Aluminum composite material—a sandwich of two thin sheets of aluminum with a layer of plastic between—is a versatile material in the hands of a creative sign professional. You can fabricate sign faces, build add-on panels, make pole and pylon covers with just a router and adhesive.
John Dutton, Quality Signs, Jasper, Alabama, finds his customers like the clean look of the 3D signs and panels he creates from aluminum composite sheet.
On the 4-by-19-ft. American Cutlery sign, John routed a V-groove in PolyMetal aluminum composite sheet [www.nudo.com] and bent back returns to add depth for the black panel. He cut the oval face out of PolyMetal, then used a long strip for the sides. (Fletcher-Terry www.fletcher-terry.com now offers a V-Groove Tool for cutting grooves to allow 90-degree bends in aluminum composite panels without routing.)
He then cut the same oval out of 3/4-in. particle board to serve as a mold. He dropped the face into that, and bent the sides inside the mold. He bonded the sides to the face using stainless steel corner brackets from the hardware store and Gorilla Glue, hold it together.
“For the Blackson sign,” says John, “I used an AlumaCorr panel, which is aluminum faces over a corrugated plastic core for the main panel. I made the logo and secondary copy boxes using PolyMetal aluminum composite panel, fast and easy. It added some dimension, and the client loved it.
“I’ve built quite a few sign cabinets like this over the past few years. It keeps the cost down, and the signs hold up well.”