Sign Builder April 2020

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A PR I L 2020 | S I G N S H O P.CO M








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By Jim Belosic Designing laser-cut metal signs.

VOL. 34

NO. 298



By David Hickey Federal regulators have been busy of late.




Cover Photo: Dan Francis Photography.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, editor Jeff Wooten discusses shops taking a proactive approach instead of reactive.


YESCO turns one-hundred, and they look back at some of their iconic projects; it’s time for “The Timepiece” LED display; and ISA Sign Expo 2020 reschedules.


The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.




Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.


As part of our Women Leading the Industry (WLI) discussions, Ellen Dyar talks about balancing motherhood with a sign career.


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By Jeff Wooten Building toothbrush-inspired pole covers.


By Jane Nash & Scott Walton Options abound for today’s channel letters.


By David Hickey The permitting process can be purgatory.


By Maura Keller A streetcar breaks the huddle to cheer on its local team.


By Lori Shridhare Designing wayfinding signage for bicyclists and pedestrians.


By Ashley Bray An Oregon shop talks designing and fabricating ADA signage. April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


April 2020, Vol. 34, No. 298 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Subscriptions: 800-895-4389


President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. Publisher Arthur J. Sutley 88 Pine Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 212-620-7247 ; Fax: 212-633-1863


Editor Jeff Wooten 323 Clifton Street, Suite #7, Greenville, NC 27858 212-620-7244 Managing Editor Ashley Bray 212-620-7220 Contributing Writers Jim Belosic, David Hickey, Maura Keller, Jane Nash & Scott Walton, Lori Shridhare


Art Director Nicole D’Antona Graphic Designer Hillary Coleman


Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers


Circulation Director Maureen Cooney


Publisher/West Coast Sales Arthur J. Sutley 212-620-7247 Associate Publisher/Mid-West Sales Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233 Integrated Account Manager/East Coast & Canada David Harkey 212-620-7223 Sign Builder Illustrated is published monthly. All rights reserved. Nothing herein may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. To purchase PDF files of cover and layouts or hard copy reprints, please call Art Sutley at 212-620-7247 or e-mail


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April 2020




Find out more about the advantages of working with the nation’s most trusted and stable provider of ADA Signage Solutions.





May 2020 LightFair International, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, casts its shine at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Note: This event has been postponed. Date to be determined. (

June 2020 JUNE 11-13:

It’s time for SEGD 2020 Conference Experience Portland at the Hyatt Regency in Portland, Oregon. (

Viral Communication

How will COVID-19 affect your shop?


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April 2020

company obtain alternative resources and under what timeframe?” It’s important to keep in mind that there are virus anxieties and economic anxieties and tough decisions ahead. There is going to become a point (whether it’s already happened in your area by the time you read this) where shops have to become reactive or proactive about the situation. Speaking of being proactive now, one thing I have read up on is the importance of employing digital marketing nowadays, particularly in keeping your current (and potential) customers up-to-date and reassuring them how your business is operating during this crisis, the steps you’re taking to address your work environment, and how they can contact you with orders. If you’re a smaller sign shop, keep track of the Small Business Administration. They recently announced that they will be working with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 virus in an effort to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Stay safe out there, and let’s get through this together.


JUNE 11-13:

Shake, rattle, and roll at the Texas Sign Association’s Sixtyseventh annual conference being held at the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. (

JUNE 24-25:

The Midwest Sign Association’s MSA Summer Meeting heats up at the Residence Inn and Emerald Event Center, Avon, Ohio. (

July 2020 JULY 29-AUGUST 1:

SignConnexion 2020, hosted by the Mid South Sign Association, will take place at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (

Photo: Shutterstock/magic pictures.


t feels like we’re sailing into uncharted territory nowadays, particularly when it comes to the societal and economic impact related to COVID-19. Regarding our day-to-day activity, we probably need to add soap and water and sanitizer to the list of safety items such as fall harnesses, safety goggles, and heavy-duty work gloves. Above is the original paragraph I opened up with for this month’s column. However here I am one week later about to go to press and having to rewrite everything you’re about to read from here on. This seemingly changing-by-thehour pandemic has changed the nation (and the world), and it unfortunately appears to be no longer business as usual for the foreseeable future. The concept of social distancing has become prevalent in daily conversation. Because of this, it’s really important to have a plan in place. Attorney Aaron Holt, in his “Employers Should Make Coronavirus Preparation” article appearing on our Web site (bit.l/3dmYUJI), says that employers should be asking themselves difficult questions now while they still have the time to make preparations. “For example, what is the minimum number of employees needed to sustain business operations?” he writes. “Who is responsible for making the decisions to close or re-open the business or impacted portions of the business? Under what criteria will these decisions be made? What are the weaknesses in the company’s supply chain? Where can the

August 2020 AUGUST 23-25:

The rescheduled ISA International Sign Expo will be taking place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. (

Sign up today to get started:


TURNS 100!

The Reef in downtown Los Angeles.


ALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — YESCO, a renowned company that represents the world’s largest maker of iconic signs, is celebrating one hundred years in business this year. Today YESCO represents one of North America’s largest and mostrecognized sign companies thanks to its historic roster of iconic signs. The family-owned and operated company began in 1920 in Ogden, Utah when founder Thomas Young borrowed $300 from his father to begin the business. It started out specializing in wallpainted advertisements, gold-leaf window lettering, and coffin plates. Today, 6

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headquartered in Salt Lake City and helmed by second-, third-, and fourthgeneration members of the Young family, YESCO designs and creates the world’s most spectacular signs—incorporating dazzling color, LED displays, motion, and digital animation and video. With three state-of-the-art manufacturing plants featuring automated and custom equipment, as well as sales and service offices located around the country, the company continues to grow. YESCO also operates a franchise signand-lighting service business throughout the United States and Canada. “This year marks an extraordinary

milestone for our family’s business,” says Jeff Young, vice president and chief marketing officer, YESCO. “Thanks to my grandfather’s vision and ingenuity during the pioneering days of sign design, along with the hard work of nearly 1,100 employees today, our company is—literally—looking ahead to a bright future.” A pivotal moment in the history of YESCO was its entry into the burgeoning Las Vegas market in 1932, with the iconic Boulder Club sign, which depicted a stein of flowing beer. With this sign and others, YESCO became a pioneer in incorporating neon into storefront advertising and acquired national recognition

The Safari Inn in Burbank,California.

for its creativity. In 1945, the company opened a branch in Las Vegas, which today represents its largest facility. In 1958, YESCO designed and built the Silver Slipper and Golden Nugget neon spectaculars in Las Vegas. The massive Stardust sign and fascia covered the entire front of the building with flashing light bulbs, neon tubing, and simulated stars and planets against a painted lunar background. One year later, the company designed, manufactured, and installed a massive sign for The Mint Hotel and Casino. Acknowledged as the “electrical engineering classic sign of its time,” the majestic

signs’ curved and arched form towered ninety-six feet above “Glitter Gulch” (now known as Fremont Street). In 1982,YESCO created the sign package for the then-new EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida. Other recognizable examples of YESCO’s work illuminating the United States and Canada include the El Capitan Theatre LED high-resolution marquee display in Hollywood, California; Safari Inn in Burbank, California; The Forum in Inglewood, California; Snelgrove Ice Cream (featuring a giant, rotating ice cream cone) in Salt Lake City; the iconic Olympic rings illuminating the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in

Salt Lake City; the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and the Reno Arch in Reno, Nevada. This year, the company installed its largest sign ever (38,500 square feet) atop The Reef building in downtown Los Angeles. YESCO will also be implementing the signage for the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium opening later this year. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, YESCO recently hosted one hundred-year anniversary events that took place in Salt Lake City, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Reno, Las Vegas, and Boise, Idaho. April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated






TLANTA, GEORGIA — “The Timepiece” is an LED display piece suspended from a twostory ceiling above a central vertex within the heart of Karrinyup Shopping Centre, an upscale retail venue located just outside of Perth, Australia. This recent installation, completed by award-winning LED visualization solutions provider NanoLumens, consists of a four-sided clock sphere and a rotating double-sided pendant. The clock sphere contains four displays, each with a 2.5mm pixel pitch. The faces of the clock sphere are used to display a classic white watch face with black hands and numerals. The pendant, which hangs beneath the clock sphere, contains an LED display on each of its two sides, They both employ a 4.7mm pixel pitch and feature a 9:16 aspect ratio that makes it easy to format content. Though the faces of the clock sphere always show the clock image, the displays of the pendant are used to show paid advertising content, branding material for the mall itself, and seasonal or local content that changes throughout the year. Identical content can be played on each pendant display simultaneously, 8

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or separate content can be played on each as needed. The shopping center is managed on behalf of UniSuper by AMP Capital, an international real estate conglomerate. Recent years have seen AMP Capital intensify their effort to innovate within many of their retail properties with striking digital display installations, each of which begins with the goal of creating something unique that enhances an environment’s sense of place. These efforts have been largely led by AMP Capital’s Place Team. The digital installation was developed by Digital Place Solutions (DPS), an Australia-based digital place consultancy with past ties to NanoLumens. Dynapac, another firm with prior experience working alongside NanoLumens, provided the rotator systems, while Vision Sign created the sleek fiberglass enclosures for the clock sphere and the pendant. The inclusion of the rotator was important for satisfying lines-of-sight requirements for the retail facades in the mall, which include highprofile brands like H&M, Swarovski, and MECCA. The rotation of the pendant also allows the feature to deliver a more dynamic experience to shoppers.

LEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA—The International Sign A sso c i a t i o n’s B o a rd of Directors recently convened and decided that, due to the latest developments associated with the COVID-19 virus, the organization will be rescheduling its ISA International Sign Expo, which was originally scheduled to take place April 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. The new dates selected are August 22-25, 2020. The event will remain at the previously scheduled Orange County Convention Center. Pre-conference sessions are now scheduled to occur on Saturday, August 22, while the ISA Sign Expo 2020 will now be star ting on Sunday, August 23 and running to Tuesday, August 25. The International Sign Association is currently working through the logistical aspects that rescheduling the show will bring but does thank you for your support and looks forward to seeing everyone at this year’s rescheduled show. For up-to-date, breaking information related to this year’s show, be sure to visit Expo2020.


Illuminate hard-to-reach corners of large signs.


Directs light where needed with two adjustable light panels

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Image One Impact Offers Banner Hemming Help

Next-generation SloanLED VL4 Positioned to Shatter Expectations in Price and Performance

Image One Impact, manufacturer and supplier of highquality products and tools for the sign, graphics, and vehicle wrap industry, is proud to announce the availability of their Banner Bond Ultra hem tape. Feel confident that you never have to worry about a banner hem again thanks to this new application aid! Banner Bond Ultra not only features a thicker adhesive, but it also offers higher adhesion. Its super tackiness keeps any banner hemmed as intended. Double-sided Banner Bond Ultra is available in 1-inch-by-72-yard rolls. And you can add to your repertoire of banner hemming help with the four-inch, heavy-duty Banner Bond Quatro roller brayer that is also available directly from Image One Impact. Featuring a comfortable handle, the easy-to-use Quatro roller brayer is the perfect tool for applying banner hem tapes.

SloanLED has introduced VL4, a lowcost, 12 VDC lighting solution that is the latest in the company’s Value Series line of products for small, standard, and large channel letters. VL4, available in Standard (White [7200 K, 6500 K], Red, Green, Blue), Mini (6500 K, 5000 K, 3000 K) and High Output (6500 K), features a 160-degree radiation pattern for wide, uniform illumination; improved optics over its predecessor; continuous tape for faster installation; impressive light output of 150 lumens per foot (6500 K); class-leading efficacy of 111 lm/W (6500 K); and a lifetime rating of over 60,000 hours. SloanLED now offers three tiers of channel letter lighting solutions with Value (VL4), Performance (SloanLED Prism), and Performance+ (SloanLED Prism24) Series products covering the entire gamut of applications and price points—delivering significant energy and maintenance cost savings, easy installation, faster ROI, and exceptional performance with consistent brightness and uniformity for every application.

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS Customizable Statement Lighting for High-end Spaces Plexineon Interior Decorative Series (“IDS”) is designed specifically for interior statement lighting and now you can get suitable housing for it. With versatile housing choices and matching mounting options that are perfect for lobbies, hallways, reception areas, corporate offices, and hospitality applications, Plexineon IDS allows you to enliven and transform environments by creating a custom “wow” design that is the centerpiece of the space. This is a perfect complement to the attributes you already love about Plexineon—an unmatched crisp line of light, rich color saturation, and tremendous design flexibility. The key upgrades over standard housing and clips are: White, gray, and black color options for the sidewalls; clips color-matched to the Plexineon sidewalls; sidewalls and clips with a matte finish; color of bullnose is frosted; end cap of similar material and color as sidewalls; and sleek clips that are half the width of the standard clips. As with standard Plexineon, you have tremendous design flexibility. The luminaires can take on many custom shapes and patterns that are built to your drawings—and not some round numbers determined by mass production. Whether surface mounting for wall and ceiling accents or suspended to create a custom pendant, Plexineon IDS offers you tremendous design flexibility that allows you to create visual impact where the light is meant to be seen. The Interior Decorative Series is in production and is available now. You can visit the company's Web site to order this product for projects or request samples.


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

We’ve got you covered Avery Dennison® MPI 2903 EZ Apply Avery Dennison® MPI 2903 EZ Apply is an easy-to-convert, simple-to-install, bubble-free calendered film for walls, floors, signage and more. And, with an affordable price point, MPI 2903 has both your wallet and your project consistently covered. Get the coverage you need. Visit

© 2020 Avery Dennison Corporation. All rights reserved.

SIGN SHOW CHANNEL LETTERS Provis Graphic LED-illuminated Signage Now Shines Its Lights on the North American Market Provis Graphic™, a wholesale manufacturer of precision LED-illuminated signage in Europe, has opened its first North American branch office in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Provis Graphic manufactures custom, low-profile, trim-less precision-illuminated lettering to stretch the possibilities of design. They company is offering LaserLetter™ to the North American market. Designed for premium branded environments at close viewing distances, these solid cast block acrylic letters with embedded LEDs in a variety of precision illumination configurations will illuminate letter strokes and serifs down to only 1mm wide and letter height down to two inches high—all without compromising the quality of light diffusion. Provis Graphic also offers TrueTrimless™ trim-less fabricated aluminum illuminated letters (face and/or halo-lit) with letter face precisely flush to sides (no visible joints, flange, or overhang) and Brilliance™ combination face- and sidelit fabricated acrylic letters. The company’s manufacturing capabilities include metal and acrylic fabrication, LED integration, 3D printing, liquid painting, powder coating, paint color matching, digital printing, vinyl lamination, and translucent vinyl PMS color matching. They also offer structural engineering services for more complex projects. In most cases, Provis Graphic can deliver to your customer’s door within twenty days from art approval. The company enjoys working with experiential graphic designers, leveraging their structural engineering and manufacturing capabilities to maximize design possibilities, and can work with your preferred fabrication-installation partner to implement your design or recommend one from their preferred partner network. (651) 230-2827;






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April 2020

SIGN SHOW SOFTWARE SideKick Software Delivers Improved Capacity Management, Smoother Workflow, and Greater Productivity SA International has announced the availability of SideKick, a convenient, easy-to-use job organization tool that helps sign and large format print businesses to effortlessly manage their end-to-end production operations—from quote management to invoicing. Simple to use, SideKick comes pre-loaded with a database of pre-defined products and finishing options, including average industry costs to rapidly and accurately configure pricing, while factoring in materials, labor, commissions, discounts, and taxes. Users can also tailor pricing for their own business. Via an intuitive quoting system, sign shops and large format print providers can quickly create professional and personalized PDF job quotes based on size, quantity, and finishing of the product to send to customers within just a few minutes. Thereafter SideKick lets users organize account contacts, convert quotes into orders with one-click, and track jobs through various production stages. This enables jobs to be rapidly exported into the invoicing process so that payments are made quicker and cashflow is improved. Accessible via monthly or annual subscription to existing SAi users, SideKick functions as a standalone tool independent of both SAi’s Flexi sign making and EnRoute CNC CAD/CAM software solutions. Those customers accessing Flexi or EnRoute on a subscription basis can also take advantage of a preferential pricing structure when subscribing to SideKick. Meanwhile the SideKick tool can also be used within SAi’s MyFlexi App, which is downloadable from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

Quality products and trusted solutions since 1852 Stimpson has shipped over 150 billion parts including Eyelets, Grommets, Washers, Hole Plugs, Snap Fasteners, Vents, Clamps, Ferrules and many additional metal products. Grommets & Washers: Quality sheet metal, rolled

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stainless steel, with screw studs or standard posts.


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April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


SIGN SHOW VINYL/VINYL FILMS Mactac Launches New High-performance MACmark Marking Films Featuring advanced adhesive technology, MACmark® 9800 PRO B-free and MACmark® 9800 PRO High-Tack from Mactac® Distributor Products are designed to make graphic application of high-performance permanent marking applications easy, giving customers “even more potential with opportunities for added growth and new business.” MACmark 9800 PRO B-free was developed using Mactac’s patented, customer-favorite bubble-free air-egress adhesive technology, which is known for ease of installation; meanwhile MACmark 9800 PRO High-Tack features a very aggressive adhesive that is geared specifically for tough-to-stick-to applications. The adhesives are paired with a 2.6mil heavy metal-free calendared vinyl, which touts durability, UV resistance, and conformability over difficult surfaces (such as rivets and those with gloss and matte finishes). The films offer REACH regulation compliance for environmental concerns. The films are supported with 83# and 90# bleached white Kraft liners for added stability and layflat. MACmark 9800 PRO B-free and 9800 PRO High-Tack are available in white and black constructions and offer outdoor durability of up to eight to ten years. Like all MACmark products, the new 9800 PRO B-free and 9800 PRO High-Tack feature superior cutting and weeding properties. Typical applications include vehicle/fleet marking, decorative panels, window graphics, and shipping containers. MACmark Marking Films are designed for plotting and computer-aided decoration and signage. (866) 622-8223;


W H Y S E T T L E FO R L ES S ? Summa offers you a True Tangential cutting experience, unique in cutting perfectly sharp corners, even in thick materials. Curious for more? Visit or contact your authorized con Summa reseller, to receive more detailed information.


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SIGN SHOW SOFT SIGNAGE Achieve DD 9919 Nirvana B.O.B. with Fisher Textiles Fisher Textiles, a leading supplier of fabrics for digital printing, has introduced its highly anticipated DD 9919 Nirvana B.O.B.®, the company’s newest sixteen-foot-wide fabric developed for soft signage applications. Specially treated for direct dye sublimation and UV-curable printing, DD 9919 Nirvana B.O.B. has a white printable face and a coated black back—offering a two-in-one solution for a printable fabric with a built-in liner. Key features associated with DD 9919 Nirvana B.O.B. are the soft hand, white point with a Delta E value less than 1.0; the ability to cold cut; and a built-in, finished back that is 100 percent opaque that eliminates the need for a liner (in turn, providing cost savings in material and labor). This F7 Certified Fabric® is excellent for front-lit silicone edge graphics (SEG), indoor banners, retail and exhibit graphics, and pillowcase displays with no liner. It is stocked 197 inches wide, maximizing production efficiency and expanding usage options for largescale soft signage. It weighs 7.8 oz/yd2 and is flame retardant, meeting NFPA 701. DD 9919 Nirvana B.O.B. undergoes a comprehensive manufacturing process to ensure reliability and consistency on every roll. 800-658-3444

Wholesale Foam-Core Sign Manufacturer

Monuments Bases Pole Covers Integrated EMC Projecting Pylons and much more •

Watch how it’s made at

April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated




Not-so-heavy Metal

Designing laser-cut metal signs.

1. Begin with the right file format. For your design to be cut, it will need to be in a vector-based format (.ai, .eps, .dwg, and .dxf file types or alternatively .pdf, .step, or raster). Keep in mind that your file can be created in almost any vector-based design software that allows exporting to .dxf and .eps. We highly recommend Adobe® Illustrator®, AutoDesk® Fusion 360™, Inkscape, and SolidWorks®. 16

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2. Design with cutting limitations in mind. As you design, make sure that you don’t have details that may be too small to cut using a laser. Anything that is smaller than onetimes the material thickness may be too small. For example, if your design is using .060-inch stainless steel, holes and other geometry smaller than .060-inch may not cut reliably.

Basically remember that, because this is being cut on metal, anything that isn’t connected to the bulk of the sign is simply going to fall out. You can modify your design to compensate for this. (Note: One exception to this rule is if you’re planning on mounting the metal parts to a backer or substrate such as wood or acrylic.)

3. Avoid any “orphan” shapes during your design. An orphan shape is a shape that is meant to be part of the metal sign but not connected anywhere else. A common example of a nested shape is the space inside the letter “o.” If the letter “o” is cut unaltered, the small shape inside of the letter will not be in the sign; it isn’t connected to anything else. To fix this problem, you need to create bridges. Bridges are shapes that are intended to connect nested shapes to the rest of the structure.

All Photos:


etal is typically difficult to work with using traditional sign-making techniques and investing in dedicated metal-cutting equipment can be a serious investment. Luckily there are resources for sign manufacturers to outsource metal design production quickly and inexpensively. Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best practices for designing metal signage in such cases.

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4. Make sure lines do not intersect or cross. Intersecting lines will cause issues with the cutting process, as the laser cannot pass over an area that it has already cut. One way of avoiding intersecting lines is to combine all the elements in your file into a single element (sometimes called “welding” or “uniting”). This will ensure that none of the geometry in your design contains self-intersecting lines. Likewise make sure that all of your elements are “closed” so there aren’t any breaks in the overall contour. Ideally all lines and shapes should be able to be “filled” as a solid object. 5. Convert any text to outlines. In vector programs, text is handled differently from standard images or shapes. This makes it easy for you to modify your text on-the-fly, but when it comes to laser cutting, your text needs to be converted into outlines (shapes) before you can cut your metal sign. With most CAD software solutions (such as Adobe Illustrator), you can select your text, right-click, and select “Convert Text to Outlines.” 18

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6. Prepare your file for cutting. Delete anything from the file that is not intended to be cut. The file provided should be “clean,” with only the exact design itself. Scale the artwork to size. The metal sign will be cut based on the artwork given; if the art is built in Illustrator at twelve inches tall, the sign will be twelve inches tall. Provide artwork at 1:1 scale, using inch-units. Don’t pre-nest your designs, even if you want to cut multiple units. Just let the third-party know you want more than one copy of your design. 7. Select the correct metal for your application. There are several types of metal and thicknesses available to choose from. Aluminum is a lightweight, strong, and versatile metal, aluminum is affordable and will not rust. Brass is an attractive, brushed, yellow brass that is easy to work with. Cold-rolled Carbon Steel, also commonly known as “mild steel,” is high quality and durable. Copper is a heavy, dense metal with high electrical conductivity; it will de-

velop a patina if left outdoors uncoated. Cor-Ten is a rustic, weathered steel material with unique properties. CorTen develops a protective layer of rust to maintain structural integrity over a long period of time. Hot Rolled Carbon Steel is a strong, durable metal with a reddish-blue gray finish. Stainless Steel is a bright, corrosionresistant metal that welds easily and resists elements. 8. Choose your polishing and finishing options. Finished metal signs may have some minor surface scratches and imperfections due to the cutting process. You can choose to polish or brush the material yourself or have the post processing done for you as a part of the manufacturing process. If you are planning on painting or powder coating your design, no post-processing is needed. Jim Belosic is Application Engineering President at When not manufacturing laser cut parts, he and his children enjoy working on robotics, electric cars, and radio control aircraft.



Alphabet Soup Du Jour

Federal regulators have been busy of late.

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) The never-ending saga of complying with OSHA’s mobile crane operator cer20

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tification continues. While the industry rushed to ensure that all qualified mobile crane operators underwent third-party training and certification, OSHA amended its rule, requiring, as of February 2019, that employers ensure that each operator is “evaluated,” including for vehicles and capacities not covered under the crane certification requirements. This evaluation must be done by someone who has the knowledge, training, and experience to evaluate. And here’s the little detail that can trip up even the most compliant company—the employer must document the evaluation, and it must be kept at the worksite. ISA has compiled an easy-to-use evaluation form to help ensure compliance. Learn more about the mobile crane operator certification and find the evaluation form at It’s also that time of year when em-

ployers must post their OSHA Form 300A in the workplace. This is the summary of serious workplace injuries and illnesses from 2019, and it must be posted in an area that is clearly visible to all employees and even new applicants. While each company’s Form 300A must be kept posted until April 30, em-

Photos: (Top) Elliott Equipment; (Left) Persona, Inc.


hree or four little letters can make a huge difference to a sign, graphics, and visual communications company. No, I’m not talking about trying to squeeze a long name onto a small sign; I mean the alphabet soup of federal agencies—like OSHA, EPA, FCC, and others—whose rules impact our daily work lives. The federal regulators have been busy of late, and many of their decisions affect your business. It can be a challenge, for sure, to keep up with all of the federal regulations that can potentially impact your business. However sticking your head in the sand can be a costly and unwise response. Here are some recent (alphabet) actions that you need to know about.

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ployees have the right to request a copy of these records at any time. One more reason to make sure all of your practices comply with OSHA regulations: In 2020, the Department of Labor increased the penalties for violations. Serious issues or daily abatement fines are almost $13,500, while willful or repeat violations near $135,000. These increases are part of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which mandate increases based on the consumer price index each January. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The EPA requires that any company that uses mercury in the manufacturing process must document and report its usage—no matter how little is used. Mercury is used in neon sign production. There are certain exemptions,

including mercury imported in an assembled product. The EPA requires companies to use the Mercury Electronic Reporting application. You can find out how to do this and whether or not this rule applies to you at Federal Communications Commission (FCC) The FCC is taking a hard look—and issuing fines—to manufacturers and suppliers whose electronic signs interfere with the digital spectrum. While ISA is working with the FCC to raise awareness and find solutions, it is important that companies and manufacturers comply. For sign companies that sell manufacturer-produced digital signs, ensure the devices are tested by accredited laboratories and carry a two-part warning label

or certificate of compliance. Signs that are found to violate the FCC rule but can’t be brought into compliance can no longer be used—creating a client relations nightmare that you certainly will want to avoid. Check out for more helpful information on this topic. Department of Labor (DOL) The department increased the threshold for those eligible for overtime pay to $35,568—up from $23,660. This applies even to salaried workers. Also of note: Some states have thresholds higher than the federal law; in those cases, state law takes precedent. David Hickey is vice president of Government Affairs at the International Sign Association. You can contact him at

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Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

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Sign Builder Illustrated is the “how-to magazine” of the sign industry. Each issue includes SBI’s signature “how-to” columns and features with detailed, step-by-step instructions covering a wide range of signage. SBI’s website (signshop. com), newsletters, Buyer’s Guide, and digital edition keep you updated with timely news, recent projects, and upcoming industry events.


Sign Builder Illustrated





Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

a service club with their other brother, Matt, who’s not a dentist. He suggested to them they contact me.” The brothers were interested in a pylon-type pole sign, so Thornton and his team of designers worked diligently with them on ideas. (Note: The project became a bit of a family affair, as the brothers’ parents and Matt were also involved during the brainstorming stage.) The Root (Canal) of the Design The initial idea morphed into a vinylcovered, acrylic-face, LED-illuminated, aluminum-frame sign cabinet flagmounted off a steel pole. The question then turned into how to make this something that shouted “dentist!”

Building toothbrushinspired pole covers with EPS and LED. Looking at the sign style, the height of the poles, and the surrounding environments, Thornton suggested a pole cover shaped like a giant toothbrush. Everyone approved! “One really can’t miss something like this when driving down the street,” he says. Although Thornton pondered a metal framework cabinet to construct the toothbrush structure, he and the brothers liked the idea of the toothbrush handle looking more representative than realistic and opted for more rounded corners. It was apparent foam would be the optimum choice for shaping the toothbrush appearance. So Scenic Sign turned to foam-core fabricator and provider Signs By Benchmark of Watertown, South Dakota. They’ve enjoyed a good working relationship with them for ten years now. “The sky is the limit for the shapes they can make that foam into,” says Thornton. Signs By Benchmark had actually

worked on similar toothbrush-type pole covers in the past and provided Scenic Sign with some photographic examples early on to show what was possible. However this project ended up involving much larger sculptures than the company had done before. EPS Foam Build Up For this project, Signs By Benchmark used one-pound-density expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam to sculpt the toothbrush shapes. “While [EPS] offers great flexibility to work with higher densities, honestly a higher density here would’ve only made the accents weigh more without providing really much benefit,” says Jamie Kakacek, lead designer at Signs By Benchmark. The body of the toothbrush was cut with a CNC hot wire and assembled in house. “Certain elements, primarily in the head, were routed to embed a framework for mounting the bristles,” says Kakacek, noting they also installed pick points in each section for easier assemblage on site. Signs By Benchmark then painted the giant toothbrush pole covers at their facility, following the color specs (one green and the other blue) provided to them by Scenic Sign. These matched the logos and colors to be placed on the flagmounted ID sign cabinets. The company carved the toothbrush pole covers as three separate pieces for later assemblage. The main toothbrush piece covering the steel pole is EPS, and the bristles are acrylic tubes. Casting a Light on Dental Benefits Throughout the process, the Nygards talked about somehow incorporating more lights into the final sign design. Scenic Sign came up with the idea of mounting SloanLED LED border tubing around them to highlight the toothbrushes at night and make them stand out more. “The brothers added they’d like to have the acrylic bristles also be illuminated but independently from the border lighting,” says Thornton. They tested and engineered

Photo: Dan Francis Photography.


t can feel like a rare opportunity when one shop finds itself working on brandnew signage at the same time for two different dental clients; it can be an even rarer experience if these two dental clients also happen to be twins. This was the scenario Scenic Sign Corp. recently came across as they worked on making their clients’ new on-premise signage appointment viewing. Scenic Sign Corp., is a full-service sign company based out of St. Cloud, Minnesota (with another office in West Fargo, North Dakota) that serves the Minnesota-North Dakota geography. The company has forty employees designing, engineering, fabricating, installing, and servicing signs like channel letters, sign cabinets, electronic message centers, monuments, and, appropriately here, pylons. Ryan Nygard was already running an established dental practice on his own (SmileCare Dental) in Fargo, North Dakota. His practice had been using an onpremise multi-tenant, multi-panel sign for quite a number of years. However when one of his tenants ended up recently moving out, Ryan decided it was time to invest in an onpremise sign that would be more exciting and more eye-catching. He wanted something that would not only better identify his dental practice but, in turn, help generate inquiries from potential new patients as they drove by it. Meanwhile Ryan’s twin brother, Nathan Nygard, was outgrowing his current office and looking to rebrand his dental practice. With the help of his other brother Matt and father Larry, they located a piece of real estate along a busy freeway in West Fargo, as well as coordinated the design and construction of Nathan’s state-of-the-art facility. The twins figured it would be a perfect opportunity to do some family-style co-branding with their property signage, so Ryan (and later Nathan) reached out to Scenic Sign for some design ideas. “This was the first time we’d worked with the brothers,” says Gary Thornton, sales manager at Scenic Sign. “I’m in



The new toothbrush cover sign overlooks Nathan Nygard’s new facility.

April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


The bodies of the toothbrush pole covers were cut and sculpted using CNC hot wires.

ent ways the acrylic tubes could light up, deciding that color-changing LED lights placed in the bristle section would work best. “So now the toothbrush signs have white LEDs inside the sign cabinet, controlled color-changing LEDs in the

bristles, and border tubing accenting the perimeter,” says Thornton. Filling the Property Although Nate was the second one to the party with his sign request, due to

his project being a brand-new building built-from-scratch, Scenic Sign put his sign up first. Ryan had a pylon sign in place that needed to be removed and destroyed before being able to put up a new one. At both locations, Scenic Sign dug an appropriately sized auger hole and planted the structural column pipe into the ground with their Elliott crane truck. (Note: One column pipe extends up twenty-seven feet in one case and twenty-five feet for the other. Both pipes go down into the ground approximately ten feet.) They then set it with concrete, allowed it to cure, and built off of that, providing them with the finished structure. Scenic Sign used their Elliott crane to first slide two pieces of the toothbrush pole cover over the round column pipe and lock them together with metal attachment areas provided by Signs By Benchmark. “We bolted the flag-mounted cabinet off the side opposite of the


WHOLESALE TO THE SIGN INDUSTRY or Toll Free 866-412-FOAM Send quote requests to 26

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

Photo: Signs By Benchmark.

31 Standard Models or send us your own design!

bristles and then put that top cover piece over the pole,” says Thornton. Since the brothers operate out of two different dental offices, their signs aren’t exactly identical (even counting the two different colors). In fact, Nate’s sign ended up being two feet taller than Ryan’s because the sign code was slightly different in West Fargo.

approve of these sign solutions. “Nate’s sign is located adjacent to a freeway in an area that doesn’t have a lot of buildings around it, so it really stands

out because there are no other visuals to take your eye away from it,” says Thornton. “In fact, he immediately had several new patient requests because of it.”

Photo: Dan Francis Photography.

Crowning Achievements Thornton says that this was a very gratifying project to be involved with. “It was a long process, especially when you’re doing something that’s as unique as this, to not only come up with the visual representation but to get everybody on board to a concept that’s relatively new,” he says. Both dentists are happy about how their toothbrush pole covers are communicating with the passing traffic. In fact, to recall an old sugar-less chewing gum commercial from back in the day, five-out-of-five dentists would probably

Ryan Nygard invested in an on-premise sign that would be more eye-catching.

April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated




CHANNEL Options abound for today’s channel letters.


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

As LED modules moved closer to the surface, the light being emitted from them was centered over the source, creating hot spots of bright light. This reduced light intensity and light variations spread across the surface of the sign. In turn, this led to new thinking about materials used in channel letters, as designers searched for solutions that transmitted and diffused light. The objective was to maintain or increase light transmission while evenly

diffusing the light across the surface— eliminating hot spots. Sheeting Solutions This aforementioned solution allows for a shallow can and the LEDs to be as close as two inches from the interior surface of the sign face while providing the best available light transmission and diffusion. Choosing the right grade of acrylic or polycarbonate as the face enables the use of vinyl colors over the surface

Photo: Plaskolite.


he introduction of LED lighting modules presented numerous opportunities for sign makers, most notably enabling them the ability to design and build shallower channel letters. LED lighting components emit little heat, which allows for closer placement of the lighting source to the channel letter sign face for a more versatile and cost-effective design. However this particular advantage has ended up creating its own challenges.




Sign Builder Illustrated is the “how-to magazine” of the sign industry. Each issue includes SBI’s signature “how-to” columns and features with detailed, step-by-step instructions covering a wide range of signage. SBI’s website (signshop. com), newsletters, Buyer’s Guide, and digital edition keep you updated with timely news, recent projects, and upcoming industry events.


Sign Builder Illustrated

The size of the letter will determine if you use acrylic or polycarbonate for its face.

minated? Or is daylight attention more important to your business? Maybe your answer is “both.” There are techniques, using perforated vinyl, that allow signs to appear dark during the day but bright white when backlit at night. Keep in mind that there also are new types of acrylic that achieve the same

effect without using vinyl—reducing materials and cost and eliminating a step in the process. 4. Creativity Shouldn’t Be Intimidating If standard, flat channel letters aren’t enough, formed or embossed letters are possible. To accomplish this, channel letter

without compromising transmission or diffusion. When paired with decorative vinyl, these substrates provide designers the ability to reduce the light source—saving energy and money—while maintaining the bright, colorful appearance of the sign. Acrylic and polycarbonate are available in a variety of colors. And with textured printing, this not only eliminates the need for vinyl, but it also enhances design options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering decorative treatments for acrylic and polycarbonate used in channel letters: 1. Know Your Options for Custom Colors Some end-users require custom colors to match the logo or color palate of the signs. Acrylic and polycarbonate are available in a wide variety of industry standard colors and can match many color requests. Vinyl is another common alternative.

Photo: Plaskolite.

2. Size of the Letters Matters The size of the channel letters typically dictates the choice of polycarbonate or acrylic. Sign industry standards call for polycarbonate if the faces are more than thirty-six inches tall. At that size, it’s a safety concern. Acrylic letters larger than three feet are difficult to manipulate and transport and run a higher risk of breaking. Polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable and so is suitable for larger letters.


3. Day, Night, or Both? There are questions that you need to ask yourself: Do you want the channel letter sign to pop at night, when illu30

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

mold, giving it a 3-D look. 5. Remember Fabrication, Installation, and Durability In addition to pure acrylic, an impactmodified sheet with rubber particles added to the resin during manufacturing provides an impact- and breakresistant quality. The end-result is a




Acrylic letters made from impact-modified sheets are easier to cut and fabricate.

sheet that doesn’t break as easily as normal acrylic. Acrylic letters made from impactmodified sheets are easier to cut, fabricate, and handle without cracking during delivery from the shop. Polycarbonate is also an excellent choice in sign applications. It delivers impact, as well as temperature and weather resistance. When thermoformed, a polycarbonate material adds dimension to enhance logos and letters. Thinner deep draw areas retain strength. Polycarbonate meets the UL879 standard for use in electrical signs. In addition, polycarbonate has a UL flammability rating. Be sure to contact the manufacturer listed. Conclusion: The Bottom Line The pairing of LED lights with acrylic and polycarbonate channel letters offers exciting alternatives in sign design and construction. The good news is that today there are more product choices than ever before, as well as enhanced capabilities that are related to custom colors and textured surfaces. Businesses should consider all options available to them when making a statement with their channel letter signage. Acrylic and polycarbonate sheet products offer performance that protects the image. Jane Nash is sales development specification and Scott Walton is southeast territory manager at Plaskolite (plaskolite. com), of Columbus, Ohio. The manufacturer offers high-performance polymers and thermoplastic sheet products including OPTIX LD (Light Diffusing) acrylic and TUFFAK LD polycarbonate.

April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


Photo: Dave Forrest.

designers take a sheet of acrylic or polycarbonate, heat it, and use a mold to fashion the thermoplastic sheet into the desired design. After heating, a vacuum is applied to draw down the acrylic or polycarbonate on to the mold. After it has finished cooling, the product will retain the shape of the


PERMIT US to Explain


he permitting saga might seem like a joke—unless you’re the sign company trying to get a permit. Or the business waiting on the sign to be installed before you can open your new venture. This particular story starts in May 2018 when a sign company sought a variance for a community in Ohio. They were told only minor documentation was needed, including a site plan, proof of ownership and taxes paid, and surface development documents. Even with this minor level of documentation needed, the city asked for a thirty-five-day review period and a three- to four-month process to schedule a meeting of the board that heard variance requests. 32

Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

A month later, the city came back with requests for more documentation and a bill for the variance fee (over $700). Two more months and the sign company was notified that the city’s case manager was changing. The new case manager requested an additional application for variance and advised another four-week review process. By now, four months had passed and still no permit; not even a hearing. There were additional requests for documentation, including a soil vapor report. Fast forward a few more months and there was another new case manager— who was actually the first case manager. He again requested more plans, including a landscaping plan. This required a formal resubmittal—and again, the

clock started over with the review cycle. As this story approached the one-year mark, the sign company was asked to add utility locations to the landscaping plan—even though utility locations were included in the site plan. Finally, fifteen months later, the company had its variance hearing. While the frustrations this company faced in securing the permit variance might be a bit over the top, permitting is one of the biggest headaches that faces local sign companies. When the International Sign Association (ISA) recently asked members for their permitting “sob stories,” there were a few commonalities that emerged. The specifics may be somewhat different based on the cities involved, but

Photo: shutterstock/ Brian A Jackson

The permitting process can be purgatory.

many sign companies found: Complex paths to approval. As an example, one community now requires an engineer’s letter so that the city inspector doesn’t have to come onsite. This increases the costs of hiring a third-party inspector—and yet the city’s inspector still comes out to verify that the paperwork was signed. Difficult communications. Several mentioned the challenges of getting phone calls and emails returned. One mentioned having an employee call the city’s contact five times in one day. Others mentioned that the language of the permitting process was so complex that it could only be interpreted by the city personnel. Shifting rules. The requests for documentation have changed in many communities. One mentioned a need for a site plan to include sewer locations and other items that could only be found by

drives up costs for sign company owners and their customers.

cess, including in cities like Denver and Chicago. But there is clearly much more work to be done. If we can succeed in those major cities, we can build a strategy that will work in your community. One company leader mentioned that the majority of the time, the permitting process can be a positive experience, though there always is that one out there who will “rip apart our carefully designed plans” that had been approved by an excited customer. The company ultimately received the permit, but only after fifteen months of frustration. ISA is gathering these stories so that we can better understand these issues and help develop solutions. If you have a permitting or variance issue, visit for tips to help strengthen your permitting case.

Conclusion ISA has been successful in convincing cities to streamline their permitting pro-

David Hickey is vice president of Gov’t. Affairs at the International Sign Association.

searching the deed for a costly survey. Another mentioned that recent ordinance changes had specifically prevented sign company permit seekers from coming into the office to seek help. All of this



Sign Builder Illustrated

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Sign Builder Illustrated




Among Wraps


nyone who has seen the Kansas City Chiefs-decorated streetcar tooling along the streets of Kansas City, Missouri, can tell you the monumental role this wrapped vehicle played in the city’s landscape. Installed by Signco, Inc., a full-service shop in Kansas City, the vehicle wrap of the KC Chiefs-themed streetcar also celebrates the recent monumental win of the NFL’s top prize by this city’s beloved team. In August 2019, the KC Streetcar Authority called upon Signco Owner Mike Sailor to wrap a streetcar for the Kansas City Chiefs organization celebrating its sixtieth anniversary. As Sailor explains, the design was created by others outside of Signco’s shop


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

and consisted of a very interesting and nostalgic step-and-repeat backdrop, promoting the sixty-year history of the team. “The players are high-quality images and look life-like,” he says. “After the team won the AFC Championship, we changed the perforated vinyl graphics on the doors and then again after the [big football] win.” Another added touch was to make the interior lighting of the streetcar red—to match the Chiefs’ team color. So Sailor and his team digitally printed red onto 3M’s clear vinyl with airegress adhesive for easy installation and removal and placed it directly on the light lenses. “Because the lights were LED, they stayed cool [and didn’t] cause prob-

lems with the vinyl. The results were great and the vinyl was removed in minutes,” says Sailor. Nearly half of Sailor’s business is fleet graphics and wraps, as well as storefront window wraps and wall wraps. The other half consists of signs, banners, decals, displays, dimensional letters and logos, graphic design, and the occasional lighted sign or channel letters. And the company is now expanding into printed apparel and advertising specialties. Because of his long-standing history and experience in the vehicle graphics business, Sailor understands the nuances involved in a vehicle wrap of this magnitude. “The scale and time limit were the

All photos: Signco, Inc.

A streetcar breaks the huddle to cheer on its local team.

greatest challenges,” Sailor says. “The more we prepared off-site, the more time we saved on-site; things went smoother. When you are printing hundreds of square feet of vinyl, you want to be sure everything is correct.” The KC Chiefs streetcar wrap project was undoubtedly a team effort as the actual wrap was completed in just sixteen hours. “I am very proud of our team,” says Sailor. “Without them, none of this could have happened. Our graphics department did a great job getting correct measurements and planning the printing and assembly of the wrap. Our installation team effectively coordinated their time and effort to meet the deadline, while keeping quality in mind at all times.” And the advancements in today’s printing process and wrap quality further enhanced the streamlined process and end result of this vehicle wrap project. As Sailor explains, just when you think, “How can the printing process

The players on the wrap are high-quality images and look life-like.

and vinyl get any better?” the printing equipment and vinyl materials continue to improve—offering realistic images that truly “wow” streetcar riders and non-riders alike. “Printers continually get faster, crisp-


er images,” explains Sailor. “What used to take two days to print now takes just half a day. All of these things are an advantage to the consumer because it makes the market more competitive. “Of course, nothing can replace

Let Your Creativity Take Over! Gravotech’s extensive range of materials, colors, thicknesses and qualities, paired with our IS8000 Rotary Engraving Solution will allow you to meet the ADA requirements of any signage application.

800.843.7637 April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


The wrapped KC Streetcar wins plenty of attention.

good people knowing how to use the equipment and application of the vinyl materials.” For the KC Chief ’s streetcar wrap, Signco used a special 3M vinyl that might cost a bit more up front, but it makes the removal process on the other end much faster and easier, as well as


Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

being kinder and gentler on the painted surfaces of the streetcars. “Because of the effectiveness of vehicle wraps, the industry will continue to grow,” says Sailor. “Consider the streetcar. Everyone seems to have seen the Chief ’s streetcar. After the [Big Game], even more people have seen it. And it

also helps to promote the KC Streetcar Authority, which is a well run organization and has added tons of value to the downtown Kansas City area.” The Signco team has now wrapped streetcars for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals baseball team, and the Sporting Kansas City soccer club, and each time they finish one, Sailor and his employees feel like they are a part of the team. “I am grateful for the opportunity,” says Sailor. “The Kansas City community supports and takes a lot of pride in their local teams. And even with the daily challenges that come in this field, I really enjoy this industry and see a bright future. “When you consider a wrapped service van travelling throughout the city every day, it makes thousands of impressions for that company’s business for very low cost per impression. Technology has opened up creative opportunities that just were not possible twenty-five years ago.”





Designing wayfinding signage for cyclists and pedestrians.

Photo: Shutterstock/quiggyt4.


s U.S. cities and municipalities become more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, directing and organizing traffic is critical. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the number of bike commuters has risen 105 percent in cities classified as “bicycle-friendly.” To help navigate drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians and most importantly, keep them safe, wayfinding signage plays an essential role. According to Deven Young, a design associate at Alta Planning & Design (, an advanced planning and design firm based in Los Angeles, there

are strategies specific to vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian systems that organize the amount of information a sign provides based on the speed of the user. “Pedestrian signs may provide more detailed information in the form of maps and finger boards than a bicycle decision sign, which should limit the amount of information to three destinations,” he says. When designing and creating signage, Young says that you must consider your user type, the associated traffic control guidance, and the context to build out an appropriate wayfinding system. “Bicycle signage must reflect Manual

for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) guidelines when being planned and implemented,” he says. “Remember to check your state guidance, as many states have adopted a supplement to the MUTCD that specifically addresses bicycle wayfinding.” Young notes that if you are considering wayfinding as a place-making opportunity, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Community Wayfinding chapter, 2D.50 of the MUTCD to better understand how you can make your signs unique and community-specific while still meeting the traffic control guidance. April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


“The most successful systems are those that create a consistent vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian wayfinding family so all of the signage is consistent and recognizable,” explains Young. “Legibility can correctly aid in decision-making for users.” At Alta, the company likes to use the following principles for designing their wayfinding systems: Be Predictable: Sign types and placement should be consistent and predictable so users can quickly understand the system. Be Inclusive: Your system should be legible to the broadest range of users, including those who cannot read English or are visually impaired. Keep It Simple: In reading wayfinding systems, users are generally moving at higher speeds and have a limited amount of time to digest content. Keeping it simple makes for a safer and more understandable system. Connect Places: Guide users to ex-

isting points of interest while allowing them to discover new destinations. Many benefits go beyond providing travel clarity. “Wayfinding systems are a natural extension of your community’s efforts to encourage more walking and bicycling,” saysYoung. “Installing a wayfinding system is essentially advertising the routes and trails that already exist to potential users who may not have this information.” Wayfinding can also be an economic development tool—one that highlights the assets of your region, city, or town. “Every place has a unique story to tell, and your wayfinding system can be a part of creating a memorable experience,” says Young. “A more legible network creates a positive travel experience that can lead to increased recreation, tourism, active transportation, and business investment, all of which can bring a boost to the local economy. AIGA-approved symbols are most commonly employed on pedestrian wayfinding systems. “However bicycle way-

finding systems generally do not include symbols,” confirms Young, “but the top 30 percent of any on-street bicycle wayfinding sign may be dedicated to an enhancement marker—such as a city or route logo. According to Young, fundamental building blocks of a bicycle wayfinding system include: Decision signs that are located at intersections with other bicycle facilities to clarify travel options; confirmation signs that can be placed where typically complex maneuver or turns are made to reassure the cyclist that they are indeed on their intended path; and turn signs, which should be posted at both complex intersections, as well as along non-intuitive routes (to reinforce a specific direction). “You might consider additional elements to enhance your system,” says Young. “These could include kiosks, orientation maps, and interpretive panels, all of which are primarily intended to be viewed by pedestrians.”



Sign Builder Illustrated


Sign Builder Illustrated

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ATTENTION TO ADA All Photos: Western Sign Services.

An Oregon shop talks designing and fabricating ADA signage.


amily-owned Western Sign Services in Boring, Oregon began as a trade shop making a range of signs. “We started our business in 1999 as a way that I could stay home with our young children. In the early 2000s, my husband, Brad, who then had been working in the sign business for over twelve years, quit his job, and we went full time into making banners, screening, vinyl let-

tering, etc.,” says Office/Project Manager Michele Normand. “In 2007, we built a relationship with a local sign broker/designer and found our way into architectural wayfinding sign systems for hospitals, office buildings, and schools. Today we employ ourselves and both of our boys.” Focusing in on ADA The shop has increasingly focused on

ADA signage over the past few years. “Through our work, we learned that there was a need for ADA signage that was not being met. Many of the local companies who did Braille signage were focusing their work on the large Braille orders, and those clients that needed a small order were finding it hard to get serviced,” says Normand, who explains that these companies were finding the April 2020

Sign Builder Illustrated


with us] is it gives designers, contractors, and other sign companies the ability to provide braille signage to their clients without having to do the work themselves. “We believe in doing one thing great instead of trying to do everything mediocre.”

minimum cost for their small orders out of their budget. “They were being left out and forgotten. In 2008, the designer we were working with suggested that we purchase a Braille system in order to be the company to serve every client’s needs. “We believe that every customer and every job is important no matter the size.” From there, Western Sign Services focused in on Braille and architectural interior signage for the trade industry. “We are trained in ADA signage requirements and standards and can help clients meet those requirements, if needed,” says Normand. “Another benefit [of working

The Photopolymer Process After research, Western Sign Services decided on photopolymer ADA signage. “Both Raster® Braille and photopolymer are proven methods to create ADAcompliant interior signs, however, photopolymer offers some unique benefits. Photopolymer is resilient and durable, tactile elements are detailed and clean, and we can produce a 19-by-25 sheet of signs at a time,” says Normand. “Photopolymer signs are an integrated onepiece sign, and they have a greater resilience against vandalism. Photopolymer allows for a lot of design possibilities.” Normand also points to photopolymer’s sustainable benefits. “The desire to minimize environmental footprint is an impor-

tant factor to designers and builders,” she says. “The polymer process involves the use of plain water, while no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are emitted during the process. The wastewater is completely biodegradable. Forty percent or more of post-industrial recycled materials are typically used to create the PETG base.” Western Sign Services uses the photopolymer sign system from Nova Polymers. Normand explains, “Artwork is created and Braille is translated using our Flexisign program. Film used to expose the photopolymer is generated using our InkStar Film Solution, which prints highdensity negatives and positives. Processing the actual Novacryl® photopolymer is done with our Orbital X Photopolymer Processor. Once processed, the photopolymer gets cut using an AccuCutter Finishing Shear. “We apply color to the photopolymer sign panel by spraying Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane Paint to either the surface or second surface of the Novacryl sign panel,” she continues. “The polymer

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lasers. materials. expertise.


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April 2020

Trotec Laser USA Trotec Laser, Inc.

is then sprayed with a clear coat. Next raised characters are foil-stamped using a Hot Stamp unit. The last step is assembly of all the sign components.” Normand says following the processing guidelines for photopolymer ADA signs is most important. “Polymer must be processed correctly to avoid failure and to ensure our Braille dots and characters are at the highest quality,” she says. The Details in Design Before processing these signs, they must be designed, and Normand says today’s designs seem to be focused on an architectural look that supports corporate branding. “Braille signs have changed from being text-only to including digital images and creative accents,” she says. This has led to ADA signage becoming more custom, which in turn affects the pricing. “In our facility, we have found that pricing per square inch of finished photopolymer, which includes painting and foil stamping, works best,” says Nor-

mand. “There are additional costs for custom paint matches or custom foil colors.” No matter what design is chosen, there are a few ADA regulations Normand says should be kept in mind: • Tactile letter depth must be 1/32-inch. • Letter height: 5/8-inches-two inches. • Letters must be a sans serif font, as well as uppercase. • The signs must have a non-glare finish, and the characters and symbols must contrast with the background (light characters/symbols with a dark background or vice versa). • The Braille dots are to be domed Grade 2 Braille, and pictograms must be within a six-inch-high area with nothing in it except the pictogram. Normand says to also be aware of rules for overhead and directional signage. Burnside Plaza Project Normand cites a recent project in which they designed and fabricated interior signage—including directories and room

identification signs—for a local building in their area called Burnside Plaza. “The three things that were important to the client were that the design matched their building, the signs were interchangeable and easily updated if a tenant leaves or moves suites, and cost,” she says. To accomplish the client’s goals, Western Sign Services used P95 black acrylic for the back of the signs with a routedout square center where tenant name panels would magnetically insert into the pocket for ease of change. An ADAcompliant photopolymer header painted and stamped was attached to the top of the room identification signage. Die-cut 3M™ Scotchcal™ Film Series 220 vinyl was used to create the tenant copy attached to the name panels. The room identification signs were mounted with double-faced tape. On glass, a glass backer panel was used. The directory was mounted with mechanical fasteners. “The signs look great, and the client is very happy,” says Normand.

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Sacramento CA company specializing in comprehensive signage programs for multi-family housing communities. 40 years developing systems to efficiently produce large, complex projects with some of the largest nationwide property management companies. Potential expansion opportunities within niche and beyond. Revenue $800K. Contact Randy Hendershot: 916-993-5433, email:




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April 2020

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Sign Builder Illustrated




and marketing efforts and play an integral part of bringing on new product lines as well as growing current lines. I focus heavily on distributor education, streamlining communication between manufacturers, our sales representatives, and sign shops, and bringing the latest information to industry publications so Y&A can be a reliable resource for the industry. Tell us about a standout achievement in your career. To date, my standout achievement is being accepted into the 2019 ISA Elite Class. It automatically connected me to thirty-five individuals that became my friends, mentors, and support system. This opportunity has opened a lot of doors and many opportunities that have helped me grow personally and professionally.

Q&A with Ellen Dyar

Tell us a bit about how you balance motherhood and your career.

Balancing motherhood and a career.


llen Dyar is business development manager at Yorston and Associates (Y&A), a manufacturer’s rep group in the sign industry. She’s spent eleven years in the sign industry, starting at Matthews Paint in 2009 and then joining Y&A in 2016. In April 2019, she participated in the kickoff session at the ISA Sign Expo for Women Leading the Industry (WLI) as a table lead. WLI is an initiative launched by the International Sign Association together with Sign Builder Illustrated. We spoke with her about her career and the benefits of WLI. SBI: Tell us about your role at Y&A. Dyar: At Y&A, I lead our social media

I am a mother of three children ages seven, five, and eight months, so life can be hectic managing family and my career. Lots of coffee is a must! I am very schedule oriented and like lists to stay on track. When I learned the idea of urgent versus important and the Time Management Matrix by Stephen Covey, it was a life changer. I didn’t realize how much time I spent managing crisis. There are still weeks when I don’t create a quadrant list and the stress builds up so I have to get back on track managing myself. I also have a strong support system and husband to push me and step in when I travel. Why did you get involved with WLI? The sign and visual graphics industry has needed a program like this for a long time in order to encourage the involvement of women. This program gives

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564; Agreement #40612608; IMEX Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 88 Pine St. 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005 Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices.

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Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. Non-qualified subscriptions Print version, Digital version, Both Print & Digital versions: 1 year US/Canada/Mexico $50.00; foreign $99.00. Single Copies are $15.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid for in U.S. funds only.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

April 2020

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women a safe place to discuss aspirations, challenges, and issues we face in our day-to-day roles. What are some of the benefits of a program like WLI? There are so many benefits, and this program supports and nurtures growth for all of us women in the industry. It provides the opportunity to learn from the most successful women in the industry. Can you speak to any benefits you specifically have received from WLI? It has provided me with an awareness of how many other women are in the industry and has given me a fresh perspective of where the industry is headed. Would you recommend other women join WLI? I highly recommend that every woman become involved in WLI. The sign industry is so vast. This network of women makes it seem a little smaller and easier to navigate with a common group of people who have similar experiences and face similar challenges. WLI provides support and education for women in the industry. As the membership grows, so does the body of knowledge we can share with one another to further our success in the industry. Do you have any advice for how women can progress in their careers? Never say no to an opportunity that is presented to you even if it is out of your comfort zone. Get involved as much as you can with your local sign associations, attend industry shows and events, make as many connections as possible, and never stop learning. You grow from every opportunity.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1407, Cedar Rapids, IA. 52406-1407. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to-activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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