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N u m b e r 258

S The How-To Magazine

D ec e m b e r 2016 | s i g n s h o m


illustrated S i g n B u i l d e r I l lu st r at e d

USSC Sign Design

Winners Multimedia, identity, graphics, & more!

HOW TO Signage is Everywhere‌ And Everything!

Service Trucks Before, During, and After an installation

D e c e m b e r 201 6

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Contents December 2016

Vol. 30

No. 258

How-To Columns

14 18



By Peter Perszyk The application of organic and fake textures to your sign project.


By David Hickey Students and planners are the future of our industry.


8 10 54 56


Today’s the day! Editor Jeff Wooten reveals how, yes, every day is indeed an important day.


DOOH goes to the dogs (and cats); a winning sign shop.

Sign Show

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

SBI Marketplace

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade.

Shop Talk

Ashley Bray enrolls with Poyant Signs as they participate in Sign Manufacturing Day.


22 28 32 36

28 2

Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016

44 48


By Jeff Wooten Announcing this year’s USSC Sign Design Competition winners.


By John Fulena Break through the distractions with unexpected signage.


By Jeff Wooten A sign studio finds a big niche with fleet graphics.


By Ashley Bray What to do before, during, and after an installation requiring service equipment.

GREENer cuts

By Brad Burnett Carving out a “living” sign design.

trimless CHANNELS

By James Cross The latest trends in channel letter fabrication.

​Cover Photo: Danthonia Designs of NSW, Australia.





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December 2016, Vol. 30, No. 258 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation

Subscriptions: 800-895-4389

For Must-Have Sign Products! Wholesale Signage Distributors Manufacturers

executive offices President and Chairman Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr. “The holidays came early with a new design.”

Publisher Arthur J. Sutley 55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7247 ; Fax: 212-633-1863

editorial Editor Jeff Wooten 323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212-620-7244

Head to our Marketplace section on pages 54-55

Managing Editor Ashley Bray 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212-620-7220

“A whole new look with the same great content.”

Contributing Writers Brad Burnett, James Cross, John Fulena, David Hickey, Peter Perszyk, Mark Roberts

art Creative Director Wendy Williams “Presenting: the new and improved SBI. Enjoy!”

Art Director Nicole Cassano Graphic Designer Aleza Leinwand

production Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers

circulation Circulation Director Maureen Cooney

advertising sales National Sales Director Jeff Sutley 212-620-7233 Mid-West & West Coast Sales Manager Heather Bonato 212-620-7225 Marketplace & Buyer’s Guide Amy Lennox 212-620-7221 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


Sign Builder Illustrated

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December 2016 11/17/16 11:30 AM

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Editor’s Column


By Jeff Wooten

February 2017 February 16-17:

The Midwest Sign Association will conduct its winter meeting at the Hilton Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (

February 16-18:

Graphics of the Americas Expo & Conference will be held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (

April 2017

Today’s the Day

April 19-22:

Yes, every day is indeed an important day.


Sign Builder Illustrated

as National Boss Day on October 16 (carve something nice for them!). Speaking of boss-employee relations, Dushyant Sukhija, in his book, The Cisco Way: Leadership Lessons Learned from One of the World’s Greatest Technology Services Companies, posits that, since traditional manufacturing has transitioned to digital services, it’s important for a successful business today to “align employees to a common goal [no individual, directionless mavericks], create a nurturing environment [reward and recognize stand-out employees], harness employees’ intellectual horsepower [help them build their skills], and drive exceptional thought leadership [look for people with a command of your business’s mission].” It’s also a brand-new day for our magazine. Holding this copy or reading it on your tablet, you’ll notice we have undergone a major redesign. The new look not only reflects the aesthetics of today, but also recognizes how people acquire and comprehend information. Welcome to the new Sign Builder Illustrated. Spearheaded by Art Director Nicole Cassano and Graphic Designer Aleza Leinwand, our redesign combines substance with style and hopefully brings a new benefit to your reading experience.

Jeff Wooten Editor,

December 2016

June 2017 June 7-11:

The Texas Sign Association Annual Conference happens at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. (

July 2017 July 26-30:

The Mid South Sign Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show takes place at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee. (

Shutterstock/Bychykhin Olexandr


o you know what today is? The reason I ask this question is that, thanks to social media, it appears every single day is a hashtag celebration for a certain product or cause. And it is! For example, did you know that this month alone it’s time to recognize National Eat a Red Apple Day (December 1)? Or National Flashlight Day (December 21)? Or, believe it or not, National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (December 16)? And get ready for it—National Bacon Day on December 30!!! Circling back around to my earlier question to you, hopefully you answered, “It’s a brand-new day to help increase my business!” In the sign world, we recently celebrated 2016 National “Girls Who Print” Day at GRAPH EXPO (September 26), as well as Small Business Saturday (held every Saturday after Thanksgiving Thursday). In this issue, you’ll read about this year’s Sign Manufacturing Day, observed annually on the first Friday in October. The International Sign Association (ISA) partners with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to help an increasing number of sign shops open their doors to students and introduce them to a career in sign making. Maybe our coverage will inspire you to partake in next year’s event? And keep in mind that next year brings National Employee Appreciation Day on March 3 (hey, give your CNC operator a new set of drill bits!), as well

The ISA International Sign Expo takes place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (

August 2017 August 11-13:

The Tri-State Sign Expo commences at the Downstream Casino Resort in Joplin, Missouri. (









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In The Industry

DOOH Goes to the

Dogs (and Cats)


ew York City, New York— This past October, people walking the streets of New York City or taking its subways no doubt noticed images of dogs wearing wigs, cats sporting lipstick, iguanas adorning ponchos, and other anthropomorphic activities on digital kiosks. This promotion— featuring lovable pets dressed up in cute, creative costumes—was actually the first seamless above- and below-ground Digital Out of Home (DOOH) ad campaign. The company Intersection (intersection. com) created and broadcasted these images under the hashtag #PawlloweenNYC, while inviting the public to upload photos to Instagram of their own pets dressed in Halloween costumes for the week-long 8

Sign Builder Illustrated

campaign that ended on November 1. “Who doesn’t love a dressed-up animal?” says Dave Etherington, chief strategy officer at Intersection. “Knowing New Yorkers love animals, we dressed up many different pets in time for Halloween and had a bit of fun with that.” Intersection is made up of technologists, media specialists, engineers, designers, and strategists using digital advertising to improve the urban experience, make an impact, and “create value for citizens, governments, and brands to make experiences more connected, more seamless, and more human.” The company also wanted to use the #PawlloweenNYC campaign to create a unifying experience across their

December 2016

two cutting-edge MTA On the Go and LinkNYC media platforms. LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with kiosks that provide superfast, free gigabit public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, and a tablet for access to city services, maps, and directions. LinkNYC is completely free because it’s funded through DOOH advertising (and generating more than a half billion dollars in revenue for the city). “We’re not only changing the way the street looks and how people connect,” says Etherington, “but also the way advertisers and brands connect with people and different communities.”

A Winning Shop

Vinyl graphics were also applied to stair risers and interior walls.


this promotion was the first seamless above- and belowground DOOH ad campaign.

Intersection also partnered with the NewYork City MTA to roll out On the Go (OTG), a citywide underground network of smart, interactive digital kiosks that improves the rider experience, increases revenue, and streamlines operations across North America’s largest transit system. As a means of generating revenue, OTG has out-performed expectations. #PawlloweenNYC was an unprecedented project Intersection devised to combine the OTG platform with the LinkNYC platform—two companies that had been operating separately from their perspective— with the same voice and campaign. The campaign was featured on 400 LinkNYC displays in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx and 160 OTG touchscreen kiosks

deployed in thirty-three stations. “It was not just a fun exercise to share great photos and make New Yorkers smile, but it also helps our company and other brands speak with them moving forward through a united ‘upstairsdownstairs’ communication network,” says Etherington. Intersection is already planning a year’s worth of innovative campaign content to connect above- and below-ground audiences. “One of the things we’re great at here is working with technology and innovating on existing technology,” says Etherington, “so connecting these two networks was pretty easy. The most difficult part was getting a cat to sit still for more than five minutes wearing a wig or dress.”

eattle, Washington—, a national sign products distributor of HP Latex & UV printers, announced the winner of an HP Latex 110 printer from their drawing at September’s SGIA Show in Las Vegas, in which all visitors to the their booth were registered. The winner is NW Graphic Imaging ( of Corvalis, Oregon. Certificate of ownership was presented to Matthew Holzapfel, Owner; Nate Elston, Production Manager; and Tyler Davison, Graphic Designer (all three are pictured below). NW Graphic Imaging designs and produce signs, banners, vehicle graphics, tradeshow displays, and more that help customers stand out in a crowd. With over 500 different media types that latex can print on, the equipment opens up a whole new category of clientele that they can reach and market to. It also increases production and affords the sign company many g re e n b e n ef i ts, i n c l u d i n g a n energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR®qualified printer; recyclable ink cartridges, printheads, and maintenance supplies; and odorless prints with low chemical emissions into indoor air.

December 2016

Sign Builder Illustrated


Sign Show DIGITAL PRINTING EQUIPMENT/SUPPLIES ITI: Dual Production Sublimation Printer is Now Available with High-speed Printheads Inkjet Technology, Inc. (ITI) has introduced the ITI3200-TXK, their latest 3.2-meter, dual production mode textile printer. This newest model comes configured with Kyocera KJ4B high-speed production printheads and is available in a two or four Kyocera printhead configuration for speeds up to 2,195 square feet/hour. The new printer incorporates an advanced media handling system to accommodate both transfer paper and direct-to-fabric media. It also utilizes the same ITI OEM ink formulation that can be used for both of these dual production applications. An optional internal bottom-mounted heater is available for direct-to-fabric applications. The ITI3200TXK comes standard with an internal vacuum system. (844) 259-0648;

LED MODULES/TUBES/STRIPS Keystone Technologies Introduces a “Smart” HID Replacement LED Lamp Keystone Technologies has added a SmartDrive lamp to their line of HID Replacement LED Lamps. The new SmartDrive HID LED lamp is designed for both high bay and low bay applications. Its rated lifetime of 50,000-plus hours is almost triple the rated lifetime of metal halide lamps and offers an immediate energy savings of at least 50 percent. SmartDrive technology means installers simply plug-and-play with the existing magnetic ballast. There are no wiring changes required. When Keystone SmartDrive HID replacement LED lamps are installed with Keystone ballasts, the ballast warranty is extended by three years. That’s a five-year total system warranty, which no other manufacturer can match.

LED Tape Light from National Specialty Lighting National Specialty Lighting (NSL) has announced that its LED Tape Light combines high light output associated with standard fixtures with unique flexibility, which allows it to be concealed in the tiniest of coves and under cabinets or showcases. It is also available in an outdoor version for patios, decks, back lighting, and many more applications. It delivers remarkable light output at just 2.1 to 5.8 watts per foot (depending upon the model chosen). The extrusions are ideal for recessed or in-cabinet applications. LED Strip is available in Cool White (6500K), Warm White (3000K), and RGB Color Change and Color Adjust (2500K-7000K) for dramatic effects.

SloanLED SignBOX RapidStick is Now Available in Twelve Sizes SloanLED has launched nine additional sizes of SignBOX™ RapidStick™, including 60-inch and 120-inch lamps. SignBOX RapidStick is the brightest and fastest option available for retrofitting fluorescent sign cabinets. SignBOX RapidStick sizes now range from eighteen inches up to 120 inches. SignBOX RapidStick can be used with single or double‑sided cabinets, providing bright, even 360‑degree illumination and allowing for fast installation into existing sockets. LED lighting technology increases the typical cabinet light efficiency to an average of 127 lm/W and extends the life of the lighting versus fluorescent. SignBOX RapidStick works with the SloanLED 24 VDC 100 Watt power supply, which can be loaded with 14 to 20 linear feet of SignBOX RapidStick per single power supply.

ROUTERS/ENGRAVERS Roland DGA Announces the Launch of the METAZA MPX-95 Photo Impact Printer and Gift Kit With its diamond stylus and powerful impact force, the METAZA MPX-95 from Roland DGA can imprint photos, logos, messages, and other decorations quickly and with pinpoint accuracy on plastics as well as metals such as stainless steel, gold, silver, and aluminum. Incorporating a removable base table and plate, the MPX-95 is capable of working with larger items as well. It comes standard with METAZA Studio software and a built-in laser pointer that assists in identifying the area to be marked. An optional Gift Kit includes a fully adjustable center vise with clamp pins that holds irregular-shaped items for repeat personalization, plus a standard center vise that enables imprinting onto different items in quick succession.


Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016


Sign Builder Illustrated


Sign Show Effective, Versatile, and Easy-to-use Wide Format CO2 Laser System from Techno Techno CNC’s new wide format CO2 Laser is an affordable solution for production shops requiring highspeed cutting, engraving, and marking applications in wood, plastic, glass, and more. This heavy-duty, state-of-the-art precision laser machine has an easy-to-use control console, intuitive software interface, and open architecture compatibility with popular graphic software packages. It produces excellent results with smooth edge finishes and fine detail. Techno offers models in an assortment of sizes for all shops and budgets, including free lifetime technical support. (631) 648-7481;

SIGN BLANKS/PANELS/SUBSTRATES Rowmark LLC Achieves Recertification of ISO 9001 for its Quality Management System Rowmark and its custom division Premier Material Concepts (PMC), an extruder of custom plastic sheet and roll stock for the thermoforming industry, have completed recertification of ISO 9001 Quality Management System. Rowmark first received ISO 9001 certification in December 2004 and is the only engravable plastic sheet manufacturer that adheres to the rigorous requirements of ISO 9001. A key element of ISO 9001 is mandatory certification by an independent, accredited auditor. ISO certification means that Rowmark continues to implement business processes and procedures that ensure the highest quality performance in all aspects of the quality management system.

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Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016

9/19/16 3:37 PM

Sign Show SOFTWARE- DESIGN/PRINT/ROUTER/ESTIMATING AXYZ Introduces PANELBuilder 17 AXYZ International offers PANELBuilder 17, an advanced, easy-to-use software solution with a custom machine design. AXYZ is also introducing PANELTracker, which will keep track of panels through the manufacturing process and allow users to know exactly where they stand on a particular job and whether they are going to meet their time frames. Designed exclusively for aluminum composite material fabricators, PANELBuilder allows users to quickly and easily develop a library of panels using the built-in powerful parametric modeling through the use of a built-in CAD drawing package or by importing existing drawings via DXF or DWG formats. The software then automatically generates machine toolpaths for cutting all of the panels. (800) 361-3408;

TOOLS Kett Tool Introduces Wrench-free Nibbler for Easier Operation The KL-2020 14-Gauge Nibbler from Kett Tool Company is a lightweight, wrench-free nibble that features a rotating head. The KL-2020 nibbler boasts a unique die design that allows for unmatched maneuverability in cutting sheet metal; it can be locked into four different positions (in ninety-degree increments). A rotation of the hand changes the angle of the die, while the free-floating punch design extends time between replacements. The KL-2020 cuts 14-gauge cold rolled (C.R.) mild steel and most grades of stainless to 16-gauge. At just tenand-a-half inches and four pounds, this four-amp, 2500 RPM straight handle electric nibbler delivers a burr-free cut of flat and corrugated sheet metal up to sixty-five inches per minute. (513) 271-0333;

Produce all your current print/cut work at a higher quality with a shorter turnaround at a lower per print cost with the Mimaki CJV150 Series. Mimaki_CJV150_H_SBI0816.indd


December 2016

Sign Builder Illustrated 7/13/16


9:31 AM


By Peter Perszyk

Textured Faces The application of organic and fake textures to your sign project. plus. It creates warmth and sends a message; it also helps to diffuse the rear-facing light. It’s difficult to determine, at first glance, if its sign backing is real wood or a faux print. Whether real or fake, the ability to control the exact look is a plus. If printing does the trick, so be it. For some projects, it may be easier to design and print a specific look than to design and actually find that specific look.



he benefit of using a textured sign face or backer is that it can be very forgiving. Textures help to camouflage any failings and nuances in the visual cacophony of the sign. After all, a single ding on a painted aluminum post-and-panel can send it back to the shop for a fill, sand, and repaint. Experience has taught us that, when there is an attempt to make a large, solid, singular color surface, flaws are always magnified. Adding randomness to the equation can do the trick. The randomness of organic materials makes them a simple and timeproven source for use as a textured or patterned sign background. Wood and concrete stucco have existed for years either as backing for a sign or as the actual signage itself. The failing with some organic materials, however, is their lifespan. Nicely finished wood only looks that way until the sun and the weather alters the exterior coating. Then again, it would be hard to make a brand-new, weathered14

Sign Builder Illustrated

looking sign, as many of them appear to have taken years to achieve. So while textured sign faces aren’t necessarily new, the ability to purchase a greater variety of textures—or to create defined textures digitally—is the newest trend. To capitalize on this trend, work smarter. Look for a material other than those flat, unfinished sheets you may already have in inventory. Or visit an architectural tradeshow for inspiration. You may come across a description like Cobblestone Pattern Aluminum Mosaic that gets the brain thinking. Or you might be tempted to experiment with powder coating CNC shapes cut from MDF in speckle tone patterns. Let’s take a look at some other examples of natural and fake sign face textures you can employ in your work: Photo 1. With the sign world embracing LED illumination more and more, the added feature from this textured wood background proves to be a

December 2016

Photo 2. There is a vast market with ready-made glass, acrylic, metal, and components that are already patterned, textured, and visually diverse. Some are mass-produced, while others are limited run and show that amazing spark of human creativity. Many are adaptable for the sign industry, even if they are not specifically marketed for that reason. The architectural market appears to look for—and call out—existing materials that the sign industry works with in-house. Reverse the process; emulate such products in the printing phase or with a combination of specific materials and prints. The results may look very close to the original. Your in-house ability may be tested but don’t let the confines of some unique designs limit your creativity. If you don’t have the ability to produce textured patterns via an inhouse CNC router, team up with a local vendor to apply cut-in patterns or textures across stock acrylic colors to arrive at an uncommon face. Photo 3. “What’s on the shelf?” is a favorite line to ask a supplier. A close review of this number “8” shows the wall surface to be textured, the body of the number to be the patterned shiny metal sheet, and the inset bands to have a textured finish applied. Each finish has a random appearance.

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Sign Builder Illustrated



By Peter Perszyk



It is often hard to get close enough to touch, but conjecture helps to fill in the blanks. This looks a little like “Pattern 6-WL (Wavy)� if I found the same sheet online. Photo 4. Backers are a modern trend that aide in the use of halo-glow letters in less-than-ideal situations. This set of letters is very well done. They have great color contrast, and the backer has what could be a custom-cut wave pattern or a pair of sheets stacked to give a bound edge appearance. Is the use of a curvy ripple in this backer intended to help diffuse the reverse letter lighting? Photo 5. One of the easiest ways to get a texture for your sign project is to fake it. This image could be showing the real thing (denim adhesive bonded to the cut characters) or it could be a digital print. To accentuate the look of a certain texture, an oversized repetition would still look real but also aide the recognition from a greater distance.

4 5


Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016

Photo 6. While it is possible to have reverse-illuminated, push-thru letters on an actual marble background, it is also, I would imagine, easier to reproduce the marble digitally. With the quality of printers available today, life outdoors for printed vinyl can be several years. Photo 7. One use for employing textures in your printing output is to enhance a basic layout and eliminate any of the classic printer issues. This photo shows a graphic that does not necessarily have a textured pattern across it. It does, however, have a design that accomplishes what a texture would do. Break up the bland areas of the sign into less noticeable color tone variations. (Note: The external splash lighting also assists.) You see bands of color tone and dividing geometry that reverses that color. This keeps the client from asking about

How To



horizontal banding in the background or the speckled, outside-the-gamut method of ink application. Photo 8. The variety with which sign companies create the faux often surprises. I found this pylon along a bike trail in the Midwest. What caught my eye was the beautiful condition and tone the wood had, while age was evident from the metal of the cabinet. The retainer had even aged with a stippled blotchy patina. That being said, you’re now probably guessing that the wood texture on this sign looks so good because it’s not wood. What makes this a great texture? Is it the fact that modern consumers have decided that fake takes on the appearance of real because we’re not intimately aware of what the real item actually is? I find it’s best to just keep them guessing.

8 6



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December 2016 11/15/16 3:08 PM

Sign Builder Illustrated




Here’s the Story Students and planners are the future of our industry.


hen you ask a sign, graphics, or visual communications company about their biggest challenges, two issues are often mentioned: unreasonable government codes and regulations, and finding and keeping qualified workers. While ISA’s advocacy team works on the former, ISA has launched another initiative to solve the workforce issue. Participants in Sign Manufacturing Day, held annually the first Friday in October, open up their facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Students and teachers from local high schools, community colleges, and technical facilities learn more about the great careers in our industry. This past October, forty companies opened up forty-six locations. “It is good for the industry,” said Charles Blanchard, vice president of sales for Steel Art Company and a Sign Manufacturing Day participant. “The awareness of a career in the sign, graphics, and visual communications industry 18

Sign Builder Illustrated

has largely gone unattended. If presented in a genuine forum, the industry will benefit from the potential applicants who now may wish to consider exploring this avenue. We suspect that the hardest thing to find in any business are

we’re seeing that showcasing the industry brings its benefits. good, qualified candidates. This is a step in that direction.” Many have done more than just take a step. They’ve built a regular pipeline by enhancing relationships with local educators. This has resulted in internships and full-time hires. This is a vital step towards solving one of the most pressing issues facing the industry.

December 2016

Another pressing issue is related to unreasonable sign codes. And raising awareness is paying off there too. To date, ISA has trained nearly 3,500 planners through our Planning for Sign Code Success™ events and other educational opportunities throughout the country. At each event, ISA and Affiliated Associations, using resources developed by The Signage Foundation, help planners understand more about our industry. With more knowledge about the technology—as well as the economic benefits to businesses in their communities—they have a better ability to develop more reasonable sign codes. It may seem odd to tie together educating students about careers and educating planners about regulating our products, but they do share a few things in common. Without these intensive efforts to solve the problems, both would limit the ability of the industry to grow. And all signs point toward companies that want to grow. In the ISA Pulse survey—designed to take the temperature of sign, graphics, and visual communications companies each year—67 percent of companies said they hoped to hire in the coming year. Obviously without a pool of qualified candidates that won’t be possible. If they do not hire, they can’t increase production or seek new lines of business. In the same manner, companies that can’t secure permits to install signs are inhibited in their ability to grow and to help end-users do the same. The solution is the same too: sharing the story of the great benefits in our industry. For an industry that is highly visible, people often do not think about what it takes to conceive, create, and install a sign. So they may not think of our industry first when it comes to careers. And they may not give consideration to the

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value that the industry brings to communities in terms of economic growth. But when we open up our industry and our facilities and share the work that we are doing, the light bulb goes off. Planners get it. Students/future

workers get it. We have a great story to tell. And for a long time, our industry has kept its focus on showcasing the work. But we are seeing that showcasing the industry brings its benefits too. The only website dedicated to the sign industry itself Substance Over Style FASI has reconfigured its website to make all of its information more accessible. We’ve deleted the nice photos, attractive fonts and bright colors in favor of making critically important information visible on the home page. FASI will continue to seek ways to remain the clearinghouse of information for and about the sign industry. We’re pleased with the very positive feedback we’ve received while exhibiting at the MidSouth, Midwest and Northeast States Sign Assn. tradeshows, and we look forward to being in Atlantic City for USSC’s Sign World show, December 1-3. FASI welcomes your feedback.

HDU Machining with Precision Board Plus The following content from Coastal Enterprises is featured on the Blog Posts section at A wide variety of HSS cutters commonly used for wood and plastics work very well for machining Precision Board Plus HDU, and a wide range of settings will produce great results. Remember it is always a good idea to optimize your chip load by setting your feed rate and cutter speed to yield the largest chip that produces the desired surface finish. While Precision Board Plus HDU does not conduct heat and is non-abrasive, this will ensure that heat is carried away from the cutter, prolonging tool life. LMT Onsrud reminds us of this useful formula: Chip Load = Feed rate/RPM x # of flutes. To increase chip load: • Increase feed rate • Decrease RPM • Use a cutter with fewer flutes To decrease chip load: • Decrease feed rate • Increase RPM • Use a cutter with more flutes Proper cutter selection and machine setup will produce a smooth cut, leaving chips that fall to the ground and do not become airborne.

Wade Swormstedt, Executive Director Email: Phone: (513) 701-2197


Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016











P.O. BOX 802050 SANTA CLARITA, CA 91380 TOOL FROM YOUR WEB P: 661-259-0700/F: 661-259-0900 WWW.YJINC.COM

sign design BY jeff wooten

Announcing this year’s USSC Sign Design Competition winners.


inners of the 2016 USSC Sign Design Competition were recently selected and announced by the judges at the organization’s headquarters in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The USSC Sign Design Contest is one that judges real signs—signs that have been ordered by a customer and built to specification and signs that are being viewed by the general public day after day. (Note: The United States Sign Council (USSC) is an association of sign professionals dedicated to providing research and education to all who are involved in the sign industry.) All the winning entries will be displayed at Sign World International, being held December 1-3, 2016 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Judges this year were Wendy Kern of Bartush Sign in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, and Gary Kleiman of SignFixers of Delmarva in Salisbury, Maryland. First Place winners are:


USSc Sign Design Recap

“Banners, Murals, or Supergraphics” L & H Companies of Reading, Pennsylvania (company and location) Scott Long (designer) Lehigh University (project) “Building Sign, External or Non-Illuminated” Metro Sign & Awning of Tewksbury, Massachusetts Susan E. MacGregor (designer) Marcou Jewelers (project) “Building Sign, Internal Illumination” San Signs & Awnings of Yonkers, New York Michael Santoliquido (designer) Corona Vision (project) 22

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Carved/Dimensional, Affixed to a Building

December 2016

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“Sign Systems” Creative Sign Designs of Tampa, Florida Creative Sign Designs (designer) Storrey Communities (project) “Vehicles” Typestries Sign & Digital of Manahawkin, New Jersey Eric Bourgeois and Rick McDonough (designers) Johann Tile (project)

Best in Show

since the inside of magical scraps is captivating with bright colors and patterns, house of signs designed a sign with captivating textures and finishes. “Carved/Dimensional, Affixed to a Building” House of Signs of Frisco, Colorado Roger Cox and Periandros Damoulis (designers) Log Cabin Cafe (project) “Electronic Message Center Sign” Danthonia Designs of NSW, Australia Nancy Kaiser (designer) Exmouth Shire Council (project) “Freestanding Sign, External or Non-illuminated” Peachtree City Foamcraft and Signs Unlimited of Schnecksville, Pennsylvania Peachtree City Foamcraft (designer) Mountain Springs (project) 24

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“Freestanding Sign, Internal Illumination” Metro Sign & Awning of Tewksbury, Massachusetts Susan E. MacGregor (designer) Center at Innovation Drive (project) “Monument Sign, External or Non-illuminated” Danthonia Designs of NSW, Australia Nancy Kaiser (designer) Shire of Tammin (project) “Monument Sign, Illuminated” Creative Sign Designs of Tampa, Florida Creative Sign Designs (designer) City of Newnan (project) “Multimedia” House of Signs of Frisco, Colorado Roger Cox and Periandros Damoulis Breckenridge Creative Arts (project)

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This year’s “Best in Show” selected by the judges was awarded to Roger Cox and Peris Damoulis, designers at the House of Signs in Frisco, Colorado, for Magical Scraps (an entry that also claimed First Place for the “Carved/ Dimensional Sign-Monument or Freestanding” category). “Magical Scraps, located in Breckenridge, Colorado, is a unique boutique for women and children,” says Cox. “They have an on-site studio where they design and make their own line of fun clothing and accessories, which are sold in their retail store and all over the state of Colorado at markets and craft fairs.” The shop had been using a simple, orange-and-brown panel featuring their name painted on it with hard-to-decipher drawn beads running down the right-side. This particular panel was attached to a basic wooden post and appeared to be dated to say the least. Since the inside of the Magical Scraps store is very captivating with bright colors and one-of-a-kind patterns on their clothing and accessories line, Cox and Periandros wanted to design a sign that also had captivating textures and finishes. “Their existing sign did not resonate the unique experience of visiting this shop, which was another important focus,” says Cox. “The vertical post was also designed to match the ornamental porch columns on their building. Cox and Periandros incorporated their orange and brown brand colors and took their simple logo to new heights for this sign. The sign and post are predominantly constructed from HDU Corafoam from DUNA-USA. According to Cox, their goal was to use no visible mounting hardware so that the sign appeared to “grow” out of the vertical post. “This required a

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lot of engineering,” he says, “and on-site assembly proved quite tricky.” House of Signs built the internal steel frame that supports the sign and internal wood support in a concrete footer concealed inside the HDU post sleeve. “The whimsical logo element was made from

hand-cut tin shapes and steel rod, welded connections, and painted with varying colors of metallic silver and gold,” says Cox. Cox says that this was a very dynamic sign featuring a nice blend of the traditional and modern—elements that he feels helped this creation capture

the “Best in Show” award. “The complementing textures and color palettes make it a very unique and inviting sign to look at,” he says. “And the handshaped metal elements give the sign a nice artisan touch.” House of Signs also used Corafoam HDU as the predominant substrate for the new sign they carved and created for their First-Place “Carved/Dimensional, Affixed to a Building” sign for the Log Cabin Café, one of the longest running cafes in Frisco (and one that’s actually located just outside their design-studio window). It too was an upgrade from a weathered wooden sign panel with painted letters and logos that were peeling. This improved sign features a welded steel support bracket, while the café letters are gilded with 23K gold leaf. The roof shingles are cedar and all the logs are painted and glazed to resemble real logs. The spoon has a faux wood-grain paint effect.

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The five-by-six-foot sign measures 16 inches deep and weighs about 250 pounds. “The many integrated layers were a challenging aspect,” says Cox. For their “Multimedia” entry (http://, House of Signs used HDU with an internal and external welded steel frame and steel mesh base filled with river rocks to create a sign experience for Breckenridge Creative Arts, a multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization that supports and promotes arts, culture, and creative experiences throughout the town of Breckenridge. The arrows are internally illuminated with acrylic push-thrus, and the other lighting is halo-lit with concealed LEDs. “This sign is placed in the core of town every year for a two-week event to help navigate the tens of thousands of visitors to the international Ice Sculpture Championships and Fire Arts Festival,” says Cox. “It needed to capture the passerby’s

Electronic Message Center

attention with an extremely eye-catching presentation, both day and night.” “The modular sign features electrical access inside the box, and all the major components can easily be disassembled,” says Cox, noting that his shop donated this sign ($20,000 value)

and therefore became one of the visible sponsors for the event. To view all the USSC Sign Design Contest winning entries, visit Some portions of this article were featured in a USSC press release.

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Customization By John Fulena

Signage Is Everywhere And

Everything T

oday, everywhere you go, dozens (if not hundreds) of messages are vying for your audience’s attention. And it’s not just other signage. Every person you’re trying to reach is carrying a distraction factory in their pocket—assuming it’s not already out in their hands and


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keeping them from seeing the stunning signs you’ve worked so hard on. Despite the competition for attention, the signage industry is booming ( Many sign shops are rising to the occasion to produce outstanding signs and communications that hit home with audiences

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every day, everywhere. One way to break through the daily distractions is by putting your message in places people might not expect—like wraps on cars, walls, windows, grocery store carts, etc. Applications are now also being printed on unlikely substrates such as glass, plywood, sheet

Photo: Top Value Fabrics.

Break through the Break through the distractions with distractions with unexpected signage. unexpected signage.

metal, and even objects. In fact, your imagination is really your only limit. Backlit’s Back Backlit applications have always been eye-catching. They “pop” in a certain way that consumers aren’t used to seeing.

plications of the sort you want backlit signs to be. Day/night applications look good with and without backlighting so you get the most out of your signage without having to pay to keep the illumination on the whole time. This effect is most readily achieved by including a layer of white ink to more sharply define the colors in the piece, so they stand out clearly no matter the lighting. Fortunately competition is driving the cost of white inks and presses that can handle them down—lower than ever before. At the same time, latex inks have made huge strides in recent years and are providing high-quality and quick curing times without the toxic fumes associated with solvent inks. What that translates to for backlit signage is faster turnaround times; the ability to work on more backlit applications back to back without the need for OSHA-mandated breaks from the print environment; the ability to add more finishing options (such as laminating, coating, and cutting); and more environmentally sustainable business practices, all of which—including the latter, due to customer goodwill—help boost revenue.

A backlit image commands your attention. But, historically, they have been very difficult and often expensive to produce. The ROI is big, but the upfront investment in skills and material costs could prove daunting. White inks are crucial to the simplest processes for creating “day/night” ap-

Be Clingy Clings—wall, ceiling, floor, vehicle, and otherwise—help you print on the unprintable. No matter how nice your flatbed, it’ll likely be pretty tough to get a car on it (though maybe with the right jig and some advice, stick to the cling.) This medium is also reaping a lot of the benefits from the rise of latex. With solvent-printed clings, you have to wait as much as six to eight hours to apply them to your chosen surface. If you don’t, the inks won’t be fully dried, and you risk streaking and ruining the application you worked so hard for and put so many resources into. In today’s fast-paced marketing environments, any delay is too long and can make or break a time-sensitive campaign. Latex’s faster dry times mean latex clings are ready to squeegee up just about as fast as you can print them.

December 2016

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White inks are crucial to backlit signs.

One way to break through the daily distractions is by putting your message in places people might not expect—like wraps on walls and windows. Something important to keep in mind when considering clings: Just how clingy do you want to be? Selecting the right level of adhesive for your substrate is a huge part of producing effective clings. Sure, in an age of lightning-fast campaigns, it may be tempting to go with a very low level of adhesive, but what happens when humidity hits and your message starts peeling off the walls after a couple of hours? You’re out the cost of your campaign, you don’t get the message out, and you may very well end up losing that customer for good. Two major factors go into the adhesive choice: environment and cam30

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paign duration. If you intend to keep a message in one spot for years on end, get the stickiest stuff you can find and laminate it as much as you physically can while preserving the optics on your beautiful signage. At the same time, your cling has to be able to hold up to the elements of where you intend to put it. If you put your message on the steps of a busy train station, it’ll likely look impressive and will reach a lot of people—that is, unless it’s not extremely adhesive and over-laminated and gets scuffed, peeled off, and pulled out of place in all the foot traffic. A good marketer knows how they

December 2016

want their audience to engage with their signage. This is just a slightly more literal approach. Earlier I mentioned the rather unlikely possibility of loading an entire vehicle onto a flatbed printer. While it was just an attempt at comic relief, it does go to show just how absurdly far you have to go to reach the limits of flatbeds’ capabilities for handling challenging substrates. The kinds of things these presses can print on are off the charts: doors, pencils, erasers, surfboards, golf balls, golf tees, drink cozies, and glass windows—to name a few. Remember how we talked about those “distraction factories,” the smartphones, in everyone’s pockets? Well you can print on phone cases, too. So even when your audience is looking at their phones, they—and those around them—are also looking at your message. Once you find your substrate and the right jig for the job, you can start mass printing to that strange substrate, churning out branded whatevers extremely quick. And to bring it back to ink

Photos: (Left) Contra Vision; (Right) 3M.

Clings help you print on the unprintable.

ments, thanks to faster drying times, your throughput starts to become limited only by how quickly you can load the jigs. These newer inks dry even faster—about 40 percent faster we’ve found—than their forebears. That means you can produce ready-to-ship merchandise more quickly and easily than ever before. While it may sometimes feel like there are distractions everywhere that keep your audience’s eyes from your message, it’s important to remember there are also signage opportunities everywhere. Thanks to today’s printing technologies, you can get your message just about anywhere your audience’s eyes can go. It takes creativity, some talent, and a little training, but the days of technology limiting your signage capabilities are over. Today the only limit to your creations is your imagination.




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Flatbed printers even allow you to print on phone cases, too.

December 2016

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Wraps By Jeff Wooten

A sign studio finds a big niche with fleet graphics.



hen it comes to vehicle graphics, Darin Schneider, owner of SpeedPro Imaging in Denver, Colorado, has learned from first-hand experience that fleet wraps are a worthy investment for his studio to pursue. Schneider’s team most recently worked on two very successful, very big fleet projects in the Denver area: (1.) wrapping 800 Denver Comcast vehicles with a rebranded NBC peacock logo, and (2.) wrapping the Colorado Department 32

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of Transportation (CDOT)’s Bustang public transportation fleet. Fleet graphics act as a moving billboard. Companies not only benefit by building up their own brand recognition, but the wraps also help identify the vehicles (particularly when it comes to bus routes), as well as help protect paint and increase the later resale value of the vehicle. When it comes to wraps for fleets, it’s important that they effectively portray their company’s message. Because most people are going to see

December 2016

a vehicle wrap while it’s moving on the highway, Schneider advises not to overload the wrap with information. “You want to keep [the design] pretty simple,” he says. “Doing a flashy background that catches attention is pretty effective, but as far as actual information you want to convey, your client should make sure their name and logo, services they provide, phone number, and URL address are [included]. “The more information you’re throwing at the public, the less they’re going to

All Photos: SpeedPro Imaging of Denver, Colorado.


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remember about it.” When it comes to design work for wraps, Schneider takes an iterative approach. “We’ll talk to the client and get some core ideas to what they’re thinking as far as the information and images they want,” he says. “Then we’ll typically generate a couple of different mock-up options to share with them and gauge what they like and don’t like. It’s typically two or three iterations before we’re dialed into the design they want.” Schneider’s design team likes to work

work for our purposes or [instead] pixelate,” he says, noting that they typically print from an EPS or PDF file. Schneider’s designers primarily use Adobe Creative Suite when working up designs, and for vehicle graphics, they employ Art Station templates to help set up the graphics. “Even when using templates (which are fairly accurate), we always doublecheck the measurements on the vehicles to make sure we don’t have a problem when we go to install,” he says.

were about 25 percent of our revenue stream,” he says. In an effort to grow their revenue, Schneider advertised his wrap services over the Internet and quickly found success. “Over the past five years, vehicle graphics have increased to 40 to 50 percent of our revenue, depending on the year,” he says. Currently SpeedPro Imaging is using HP latex printers to output vehicle graphics onto 3M vinyl. According to Schneider, latex allows them to laminate

Fleet graphics act as a moving billboard, build up brand recognition, help identify vehicles, protect the paint, and increase the later resale value of the vehicles. with vector art for these large-sized fleet wraps. “This lets us expand it or blow it up to whatever size we need, and it still looks good when it comes off the machine,” he says. “If you’re using photographs as background images or putting them as spot graphics over the vehicle, they have to be a pretty high resolution to work with.” To professionally produce vehicle graphics artwork at full-scale, Schneider tells his customers that images need to be at least 180 dots per inch (dpi). “We can usually get away with 60dpi, but 180-dpi gives us a guideline to look at the art and determine if it will 34

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They design mock-ups and send them over to the client as e-proofs. “If the template is available for that vehicle, we’ll lay it out on the vehicle so they can see, via a PDF, that this is their vehicle and how the graphics are going to look from the different perspectives on it,” says Schneider. Vehicle graphics have long interested Schneider and even played an instrumental role in his making the leap from the field of IT consulting into large format printing. He acquired his SpeedPro Imaging studio five years ago from the existing owners who had opened it five years prior. “When I took over, [vehicle wraps]

December 2016

the print right away instead of having to wait twenty-four hours to outgas (as with eco-solvent). Schneider has two in-house installers and has been working with three subcontractors over the past three years. When it comes to bringing installers onto his staff, he likes to see experience and adaptability. “I’ll test them out usually with one of my company vehicles here at the studio to see how they do,” he says. He also looks to see if they’re open to learning new techniques and don’t think they already know everything. “Yes it’s important that installers have skills, but they also need to be trainable,”

says Schneider. “If you have someone who’s been wrapping for five years, have they updated to learn new techniques?” Although Schneider always tells his clients to bring in their vehicles already washed, he laughs that this rarely happens. “Even if they come in washed, you’re still going to have to wipe them down with isopropyl alcohol to make sure you’re going to achieve a fairly good bond with the adhesive,” he says. Since he knew his shop would be venturing into fleet graphics (sometimes working on very big vehicles), Schneider recognized that size is important. So his facility boasts a 40-by14-foot bay that can accommodate larger installations. Schneider says that the temperature at install time is a very critical factor. “It needs to be at least 50°F and no more than 80°F, or the adhesive won’t get a good bond with the vehicle or be too pliable for install,” he explains. This isn’t the first time Schneider has

worked with Comcast on rebranding a fleet of their vehicles. “When they changed to Xfinity a few years ago, they made a big effort to rebrand all their vans and the trucks with the Xfinity name, which we did,” he says. “Now we had to add the NBC peacock logo to their vans and trucks to keep pace with their corporate image.” It’s probably obvious that there are going to be some unique challenges associated with wrapping fleets of vehicles opposed to a smaller number of cars and trucks. Time is one of them. “With Comcast, in particular, not only did they have a large number of vehicles that they needed done, but their budget meant they needed them finished and out the door in a specific timeframe,” says Schneider. Schneider has perfected the art form of a tight schedule by having different teams rotate on the vehicles. “One will strip the vinyl, while another will install it,” he says. “We’re able to

turn quite a few vehicles this way. “When we were doing the large Xfinity rebrands two or three years ago, we did somewhere between twenty to thirty vehicles in a single day. With the recent NBC peacock logo rebranding, we hit somewhere between forty-five and fifty vehicles on a certain day.” Schneider does advise some of his clients to forgo wrapping the roof of the vehicle. “That’s usually wasted vinyl,” he says, “unless it’s being used on a delivery car that’s delivering downtown with people looking down at it from larger buildings.” Finally when it comes to full vehicle wraps versus partial wraps (or spot decals), Schneider says he hasn’t come across any good metrics that determine one way or the other which one is better. “This decision is typically a function of the client’s budget,” he says, wagering that full wraps are probably remembered by more people since they make a bigger impression by covering the entire vehicle.



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OUTWATER December 2016


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Service Equipment By Ashley Bray

Preparation for an installation shouldn’t begin onsite—it should happen before installers even leave the sign shop.

36 Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016

Installation Information What to do before, during, and after an installation requiring service equipment.


Photos: (Left) Elliott Equipment Company; (Right) IPAF.

nstallations can be as extensive as the fabrication process on many sign jobs. Bucket trucks and cranes are a big part of these installs, and it’s important that they’re used safely and correctly. Read on to learn about how best to use service equipment before, during, and after a sign install. Before the Install Preparation for an installation should begin well before installers are ready to leave for the job site, and it starts by making sure everything is ready. “Make sure all installation hardware, tools, and safety equipment are on the truck prior to leaving the shop,” says Eugene Lewis, president of SignMakers of Hardin County, Inc. (, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Lewis owns a Terex crane with a CraneMate™ work platform from Reach-All LLC ( attached. The extra large, ten-foot-long work platform has a 1000-pound capacity with hydraulic leveling and rotation of the work platform. Lewis suggests permanently stocking the truck with common installation hardware and a complete set of tools. “You don’t want to waste time transferring tools and hardware between trucks or having to leave the job site to pick up needed hardware or tools,” he says. Bryan Wilkerson, vice president of Wilkie Manufacturing LLC (wilkiemfg. com), agrees. “A back and forth trip can be very costly, considering someone is tied up driving when they could be using the time effectively on the install or

to move on to the next job,” he says. “It’s also very frustrating to the install crew to show up at a site ready to do the job only to find they are missing some small item.” Wilkerson also urges installers to be sure they have all the necessary paperwork in place (contact names, permits, plans, training and certifications, etc.). David Phillips, manager of Global Business Development & Marketing for Elliott Equipment Company (elliottequip. com), says it’s important to also be knowledgeable about your equipment. “Before you operate any lifting device, you must be properly trained and certified (if applicable) to use the machine you’ll be working with,” he says. “Be familiar with the controls, capacity, and range charts, as well as the machine

limitations, before you attempt to do any work with it. Thoroughly review, understand, and adhere to the manufacturer’s operating instructions.” It’s a good idea to also perform a walk-around inspection of your machine before leaving the shop. “Make sure all components on the machine are in proper working order,” says Phillips. “This includes hydraulics, electric components and connections, and structural items. If they are not, then they must be fixed before attempting the operation.” During the Install When on the job site, be sure you have a plan in place for the installation. “Formulate a plan of how the whole operation should go and discuss with the entire crew. Make sure everyone is on

Wear the required safety gear and don’t overload the equipment.

December 2016

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When deploying outriggers, make sure they’re the proper distance from the truck and have adequate ground penetration.

the same page,” says Wilkerson. “Make note of overhead lines or other hazards such as an open trench or other equipment or vehicles in the area. “Also make sure that you have a qualified rigger for securing the load, a qualified signal person (if needed), and a qualified (and certified, if required) crane operator.” Phillips says to include weather conditions in your plans as well. “Different machines are rated differently for various wind conditions,” he says. “Rain, snow, heat, and cold can also impact conditions and machine performance. These must be accounted for to ensure safe operation.” When setting up the truck, deploy your outriggers and make sure they’re 38

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the proper distance from the truck and have adequate ground penetration. “Double-check the work surface for slopes and soft or loose conditions,” says Phillips, “and use adequate cribbing and outrigger pads to ensure steady and level footing for your machine.” Lewis agrees. “Make sure to rig the sign for a level pick,” he says. “Use one or more tag lines, as needed, to prevent the sign from coming into contact with the truck or building and to help move the sign into proper position.” Phillips also recommends operating all of the equipment functions at both the platform and ground level controls before handling personnel or lifting loads to ensure everything is working properly. A functional check of the emergency

December 2016

pump is also highly recommended. When actually operating the service equipment onsite, it’s important to continue to do so safely and correctly. This includes wearing the required and needed safety gear and not overloading the equipment. “Make sure to not exceed the lifting capacity of the aerial platform and truck,” says Lewis. Not operating safely will cost you more moving forward as OSHA’s maximum penalties will increase by 78 percent if the violations occurred after November 2, 2015, and the agency will continue to adjust according to inflation every year: • Serious violation penalties increased from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation. • Failure to abate penalties increased

Photo: Indigo Signworks.

Make sure all installation hardware, tools, and safety equipment are on the truck prior to leaving the shop.

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3A Composites USA. . . . . . . . . . . 11


Ideal Stitcher Company.. . . . . . . 12


Stouse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


3M. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5


International Sign Association. 53


TRC Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51


4Ever Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


J Freeman Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17


Universal Laser Systems . . . . . . . 27


4over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3


Jiuzhou Greeble Co Ltd.. . . . . . . . 1


US LED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


AdamsTech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49


Mimaki USA Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


USSC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42


Alpina Manufacturing LLC . . . . 54


Oki Data Americas. . . . . . . . . . . 33


Vista System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


Alpina Manufacturing LLC . . . . 54


Orafol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19


YJ Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


A.R.K. Ramos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Orbus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


AXYZ International. . . . . . . . . . . . 3


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Brinks Mfg. Co. (Van Ladder) . . . 31


Orbus.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46


AXYZ International. . . . . . . . . . . . 13


Brooklyn Hardware, LLC . . . . . . 54


Ornamental Post Panel & Traffic. .54


Inkjet Technologies . . . . . . . . . . 10


Coastal Enterprises. . . . . . . . . . 47


Osram. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2


Kett Tool Company. . . . . . . . . . . . 13


DUNA-USA.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


Outwater Plastics.. . . . . . . . . . . 35


Keystone Technologies . . . . . . . 10


Duxbury Systems, Inc. . . . . . . . . 55


Shopbot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


National Speciality Lighting. . . 10


Echod Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


Sign America.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Premier Material Concepts. . . . 10


Elliott Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . 39


Signs365. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C4


Roland DGA .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


FASI. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


Small Balls, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Rowmark.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12


Gemini, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25


Southern Stud Weld, Inc. . . . . . . 31


SloanLED.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Hartlauer Bits.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55


Stamm Manufacturing.. . . . . . . . 41


Techno CNC.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12



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December 2016

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3. Mail card to start getting info!

from $7,000 to $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date. • Willful and repeated penalties increased from $70,000 to $124,709 per violation. To be sure you’re operating safely and using the equipment correctly, Phillips points out four common mistakes to avoid: • Failure to properly grease or lubricate the machine to the manufacturer’s recommendations. • Working too quickly and accidentally hitting the boom or basket into an obstacle or the truck bed. • Improperly stowing the boom resulting in damage to the boom or the saddle boom rest. (Note: Stowing the boom slowly and carefully helps avoid this issue.) • Failing to properly service, maintain, and inspect the equipment. Wilkerson agrees that proper maintenance is a must and will prevent

problems down the line. “Skimping on maintenance or equipment is a false economy, as using the wrong equipment for a job can lead to disasters and skipping maintenance will lead to break downs,” he says. After the Install The job isn’t over after the installation ends, and Phillips says sign companies should make sure to properly stow their machine before leaving the job site. “That means ensuring that the outriggers are fully retracted, the boom is properly and securely stowed, and that any loose tools or materials are cleaned from the bed to avoid falling into traffic,” says Phillips. “It’s also a great idea to perform a walk-around inspection of the unit to check for any potential issues.” It’s also important to clean up the job site itself. “Make sure that all debris is picked up and disposed of properly or loaded onto your truck to dispose of at your shop,” says Lewis. “When back at

the shop, dispose of any debris and remove any specialty tools or equipment not needed on a daily basis.” Chances are you have another install right around the corner (or even the next day), and it’s never too early to start preparing. “Back at the shop, get the truck ready to go for the next job,” says Wilkerson. “Restock inventory, check the truck and aerial equipment, and check safety equipment.”

Make note of overhead lines or other hazards such as equipment in the area.

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December 2016

Sign Builder Illustrated


USSC Spotlight

Products and services from exhibitors at USSC Sign World International being held December 1-3, 2016 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Diversified Display Products: Booth #301, 311 Diversified Display Products (DDP) is one of the largest stocking regional suppliers of branded rigid board substrates and digital large format printing products in the U.S. Located in Hillside, New Jersey, the company offers cutting-edge solutions in the inkjet print technology platforms complemented with their on-staff, certified technicians. DDP sells and supports these leading brands in the New York Metro market: HP, Roland, Epson, Seal, GFP Laminators, Summa Cutters, Onyx and Caldera Software RIPs, Avery, Mactac, Ultraflex, Diamond Digital Media, Magic, 3A Gatorboard, Ultraboard, Palram PVC, and Fome-Cor. DDP will be supporting a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors organization at USSC Sign World International. (908) 686-2200;

GDS Architectural Signage Solutions: Booth #514 For over two decades, GDS Architectural Signage Solutions has dominated the signage industry throughout the Northeast region of the United States and beyond by delivering unparalleled service, wayfinding solutions, and signage. The company specializes in designing, installing, fabricating, and servicing quality signage to its wide client base. GDS fosters long-term relationships with their clients, and their team works closely with the client to ensure each sign created meets or exceeds their expectations. They bring an integrated approach and solution to wayfinding and customer engagement across all touchpoints (such as digital signage) to ensure a visitor experience that informs and empowers.

Image360: Booth #615 Drawing from more than twenty-five years of leadership and innovation in the sign and graphics industry, Image360 is now one of the premiere business-to-business franchises serving the market for graphic communication services. Image360 franchise members offer professional graphic communications services to national, regional, and local businesses and organizations, including environmental graphics, wayfinding solutions, and promotional displays. Image360® centers feature a vibrant, high-energy, professional environment. Whether you are an individual looking to enter our industry or an independent business already in the industry, Image360 is well positioned to help you maximize your opportunity.

Keder Solutions: Booth #427 Keder Solutions prides itself on offering the highest quality Keder Products—PVC fabric and accessories—servicing the printing, tenting, and marine industries. Their products empower you to create sleek, strong, and polished finished products, providing a luxury appearance that maximizes impact with the added benefit of effortless installation. Unwavering customer service and a large inventory of the highest quality products create the keystones of the company’s philosophy. Beauty from the inside out: Let Keder Solutions help you with a solution today. (888) 727-7050;

Prismview: Booth #108 Prismview, a Samsung Electronics Company, manufactures high-quality LED displays in Logan, Utah. From raw circuit boards, diodes, and cabinet materials, Prismview builds finished displays for the commercial market that are sold through sign industry dealers. Recognized as an industry leader in image quality and product expertise, Prismview provides a full range of indoor and outdoor displays. These displays include sports video scoreboards used by the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bears; casino spectaculars like the Las Vegas Aria and the Atlantic City Tropicana; and most importantly, displays used worldwide on signage in front of banks, stores, and restaurants. (866) 989- 3726;;

WYLD GFI: Booth #322 WYLD GFI specializes in the needs of all types of resellers with the ability to produce outdoor and indoor durable graphics on schedule and within a reasonable budget. The company guarantees the most professional service for your job. Their trained staff is ready to provide you with the finest quality product from the initiation of the order through production and shipping. You can rest assured that someone will oversee every stage of the order process to supply you with the highest quality product. When you are finally ready to step up to a higher level of personalized service that matches what you and your clients expect from a grand format print service partner, give WYLD GFI a call. (908) 587-2995; 42

Sign Builder Illustrated

December 2016



SIGNAGE MAGAZINE! 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 (, newsletters, Buyer’s Guide, and digital edition keep you updated with timely news, recent projects, and upcoming industry events.




CNC ROUTER By Brad Burnett

Greener W

hen the architects designing Starbucks Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida recently approached Cherrylion Studios ( of Atlanta, Georgia, they desired to bring a coffee leaf and bean theme to their business. What the fabricators came up with were detailed carved panels and a unique 3-D “living” sign design that would showcase their customers’ green initiative 44

Sign Builder Illustrated

by incorporating living moss! Multiple companies were involved in bringing this project to “life.” Cherrylion Studios, a provider of custom fine art and sculptures for private collections, collaborated with Oak Branch Manufacturing (, who specializes in high-end, custom CNC routing. By [working] together, they came up with an impressive 3-D theme that is a work of art in its own class.

December 2016

The project started with Cherrylion Studios hand-carving a small-scale model in clay, molding it, and then making a cast out of plaster. They then sent it to iBILD Solutions ( in New Jersey to be laser-scanned, so as to create a digital vector image for Oak Branch’s ShopBot CNC router. Once Oak Branch received the digital image, they enlarged it via Aspire by Vectric software to be reproduced onto

All Photos: Cherrylion Studios.


Carving out a “living” sign design.



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teen full-size 48-by-96-by-2-inch panels of fifteen-pound CORAFOAM® HDU cut on their CNC machine to create the main outlines. Once the main forms were CNC-



Sign Builder Illustrated

routed into the CORAFOAM, the panels were sent to the hand-carving experts at Cherrylion Studios. The intricate leaves and fine detail were added to the panels with a variety of woodworking


December 2016


chisels and a Dremel® tool with different grinding heads on it. Once the carving process was completed, Cherrylion Studios primed the panels using a Zinsser B-I-N Primer/ Sealer, and finished them with Benjamin Moore paints. A natural beige-tan color was then used to reflect the intended Mother Nature landscape theme. They joined and installed the thirteen panels at the Downtown Disney Starbucks location using Liquid Nails construction adhesive. The panel with real moss on it was installed under a roof that has a “living garden” atop it. Andy Brooks, owner of Oak Branch Manufacturing, explains, “We ordered a special 2-1/4-inch-thick piece of HDU and planed it down to two inches, which left us with 1/4-inch on the bottom. We then carved the cavities and painted it and then sent it to Cherrylion Studios. They shipped it to a well-known ‘living plant’ plant sculptor/artist who added



2016 “Spirit of Christmas” Contest DUNA-USA is currently judging entries for its 2016 “Spirit of Christmas” Sign Contest. The goal of this contest is to capture what the “Spirit of Christmas” means to sign artists in the form of a three-dimensional sign. All project entries will be donated to charities selected by DUNA-USA upon completion of the contest. Over the years, DUNA-USA has seen amazing 3D signs made by its customers and thought this contest would be a great way for everyone to express themselves creatively with a Christmas theme. Look for winners in an upcoming issue of Sign Builder Illustrated.

the moss to it.” Martin Dawe, owner of Cherrylion Studios, breaks down some of the cost savings on this project. “Using the CNC process and HDU reduced my costs by

about 50 percent by eliminating the need to create full-size rubber molds and fiberglass casts,” he says. “The possibilities for original, large-scale basrelief wall sculptures are limitless!”

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December 2016

Sign Builder Illustrated




Some of the latest trends in channel letter fabrication.


have the opportunity to see things many people in the industry do not. I am fortunate that my job responsibilities allow me unrestricted access to manufacturing facilities of sign companies throughout the U.S. and Canada.


Sign Builder Illustrated

My position has taken me inside the fabrication plants of nearly all the major players in the national program arena— Pattison, Architectural Graphics, Persona, Direct Sign Wholesale, Everbrite, Ruggles, SignTech, and Steel Art are just a

December 2016

small sampling of the companies whose operations I’ve toured and whose manufacturing processes, techniques, and procedures I’ve observed. I’ve had the ability to interact personally with their manufacturing, design, and

All Photos: Adams Tech.

trimless Channels

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Now, more than ever before, I am engaged with companies who are intensely focused on being innovative and cutting-edge in the products they offer.

management teams to discuss how things are currently done and how they’d like to see things be done in the future. Being in this somewhat unique position permits me the opportunity to quickly ascertain current trends in our industry, identify future trends in channel letter manufacturing, and predict what fabrication challenges are likely to confront manufacturers. Whether the challenges relate to equipment, materials, or techniques, my primary task is to determine what can be done to take advantage of these trends, overcome the obstacles they present, and help manufacturers turn opportunity into additional, bottom line dollars. While there are always numerous trends evolving in the signage industry at any given time, there are currently three rapidly growing trends in the channel letter industry, in particular, that have caught my attention: Channel letters and logos are trending towards being smaller, low profile, and trimless. The driving force behind these trends is typically commercial property entities or corporate branding experts, architects, and designers. Ultimately these are the people specifying smaller, low profile, and/ or trimless letters in airports, shopping centers, strip malls (or their storefronts), franchise operations, and restaurants. The goal is to present a clean, sophisticated, 50

Sign Builder Illustrated

identifiable, yet distinctively unique, image for their brand or facility. So how are companies responding to these trends and overcoming the challenges created by them in order to seize the opportunity to benefit financially? The answer to this question is fairly simple: Companies are making significant investments in improved equipment, materials, processes, and techniques in channel letter fabrication. For example, trimless channel letters have been fabricated for years, but the process typically required unsightly fasteners to be driven through the walls of the return into the edge of very expensive, thick acrylic. By eliminating the notching and flanging function of the automated letter bending process, letters today are formed about 50 to 60 percent faster than returns for traditional face-lit can be processed. Traditional trim cap, which is the weakest link in the chain durability-wise, is eliminated entirely with trimless material. Along with eliminating the trim cap material itself, the labor associated with measuring, notching, shaping, and gluing trim cap to acrylic faces is also eliminated. Trimless letters also command a higher price due to their cleaner, more sophisticated appearance and the limited number of manufacturers with the ability to produce them.

December 2016

A side benefit to these smaller, lowprofile letters that is often overlooked is shipping and handling cost. These newer channel letters weigh less and take up less space so shipping costs are reduced significantly. The amount of packaging material needed to pack and ship the letters to their final destination is likewise reduced. All of this means lower costs for the manufacturer and the customer. Sign manufacturers are also responding to the challenges presented by the trend of smaller, low-profile letters by investing in cutting-edge automated bending technology. The automated channel letter machines sold ten to fifteen years ago were very expensive and unnecessarily huge. The output from these old-school, lowtech bending machines often resembled hieroglyphics more than finished letters and therefore required lots of additional hand forming. These antiquated behemoths also produced about ten inches of waste per letter, resulting in huge piles of scrap (the value of which is roughly $.50 to $.60 per foot!). Today there are automated benders available that are smaller, faster, substantially more accurate, and far more profitable to operate. These higher quality, precision-engineered machines incorporate such exacting tolerances that they can dramatically increase accuracy and

Feature Name

By Author






December 2016

Sign Builder Illustrated



nearly eliminate hand forming after the automated bending process is completed. A few of the bending machines available today are even capable of producing exceptionally crisp, accurate results like serifs measuring 3/16-inch in challenging materials like 20-gauge polished stainless steel and .063-inch aluminum. Thanks to huge improvements in LED technology, letters as small as one-inch-

deep are now becoming common, whereas it was previously impossible to illuminate such shallow letters without shadows and hot spots. Resin-faced channel letters have been available from manufacturers in Asia for a few years, however, those letters are not serviceable, and the LEDs are often entirely encased in resin, which causes heat to build up and, in turn, the resin to fail.

Currently there is technology available in the United States that allows manufacturers to build serviceable, resin-faced letters that only require a layer of resin measuring about 1/4-inch in thickness. This new method allows an air space between the resin and the LEDs to minimize heat buildup, which greatly enhances the performance and longevity of the letter in both interior and exterior applications. Price competition for traditional reverse and trim cap style letters is increasingly intense. Margins on these commoditized products are under tremendous pressure and are being squeezed more than ever. Manufacturers who embrace new methods, materials, and techniques are going to be the ones reaping the rewards offered by these new trends in the industry. As the saying goes: “Lead, follow, or get left behind.� James Cross is SDS ChannelBender Series Product Manager for North America at Adams Tech (

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Sign Builder Illustrated


Poyant Signs of New Bedford, Massachusetts

By Ashley Bray

Investing in the Future

Poyant Signs participates in Sign Manufacturing Day.


oyant Signs (, a family-owned, full-service sign company, has a histor y that stretches over seventy-five-plus years all the way back to the 1930s. Over that time, the sign company has amassed a client list that includes some well recognized brands, has acquired a number of sign companies, and has expanded into bigger facilities to become one of the largest sign manufacturers in the New England area. With a long history comes insight, and Poyant knows the key to success lies in its employees, which is why it has participated in Sign Manufacturing Day for the past four years. “We first learned about Sign Manufacturing Day from ISA and liked the idea of the outreach opportunity this could provide for us to connect with students and introduce our industry and our company,” says Richard Poyant,

president of Poyant Signs. Sign Manufacturing Day was launched four years ago as a day for sign companies to open their facilities to students and allow them to explore the possibilities of a career in the sign and graphics industry. The International Sign Association (ISA) works together with the National Association of Manufacturers to produce the event, which is held annually on the first Friday of October and has continued to grow. Last year, 2,200 students visited 34 ISA-member companies in 43 locations. In 2016, over 3,000 students visited 40 companies in 46 locations across the United States and Canada. The event continues to grow in importance as well. “It is critical we find ways to attract our future workforce given the current rate of retirement and the length of time it takes to train new people to work in

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015805) (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.

Prices are subject to change.

Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. 12 issues per year. Non-qualified subscriptions Print version, Digital version, Both Print & Digital version: 1 year US/Mexico/Canada $50.00; foreign $99.00. Single copies are $15.00 ea. Subscriptions must be paid in full in U.S. funds only.


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Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2016. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or For Subscriptions & Address Changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (847) 763-9686, Fax (847) 763-9544, e-mail, or write to: Sign Builder

December 2016

the trade,” says Poyant. On October 7 of this year, thirty-five seniors from Old Colony Regional Vocational High School in Rochester, Massachusetts visited Poyant Signs. After watching an introductory video from ISA, the students visited the design department, routing department, graphics department, channel letter department, fabrication stations, paint booth, and loading and shipping dock. They were able to see various types of signs being made and ask any questions they had about the process and jobs in the industry. By the end of the visit, many students had expressed interest in a career in signage, an industry most weren’t aware of before the tour. To raise even more awareness about the industry and to help interested students jumpstart their career in signage, ISA has created an online Career Center ( Students can view job boards, learn more about the industry, and even earn digital badges to show their achievement and talent in a specific sector. It’s never too early to start thinking about next year! Sign companies that would like to register for Sign Manufacturing Day 2017, which will be held on October 6, 2017, can email

Sign Manufacturing Day 2016 brought over 3000 students into 40 sign companies.

Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The pub­lisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities pub­lished in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

Photo: Ashley Bray.

Shop Talk


Sign Builder Illustrated December 2016  

This issue features stories on textured sign blanks, USSC contest winners, fleet wraps, service equipment, carved signage, channel letter fa...