Digital print on aluminum composite material panel. Braun Bleamer, Jet Signs, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
“The background is sandblasted >15-lb. Precision Board HDU board,” says Raymond Chapman, Chapman Sign Studio, Temple, Texas. “I cut sandblast mask for the deeper sections, then sandblasted. I removed the rest of the mask then blasted again to texture the original surface. The name and sunburst were hand cut and carved from 40-lb. Precision Board HDU board, and the small plastic lettering was laser cut. It was finished with exterior acrylic paint. It’s over 25 years old and is still in use—and has never been refinished.”
Double-faced sign made of two layers of 1½-in. 18-lb. SignFoam HDU board with ¾-in. overlaid plywood laminated between, with mahogany blocks to receive the screw eyes. David Hassan, Hassan Sign Co., Cohasset, Massachusetts
Lettering, graphics and panel were CNC-cut from ½-in. overlaid router on this design by John Deaton, Deaton Design, Ages, Kentucky and finished with exterior acrylic paint. The CNC work was done by The Woodshop, Middlesboro, Kentucky.
Letters are CNC-carved prismatic lettering on multiple layers of 20-lb. Precision Board HDU board, with a hand carved/textured background. It was finished with black and metallic silver Matthews Acrylic Polyurethane then clear coated.
CNC-cut 2-in. black walnut graphics, 6-ft. wide overall, finished with satin polyurethane. David Hassan, Hassan Sign Co., Cohasset, Massachusetts
CNC-carved HDU prismatic letters on a 2-by-12-ft. HDU panel backed with overlaid plywood. Graphic panel is HDU. Letters and graphic are finished with 1 Shot Metallic Silver enamel. Michael Keene, Woodcraft Sign Shoppe, Richmond, Virginia
Lettering and graphics are high performance vinyl film on ¾-in. overlaid plywood finished with exterior acrylic paint. Raymond Chapman, Chapman Sign Studio, Temple, Texas
Graphics were CNC-cut from ½-in. acrylic sheet, then finished with Matthew Acrylic Polyurethane paint and matte clear coat. Marc Pillsbury, Pillsbury Sign Co., Hopkinton, Massachusetts
Double-faced sign done with digital prints on ½-in. overlaid plywood by John Deaton, Deaton Design, Ages, Kentucky. John did the original cartoons. They are available, along with many others, from The Toon Factory.
Lettering is high performance vinyl on a panel of 20-lb. Corafoam HDU board finished with exterior acrylic paint. The background texture was CNC-routed on a ShopBot router using a texture file called Sand from Dan Sawatzky’s Texture Magic Classic Textures DVD
Incised letters finished with gold leaf carved in a 1½-in. 18-lb. HDU panel laminated to a ¾-in. overlaid plywood backer. The hand-carved graphic panel is 2-in. HDU board. David Hassan, Hassan Sign Co., Cohasset, Massachusetts
PVC letters on an aluminum composite panel over a frame of 1½-in. tubular aluminum. Border is PVC board as are the black faux steel plates at top and bottom. It’s finished with Matthews acrylic polyurethane paint. Mike and Jay Szczoczarz, Countryside Signs, Seekonk, Massachusetts

Get the most from sign substrates

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Sourcelist: substrates

Acrylic sheet
Plaskolite

Aluminum composite material/ACM
3A Composites USA
Grimco
Laminators Inc.
Mitsubishi Plastic Composites
Nudo Products Inc.
United Industries

Engraving materials
Duets by Gemini
Rowmark

Foam core
3A Composites USA
Encore Products
Gilman Brothers
United Industries

Laminated plywood
Laminators Inc.
Nudo Products Inc.

Medium density fiberboard/MDF
Extira

PVC board
3A Composites US
Kommerling
Vycom

High density urethane board/HDU
Coastal Enterprises
Corafoam HDU
SignArts Products

Wood panels
Allwood Sign Blanks

Most customers have no idea what material you’re going to use to make their sign. Few realize that most of the substrates, films and finishes used to make signs have unique characteristics that contribute a lot to the appearance and durability of their sign. For most of them, their experience is limited to the everyday construction products available in the big box home improvement stores.

While we are often interested in primarily selling them on the design of their cool new sign, it’s equally important to explain that you’ll be using these specialized materials to make their sign. Most have never even seen a piece of HDU or ACM or PVC or MDO plywood. They’re everyday terms in a sign shop, and we can assume that others know them, too.

Take a minute to tell the customer about the characteristics and durability of the products you plan to use. It can go a long way towards helping them stretch their budget to work with a knowledgeable sign maker who is serious about his or her product.

It’s always a good exercise, too, to take a look at what other creative sign makers are using to make their signs. Every issue of SignCraft has plenty of examples of different substrates and materials that others have put to work to make successful signs to fit all sorts of budgets. We’ve collected a sampling of such signs here to help inspire your next project—and the one after that.


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