Laser-cut acrylic letters, painted red, on a panel made of two layers of Extira board. John Ralph, Quail Run Signs, Hamilton, Virginia
Two layers of laser-cut ¼-in. acrylic. “The back layer is cut a little smaller just to pop it off the wall,” says John Ralph. “Rather than use ½-in. acrylic, I prefer to use two layers of ¼-in. bonded together with 3M VHB tape, and let the top layer float. It makes a cool effect. The backer layer can be clear, black or white, depending on the look you want. It’s not really any more work. Instead of cutting thick acrylic slowly, you cut thin acrylic faster.”
Lettering and graphics are all laser cut, painted acrylic graphics on an acrylic sheet panel. Steve Shepherd, Custom Engraving & Signs, Richmond, Virginia
Laser-cut green edge clear acrylic with a laser-cut acrylic panel, painted blue, bonded to it. Secondary copy is cut vinyl. Steve Shepherd, Custom Engraving & Signs, Richmond, Virginia
Lettering and copy panel are laser-cut from brushed metal plastic engraving stock. The flag graphic is laser cut with a digital print on it, and the main panel is sapele mahogany with a maple border. Steve Shepherd, Custom Engraving & Signs, Richmond, Virginia
The aluminum panel was painted white, then the laser was used to remove the white paint and expose the aluminum surface. Steve Shepherd, Custom Engraving & Signs, Richmond, Virginia
Laser-cut frosted acrylic panel with second-surface navy blue vinyl lettering mounted on standoffs on a navy blue painted Extira backer panel. John Ralph, Quail Run Signs, Hamilton, Virginia

Why a laser fits so well in a sign shop

Combined with your skills and equipment, you get even more value from a laser


Posted on Monday, July 2nd, 2018

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Source list:

Laser engraving/cutting

Acsys Laser

AP Lazer

Boss Laser

Epilog Laser


Trotec Laser

Universal Laser Systems

Vision Engravers

Engraving materials

Duets by Gemini


We try to make all source lists as complete as possible, but errors or omissions sometimes occur. If so, please let us know and we’ll pass the updated information along.

“I remember reading,” says John Ralph of Quail Run Signs, “where someone said that it’s hard to build a business around the laser in most areas, because the market just isn’t that large yet. He went on to say, though, that you can successfully use a laser to increase your sales in almost any sign shop in almost any market. That stuck with me. A laser lets you do so much more in a sign shop. It complements both the tools you have and the work that you do really well.”

Of course you can make complete signs with the laser, like interior signage, nameplates, wayfinding systems and ADA signage. It’s a natural for a sign shop and John, who added his Epilog laser seven years ago, does a lot of such work.

“Along with acrylic and other materials,” he says, “we use a lot of laser-specific materials as well. We do a lot of interior signage for office buildings as well as promotional items with those materials. There are quite a few materials to pick from and loads of color options.”

In most sign shops, though, the laser engraver/cutter quickly finds a home for many aspects of production. You can make components for other signs—cutting out acrylic and HDU lettering and graphics, cutting out acrylic panels, engraving graphics that get applied to large signs.

Coupled with your CNC and digital printing equipment, the laser has even more potential as a sign making tool. This lets sign makers use more of the laser’s power and potential—and get even more value from it than many users. Shops that have added a laser recognize this right away.

“With sign work, there are a lot of other related uses for the laser,” says Steve Shepherd of Custom Engraving & Signs, who bought his Trotec laser in 2007. “For example, we often cut a poster board template as a pattern for letter installation. If it’s large, we do it in panels and tape it together. We can walk into an office, tape it to the wall and install the letters in a matter of minutes.”

Of course a laser also lets you do all the incredible engraving feats that a laser can do on almost any surface—detailed photos on marble tile, wedding announcements on paper, intricate logos on leather coasters and perfect monograms on knife blades. But most likely, it’s how the laser helps you enhance your signs and speed production that will keep you wondering how you ever got by without it.

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