Cut vinyl graphics on a background of Burgundy Oracal 651 film on a 3-by-6-ft. panel of 6mm Alumalite aluminum composite material. Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
Letters are 30-lb. HDU board finished with Matthews metallic copper and clearcoat with metal flake added. The 3-ft.-wide main panel is a 1-in. Extira Treated Exterior Panel, cut out and painted with black DiBond ACM panels applied top and bottom. The center panel is ½-in. Extira with CNC-carved prismatic letters and the black shadow/outline incise carved with a flat bottom recess bit. John Ralph, Quail Run Signs, Hamilton, Virgin
Hand-lettered with Ronan Aquacoat paint [] on 4-by-4-ft. panel of brushed aluminum with a rubber washer. Jim Jackson, Artcraft Sign Co., Raleigh NC overlaid plywood. Ornaments are carved HDU board finish with goldleaf. The client liked the colors so well that he used them as a color scheme and repainted the building. Russ Mills, Russ Mills Signs, Pineville, Kentucky
The logo type is ½-in. waterjet cut aluminum, horizontally brushed and satin clear-coated. It is stud mounted through the 14-by-24-in. panel of ½-in. laser-cut acrylic on 3/16-in. standoffs. The background graphics are a reverse print on 3M IJ 40 film, with a white film laminate behind, and are installed subsurface. The ½-in. acrylic spacer raises the panel off the brick wall. The sign is stud mounted with silicone to the brick wall with 3-in.-long 3/16-in. aluminum studs, which Jim prefers because they’re easy to bend and cut in the field. The standoff discs are Hand-lettered with Ronan Aquacoat paint [] on 4-by-4-ft. panel of brushed aluminum with a rubber washer. Jim Jackson, Artcraft Sign Co., Raleigh NC
How about copper for the background and steel sheet for the letters? Sign maker unknown, Blue Ridge, Georgia
CNC-cut 3/4-in. PVC letters on 72-by-88-in. panels of 6mm aluminum composite material; Express is prismatic carved and mounted on 1/4-in PVC board outline panel. Logo panel is CNC-carved 1-in. high density urethane board, and everything is finished with Matthews polyurethane paint [] Address panel is cast vinyl film on ACM panel. Bob Stephens, Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida
Printed graphics with UV laminate on 4-by-8-ft. panel of ¾-in. PVC board, mounted on 6-by-6-in. treated posts with white vinyl sleeves and post caps. Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
Clearcoated 3/8-in. aluminum letters from Gemini Inc. [] on 14-by-23-ft. monument made of plywood covered with foam panels then coated with acrylic stucco. RT Signs, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
Cut-out layers of overlaid plywood finished with Ronan Aquacoat paint [] and exterior acrylic latex paint. The sign is 4-by-5-ft. overall. Russ Mills, Russ Mills Signs, Pineville, Kentucky
The lion’s head was CNC-routed in four layers. The base layer is PVC board, with three layers of HDU board over that. The 28-by-60-in. sign face and the letters are ½-in. PVC board. The secondary copy was hand lettered. The lion’s whiskers are copper wire. Chris Lovelady, Vital Signs LLC, Thomasville, Georgia
Digital print and cut vinyl lettering on 2-by-8-ft prefinished black 6mm Alumalite aluminum composite material. Pinstripe is hand painted. Erik Dickson, Erik Designs, Rumford, Maine

Know your substrate options

Choosing the right substrate makes production easier and help manage costs

By signcraft

Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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It takes creativity to decipher what a customer really wants or needs, creativity to come up with a design, and creativity to make it happen within their budget. And it takes creativity to take the best advantage of the variety of substrates available for sign making today.

Not too long ago the choices for sign substrates and materials for cutout graphics were relatively limited. Now you’ve got plenty to choose from—and plenty to learn about and experiment with. Creative sign people have always been looking for products that make great-looking signs yet fit the durability requirements and budget limitations of the project.

It pays off. Knowing what substrate has the right characteristics for the job at hand lets you tell the customer with confidence what performance they can expect from the sign you can make for them. It may also let you offer a finished product at a better price, or give you a selling point of improved durability. Educating yourself about what’s available and a little experimenting with products is what makes you a knowledgeable professional.

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