creating and selling P-O-P signAge.


sign Builder illustrated //

are also breaking out of retail stores and into places like boardrooms and outdoor events, which can benefit from the branding this type of signage provides. This article checks in with related manufacturers about what’s trending with point-of-purchase signage and what end-users are looking for in using it.

september 2013

photos: rexframe; (opposite page) master magnetics.

When a client comes into your shop looking to add some “P-O-P” to store displays, you probably have many point-of-purchase options to offer them. Now thanks to new products and materials, those point-of-purchase (P-O-P) offerings are expanding. And the appearance isn’t the only thing that’s changing—P-O-P signs


September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


LED-illuminated lightboxes can give a point-of-purchase piece more sizzle to attract customers than a plain, non-illuminated display, especially when it comes to more permanent-type installations.

What’s Trending?


In P-O-P, size matters. Even if a display isn’t bigger, then it should be closer to consumers. and more clients. Part of that growing appeal with fabric also has to do with shipping costs. “It’s easily transportable. The fabrics are lighter, and you can fold them up, put them in a small FedEx® box, and ship them to the different stores,” says Joseph Terramagra, Business Development manager at REXframe™ (www.rexframe. com). “And it looks a little bit more upscale. People are trying to change their image to a more upscale image. “They’re trying to think about what’s going to attract people—what’s going to make people want to gravitate toward that display unit or that sales unit.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

The use of LED lighting is another technique that draws people toward a P-O-P display. “You see a lot of that now when you’re coming into any kind of retail store that wants to really ‘pop’ something out at you,” says Mike Sauter, sales representative for Outwater Plastics Industries, Inc. + Architectural Products by Outwater, LLC ( Often more permanent installations make use of LEDs, such as lightboxes or even standoffs (in the case of Outwater’s LED-integrated standoffs). “When you have a lit point-of-purchase piece versus just a plain piece that’s not lit, [lighting] gives it that sizzle,” says Sauter.

photo: rexframe

It’s difficult to trump the traditional when it comes to P-O-P, and banner stands and card/sign holders are still popular with customers. But the consensus seems to be that, no matter the form, size is key in attracting attention. “It seems people want a bigger message for their P-O-P,” says Jim Siesennop, director of Sourcing & New Product Development at Creative Banner Assemblies ( “A lot of people are buying full-size retractable banner stands that can go all the way down to a height of thirty-six inches with a telescopic pole. So they put those on tabletops and use them as P-O-P as well.” And if a P-O-P sign isn’t big, then it should be close to the consumer. “We are seeing a strong push to have P-O-P displays that get to the customer first,” says Dave Harris, vice president/general manager of ImageOne Impact (www.image1impact. com). “This means going out to the street or storefront to attract the masses. “Motion and big, bold color are trending strong with buyers of promotions.” One way P-O-P can attract with big and bold images is through fabric signage, which offers bright colors and a high-end look that is appealing to more

Change Your Perspective Knowing whether clients want permanent or modular installations is also important, as it affects what type of systems they will need. A more permanent signage option can also lead to new sales opportunities just by flipping it horizontally. For example, hang suspended signs horizontally and you can offer clients a unique shelving system—especially if you use the right material. “To me, retailers seem to be looking to do hip stuff with clean lines,” says Sauter. “So if you’re using acrylic or glass, it’s not busy. It’s showing whatever it is you want to show.” Similarly standoffs aren’t solely for mounting sign blanks to a wall. Turn the blanks horizontal and they can be stood off a surface as a shelf or display unit. Even lit panels for backlighting can serve as illuminated shelving. Turn your perspective around, and you can offer your clients new ideas and new solutions from products you may already be selling.You can also offer hardware that is required to hang or mount the signs— especially on custom jobs that may require a unique installation solution.

Graphics Protection When providing P-O-P signage, it’s also important to consider how to properly protect graphics from wear and tear. This signage is usually within reach of pedestrians, so the potential for damage is greater. “When close enough to touch, pay attention to the durability of the substrate and the working mechanical parts, as they can break and deem the entire P-O-P display ineffective and leave a negative impression that can hurt the brand just as quickly,” says Harris. “Depending on the substrate or medias used, protective laminates and special cleaners are needed—and need to be included in the instructions and cost of the P-O-P effort.” Laminates often extend the life of the graphics, as well. “Looking at P-O-P, most people want something that prints photo quality,” says Siesennop. “So a lot of people have real high-res aqueous inkjet printers that will do that. But if you’re going to print on aqueous inkjet, we highly recommend that you put a polyester overlaminate on it. “Most print shops that do a lot of laminating will use thermal overlaminates—and

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


that usually is the best result, plus you can do more laminating faster than a cold lam.” However when it comes to fabric, graphics lamination is not recommended because it eliminates the unique fabric texture, which is why most people choose this media in the first place. Instead Siesennop advises to use dyesublimation on fabric prints so they’ll last longer. “If you want more of a permanent solution with fabric, dye-sublimation is the way to go,” he says. “We

The Tried-ANd-True cOmPONeNTs still triumph when it comes to P-O-P signage, with banner and signage stands remaining popular with retail end-users.

Importance of Installation

usually recommend the heat transfer type of dye-sublimation where you print on the paper and then transfer it over, since you can control your color a little bit better and the detail is better.” Rod Pete, CFO of REXframe, adds that caring for the graphics as you would a piece of clothing also helps extend the life. “As long as you look after it, it’ll last as long as a normal shirt would,” he says. “You can just put it in the washing machine and put it back up.”

The job isn’t over once you provide the P-O-P system. Install plays a large role, and you should be sure your customer is comfortable with setting the display up. Most P-O-P customers want a system that’s easy for their employees to assemble and switch out. “This means it has to ship in an easy-to-open package and have simple instructions with pictures for the store employee that has no clue to still be able to set-up,” says Harris.


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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

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ANOTher reveNue OPPOrTuNiTy iN P-O-P sigNAge may be in offering standoffs and other mounting hardware required to hang these signs.

photoS: maSter magnetIcS except (far left & far rIght) outwater.

signage elements such as Led LighTiNg Or mAgNeTs can be utilized to create eye-catching P-O-P displays that draw attention and help secure a sale.

chANge yOur PersPecTive: hanging signs are usually suspended vertically. But thinking horizontally can create a unique shelving system your clients can showcase products on.

aisle set ups. For example, wallpapers REXframe is big on training its custom- when talking to a customer. Be sure your client is choosing the and floor graphics are now being used ers and dealers on all aspects of its P-O-P systems—from printing and graphics to right P-O-P display and has space for as P-O-P displays. Fabrics are also allowing for unique dis-MEDIA GROUP it. “First determine where they want to SPEC SHEET - finishing for reference and only set up. “If you know how to © COPYRIGHT 2013 SWELL plays through the use of frames (which the put the display. Do they want to put it use it, and you’re confident with the prodCLIENT: Nova Polymers DIMENSIONS: 7” (width) x 4.875” (height) / No Bleed DATE: 05/02/13 material is stretched over) and adhesiveon a wall? Or on a countertop?” says uct, then your clients will go crazy with it,” PROJECT: Nova Polymers “Signs or Art” PAPER SPECS: N/A CONTACT: backed APPROVED: options (which can beSPECS: stuck onto they special don’t colors: have the says Pete. “And it just takes a few training PUB: Sign Builder Illustrated - 2013 COLOR: Siesennop. 4 color“If process, N/A counPRINTING N/A days on how to get the best out of it and, ter space or don’t want to dedicate the any solid surface for temporary display). “It comes down to what the client’s of course, how to sell it to your clients and space to it, you need to look at that too.” All legal rights including, but not limited to the ownership of all intellectual property, copyright ownership and design patent rights, in the designs, arrangements and plans shown here within are the property of SwellMediaGroup. The designs contained within these imagination up may with,” says Pete. documents are developed by SwellMediaGroup, as property a non-exclusive license use solely on this project. The designs and intellectual propertycomes contained within not be used, utilized, duplicated, replicated Fortunately thefor versatility of many get them to request it.” of SwellMediaGroup, and extended under or reused, in whole, in part or similarity, except in connection with this project, without the prior written consent of SwellMediaGroup. Written dimensions on these designs shall have precedence over scaled dimensions. Printers, vendors, suppliers, pressmen, “They’re already looking simple manufacturers, and their sub-contractors of all tiers shall be responsibleisfor verifying all dimensions and conditions on the design the project, and required to notify SwellMediaGroup of any variation between thepast design,the dimensions and field conditions. P-O-P systems hasand allowed forareinstallaEven though installation the last step, it should be your first consideration tions beyond the usual countertop and stage and going to the complex.”

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Business Mgmt./ BY Mike AntoniAk //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

A little work for lots of short-and long-term benefits.

Sign Shop internShipS For the student, it’s an opportunity to gain

to think ahead to next year and if your practical workplace experience that many

business could benefit by bringing a college degree programs now require. intern into your shop.

For the sign shop owner, it’s a chance to give

Typically run during summer break months back while seeding a deeper understanding (but doable year round), internships promise of this business for tomorrow’s sign profesrewards to everyone involved. 42

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

sionals and those who will work for them.

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But never think of an internship as just cheap labor. “If you’re [going into it with this mindset], it’s not going to work,” cautions Duane Laska, third-generation owner of North Shore Sign ( in Libertyville, Illinois. As a board member of The Signage Foundation (www.thesignagefoundation. org), Laska played an instrumental role in developing the organization’s internship program, a formalized first for this industry. “Our goal has been to give students an experience that will benefit the entire industry,” he says.

A Practical Investment

ban planning majors in two sign shops. The Signage Foundation manages the program, qualifies host companies, and collaborates with them to develop an appropriate student experience. It also works with the academic institution to identify and place qualified candidates. Guidelines require the host sign company to submit an evaluation of the student at the end of session, and then the intern must make a presentation about his/her experience. Only three years into its launch, Herbin declares, “These internships have already proven a great venue to provide

If successful, internships could nurture interns into future ambassadors for the sign industry. future urban planners a residual body of knowledge about how the sign industry operates and some of the challenges we face.” North Shore Signs actually hosted the program’s first intern. Laska approached this endeavor as an opportunity “to take a student pursuing a career as an urban planner and give him or her a better perspective of the sign industry and what we do.”

Photo: north shore sign.

Sign Foundation Executive Vice President Patty Herbin says the intent with this internship program is “to provide students who aren’t necessarily headed for careers as sign producers with a practical grasp of this industry and how it operates.” To date, the organization has coordinated the program with the University of Cincinnati’s Co-op program to place ur-

When managing an internship, a sign shop needs to be prepared for the shadowing process, where they bring the intern everywhere. 44

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

If successful, this opportunity could nurture these interns into ambassadors for the sign industry, eager to share positive experiences and perceptions with their fellow students and teachers. “It’s in response to The Signage Foundation’s goals to try to affect better legislation in the future through a better understanding of our industry by creating positive relations with tomorrow’s planners,” says Laska.

An Adaptable Concept

An intern program can be anything the sign shop owner wants it to be—as long as it gives the student practical experience.

I expect them to have certain skills and experience, to show up on time, and to know what to do,” he explains. Working with interns, however, can require the business owner to be a little more forgiving and involved. “You have to put a lot of time into it, making sure they’re busy and checking what they do before it goes to customers,” says Rego. Sally Land, a sign specialist at United Maier Signs ( in Cincinnati, agrees. “You always have to have someone oversee them and make sure they have work to do,” she says. According to Land, the only disruption can be right off the bat, when you have to have them shadow you all the time. “You have to be committed to dragging them everywhere with you for a while,” she remarks, adding that it’s still well rounded exposure that benefits the student, the host company, and ultimately, the entire industry. Like Laska, Land has coordinated the internship through The Sign Foundation and the University of Cincinnati. “My company got involved because we’re interested in developing relationships, which can help make the next generation of urban planners friendly to the

Photo: colorado signs & graPhics.

An internship need not always be so structured or entail such long-range goals to be effective. In fact, an intern program can be anything the sign shop owner wants it to be—that is, within the confines of providing students academically acceptable practical experience. At Colorado Signs & Graphics (www. in Denver, Colorado, Owner Adam Rego has taken a less formal approach to the intern program. Five years out of college, he’s extending the same kind of opportunities other business afforded him while he was a student. Most of his student workers have been graphic design majors from area colleges who approached him about the

possibility of interning there. “They get to do a little bit of everything, so they can see the whole process start to finish—from design to print production,” he says, “something they can’t get in school.” These short-term staffers, paid an hourly wage, work as needed in customer service, sales, design, production—every aspect of Colorado Signs except vehicle wrap installation. Rego says that specialty is too challenging and too critical to the company’s reputation to entrust to anyone but a trained and experienced professional. From the outset, Rego considers his shop’s interns as a different type of team member. “When I hire someone,

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


sign industry,” she says. The same intern has worked at United Maier Signs for three sessions, gaining an insider’s understanding of all aspects of the sign business. He’s also taken on tasks that might otherwise be neglected. Land assigned this intern a project to organize a spreadsheet of all information on obtaining permits by county and city for the tri-state area the company services. “It’s something we didn’t have the

time or expertise to put together ourselves,” she says. “He did a great job.” As part of his responsibilities, the intern at North Shore Sign also worked on obtaining permits. One case required writing an appeal to an appearance review board, explaining why they should allow a North Shore client to include a phone number on a new sign. The appeal was successful. “He wouldn’t have any idea of what’s involved or what kind of challenges com-

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

panies like ours face every day, without his experience as an intern,” says Laska. “When we brought him on as an intern, we knew he wasn’t going to stay. “But we wanted him to leave with a better understanding of the sign industry.”

On-the-Job Screening An intern program can also provide shop managers with a non-committal way to screen potential employees. For example, last year, Gordie Wolfe, owner of Majestic Sign Studio (www. in Corona, California, approached a local college about bringing on an intern to help with marketing. The best candidate was enrolled in the school’s design program, a plus. The internship guidelines stipulated the student would assist in the business for thirty days, part time, without pay. “The good part was that, for those

A sign shop must put time into an internship to ensure the student has enough work to do and that the work is done right. thirty days, there was no commitment on either of our parts,” notes Wolfe. “I didn’t feel any pressure that I had to make this work, as if I had hired a new employee.” The student proved herself an asset to the business, progressing from simple to more complex design work, then ramping up marketing efforts on social media. “We went from ten to twenty hours a week pretty quickly,” says Wolfe. “She worked out so well after those thirty days that we offered her a part-time job.” In fact, Wolfe is thinking of hiring another intern with marketing experience. “It’s a great way to give something back and give a student a chance to gain some experience that will help them,” he explains. When the internship program is successful, notes Wolfe, it can also be great for one’s sign business. “You just have to be willing to be a little more flexible and work around a student’s schedule, in order to make it work,” he says.

Reaching New Depths in Dimensional Signage The method of sandblasting highdensity urethane (HDU) panels to achieve textured backgrounds has been around for decades. While sandblasting allows for the creation of a textured background (giving the appearance of a wood grain finish or a sand texture), this technique has experienced recent challenges. For example, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations surrounding sandblasting booths and the need for a uniform texture across large quantities are affecting the traditional sandblasting technique. However the introduction of 3-D software has enabled one wholesale manufacturer to overcome these sandblasting challenges, while also being able to offer a product with greater versatility and the ability to reproduce a uniquely textured panel with perfection. Wholesale monument sign manufacturer Peachtree City Foamcraft ( recently introduced HDU sign panels to its product line. But instead of offering traditional sandblasted sign panels, the company opted for a cleaner, more efficient alternative. “We are able to simulate the appearance of a sandblasted texture, a wood grain texture, a basket weave background, or even a paper bag appearance (pictured),” says General

Sales Manager Michael Fetter. “There are no limitations. We are able to offer multiple depths and replicate the texture over and over again with no variance.” Peachtree City Foamcraft modifies the retail sign shop’s file to conform to their 3-D software, and the router goes to work, carving out the textured

background in the HDU panels. (Note: The background can be virtually any combination of textures and depths.) After the router process is complete, the HDU panel is then finished with acrylic enamel. —Katie Schwartz

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Electric / By DaviD Hickey ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Leave the

L ghts


A business doesn’t invest in a sign so it can only be seen during the day. A business wants a sign that can be bright enough so that customers can easily find their location when it’s dark outside. In fact, effective illumination is one of the key elements of sign visibility, along with size, sign angle, location, and contrast.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Unfortunately there are efforts afoot by interest groups and government officials to limit the ability of businesses to advertise at night. For example, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) exists to restrict the use of nighttime outdoor lighting. IDA wants outdoor lighting fixtures to

photo: creative sign designs / tampa, fl

A look into both sides of the debate on sign lighting.


For now, IDA is focusing mostly on streetlamp and parking lot lighting, but they also have illuminated signs in their crosshairs.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


the user. Even when a business is closed for the night, it can benefit from the advertising impact of an illuminated sign, as it continues to brand the site and remind passers-by of the location for future reference. + Signs to have opaque backgrounds and white or yellow lettering. This prescription substantially reduces the overall amount of light emitted from a sign, thus making it less conspicuous and sometimes depriving signs of the visual “pop” needed to garner attention. Controlling colors and contrast schemes in this manner also infringes upon many registered trademarks that incorporate white or light-colored backgrounds or borders. Such regulations have the potential to violate the federal Lanham Trademark Act. + Signs to be dimmable at night. While ISA recommends that elec-

tronic message centers (EMCs) be programmed to dim when it’s dark outside, dimming generally is undesirable for internally illuminated signs, regardless of the light source used. This is because the light sources of internally illuminated signs must overcome various light-limiting factors related to sign face colors and degradation in the capacity of sign plastics to transmit light when exposed to outdoor weathering over time. This last issue brings us to the next alarming trend in sign lighting restrictions: + A growing number of jurisdictions are trying to force traditional, internally illuminated signs to meet codified lighting standards. The problem with this approach is that jurisdictions don’t distinguish between EMCs that incorporate exposed light sources (e.g., LEDs) and signs that use internal illumination (e.g., cabinet signs and channel letters).

There is a problem with forcing EMC codes on internally illuminated signs and letters.

Photo: ashley bray.

be downlit, shielded, dimmable, and subject to curfews. IDA’s influence is being felt not only in hundreds of localities and dozens of state capitols across the country, but also in the U.S. Congress and at the national level. For now, IDA is focusing mostly on streetlamp and parking lot lighting, but they also have illuminated signs in their crosshairs. International Sign Association (ISA) staff works on hundreds of sign code issues across the country every year, and here’s what we’ve encountered recently when it comes to communities trying to limit the brightness of signs. They want: + Signs to be externally illuminated with the light aiming downward. While this type of lighting (i.e., gooseneck lamps) can be appropriate at times, during the day, they can distract from the message and aesthetics of the sign, and during the night, they can provide much less lighting than internally illuminated signs. + Signs to be turned off after a business is closed or after a certain time of night. The imposition of these shutoff or lighting curfew requirements adversely affects delivery of the sign’s message and, consequently, its inherent value to

Some cities are proposing to regulate the brightness of internally illuminated signs the same way as they have EMCs.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

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Because a substantial portion of the source light is lost when it passes through various plastic media, excessive brightness rarely has been an issue with regard to internally illuminated signs. For example, a typical commercial sign face with normal copy and colors reduces the source light level by 60 percent or more. This explains why, except in isolated cases where electric signs might be located very close to private residences, ordinary electric signs traditionally have not been associated with public complaints about excessive brightness or glare. But these facts haven’t stopped city officials in Los Angeles and Miami from proposing to regulate the brightness of internally illuminated signs in essentially the same way as EMCs. Both cities initiated such efforts earlier this year, and it was only after an intensive education and grassroots effort by ISA, the California Sign Association, the Southern States Sign Council, and other industry stakeholders that city officials decided to put their plans on hold. Last year, ISA worked in Arlington County, Virginia, to delay implementation of their sign lighting standards, which were developed by a lighting consulting firm with close ties to IDA. Imposing lighting standards on all types of electric signs appears to be the next regulatory frontier for local officials. The light at the end of the tunnel appears to be hurtling directly towards the sign industry and sign users. The economic ramifications of IDAinfluenced regulations—even in communities having relatively modest levels of nighttime commerce—could be quite significant. If signs are harder to see at night by passing motorists or if potential customers are turned off by dull, drab signs, then numerous business opportunities could be lost. And if it’s perceived that safety and security are compromised by substantial reductions in lighting levels at businesses or in commercial districts, it is likely that some people will choose not to frequent such places at night. Obviously even a small decrease in customer traffic can be harmful to a business. And when the profit margin for retail businesses is razor-thin, such a perception can be disastrous.

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September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


Nevertheless there are important opportunities for our industry. Sign lighting components are becoming more efficient and effective with each passing day. In our advocacy efforts, therefore, ISA has focused on the great strides made by the electric sign industry in terms of improving energy efficiency without sacrificing the performance properties and value of illuminated signs. Furthermore ISA has gone the extra mile to establish ongoing, working relationships with less-than friendly organizations such as IDA and other similar groups. Many sign companies are working with their business clients to develop “Dark-Sky-friendly” lighting for their signs, and certainly businesses should be able to purchase and use such lighting, if they voluntarily choose to do so. But the government should not force businesses, especially in these tough economic times, to change their sign lighting in order to advance the erroneous assumptions that ordinary electric signs are too bright or use too much energy. In the long run, both the sign industry and end-users’ businesses will be adversely affected by mandatory sign lighting restrictions. This is the reason why ISA is challenging arbitrary limitations on sign illumination. At minimum, we expect local authorities to demonstrate that proposed sign regulations are based on concrete community needs rather than representing merely a convenient pathway for municipal officials to advance anti-sign agendas. Brightness represents as critical a factor for the effectiveness of an illuminated 52

sign as adequate size or height. Thus if government officials don’t think it’s important for businesses to use signs that can be easily seen at night, then what is the purpose of developing sign codes to ensure that signs are large enough, tall enough, or permitted in effective locations for daytime use? The prospect of further regulation and devaluation of signs by government officials is why ISA is currently leading an effort to better understand the luminance properties typical of commercial electric signs and the impact of these properties on the overall effectiveness of signage products. Working with lighting experts and sponsoring related research, ISA aims to determine appropriate brightness levels to ensure that internally illuminated signs continue to retain their core value in promoting economic activity and public wayfinding twenty-four hours a day. The ISA is also leading a coalition of retail trade groups (representing tens of

thousands of sign users) to advocate for the economic value of well-lit signs and business facilities in Washington, DC. But the best way to combat these sign lighting restrictions is for you to get personally involved in the sign code development process and ideally get your customers involved. If the sign industry presents a unified front on this issue, provides the kind of research that will guide government officials to enact reasonable sign codes, and attracts the support of sign users who have the clout to influence local authorities to address their critical needs for effective signage, then we can help our customers—millions of American businesses—to leave their lights on. David Hickey is vice president of Government Relations for the International Sign Association. If you’d like ISA to help you with a sign code issue where you do business, please contact

Many communities want signs to be down-lit, but these types of lamps can distract from the message of the sign and provide less lighting at night.

Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Photos: isa.

White lettering is often used as a sign prescription, but this hue can deprive a sign of needed visual “pop.”

Photo: dave forrest.

If safety is compromised by substantial reductions in light levels, this could affect nighttime attendance at some places.

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Panel Saws/ BY Bruce AmAro ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Every Every Cut

is the sharpest Vertical panel saws are designed to cut precise, low-tolerance straight lines. “You can’t beat them for cutting long pieces without needing to stop,” says Dave Brazzel of Brazz Specialties ( in Denver, Colorado. “Your arm doesn’t get as tired using them.” But as the industry introduces and embraces new, exotic materials, their function can change.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Photos: shuttErstoCk.Com

Panel saws are cutting across many materials and applications.

Pa Cne 4 lS aw

Cut Smarter Not Harder

The materials that a panel saw can work with has evolved beyond the moretraditional wood blanks.

Mounted with a powerful enough electric motor, saws can even cut heavyweight materials or layers of lighter grade materials.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

What the panel saw cuts and which applications the sign maker can apply this machine depends on the sign business’s culture, the markets the business wants to build product for, and the construction methods the business uses. Mounted with a powerful enough electric motor, the machine can cut some heavyweight materials or several layers of lighter grade materials like luans or 1/4inch laminates and boards. “Customers can use one machine to cut material up to 1-3/4-inch, cut multiple sheets, V-groove aluminum composite, score acrylic, and rip sheet goods up to ten feet,” says Tom Houska, general manager at Safety Speed Manufacturing ( Now a vertical panel saw can cut a kerf (an incision) out of PVC panels or Coroplast. Other cuttable items include foamboard, Dibond®, and aluminum composite material. Dave Harris at ImageOne Impact ( says you use the aluminum cartridge on a Safety Speed saw to cut solid aluminum and aluminum composite materials dust-free with one pull. “You can also use the scoring cartridge for plexi or acrylic to get a clean score for a break; employ the V-grooving cartridge to bend aluminum composite material and facia materials for buildings; and use the utility blade cartridge that allows the operator to cut through material up to 1/2-inch-thick—including corrugated plastic, PVC, foam board, Gatorboard, and polycarbonate,” says Harris. Today’s panel saws can also cut Plexiglas® and even glass. Ditto the laminates from stock-sized suppliers in need of special cutting tools. In essence, if a shop can cut laminate and score glass or Plexiglas in large sizes, they can compete for more work. Manufacturers have also developed multi-task features that allow their saws to cut the expanded inventory of alternate materials in a sign shop. For example, when a shop uses the Saw Trax model FS64SM to cut glass or lightgauge plastics, the operator does not simply plunge into the work with a full blade but rather scores the material with a more subtle application of a sawed panel. Saw Trax also has a utility knife feature that pivots to cut flat PVC and Xanita board. “The knife scores the board that requires several cuts without a lot of

With the influx of new materials and applications in the sign industry, the panel saw has become more than a machine— it has become an artists’ tool.

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated


fort,” says Michelle DeLaughter, general manager of Saw Trax ( Experienced sign builders have developed unique applications of these saws as well. “We use them as routers too,” continues Brazzell, explaining how he takes advantage of the lengths the saws can cut and the consistent cut he can get into some material to route openings for parts to fit together. Often all that is required for router capabilities is the changing of a cutting head to a router adapter.

Barry Desmore, foreman at A-1 Signs ( in New Orleans, Louisiana, says that although his shop uses its routers for the creative work while building a sign, their eight-yearold Saw Trax also complements all their other projects. “We need it to cut our long straight lines,” he says, “but we can also use it to cut the lighter-weight Coroplast materials with the special attachment that we own.” Whitney Attanasio, general manager of Hendrick Manufacturing (www.hendrick-

Panel saws are designed to produce an accurate, precise cut.

CUT, explains how clients can use their saws to cut a bevel, more a radial arm saw feature than something you do with a powerful table-mounted saw. “The bevel feature on our vertical beam saws offer a 0- to 45-degree fulllength bevel cut capability,” she says. “The cut of the angle is changed with a simple switch. The entire carriageway system rotates, leaving the saw kerf and all measuring tapes stationary. “Meanwhile the VSA ACM Duo vertical saw offers automatic changeover from the cut-to-size blade to the integrated channel grooving blade, complete with precision depth control for ACM panel bending.” The difference between accurate and precise is the difference between good enough and done as precisely as possible. That is what panel saws are meant to do—cut as precise a line as the specifications call for on any sign construction project. As the sign industry continues to introduce exotic materials, more sublime applications have morphed an ordinary machine into an artists’ tool.



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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

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Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

Sign Builder Illustrated


Your Direct Source for Sign Information Quickly find information on any product or service featured in this issue. Simply visit InfoDirect online to request additional information from manufacturers and suppliers instantaneously. Get started: Company


Ability Plastics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Accent Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Advance Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 60 Alpina Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . 60 American Biltrite, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . 25 A .R .K . Ramos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 ASE, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Bayer MaterialScience LLC . . . . . . 17 Bitro Group, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 CAB Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 CAO Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Car Top Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Clearpath/Rowmark, Inc . . . . . . . . 33 Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Gemini, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 GH Imaging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Hartlauer Bits, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Hendrick Manufacturing, Inc . . . . . 58 J Freeman, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Justin, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Justin, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Kennyetto Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 L&L Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Lancaster Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 LEDtronics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Master Magnetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 MBS-Standoffs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 National Banner Co ., Inc . . . . . . . . 61 Nova Polymers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Orbus, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Principal LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Roland DGA Corporation . . . . . . . . 15 Safety Speed Manufacturing . . . . . 56



Saw Trax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 SGIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Sign America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Sign-Mart, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Signs365 .com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4 SloanLED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2 Small Balls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Stamm Mfg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Syntech Of Burlington, Inc . . . . . . . 46 TRC Electronics, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Trim-Lok Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 USSC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Value Vinyls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 VFK Renzel USA Corp . . . . . . . . . . . 60



Companies in Sign Show American PERMALIGHT . . . . . . . . . 14 Brand Management Group . . . . . . . 16 Caldera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Canon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Clarke Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 DreamScape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Drytac . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Epson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 HP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 HP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Kodak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Outwater Plastics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Roland DGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 SignExpo Wholesale . . . . . . . . . . . 14 SunRise LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

September 2013 // Sign Builder Illustrated



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

B2B Media of Greenville, South Carolina

Trending for Wraps


ecently Greenville, South Carolina-based B2B Media, an affiliate of Vomela Specialty Company (, worked on a large, multi-million dollar rebranding initiative for a hospital that included everything from business cards to building signage. The hospital’s ambulances, trucks, buses, and vans all received facelifts and were prepared for a Monday morning unveiling. “[Our] team wrapped all weekend so that a representative number of their fleet vehicles would be ready,” says company president Chuck Driskell. “At the announcement, the CEO and dozens of VIPs and doctors stood on the podium and were flanked by a half-dozen, newly wrapped vehicles. We wrapped the remaining eighty vehicles the following month.” As billboards, transit shelters, and signage have been regulated by laws in many communities, Driskell believes that vehicle wraps remain as the only allowable—and viable—form of signage to advertise in those areas. “These wraps use a ‘canvas’ that’s already available, so there is no extraneous sight pollution or added real estate costs,” he says. Since cars and other vehicles do blend in with other competing messages and traffic, Driskell stresses that the graphics must be able to punch through the visual jungle to reach their intended audience. “Perhaps ‘bold’ is one attribute that a

successful graphic should have,” he suggests. “But beyond ‘bold,’ there should be a solid understanding of the target audience. “So often, the ‘customer’ is seen as the person buying the print, but we like to view it as the consumer who is ‘moved to action’ because of the print.” Analyzing current trends in vehicle graphics, Driskell observes that many buyers are opting for new “flat” and textured films for their personal vehicles. “While on the corporate front, cleaner, bolder designs and branding seem to be following the ‘Apple effect’ of large amounts of white space,” he says. Looking ahead, Driskell’s experience has shown him that the wrap market is increasing internationally and that this trend will continue. “But there are other markets that are still relatively untapped,” he says. “In the United States, it will be interesting to see if active signage finds its way onto vehicles. Also 3-D printing may create new opportunities for dimensional elements of wraps.” If Driskell could have his say on an all-time dream project, he’d choose a James Bond car. “Bond always drives a silver car—dashing and refined, but we believe we can add some real pizazz to 007’s ride,” he says. “We’re confident we could design, print, and install a wrap so powerful that it would leave Bond fans and movie audiences worldwide shaken…and stirred!”

all Photos: b2b media.

A vehicle graphic design should have a feel for its target audience.


Sign Builder Illustrated // September 2013

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Sign Builder Illustrated September 2013  

This issue features stories on ADA, POP signage, sign lighting, internships, panel saws, vinyl wraps, LED lighting, and more!

Sign Builder Illustrated September 2013  

This issue features stories on ADA, POP signage, sign lighting, internships, panel saws, vinyl wraps, LED lighting, and more!