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engraving tips

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Making a Mark on Materials

Large Format Graphics on Display

www.signshop.com

Number 248 | February 2016

How-To

Sci-Fi Signs Strike Back!

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D I M E N S I O N

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Designed for CORAFOAM HDU®, DUNABOND’s two adhesives can be used to bond expanded materials, metals, fiberglass laminates, wood, concrete, and other materials. Each single-part urethane adhesive is waterproof, solvent-free, and can withstand temperatures from -40°F through +176°F (4°C – 80°C). DUNABOND 3140: Working time of 35-40 minutes. DUNABOND 3206: Working time of 15-18 minutes.

FABRICATION METHODS: • CNC Routing • Sandblasting • Hand-Carving CORAFOAM® is non-abrasive and grain-free, allowing it to be quickly fabricated and cut. CORAFOAM® can be cut with any tool that will cut wood.

FINISHING: CORAFOAM® is compatible with almost all coatings, primers, fillers, and paints. SIZES: • 4’ x 8’ / 4’ x 10’ / 4’ x 12’ • 5’ x 8’ / 5’ x 10’ / 5’ x 12’ • From 1/2” thickness up to 8”

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February 2016

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26 20

Death Star Plans BY JEFF WOOTEN

A movie theater takes its theme to a “galaxy far, far away.”

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Going the Extra Mile BY ASHLEY BRAY

Partnering to deliver the best lighting solution on a pylon project.

Set into Substrates BY JEFF WOOTEN

Engraving makes its mark in the sign industry.

Sign Builder Illustrated (Print ISSN 895-0555, Digital ISSN 2161-4709) (USPS#0015-805) (Canada Post Cust. #7204564) (Bluechip Int’l, Po Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Agreement # 41094515) is published monthly by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 55 Broad Street, 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and Additional mailing offices. Pricing, Qualified individual working in the sign industry may request a free subscription. 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. Prices are subject to change. Copyright © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2016. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

36 39

Flexible Talk About Magnets BY JEFF WOOTEN

Sticking to the facts about flexible magnets.

The Guided Path BY MIKE ANTONIAK

ADA projects bring challenges with opportunities.

46

The Print Race BY JEFF WOOTEN

Installing banners overnight for a historic racing event.

For reprint information contact: Arthur Sutley, Publisher (212) 620-7247 or asutley@sbpub.com. For Subscriptions & Address Changes, please call (800) 895-4389, (847) 763-9686, Fax (847) 763-9544, e-mail signbuilder@halldata.com, or write to: Sign Builder Illustrated, Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sign Builder Illustrated, PO Box 1172, Skokie, IL 60076-8172. Instructional information provided in this magazine should only be performed by skilled crafts people with the proper equipment. The pub­lisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities pub­lished in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.

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WORLD’S BEST ENGRAVABLE MATERIALS.

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Agenda

How-To Columns

february 2016

16

18

Install Tools of the Trade

On- vs. Off-Premise

16  Install Tools of the Trade BY MARK ROBERTS

Some sign installation essentials to make your life easier.

18 On- vs. Off-Premise Signs BY DAVID HICKEY

Understanding the distinction between residential areas and business districts.

Departments 6

UpFront

8

Dispatches

The print world is incredibly colorful, and Editor Jeff Wooten looks at managing its output. A bus wrap shares the “spirits” of the season, and a NASCAR racetrack gets new identification signage.

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Sign Show

50

SBI Marketplace

The newest products and services from sign manufacturers.

Advertisements and announcements from the sign trade. ENGRAVING TIPS

Making a Mark on Materials

52 Shop Talk

BANNER INSTALL

Large Format Graphics on Display

www.signshop.com

NUMBER 247 | FEBRUARY 2016

HOW-TO

Sci-Fi Signs Strike Back!

Ashley Bray checks out how one sign shop credits its three decades in business to ingenuity and service.

On the Cover This action-packed fiberglass-and-LED Death Star rules over the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo: Dimensional Innovations.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

February 18-20: Graphics of the Americas Expo & Conference (GOA), the largest event in the U.S. attracting key industry professionals in graphic communications from throughout North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida. www.goaexpo.com February 25-26: The Midwest Sign Association will conduct its winter meeting at the Grand Plaza Hotel in Toledo, Ohio. www.massn.org

MARCH 2016 March 10-12: The Southern States Sign Association’s annual conference takes place at the Holiday Inn in Charlotte, North Carolina. www.southernstatessigns.org

APRIL 2016 April 20-23: The ISA International Sign Expo returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. www.signexpo.org April 26-28: LIGHTFAIR International, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting tradeshow and conference, will take place at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. www.lightfair.com signshop.com


preparation is not optional. The Matthews Paint substrate preparation guide gives step-by-step guidance for prepping a variety of substrates to ensure your project is a success.

800.323.6593 • www.matthewspaint.com • mpc MATTHEWS PAINT and Droplet and Rounded Rectangle is a registered trademark of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc.


Up FRONT

by jeff wooten

February 2016, Vol. 30, No. 248 Sign Builder Illustrated (ISSN 0895-0555) print, (ISSN 2161-0709) digital is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation executive offices

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

Color Management: Soft Signage Shades

Photo: Shutterstock.com.

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press release from Dunn-Edwards Paints forecasting the influential paint hues in home design this year cited roses and pinks as being “more sophisticated and less juvenile.” Other color trends cited included reds leaning darker toward burgundies; oranges trending toward grapefruit, bright corals, and softened peach tones; warm neutrals moving toward infusions of coffee, caramel, chocolate, and honey; and cool neutrals favoring colored grays with blendings of green, blue, or smoke. The paint company stated that colors tell a story and that a collection of colors is used to evoke “a feeling, an era, or a scene.” This “storytelling” reminded me about the concept of the psychology of color, where specific traits are applied to how people perceive colors (“rugged” brown, “sophisticated” purple, “trusty” blue, “energetic” red, etc.) However research shows that, in branding, it’s important to use colors to support the personality the client wants to portray instead of relying on these aforementioned stereotypes. A study conducted by the University of Winnipeg released a few years back titled Impact of Color in Marketing found that 90 percent of snap judgments about products and services can be based on color alone, given that particular hues and shades can affect moods and feelings. So today certain shades of pink can be used to promote “masculine” products (think “business casual”), whereas some saturations of brown can be employed for traditional “feminine” marketing (chocolates, for example). In essence, the color should “fit” what’s being advertised, which means that color output is extremely critical in the sign and graphics industry where exact hues and shades are vital to the client’s end-goal. Look at how digital printing colors have evolved. Once unimaginable metallics and silvers are growing more common now. There are plenty of options for providing out6

put on a digital printer—dye sublimation, UV, solvent, inkjet, etc. So for shops with more than one type of hardware, it’s important to achieve accurate color across all platforms. Print technology has improved and changed so much over the past five to seven years. One big trend marketed frequently is textile printing and soft signage. I recently spoke with Jaime Herand, vice president of Graphics at Orbus Exhibit & Display Group about color output for dye sublimation. (Note: Herand’s company uses twenty-plus state-of-the-art printers at its facility. They are a G7 IDEAlliance Master-certified company, indicating that their print processes are calibrated to be grey-balanced and uniform across all their printers and facilities for the best possible outcome for customers.) “When direct-to-fabric machines came out in 2007, we were definitely talking lower resolutions than we’re seeing right now,” she says. “Whether direct or transfer, they’re going to run 1200- to 2400-dpi, so with the increased resolution also comes much wider color gamut.” Although there are more challenges with dye sub, they don’t prohibit you from producing consistent color. “It involves answering a few more questions,” says Herand. “When you’re printing with UV solvent, you print and cure, and you’re done. With dye-sub, is the heating unit consistent? Is it at the right temperature? Is it operating in a 100 percent efficiency?” A lot of dye sub fabrics feature coatings. “Ask yourself, is that coating consistent where it’s going to accept your ink and handle and cure it as it did yesterday and the week before?” she advises. When printing to achieve accurate color levels, it’s important to keep humidity levels and temperature consistent. “We’ll try to keep our production floor in the high 60s and low 70s,” says Herand. “Your humidity is going to depend on the equipment you’re using, so it’s important to follow the recommended humidity specs.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

55 Broad Street, 26th floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7247; fax: 212/633-1863 editorial editor

Jeff Wooten

323 Clifton Street, Suite #7 Greenville, NC 27858 212/620-7244; fax: 212/633-1863 jwooten@sbpub.com managing editor

Ashley Bray

55 Broad Street, 26th Floor New York, NY 10004 212/620-7220; fax: 212/633-1863 abray@sbpub.com contributing writers

Butch “Superfrog” Anton, Mike Antoniak, David Hickey, Jim Hingst, Mark Roberts, Lori Shridhare art

Corporate Art Director Wendy Williams Designer Nicole Cassano production

Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers circulation

Circulation Director Maureen Cooney advertising sales national sales director

Jeff Sutley 212/620-7233; fax: 212/633-1863 jeffsutley@sbpub.com west & midwest regional sales manager

Ian Littauer

212/620-7225; fax: 212/633-1863 ilittauer@sbpub.com 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 asutley@sbpub.com. Circulation Dept. 800/895-4389

signshop.com


Print creatively. GoVivid UV-LED printers and print media deliver precise color, dimension and limitless creativity for all of your demanding projects.


Dispatches

Wraps, Billboards Reinforce RumChata as the Spirit for All Seasons 8

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

Chicago, Illinois—In 2014, RumChataŽ was the most heavily advertised spirit brand in the fourth quarter, as reported by Neilsen AdViews. This year, with higher planned spending, RumChata was once again the leading spirits advertiser during the holidays. Driving the RumChata message is its image advertising campaign that can be seen on billboards in thirty-seven markets throughout the year. In addition, high-impact seasonal signshop.com


RumChata bus wraps could be seen in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Miami during last year’s holiday season. Key to its continued success in driving growth are the RumChata marketing efforts that reinforce and leverage the fact that consumers and bartenders love RumChata in a continually growing variety of cocktails regardless of the time of year. To support the year-round affection for the brand, RumChata executes a marketing strategy that combines traditional advertising with social media efforts that ties directly to the lifestyle and recipes of each season of the year. RumChata’s highly successful YouTube Channel that demonstrates RumChata drink and food recipes surpassed 21 million total views in November. The popular how-to channel has had more than 11 million views in 2015 alone. National print ads alternate creative executions between brand image ads and seasonal recipe ads. RumChata is also on TV with thirty-second spots placed on heavy-hitter national cable networks such as TBS, Bravo, and Comedy Central. “While our advertising keeps consumer demand growing, we also see retailers and bartenders taking notice,” said Tom Maas, RumChata founder and master blender. “They are realizing that if they make RumChata visible to their customers through floor displays, back bar presence, and drink menus, the combination with our strong advertising support results in incremental sales, higher profits, and more money.”

signshop.com

Homer E. Hilty 1937-2015

Wintersville, Ohio— Homer E. Hilty, founder of Sign America, passed away on December 15, 2015. Born on July 18, 1937, Hilty was a true “sign guy,” who was involved in the industry from as early as his 20’s when he would watch and hang out with Gilbert Sign Company Owners George Swanik and Benny Gilbert. In 1970, Hilty purchased the Empire Sign Company, and in 1972, he bought the Gilbert Sign Company. He combined them into a new company called Gilbert-Empire Sign Co., which he owned until he sold the company in 1982. In 1985, Hilty started Sign America, which began as a retail company with one account in his garage. The company grew, and around 1999, Sign America became a strictly wholesale business to the sign industry. Sign America has built signs for every state in the country and some overseas clients. Some of Hilty’s best customers credit him for helping them to get their start; he was never too busy to spend time helping others learn the sign business. Three of Hilty’s children and his son-in-law will continue to operate Sign America moving forward.

February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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Dispatches +

New Racetrack Identification Sign Day tona Beach, Florida—Day tona International Speedway held a special ceremony this past December to officially light its new identification sign as part of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising project. DAYTONA Rising is a reimagining of Daytona International Speedway. Five expanded and redesigned entrances (or “injectors”) will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. At the conclusion of the redevelopment, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,500 permanent, wider, and more comfortable seats; twice as many restrooms; and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over sixty luxury suites with trackside views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests. The new 355-foot identification sign welcomes race fans and guests near the center injector/entrance and was manufactured by Jones Signs Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin. More than 3,600 LED lights populate the “DAYTONA” letters, which each stand over thirteen feet tall. When fabrication was complete, Jones Signs Company delivered the massive “supersign” nearly 1,500 miles to Daytona Beach, Florida. Members of the France family (owners

and operators of NASCAR) and top International Speedway executives (including President Joie Chitwood III) helped light the sign for the first time.

The new identification sign is 355 feet long and is illuminated by more than 3,600 LED lights.

Green Grand Format Printing Bloomingdale, Illinois—ER2 Image Group (ER2Image.com), a full-service grand format printing company, has announced the installation of an HP LX 3500 extra-large format printer in the company’s Bloomingdale facility. The installation marks one of the first operational units in the Chicago area. The HP LX 3500’s water-based pigment formulation means no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released during the printing or drying process.

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“Our customers have been asking for a production process that has a smaller carbon footprint without loss of quality,” says Gary Schellerer, Jr., ER2’s vice president of Operations. “We chose the HP LX 3500, which uses the latest latex ink technology, [because] it’s a very green, earth-friendly process.” With a ten-foot-wide printing surface, the HP LX 3500 fits right into ER2’s specialty of grand format applications such as vehicle wraps, fleet graphics,

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

and tradeshow exhibits. The new printer also enables ER2 Image group to now offer its clients higher resolution, brighter colors, and faster turnaround speeds.

signshop.com


We’ve got you

covered. Now available in-stock, nationwide. Choice is here. Duets™ premium engraving, ADA and architectural sign substrates are now available in-stock from the industry’s leading distributors, coast-to-coast. Contact your preferred engraving materials partner for the fastest availability of the vast and growing selection of high-performance Duets substrates – all with the familiar personal and local service you’re accustomed to receiving.

Duets BY GEMINI

PARTNER NETWORK

©2016 Gemini Incorporated. Duets™ is a trademark of Gemini, Inc.

DuetsByGemini.com/partners


SignSHOW A DA S I G N A G E /M AT E R I A L S Laser XT and DuetsTactiles Substrates Resist UV and Corrosive Environments The complete line of engraving, ADA, and architectural sign substrates from Duets™ by Gemini have been tested and proven to resist damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) and corrosive salt spray. Duets substrates underwent rigorous UV resistance testing with an Atlas™ Xenon Weather-Ometer for 2,300 hours and corrosion resistance from environmental moisture or chemicals testing with the Advanced Cyclic Corrosion Exposure System for 1,000 hours. The test included a variety of colors from each product line, including: Laser XT Yellow on Black, Laser XT Brushed Stainless Steel on Black, and DuetsTactiles™: White and Black. Each test featured three samples—one tested for UV, one tested for corrosion resistance, and a control sample. The Atlas Xenon Weather-Ometer exposed DuetsTactiles and Laser XT products to a high-watt Xenon Arc bulb with the destructive capability of direct sunlight in addition to varying levels of humidity and darkness (to exaggerate and accelerate environmental conditions likely to be encountered in the field). duetsbygemini.com

b anners / materials / e q u i p ment Fisher Textiles Now Stocks GF 8864 at 125 Inches One of Fisher Textiles’ most popular fabrics, GF 8864, is now available at 125 inches wide. The new width allows for finished ten-foot graphics with ample room for sewing. GF 8864 wht/wht/wht is a three-layered woven fabric for dye sublimation and UV printing that is excellent for double-sided banners and silicone-edge graphics. It has a tight weave to minimize space between yarns and produces exceptional print quality and opacity to a greater extent than most fabrics. It is wrinkle-resistant and is registered in the State of California (CSFM Registration Number: F-68901). Free sample rolls are available for testing. 800/554-8886; fishertextiles.com

You Can Find Arlon DPF 313 Banner Material at Imprintables Warehouse Arlon DPF 313 is an all-purpose scrim banner material that can be used indoors or out. Offered by Imprintables Warehouse, this front-lit vinyl PVC product is 13 ounces. It comes in a gloss or matte finish and is ideal for printing high-resolution graphics with excellent image quality. Arlon DPF 313 is reinforced with 1,000 denier scrim for greater tear and curl resistance. It can be used for digital printing, screen printing, or adhesive-backed vinyl applications. It is fire-resistant with a National Fire Protection Association rating of 701. Unprinted, Arlon DPF 313 will last up to one year outdoors. 800/347-0068; imprintables.com

lig h ting f i x t u res Keystone Technologies Introduces T5HO LED Tubes Keystone Technologies continues to expand their line of LED tubes with the introduction of T5HO LED tubes. The new T5HO LED tubes provide exceptional lumen levels but consume half the power of fluorescent tubes. Whereas a fluorescent T5HO tube requires 54 watts of power, Keystone’s LED tube uses only 27 watts. Energy bills will reflect this savings immediately. The T5HO LED tubes use Smart Drive technology, which means they Plug & Play with the existing ballast. They are constructed of shatterproof glass, so they are approved for use in food service operations and offer an additional level of safety in gymnasiums and other sports facilities. KeystoneBallast.com

Litetronics Adds Two New Models to its LED Retrofit Family Two new two-by-two-foot LED Retrofit models expand Litetronics® innovative patented system to easily convert conventional two-by-two-foot T8 or T12 U-shape fluorescent ceiling troffers to energy-efficient linear LEDs. In each case, the two-by-two-foot LED Retrofits economically reuse a facility’s existing ceiling troffers. Litetronics two-by-two-foot TwoLamp LED Retrofit replaces typical U-shape linear fluorescent T8 lamp systems, consuming only 22 watts while producing 2300 lumens with a CRI of 83. The two-by-two-foot Four-Lamp LED Retrofit replaces two 1-5/8-inch U-shape fluorescent lamps, consuming 52 total watts while producing 5380 lumens with a CRI of 83. Both models boast a rated operating life of 85,000 hours per Litetronics unit, which lets facility owners and operators enjoy 50 percent energy savings or more compared to T8 or T12 U-shape linear fluorescents throughout years of use. Backed by a seven-year factory warranty, both models are available in 3500, 4000, and 5000K and are UL Listed and DLC recognized. 800/860-3392; litetronics.com

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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Routers/engr avers AXYZ International Offers the Next Step in High-speed Machining Processes Spindles are no longer limited to running at 24,000 rpm. That bar is raised with AXYZ International’s new PDS XLC70 quick release, 3.0 horsepower spindle, capable of operating at speeds up to 40,000 rpm while maintaining the same high-quality cut-edge finish. Cutting speed isn’t the only benefit of the high-speed spindle. It also enhances the quality of the cut and produces products with high-quality edge finishes, making the spindle exceptional for use when machining plastics, acrylics, and nonferrous metals. The PDS XLC70 does not require water cooling; instead the spindle is cooled by compressed air, eliminating the need for expensive water chillers. This new spindle is built by Precision Drive Systems (PDS), an American company and industry leader in precision high-speed spindles. 800/361-3408; www.axyz.com

s o f t wa r e - d e s i g n / p r i n t/ r o u t e / e st i m at e GravoStyle 8 is the Latest Version of the Most Powerful Engraving Software on the Market GravoStyle™ 8 Engraving Software from Gravotech, Inc., is available in six different levels for you to choose the perfect functionality and capabilities for your business. The new interface is easy to use, customizable, and modern, and because it's chronological, it facilitates job composition. The license is updated automatically via the Internet, resulting in easier and more flexible real-time savings. Laser CAM offers never-seen-before possibilities for deep engraving and logo engraving, and the 3D laser beam (narrower than rotary) allows applied work and intricate detailing. The stamp assistant guides you in the production of stamps with one of the numerous template models or a blank template. Thanks to the nesting function, the positioning of each stamp is optimized to minimize material waste and limit the emission of dust. Photolase gives you a preview of your photographs on th chosen material to optimize the various laser engraving parameters. 800/843-7637; gravotech.com

A division of World Industrial Equipment Inc “Designer & Manufacturer of Lift Equipment”

With Over 45 years of experience Stamm Manufacturing’s Heavy Duty Aerial Lifts, have been meeting all your tough Aerial lifts needs. A wide variety of optional features gives Stamm Aerial lifts the ability to customize your aerial equipment needs to your specific requirements. Resolve your aerial lift needs today and put Stamm’s muscle to work!!

Towable Trailer mounted lift 43-21 with outriggers and Honda Pony-motor for hydraulic power. 43’ high reach and 21’ of side reach -- full hydraulic controls -- stowed height 10’ 4”. Reasonably priced at $39,500.00 or $499.00 per month with approved credit. Financing Available

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Standard Bucket truck 41’ working height Insulated boom - single stick controls, full hydraulic. 11’ service body mounted on F-450 V-10 Gas truck with trailer hitch. Priced at $84,300.00

Lamp Lighter 43. 43’ working height insulated boom with full hydraulic controls and a 10’ lamp box mounted with full access roll up doors for lamp storage and sign faces storage. Mounted on 2015 Ford F450 chassis with V10 Gas engine. Call for Price

4850 Orange Avenue • Fort Pierce, Fl 34947 • (772) 461-6056 Main Plant • 1-800-226-5056 in Florida (772) 464-2716 fax • www.stamm-mfg.com • Email: liftinfo@stamm-mfg.com

February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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SignSHOW sta n d o f f s /m o u n t i n g e q u i pm e n t MBS Standoffs Announces the New Aluminum Titanium Anodized Standoff and Systems As part of MBS Standoffs’s cost-efficient line of standoff systems, a new standard in excellence has been developed. MBS Standoffs are manufactured to precise specifications that allow for the most efficient and most attractive sign applications anywhere. Your creative expectations will have no limits with the diverse array of products, sizes, colors, and finishes. The newest entry into this collection is a Titanium-Aluminum standoff. This high-quality product comes in a 1/2-inch to 1-1/4-inch diameter and is 1/2-inch to 1-inch in length to meet most common commercial demands. What sets this standoff apart is the anodized coating with a titanium finish. Your standoffs will withstand the elements, be secure, and maintain its high-quality appearance for years to come. 813/938-6025; mbs-standoffs.com

Way f i n d i n g / i d e n t i t y s i g n a g e Illuminated, Impressive Menu Boards a World Standard for Food Courts, Fast Food, and Restaurants Vista Light is another amazing wayfinding signage system available from Vista System. All signs are environmentally friendly, allow for easy graphics change, and hardly need any maintenance. In fact, Vista Light LED illuminated menu boards are today's most prominent choice for any fast food restaurant and food courts in shopping malls looking for a unique signage solution. Combining a slanted aluminum wall frame, long-lasting LED illumination, white-translucent polycarbonate graphic substrates, and an elegant overall look, these menu boards are irresistible. It is no wonder then that more and more sign professionals tend to state the obvious to their clients in search of this particular sign solution. 800/468-4782; vistasystem.com

Equipment for the Sign Industry High reach and outstanding lift capacities  Easy to maneuver  Customized man baskets SkyCranes

Boom Trucks

Service • Parts Financing • Rentals

Call today!

800-824-6704 HiReach Cranes

14

Aerial Lifts

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

www.runnionequipment.com

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TD3 FINALLY,

The Most Cost-Efficient Solution for new and retrofit cabinet applications. US LED is Always the Right Choice!

3” - 18” Depth 8” - 24” Stroke 12 or 24V

info@usled.com 713.972.9191 Pictures provided by: TekSign


HOW-TO

By Mark K. Roberts

Safety

Install Tools of the Trade Some sign installation essentials to make your life easier.

T

he tools of our trade are our “breadand butter,” and they must be kept under lock and key, as well as protected from the elements. Tools are costly, and your tools will make a great living for you if you treat them right. A well-equipped toolbox containing the basic tools particular to your sign company is essential. Buy the best hand tools you can afford, because cheap, low-grade tools are not a bargain! I’m talking about excellent-quality wrenches, hammers, saws, screwdrivers, flashlights, buckets, rope, and whatever else is essential to the completion of your project. Be sure to buy a quality battery-powered drill with a charger and a spare battery (Photo

1). Always carry at least two (preferably three) rechargeable batteries. Make sure the batteries are fully charged before leaving for the work site. When putting up a sign, there is nothing worse than having to wait on batteries to charge. I like to carry a wood chisel and a few combination wrenches for unexpected challenges on the job as well (Photo 2). Clear 100 percent silicone in a caulking-gun tube is another great product to have at your disposal. You should have several ladder options in your lineup as well—a professional-grade stepladder, an extension ladder, etc. Perhaps you should consider a few sec-

PHOTO 1: A quality, battery-powered drill can be of great use on a job site. Just make sure to carry multiple fully charged batteries with you to avoid down time while waiting for batteries to charge.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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PHOTO 2: Unexpected challenges on the job can and will pop up. Be prepared by carrying hand tools like wood chisels and combination wrenches. tions of scaffolding (if needed). Make sure the scaffold is solid. Many scaffold companies have “outriggers” that should come in the rental package. Be sure to add the casters (locking wheels) to the scaffold. You’ll appreciate this small step the first time you move the scaffold on the job site. When working from a scaffold, be extremely careful. You wouldn’t want to experience a fall, so make sure you wear your safety belts or harnesses at all times and tie-off to the scaffolds.

self here as silica sand is dangerous to breathe. Always use an air-fed helmet to keep as much of the silica dust away from your lungs. You can never wear enough protection when working with compressed air. Protect your eyes, ears, nose, and any exposed skin. Speaking of safety, don’t forget protective gear (goggles, gloves, long pants,

PHOTO 3: A pressure-fed sandblasting pot connected to a compressor. long-sleeve shirts, etc.) and high-quality leather and/or rubber work boots. Working outside will expose you to the elements, so be aware of the weather and dress accordingly. Mark K. Roberts is a thirty-eight-year sign maker, a teacher of sign techniques, and the owner of The InterSign Company in Houston, Texas.

Every sign shop should have a well-equipped toolbox containing quality tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, drills, etc. Also an assistant should help you with large or heavy panels. And make sure your scaffold has toeboards to keep your feet safely inside the confines of the scaffolding. If you’ll be painting inside or out, invest in a set of heat lamps on casters. These come in four- and six-bulb configurations. Perhaps you would like to sandblast a weather-beaten and rusty piece of metal. I carry a small pressure-fed sandblasting pot to job sites and connect it to a compressor (Photo 3). Be sure to adequately protect yoursignshop.com

February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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HOW-TO

By David Hickey

Regulations

On- vs. Off-Premise Signs Understanding the distinction between residential areas and business

there is one issue bubbling just below the surface that is of concern. Some off-premise billboard companies have sued local communities, arguing that the Supreme Court ruling prohibits different treatment between on- and off-premise signs. So far, lawsuits have been filed in Los Angeles and Indianapolis. The gist of the argument is that the distinction is content-based, which the Supreme Court ruling prevents. The International Sign Association has long supported the ability of cities to distinguish between on- and off-premise signs. Each type of sign has very distinct capabilities and purposes: Each targets a specific audience, and each has traditionally been treated under separate legal and regulatory regimes. While this hasn’t stopped a handful of juris-

photo: shutterstock.com/rscreativeworks

districts.

T

he Supreme Court ruling issued regarding Reed v. Town of Gilbert has opened up numerous opportunities for ongoing conversations about sign codes. Planners are seeking out more information on what they can and cannot do in light of the decision. One planner in Arkansas told me that she hadn’t heard of the Reed decision before receiving an International Sign Association (ISA) email about it, and that the resources ISA developed to help communities navigate the Supreme Court decision proved invaluable to her community. She is far from alone. In 2015, ISA worked throughout the country to provide resources, training, and expert testimony to more than 1,300 planners after the Supreme Court decision. While the results have been largely positive,

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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dictions from treating each the same, the vast majority of communities treat these two types of signs differently, and ISA is working to continue that position. If on-premise digital signs (EMCs) were treated the same as digital billboards, it would raise issues of spacing requirements, hold times, permitting, and in some cases, complete bans. This would be to the detriment of EMCs and businesses that use this valuable tool to advertise their products and services. We believe we have a winning argument not only in the courts but also in the courts of public opinion. In Metromedia vs. San Diego (1981), the U.S. Supreme Court allowed different treatment for on-premise and offpremise signs. The Reed decision did not even mention —much less overrule— Metromedia. In Reed, Justice Samuel Alito’s concurring opinion (joined by two other justices) explicitly stated that differentiating between on- and off-premise sign regulation is not content-based, writing: “I will not attempt to provide anything like a comprehensive list, but here are

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some rules that would not be content based…[r]ules distinguishing between on-premises and off-premises signs.” (Note: No other justices spoke about the distinction, pro or con.) Sign codes that regulate location, as those involving on-premise versus off-

ISA relies on sign and graphics companies to inform them about sign regulation discussions as they happen. premise signs, are not content-based restrictions but are place-based restrictions. Regulations singling out offpremise signs, for example, don’t apply to any particular ideas or viewpoints; they just regulate the locations of these signs generally.

Locational restrictions fall under the traditional “Time, Place, and Manner” regulations that have been accepted for decades and that were spoken of favorably in the Reed decision. It is that same distinction that allows communities to create different types of zoning for different types of sign codes. In most communities, signs are treated differently in residential areas compared to business districts. We are at work to help communities understand the distinctions. Working with the California Sign Association, ISA filed a friend of the court brief in the Los Angeles case, reiterating our position. This is where you come in. The International Sign Assocation relies on sign and graphics companies to help us know about these discussions as they happen. We believe we have a winning argument. But the earlier we get involved, the better the result is likely to be. If your community is considering eliminating the distinction between on- and off-premise signs, email David.Hickey@signs.org.

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D i m e n s io n a l / By J e f f Wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

The Emperor’s throne is made from EPS foam and is wired to operate the Death Star’s “laser.”

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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Death Star Plans A movie theater takes its theme to a “galaxy far, far away.”

all Photos: dimensional innovations.

W

ith The Force Awakens breaking movie box office records all across the galaxy, Star Wars is once again gripping the public’s fascination like something straight from a Jedi mind trick. (“This is the Star Wars we were looking for!”). But well before Force Awakens premiered back in December, the owners of the brand-new, not-yet-under-construction Alamo Drafthouse cinema in Omaha, Nebraska already had a plan (and one not stolen by Rebel spies): They wanted an amazing theater lobby that would look like it came out of the original Star Wars trilogy in time for their opening last fall. At this movie theater, you’ll find sixteen-foot-tall, LED-lit lightsabers on the exterior, a space station-inspired concession stand, and Imperial-style light panels and directory signage throughout its silver-black-and-gray corridors. However you’re really going to notice the giant, ten-footdiameter iconic Death Star space station hanging overhead in the center of the main lobby. And off to its right is a faithful recreation of villain Emperor Palpatine’s throne that acts as a photo op and a control for the “firing” of the operational-yetnon-dangerous “miniature” Death Star. According to Tyler Calabrese of the Alamo Drafthouse, they wanted to employ a theme for their new complex built around an iconic film that could immerse guests. With a new Star Wars film around the corner, their decision was made. The company responsible for the design, construction, and installation of this StarWars experience was Dimensional Innovations (www.dimin.com) in Overland Park, Kansas. Dimensional Innovations really lives up to its moniker. Housed

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in a 70,000-square-foot facility, they’re an award-winning group of designers, engineers, artists, fabricators, and self-professed “tech geeks” that create truly immersive, noticeable, and one-of-a-kind iconic brand experiences—everything from environmental graphics to cutting-edge A/V. Counting clients ranging from Google to Verizon to Disney, they “design, make, and innovate.” “We’re all about brand exposure and brand experience,” says Brad Woods, practice director at Dimensional Innovations. “We try to put a unique spin on everything we do. The whole point is to completely immerse you in the experience.”

To view a video recap of this project, visit http://bit.ly/1Q3nxJS. Dimensional Innovations got involved in this star-spanning project when they were contacted by Calabrese, Kip Coleman (building architect, concepts) of Elevation Architects in San Francisco, California, and General Contractor Sheldon Oxner of NCB in Lenexa, Kansas. “They first told us what their vision was and shared some early concepts with us,” says Woods. “They didn’t just want to put a foam ball up there and call it a day. They wanted to know how we could pull off this experience. “So we got heavily involved in the design and build aspects to bring everything to life.” Designers and engineers collaborated and created mockups February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

21


on the computer of concepts Elevation Architects had sent them (as well as envisioning interior illumination and effects). They used these designs to figure out how to fabricate and install these pieces. For the initial on-site survey, Dimensional Innovations supplied these mock-ups to their project manager, a project engineer, and an installer to check out where everything would be located. Since the Death Star was going to need to be shipped on the back of one of their trucks for a three-hour journey and then fitted inside the cinema, it was built as two separate hemisphere-shaped pieces using a concave mold and a chopper gun and sculpted from there. The Death Star is a combination of 1/8-inch-thick fiberglass and vinyl. “Our artists researched and mapped out the look of the Death Star and designed its outer appearance on the computer,” says Woods. “We then printed it out as large format

“Some of our sculptors and designers build costumes and go to Comic-Con, so we’re talking about the best of the best here. We knew that they could pull this project off,” says Woods. oval graphics and applied them to the fiberglass surface.” Fabricators inserted eight LED light bulbs and then drilled 2,500 holes into the structure where they ran fiber optic-type light cables through them to achieve an illuminated effect. Now while this Death Star can’t blow up the planet Alderaan, it does “fire” from its crater (as shown in the movies) to a single point in the ceiling thanks to strands of a proprietary system of green LED lights hooked up and sequenced by Dimensional Innovations. “We originally experimented with actual lasers,” says Woods, “but to be able to view them from the ground, we would’ve had to deal with heat issues, as well as provide some kind of smoke or fog system. That wasn’t going to work inside a building, so we went with LEDs instead.” The Emperor’s throne acts as the “launching point” for the LED firing of the Death Star. Sit down in it and you’ll find a control on one of the arm rests with a “firing” button initiating the charging sequence. “You hit the button, and the whole sequence begins with the laser fire sound from the films,” says Woods, noting that speakers were placed in the ceiling to aid this effect. The throne is hand-sculpted two-pound EPS foam that’s been sanded down to perfection. Dimensional Innovations also employed a few hot wire foam cutters here, when necessary. They then applied Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane paints to it. Next they added seat cushions. “We used plywood reinforcement at certain points in the throne to make sure the foam wouldn’t be dented or compromised by weight,” says Woods. “We then applied several thick layers of hardcoating to create a tough shell over the Foam-Core.” (Note: Dimensional Innovations also worked on interior and exterior signage for the decidedly non-Star Wars Liquid Sunshine bar/tap room off to the side of the lobby. Both environments are distinctive without distracting from each other.) 22

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

The Death Star features sequenced LEDs and sound effects. as it “fires” at the ceiling.

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Sixteen-foot-tall LEDilluminated lightsabers (far left) adorn the exterior of the Alamo Drafthouse.

Wayfinding light panels were designed to appear straight from the Empire.

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February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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Dimensional Innovations installed the interior work, while local partners were called in to help with the exterior signage. “We provided them with a site supervisor to help,” says Woods. This project brings up struggles that can happen when dealing with brandnew constructions—mainly scheduling. “We couldn’t install the Death Star or the Emperor’s throne first,” says Woods. “They needed to be element-protected, and there needed to be climate-control when we did those,” says Woods. So the install was performed in stages. The exterior signage went up first. The lightsabers appear to be jutting through the ledges, but they’re actually three separate pieces. The glowing portions are translucent white acrylic with warm-white GE Tetra® MiniMAX LEDs inside them. After the interior décor was set up, it was time for the fiberglass Death Star and the EPS foam Emperor’s throne. Dimensional Innovations had to figure out how to lift the top half of the Death Star into place and then bring the bottom half up and fasten those two halves together. The finished fiberglass Death Star

weighs approximately 600 pounds, so Dimensional Innovations set up 1,000-pound wire rope-style mechanical hoists that permanently reside in a steel framework above the Death Star in the theater lobby. They then lifted the hemispheres into place twelve feet off the ground. Additional bolts were fastened from within the trench area of the Death Star to secure the two hemispheres together. “To operate the hoist, we plugged a controller into an electrical socket in the lobby,” says Woods, noting that the hoist will be used to service the Death Star, if necessary, in the future. Woods says that the testing of the laser, trying to figure out how to get the Death Star firing sequence correct, and connecting the Death Star to the Emperor’s throne were some of the more challenging parts of this project. “Our Innovations Lab was figuring out the laser at the same time engineering was figuring out how to make the basic hoists,” he says. Eighteen months after the initial design ideas were first milled around, reaction from moviegoers and theater management has been extraordinary. Calabrese

credits this immersive experience for making this Alamo Drafthouse unique in Omaha and throughout the Midwest. Dimensional Innovations is extremely proud that their expert craftsmanship is even leading theatergoers to question if these are actual props from the original Star Wars movies. When Force Awakens leaves theaters, this Star Wars-themed lobby will still remain in place to be enjoyed for many years to come. So this project required a bit of extra “care” since Woods knew that Star Wars fans can be pretty demanding when it comes to details. And he wasn’t just worried about the general fans—he was also worried about his own staff. “I considered the ‘geek factor,’ meaning die-hard fans are going to want us to get this perfect and will let you know if it isn’t,” says Woods. “But we also have designers, sculptors, and fabricators on staff here that are Star Wars fans, and they wanted to make sure we were replicating everything as close as possible too.” In the end, Dimensional Innovations trusted their feelings, and the Force was definitely with them.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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Grand Opening


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he twenty-plus-year relationship between Pro Signs and Sunoco has been fueled by the right solutions and quality sign making—both of which were on display during a recent high-rise signage roll-out at is gas stations. Pro Signs (prosign.net) is a family-owned business that started in 1947. Today President Vincent Protesto runs the company with his two brothers—Jack Protesto, principal, and Ed Protesto, president of the Pro Crane division. The full-service shop does everything from digital printing to installation to electric signs. It’s this last category that the shop leant its expertise to for Sunoco’s new high-rise program that called for a number of illuminated cabinets on its 120-foot pylon

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

signs, which Pro Signs is continuing to supply through 2016. “We’re very involved with the development of any new products that Sunoco has. The high-rise program came around, and they wanted to light them with LEDs,” says Vincent Protesto. “We used our supply chain of partners—Pioneer Supply and G2G Lighting—to help us spec out the LEDs and make sure we were staying within Sunoco’s brand and their specifications for the lighting of the back of the face.” Sunoco wanted to use G2G’s AnPro LED modules, which offer a 155-degree-wide viewing angle that helps spread the light out in the cabinet. The biggest challenge with using these modules, however, was finding the right color temperature. signshop.com

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Sunoco’s installers in Texas reassembled and put up the sign cabinets.

“There was a particular Kelvin color that was needed. Sunoco wanted a warmer look to go with their colors than what was available in that particular module,” says Michael Sonlin, East Coast sales manager for Pioneer Supply Company (pioneersupply.com), a wholesale distributor that’s been working with Pro Signs since 2000. G2G got to work and created three warmer Kelvin colors for Sunoco to review. “They were really proactive with helping us get what our client needed,” says Protesto. “They’re a good partner in that way.” To help in specifying the correct illu-

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“We have learned that the specific materials we specify, source, and use can have an effect on the appearance of the client’s brand. We’re educating the client on what’s out there and what they can use.”

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

—Vincent Protesto

mination, Pro Signs brought Sunoco into their light lab to show the different lighting options available to achieve the best presentation for their brand. (Note: Pro Signs developed a light laboratory at its facility to help in meeting clients’ expectations for illuminated signs.) “In the lab, we can show designers and customers how different substrates, backlighting it and frontlighting it, affect the appearance of an illuminated sign,” explains Protesto. “Through the years, we have learned that the specific materials we specify, source, and use can have an effect on the appearance of the client’s brand. “So we’re educating the client on

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The logo cabinets are made of steel tubing skinned with aluminum. An extrusion system holds the flex faces in place.

what’s out there and what they can use.” According to Protesto, various combinations of vinyl and LEDs can lead to big differences in illumination, so the need for testing in a light lab is important. “You need that ability to dial it in to get it to where the client wants it,”he says. For this project, Pro Signs also fabricated the Sunoco logo cabinets in thirty-foot-wide and twenty-two-footwide sizes. The cabinets are made from

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two-by-two-inch steel tubing, which is skinned with aluminum. The shop’s proprietary extrusion system holds the 3M™ Panaflex™ faces in place. “It really works out well tensioning and holding that flex face in the cabinet,” says Protesto. The faces are decorated with 3M vinyl and a Graphic Protection System (GPS) topcoat. Once the signs were done, Pro Signs

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

loaded them onto a lowboy trailer to be shipped to the job sites in Texas. One thirty-foot-wide sign or two twenty-two-foot-wide sign cabinets fit on one trailer. All the signs were shipped with the arrows’ points and tails disconnected, and the thirty-footers were shipped with the cabinet’s top point disconnected as well. Sunoco’s installers in Texas reassembled and put up the signs, and Pro Signs worked with those installers on the first few jobs to demonstrate how to reattach the point and the pieces of the arrow, roll out and tension the sign face, etc. “We sent some guys in the beginning to make sure we’re all on the same page,” says Protesto. “But [everything’s] pretty intuitive now.” Pro Signs helped on the install in another way as well—by figuring out a way to hook up the power supplies at the bottom of the sign. Pro Signs has done something similar on other jobs and thought it would make sense on these signs, as well. “They did a lot of things to save some time and also to bring down the cost on

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future service should there be a need to replace the power supplies,” says Sonlin. “If anything’s going to happen with the sign, it’s probably going to happen with the power supply.” As a final design element, Pro Signs developed a cable wiring harness that allowed for the LED power transformers to be located at the base of the pole, instead of in the sign. “There are terminal blocks up in the

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sign that match a diagram of internal blocks that are down with the power supplies,” says Protesto. “When you open the cabinet up, next to every power supply there’s a small LED there. So as soon as you open it up and you see that LED out, you know which power supply is bad.” Protesto points out this configuration saves the customer in the long run since it enables a worker to handle all the re-

pairs from the ground. “That’s what’s nice about having the boxes at the bottom—you don’t have to get the heavy equipment out there to change one power supply,” explains Protesto. Since beginning the rollout of Sunoco’s new signage, Pro Signs has fabricated and supplied about forty signs in the past year, with more to come throughout 2016.

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E n g rave r s / By J e f f Wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Set into

Substrates Engraving makes its mark in the sign industry.

Engravers can take some of the workload from your CNC machines and router tables.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

for sign making: computerized rotary and laser (CO2 and fiber). Rotary devices use fixtures, jigs, and various-sized tools to make deep markings on metal and non-metal materials (except softer, flexible materials). Bristow says rotary engravers are robust systems ideal for cutting dimensional letters, printed parts and shapes for P-O-P displays, routed HDU and wood, and aluminium and stainless steel arch elements. Meanwhile the “non-contact” laser engraver uses heat from a laser beam to etch into or cut out pieces. Compared to rotary, lasers eliminate post-processing, require little to no maintenance, and provide faster processing speeds—all leading to increased efficiency. “Modern laser technology is more flexible and user-friendly than ever, which allows businesses to do more with an existing skill set,” says Meredith Newman, director of marketing at Trotec (troteclaser. com/US). “In addition, new, sophisticated Vision tech software can cut pre-printed materials more accurately and with greater precision.” Laser-friendly applications are virtually limitless: signage creation, inlay/marquetry work, dimensional letter cutting, wood engraving, customizing promotional products, memorial engraving. These systems can also produce high-resolution images that replace photo metal processes that can use dangerous chemicals. Here are tips designed to help you better understand how to purchase an engraver and get more production from them on your shop floor:

all photos (unless noted): gravotech inc.

T

here’s more to the surface appeal of engraving than just being able to etch logos and intricate designs or make shapes and letters. “Engravers allow sign makers to bring ADA and dimensional fabrication processes in-house, [meaning] they can control lead times, [ensure] quality, and reduce costs,” says Terri Bristow, marketing specialist at GravoTech Inc. (gravotech.us). There are two types of engraving equipment used

Purchasing. According to Amy Dallman, marketing director at Epilog Laser (epiloglaser.com), the two biggest things sign shops should consider when signshop.com


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Laser engravers allow operators the ability to cut inlays and tactile lettering for ADA signage.

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February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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erators to utilize nearly any vector-based graphic design software. “This can dramatically reduce the learning curve many users experience with their first system,” says Dallman. Dallman also recommends learning basic design skills, such as CorelDRAW. “Doing so greatly reduces your learning curve if you’re able to hit the ground running, regardless of the software you select,” she says. Bristow adds that sign makers can save money by getting control software for both rotary and laser engravers. “Not only does this reduce the learning curve, but it also allows you to be able to process the same job by using both technologies,” she says.

“The life cycle of a rotary engraver should be twelve to fifteen years,” says Bristow, “so pay attention to hold tolerances over its lifespan.”

purchasing a laser engraving/cutting system are size and power. “If you envision moving into large-scale signage, obviously a bigger system will be in order,” she says. “If you anticipate larger production runs, a higher wattage system will be able to complete those jobs faster.” Newman recommends that answering the following questions during the purchasing process can help you pick the right

Materials. There are plenty of materials ideal for laser engraving: wood, acrylic, fabric, glass, slate, marble, stone, paper/cardstock, mat board, MDF, laserable plastics, rubber, cork, etc. Since rotary involves knife blades, these can leave marks on the cutting path—especially when it comes to applications involving acrylics. “A laser eliminates the need to flame- or diamond-polish the pieces after they’re cut,” says Newman. The exception with lasers is materials that contain chlorine, fluorine, or bromine, as well as PVC vinyls. “When laser cut/ engraved, these materials release a gas that’s corrosive to the laser system and harmful to the laser operator,” says Dallman. Also keep in mind that using a laser to produce a mark on

According to manufacturers, it’s now an exciting time to be in the laser engraving industry as this equipment is allowing sign businesses to expand their product lines and increase their profits.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

bare metal will require the use of a special metal marking chemical that, when lasered, produces a black mark. You’ll need to factor in extra time in the process since this chemical must be applied, allowed to dry, then engraved and cleaned off. Operation. Dallman wholeheartedly advises laser engravers to experiment and have fun. “Even if you have only one applica-

Laser engravers can produce markings on a number of seemingly difficult surfaces, such as glass mugs.

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photo: epilog laser.

laser engraver to fill your needs: * Can it process the materials you need to work with? * Can the bed size accommodate your projects? * How fast can it process? (“Remember, faster processing means increased efficiency,” she says.) * How much workfloor space do you have to work with? * How versatile is the laser system? * Does it fit in with your business goals? * Will it help you expand your capabilities? Bristow stresses to check out the construction of the laser chassis to ensure the laser will be durable and accurate over the life cycle (about 45,000 usable hours for a high-quality laser source). “You should consider a consistent power output that allows a consistent cut over a larger surface area,” she says. Dallman finds that, after the purchase, many of her company’s customers advise other potential buyers to “get the biggest system they can afford.” The reason? “You may want to [acquire] a laser for a particular application, but once you have it, you then realize how much you can do with it!” she says. Another consideration is software. Laser systems can work with either color or grey-scale vector or raster images, however some manufacturers can require you to work with proprietary software. This can take some time to adjust to if you’re not familiar with it. An open architecture design program, however, allows op-


tion in mind, test out new materials, take on side-jobs that may not be directly related with your business, or start doing your own applications that were previously outsourced (creating name badges, engraving photographs, creating your own in-house signage, etc.),” she says. Bristow adds, “Keep in mind that electricians and plumbers consume a high number of engraved tags for electrical boxes, valves, and control panels.” The most ordinary item can look spectacular when it’s customized. “It’s almost surprising how much people are willing to pay for a unique item specific only to them—a favorite quote, their initials, etc.,” says Dallman. Dallman further suggests including laser-engraved or laser-cut samples with quotes and setting up engraved/cut pieces in your showroom. “If possible, keep the laser in view so customers coming in can actually see it in action,” she says. Maintenance. Bristow says that, for rotary engravers, repair costs and equipment value can be controlled by frequent cleaning of the machine and the area around it. “Make sure you lubricate moving parts (spindles and lead screws),” she advises. “And always consult the owner’s manual before working on your machine. One quick read could save you hundreds of dollars from a mistake.” Although one of the major benefits of laser engraving is reduced maintenance worries, regular preventative maintenance still remains a must. “It’s essential to keep the inside of the laser clean and maintain optics,” concludes Bristow.

Lasers have a small spot size and no blade or bit, which makes them ideal for making precise cuts. They can cut a tighter radius.

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M a g n e t s / By J e f f Wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Flexible Talk About Magnets

Question: What are the biggest trends today with flexible magnet sheeting? The key word most manufacturers use here is “wide”—not only to refer to applications but also sheet size. Currently there are more choices than ever before for wide format magnetic media than ever before, and there are several reasons for their growth in popularity, according to Jim J. Cirigliano, marketing manager at Magnum Magnetics (magnummagnetics.com). “Print shops love the wide material because it affords them the best yield on cut pieces,” he says, “and sign shops love them because it allows them to print large format graphics for both indoor and outdoor displays with fewer seams on display.” Craig Myers, sales manager at Adams Magnetic Products (adamsmagnetic.com), says, “We’re seeing an increase in the 36

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

width of rolls from the long-time 24.375-inch-wide standard now up to include 40- and 48-inch widths. But even as magnetic sheeting continues to get wider, it’s still about keeping its flatness.” One trend is thinner magnet material now coming with the same strength as larger-sized sheets. “Double-sided magnets are now available with high-energy properties,” says Myers, noting that high-energy magnets are limited to magnetization through their thickness (making them an alternative to ceramic-style magnets).

Users can now print directly to flexible magnet sheets.

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photos: adams magnetic products.

I

n today’s environment where companies, businesses, organizations, and other assortments of your clients are looking to brand their name and message anywhere, anyway they can, flexible magnetic sheeting remains an “attractive” medium to help achieve these goals. Typically magnetized with multiple poles on one surface, these types of magnets are popular because they can be easily cut and shaped for use in a number of applications. Sign Builder Illustrated spoke with several flexible magnet manufacturers for advice about construction, decoration, and application to help you firm up your hold on this market.

Sticking to the facts about flexible magnets.


photo: magnum magnetics.

Another trend for flexible magnets is in architectural applications such as wayfinding, directional signs, and building signage. Also popular here is pointof-purchase applications. (Note: Notice how flexible magnets are being used on walls, curved poles, and set-up displays for retail.) “For short or long-term P-O-P campaigns, magnetic signs and graphics are easy to install and change,” says Mike Gertz, marketing director at Master Magnetics (magnetsource.com). “And they’re reusable and extremely durable. “They’re ideal for individual signs and graphics or in use with magneticreceptives for full wall murals, floor signs, end cap header signs, menu boards, or any graphic that needs to be frequently changed.” Interchangeability remains the adjective of choice with architectural applications. “Use magnetic sheeting as a base and print on less-expensive magnetic-receptive material,” recommends Myers, noting that he’s also seeing magnets used as glow-inthe-dark and chalkboard appearances to spruce up plain surroundings. “This works like magnetic wallpaper.”

Vehicles remain the number-one receptive surface for flexible magnets, but cleaning, size, and storage are the keys to success with these magnetic graphics.

Question: How should flexible magnet sheeting be placed on vehicles? Vehicles remain the number-one receptive surface for flexible magnets, and size, storage, placement, and cleaning are keys to their success here. Cirigliano recommends using 30-mil magnet in these applications. “This size gives the sign the holding strength needed to withstand highway speeds,” he says. “Always store magnet graphics in a flat position or roll them up with the graphics facing out,” adds Myers. “When stored rolled with the graphics facing in, the lead-

ing edge of your sign wants to curl and catch the air from the moving vehicle.” As far as placement, Cirigliano recommends applying the magnet onto a flat surface, avoiding any seams or molding to eliminate any air gaps. “Any place air can get between the magnet and the metal weakens the magnet’s hold on the vehicle,” he says. Round the corners to prevent them from getting dinged. “Failure to do so gives rushing wind a place to get underneath the magnet and pull the sign off,” says Cirigliano. If the magnet is meant to be used on a

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February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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vehicle long-term, Cirigliano stresses, “Remove and clean the magnet regularly in order to protect the vehicle’s paint and finish.” Question: How can sign makers and print providers decorate flexible magnets? It’s easy to die-cut magnet sheeting. And as discussed earlier, you can also mount vinyl graphics directly to the magnetic-receptive material and change them out. According to Gertz, magnetic sheet-

From easy-to-change, direct-print magnetic graphic systems to powerful fastening magnets, we have it all.

ing has evolved by improvements in the printing surface creating an ability to print direct-to-magnet. “Bright, sharp, colorful graphics can be printed onto the magnet, similar to any other printable media,” he says. Inkjet systems able to handle this include solvent, eco-solvent, UV, and latex. “Aqueous-based inks can be used on magnetic sheeting with a paper topcoat,” says Gertz. “Screen printing and painting work too.”

Rely on us for competitive pricing, fast delivery and expert advice. We’ll help your projects stay on time and budget.

To learn more about our magnetic solutions for your business’ success, go to magnetsource.com/one or call 888.293.3534. Booth 2522

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

Question: What mistakes should sign shops or print providers avoid when decorating flexible magnet sheeting? One common mistake Cirigliano sees is sign shops or print providers printing to vinyl and then overlaminating on top of the printable magnet. “Unless purchased specifically without a laminate, the default printable magnet media on the market already has a print-receptive surface on it,” he says. “Printing directly to the magnet will save you from wasting an additional layer of vinyl, shave a step off of your processing, and actually result in a better final product.” Laminating vinyl over another surface (particularly a coated surface) can sometimes result in a poor bond that causes the edges to fray or result in delamination. “You’re much better off printing directly to the factory-provided printable surface,” says Cirigliano. If you do laminate, Myers advises to be very sure about the adhesive. “A lot of adhesives have great initial tack, but within hours, the material wants to delaminate,” he says. When printing direct to magnetic sheeting, Gertz advises, “If the platen of your printer is metal, you just need to cover the platen by taping styrene, chipboard, or anything slightly thick enough to create an air gap between the metal and the magnetic sheeting so it feeds in and flows out smoothly. “Adhering the styrene or chipboard to a precisely cut-out piece of magnetic sheeting is even more convenient instead of taping it in place.” Gertz advises that some general adjustments may be needed when printing onto a flexible magnet are lowering the heat settings and adjusting the height settings for the specific thickness of the magnet. As stated earlier, magnets on vehicles require a minimum of 30-mil thickness, but this thicker size can actually be too thick for some printers. “Magnetic sheeting is heavier than most substrates,” says Gertz, “so it’s important to take the weight into account when feeding it into the printer and also when coming out. “The printed magnet needs to be supported so that it doesn’t hang and create a drag on the smooth flow through the printer.” signshop.com


A DA / B y M i k e A n t o n i a k / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Despite its broad potential, ADA is actually a specialty relatively few sign makers pursue.

The Guided Path

photos: (top) signs pdq; (right) clarke systems.

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he Americans with Disabilities Act (ada.gov) ensures that the physically impaired enjoy the same benefits as all citizens— including easy access and maneuverability in public places. To realize this admirable goal, the law opened a new category of opportunities for sign builders by creating wide-scale demand for signage to help the disabled get around. “Any place in a building or business the public has access to is supposed to have ADA-compliant signage,” notes Don O’Toole, co-owner of Signs PDQ (adasignswholesale.com), a sign shop and wholesale provider of turnkey ADA solutions based in Willoughby, Ohio. Despite such broad potential, ADA

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ADA projects bring challenges along with opportunities.

A site survey helps you determine sign designs and materials that can be used for ADA.

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ADA signage could involve hundreds of signs for large builds like hospitals or scores of signs for offices.

Clients & Projects In this niche, clients and projects fall into two broad categories. First all newly built public buildings and facilities must meet ADA signage codes before they open. This can mean hundreds of signs for a large build project like a hospital or scores of signs for new offices. The client placing the order may be an architect, a construction engineer, or a project manager. The second market involves bringing older structures up to ADA standards. Remodels of existing buildings and businesses may have a need to bring their signs into compliance. “ADA signs for a new building may represent just one-tenth of one percent of the total project,” notes Steve Wethern, vice president of full-service sign builder AE Sign Systems (aesignsystems. com), “but in the end, it’s a very important part of the project. “If the signs aren’t ADA-compliant, 40

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

then owners won’t receive the certificate of occupancy.” Whether a public building is new or newly remodeled, the same set of standards apply. “We have national ADA codes as a starting point,” says Wethern. “One problem we often encounter is that city inspectors have their own idea of what those codes mean, and that’s the person who finally approves the project.” In some areas, local requirements may differ or be more stringent than the national standards. According to Charles Kelly, Jr., president of architectural sign systems provider Clarke Systems (clarkesystems.com), successful implementation begins there. “The rules always come first,” he stresses. “Once sign makers know the federal and local rules governing signage in that locale, they—and we—can get as creative as the project demands, as long as the regulations are kept top of mind.”

Implementation As Kelly states, those who want some of the business must know and understand what all applicable codes require. “These specs cover a range of factors—font type and size, colors and contrast, placement of icons, Braille texture, and size and location of signs,” he says O’Toole advises that shop owners should be familiar enough with the codes to be able to create a bid submittal. “You want to take the client’s specifications and provide a signage schedule—listing all signs that have to be made to be ADA-compliant and provide signshop.com

photo: (this page) clarke systems; (opposite page) AE Sign Systems.

is actually a specialty relatively few sign makers pursue. “Most sign shop owners don’t understand this niche,” adds Derrick Anderson, CEO of solutions provider ADA Central (adacentral.com). “Half our wholesale customers have never dealt with an ADA project before, and they’re trying to figure it out on the fly. “But there are opportunities [available] for those who are familiar with basic ADA signage requirements and are able to communicate them to their customers.”


Ask a lot of questions at the beginning, so you understand what the project requires. Because while the same codes apply, everyone wants things done differently.

with all required elements, while directional signage hanging from ceilings or over doorways may only require sufficient color contrast, sans serif fonts, and correct character size to accommodate reading distance. “They might also consider that, while their signs do need to be compliant, they can also be aesthetically pleasing,” she adds. ADA sign regulations aren’t difficult to understand. “A working knowledge of the requirements and familiarization with the installation standards gives a blueprint for what to look for when reviewing and assessing a building or plans,” says Kelly. “Site lines, door positioning, and permanent versus non-permanent room locations all play a role in determining what signs go where and how many are needed.” At architectural sign materials manufacturer Nova Polymers (novapolymers. com), Marketing Director Mike Santos advises shops to weigh the factors that will impact the best material for the project. “Project design, overall ‘feel’ of the space, and setting should all weigh in the selection,” he points out. “Things like lighting conditions and available wall space on the latch side of the door are important elements when planning the size, shape, and design of ADA signs. “Also it’s important to take note which

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ADA & Wayfinding

a picture or rendering of every one of those signs,” he recommends. For this reason, Wethern states, “Ask a lot of questions at the beginning, so you understand what the project requires. Because while the same codes apply, everyone wants things done differently.” A thorough site survey is critical. Properly done, it should determine design, materials, and installation. Project size, the number of people using the facility, and its interior design are part of this evaluation. Bobbi Payne, technical support specialist for materials supplier Rowmark (rowmark.com), says, “Customers need to understand what each sign will be used for in an effort to determine exactly what ADA requirements need to be incorporated into their designs.” Payne explains permanent space and emergency egress signs must comply

Supplying the Industry for 35 years!

While it’s important that signs be ADA-compliant, keep in mind that these can also be aesthetically pleasing.

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800.331.1891

www.clarkesystems.com

February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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areas of a building will be climate-controlled so the correct material can be chosen. Just because a space has a roof does not always mean it’s an interior climate.” If an interior-rated product is used where an exterior substrate is really required, the sign could fail prematurely.

ADA signage would be a great add-on for any fullfledged sign shop, but there doesn’t seem to be the boots on the ground in many shops to know how to go after that business or what it takes.

Contact us with your ADA signage needs at: sales@cab-signs.com • www.cab-signs.com Phone: 718-385-1600 • 800-394-1690

An ADA Signage specialist since the early 1990s, CAB Signs produces photopolymer and applique signs for companies with premium quality and outstanding lead time.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

In fact, clients sometimes demand signage that doesn’t measure up to ADA standards. The wrong size or colors, incorrect design, or installation can all impact compliance. Only those who know what’s required make the appropriate recommendations about what will or won’t work. When a client does insist on signs to their specifications rather than the ADA standards, the sign provider should advise they do so at their own risk. “One of the bigger problems with ADA signage can be trying to convince some customers what the law says,” notes Anderson. The sign maker who doesn’t provide that warning could be forced to redo the signage.

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

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photo: Signs pdq.

Protect Yourself


“If the client still insists on those signs after they have that conversation, there should be some documentation, with signatures, to protect the sign shop,” suggests Anderson. Sign providers can be in an awkward situation, obliged to meet client demands while protecting their business interests, as well. “When we know something they want isn’t compliant, we tell them that in an email,” shares Wethern. “That, and their response, becomes part of the record for that project.” Even when signs are compliant, a client could install them incorrectly. As protection, Wethern provides a PDF of the relevant ADA standards. “If we aren’t doing the installation, we can’t tell if it’s done right,” he explains. “And if we don’t let the customer know, and document that, it would be our responsibility if it’s not approved.”

Entering the Field “ADA signage would be a great add-on for any full-fledged sign shop,” says Anderson, “but there doesn’t seem to be the boots on the ground in many shops to know how to go after that business or what it takes. “We get a lot of calls from companies who tell us they turned down this work in the past because it just seemed too complicated or that they’re too much to deal with. We try to make sure they understand what ADA requires [in a way] they can communicate to their end-customer.” That education entails more than sign production and installation. Because ADA requirements are so stringent, those new to this niche may want to partner with a supplier or wholesaler, at least initially. “We can help them review the RFP and offer direction on the questions they need to ask in order to make a competent, targeted proposal,” states Kelly. O’Toole explains that by the time you see a new building going up, someone already has that sign project. “If you want to bid on these, you’ve got to get in on the ground floor,” he advises. For small or independent sign shops, the best introduction may be in retrofits, bringing existing buildings into ADA compliance as part of a remodeling project. “Those tend to be smaller jobs that are better suited for smaller shops,” says O’Toole. signshop.com

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Your Direct Source for Sign Information 3 Easy Steps

Receive vital product and service information from manufacturers and distributors by completing the adjacent card or visiting www.signshop.com/infodirect

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

InfoDirect #

1

Adams Magnetic Products . . . . . . . 35

33

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

2

AdamsTech. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

34

Small Balls, Inc. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

43

Arlon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

3

Bell Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

35

Southern Stud Weld . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

44

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

4

Biesse America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

36

Stamm Manufacturing.. . . . . . . . . . 13

45

Duets by Gemini . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

5

Brooklyn Hardware. . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

37

Stouse, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

46

Fisher Textiles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

6

CAB Signs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

38

TRC Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

47

Gravotech, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

7

Channel Letter USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

39

Trotec Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

48

Imprintables Warehouse . . . . . . . . 12

8

Clarke Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

40

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

49

Keystone Technologies. . . . . . . . . . 12

9

Coastal Enterprises Co.. . . . . . . . . . 31

41

Vista System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

50

Litetronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

10

Delcam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

42

VKF Renzel USA Corp. . . . . . . . . . . . 50

51

MBS Standoffs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

11

DUNA-USA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C2

52

Vista System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

12

Duxbury Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

13

Echod Graphics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

14

Epilog Laser. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

15

Gemini, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

16

GoVivid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

17

Gravotech Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

18

Hartlauer Bits, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

19

International Sign Association. . . . 29

20

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

21

Magnum Magnetics Corp.. . . . . . . . 37

22

Master Magnetics, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . 38

23

Matthews Paint Company. . . . . . . . . 5

24

Orbus, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

25

Orbus, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

26

Ornamental Post, Panel & Traffic. . 50

27

Outwater Plastics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

28

Principal LED. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

29

Rapid Tac Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C3

30

Rowmark, LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

31

Runnion Equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

32

Sign America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

InfoDirect #

44

Company

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

Company

Page

InfoDirect #

Company

Page

Companies in Sign Show

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ISA: Evaluating the Planning Process

C

arol Short is like many members of community planning boards: She had no formal training in planning issues, yet she was charged with evaluating ordinances—including sign codes—that came before her committee. When it came time to revise the entire sign code, her community was at a loss. “Small cities like ours usually have no professional staff and not enough money to hire consultants for projects like revising a sign code,” she said. “We found we didn’t even agree on what the words meant that we were trying to make more clear. “We did the best we could, but the document is far from what it should be. We asked a wide variety of people for their input (e.g., local sign makers and the code enforcement officer), most of whom did not answer or participate in the meetings.” And yet, her Arkansas town had an existing sign code that “did not help create effective signage for an attractive town and was hard to understand.” Short recently attended a Planning for Sign Code Success™ event hosted by ISA, the Signage Foundation Inc., and the Mid South Sign Association. It was eye-opening, to say the least. “It never occurred to me that there are sign industry recommendations that a sign code should follow,” she said. Pressure ramped up in the middle of 2015 when the Supreme Court issued its first sign code-related ruling in more than twenty years. This threw many communities into a tailspin as they tried to determine whether their sign ordinances met the standards of content neutrality as required. In 2015, ISA trained more than 1,500 planners and local officials in cities large and small. Some were like Short, serving on a planning board with little formal training. Others had pursued a college degree in planning, though sign codes were a very small portion of their education, if at all. Planning for Sign Code Success events tackle a number of topics—from legalities of regulations to sign

signshop.com

technologies over the course of the day. ISA’s government relations (GR) team also has presented at eight local and regional chapter events of the American Planning Association. Webinars have made training accessible to planners from their desks too. —David Hickey, ISA Vice President, Government Affairs

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February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

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L a r g e F o r m at / By J e f f Wo ot e n / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Installed close to the arena floor, the banners also served as a “shield� from the dirt that flies around during these races. 46

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

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

The Print

Race Installing banners overnight for a historic racing event.

T

all photos: gci digital imaging.

he first-ever indoor Dirt Midget and Outlaw Kart Races, the Bad Boy Indy Invitation, was held on December 12 inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The event proved not only historic for the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, but for one sign shop, it provided the perfect opportunity to rev up its reputation in the area. This company dared to combine grand format and small format to not only brand this motorsports event but also themselves. GCI Digital Imaging, a wholesaler to the sign industry located in Cincinnati, Ohio, was asked to produce and install large-sized banners to be used throughout the facility for this event featuring some of the most elite Outlaw Kart racers in the country. The company produced a total of twenty banners up to 20-by-120 feet in size. Using solvent inks, GCI printed the imagery via HP grand format presses onto nine-ounce mesh vinyl. (Note: Their printers are capable of seamlessly producing

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banners up to 16 feet wide and 150 feet long.) Bankers Life Fieldhouse is also home to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, so GCI had to wait until a game between the Pacers and the Miami Heat was over (and the arena cleared) the previous night before they could begin installing the banners for the Bad Boy Indy Invitational that was slated to begin at five o’clock the following afternoon. (Note: They also had to work around overnight crews putting together a dirt-oval track race using 50 loads of premium dirt and 800 feet of steel barrier and fencing.) The banners were installed in the main arena of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena. The banners, in a way, not only branded the event but also served as a kind of shield from the dirt that inevitably flies around during a race. “We used zip-ties and bungee cords to secure each banner in place around the parameter of the arena,” says TJ Bedacht, president of GCI. GCI finds that the most difficult

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A collectible sticker was kiss-cut into a larger sticker with GCI’s list of services. aspect of projects like this are often just the timeframe. “On this project, there was only a small window of time after the Pacers’ game within which to install the banners,” says Bedacht. “That

even more so once they saw the banners they produced take center stage. Once Bedacht knew his company was going to be producing banners for these races, he wanted to make a big impression.

attitude is, ‘Go big or not at all.’ “We do whatever it takes to cross the finish line with the checkered flag!” To commemorate this event, GCI also thought “smaller” and produced 1,000 souvenir Dirt Midget Monster Stickers paying homage to Southern California’s classic hot-rod craze for the race. “Since the Bad Boy Indy Invitational was to be an historic event,” says GCI Marketing Director Brian Krueger, “one of our staff artists, who is a fan of the crazy, over-the-top hot rod monster stickers from the ’50s-’60s, thought a sticker with that same look would be the perfect fit for this event as a give-away promotional item. “So he spent his Thanksgiving weekend designing an Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Rothstyle monster cruising in one of the Dirt Midget’s racers.” The limited edition Dirt Midget commemorative monster stickers were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Big banners require strong images with restrained design, but stickers can often handle more intricate executions. People can examine stickers more closely, whereas banners have to make their point in seconds. means that if there were any unexpected issues, the screws would tighten and the window begin to close. “Factor in that the event takes place at a scheduled time and there were simply no viable excuses.” In spite of beginning the installs at 2 a.m., GCI still finished before 5 a.m. This wasn’t the first time GCI had to provide a quick turnaround for banners. In addition to designing, creating, and installing colorful 20-by-40-foot vinyl banners overnight for a Labor Day weekend fireworks display in Cincinnati (“Weathering the Storm,” November 2015), this past October, GCI’s install crew took on their “special forces” mentality to battle high winds, rain, and hazardous outdoor weather conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin to quickly install banners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. The sign company was thrilled to be part of this historic racing event and 48

Just like printing, racing has run in GCI’s blood for generations. “I’ve been a drag racer and a cross country racer, and my young son is an avid racer as well,” says Bedacht. “Our

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

These stickers also served as an excellent example of the products that GCI actually produces. “They act as the kind of promotional item that would be memorable and col-

Zip-ties and bungee cords secured each banner in place around the perimeter of the arena. signshop.com


photo: orbus exhibit & display group.

lectible, as well as burnish our name as a means of building awareness in a great industry that needs signage, graphics, and promotions,” says Krueger. There were a couple of challenges involved in designing these stickers. “The first challenge was creating a sticker people would want yet still have a comprehensive list of all our products and services,” says Krueger. GCI initially designed stickers with a list of its products incorporated into the actual design. “A staff member of ours said, ‘It looks great, but who wants a sticker with a long list on it?’” says Krueger. “And they had a point.” So GCI instead designed an 8-by-9 sticker with a comprehensive list of services and a kiss-cut, standalone collectible sticker-within-a-sticker that included the unique art, their logo, and their contact info that people would want to keep and put on their truck, toolbox, or refrigerator. The stickers were printed onto adhesive vinyl and then die-cut. The stickers were also used for all varieties of marketing purposes, which allowed GCI a cool way of spreading the good word about themselves. “Overall a promotional item like this proved to be a print sales person’s paradise,” says Krueger. “We created a memorable item that also effectively communicated who we are and what we do. With the right idea combined with the right venue, [we] saw this as a golden opportunity—creating the perfect collectible item for the perfect historic event. “Overall this is what we want to provide for our valued customers—a great product combined with the ability to understand all of the marketing objectives. This allows us the ability to give our customers the biggest bang for their buck every time.” GCI also handed out stickers at the Bad Boy Indy Invitational event to help promote the attitude of their company as creative and the kind of people folks love to work with. “As we milled about Bankers Life Fieldhouse, we had fun with it,” says Krueger. “The recipients of the stickers were thrilled as well. “It was the perfect intro and marketing icebreaker. GCI plans to use the stickers well besignshop.com

yond this event to inject a creative kick to our promotional activities. “We’ve put a few of these collectible stickers aside for some lucky wholesaleto-the-trade partners,” says Krueger. When it comes to the differences in outputting grand format banners versus smaller promotional stickers, Krueger finds that, at the end of the day, they’re classified as different by sheer scale. “The stickers required more intricate hand work, and our grand format banners require often more muscle,” he says. “Just loading the grand format printer with a roll of substrate can take up to three guys. We’ve created banners that have required six to eight guys to load on a truck after printing.” “The stickers conversely require almost surgical, computer-driven devices with which to die-cut.” According to Krueger, one needs to consider scale when designing these types of items. “A grand format banner can be as tricky to design but with a completely different set of criteria required, i.e., ‘less is more,’” he says. “Big banners

require strong images with a more restrained design.” “Stickers require that same strong imagery but can often handle more intricate executions. People have the luxury of examining stickers more closely, whereas banners have to make their respective point in a split second.” GCI is happy to report that they’re going to stay busy for a while now following up with all of the new fuss they made at the event. “People loved the nuttiness of the sticker, and it fit perfectly within the venue,” says Krueger. “At the end of the day, while it may not have seemed obvious, this was a great case of Marketing 101. “Savvy marketing ideas may be great, but if the quality isn’t there, it won’t add up to a hill of beans. Quality is the best sales tool in our arsenal.” Overall GCI’s involvement in this event was the perfect marriage of overthe-top graphics and an equally overthe-top event. “We really feel we were destined to be a big part of racing promotional events,” says Bedacht.

February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

49


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February 2016 // Sign Builder Illustrated

51

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Olympic Signs of Lombard, Illinois

Rising to the Challenge

B

ack in 1980, partners Robert Whitehead and Bill Pyter started Olympic Signs (olysigns. com) in a two-car garage that they leased from a golf range. With just a pick-up truck and a hand-crank Skyhook Junior crane, they started out by lettering and hand-painting signs. Fast forward thirty-five-plus years later and Olympic Signs has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The now full-service sign company has about forty employees, a fleet of nearly fifteen service vehicles, and a slew of equipment ranging from printers to welders to vinyl cutters—all of which is housed in the company’s 30,000-square-foot building. Just as Olympic Signs has grown, so too has its sign projects. Not just in size and scope, but also in height—the sign shop is often called on to do all types of high-rise work. In fact, Olympic Signs recently completed work on the One Prudential Plaza building in downtown Chicago where they converted the neon letters spelling out “Prudential” to an Allanson RGB LED color-changing system. The job required them to also change out the letters’ face panels. White polycarbonate sheets were printed out-of-house with a perforated pattern. During the day, the sheets appear blue, but at night, they can be lit to appear as any color with the LED color-changing system.

“This one was a huge project. It probably took us a month-and-a-half to finish,” says Robert Whitehead, president of Olympic Signs. “It’s a high-profile job, but that’s what we’ve grown up to.” Another high-profile job was The Drake Hotel in Chicago. The hotel wanted to change out the exposed pink neon on its nine-foot-tall letters to LED. Unfortunately there is no LED color that matches The Drake’s iconic pink, so Olympic Signs came up with another solution. They had SloanLED’s FlexiBRITE flexible LED tubing in white bent into the letter shapes. They then heatgunned translucent pink 3M vinyl to the LED so that it glowed pink when lit. “It came out tremendous,” says Whitehead. “That was probably one of our greatest accomplishments.” Aside from signage, Olympic Signs makes sure its fleet of service vehicles is kept busy by taking on side jobs, as well. The shop handles a number of high-rise needs for the Chicagoland area, such as hanging Christmas lights and high-rise repairs on things like broken building windows. In addition, the shop has made a name for itself by being on call 24/7. “I think service has been key to our growth,” says Whitehead. “They call, we jump, and we’re able to keep our customer base because of that service.”

52

Sign Builder Illustrated // February 2016

all Photos: olympic signs.

A shop credits its three decades in business to ingenuity and service.

signshop.com


Thank You!

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Profile for Sign Builder Illustrated

Sign Builder Illustrated February 2016  

This issue features stories on installation, on-premise sign regulations, HDU signs, dimensional signs, laser engraving, CNC routers, magnet...

Sign Builder Illustrated February 2016  

This issue features stories on installation, on-premise sign regulations, HDU signs, dimensional signs, laser engraving, CNC routers, magnet...

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