Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2019
You see a lot of flat signs, and you see a fair amount of 3D signs with flat layers—but you don’t see very many signs with curved panels or curved faces. It’s a great-looking effect Peter Poanessa, Keene Signworx, Swanzey, New Hampshire, uses very successfully to add extra visual kick to an already appealing layout.
“Most signs are flat,” says Peter, “so a curved face is immediately unique and interesting to the viewer. When you couple that with other dimensional elements, you can create something that is really appealing to look at. And that’s the critical task of a creative sign.”
There’s a little engineering involved, of course. Today’s materials and assembly methods, though, make curved faces easier. At first, Peter made curved faces using “cold forming.” He built a form, then laminated layers of material over it.
Once the glue dried and the material was taken off the form, it kept that shape. He often used this approach to form SignFoam high density urethane board over two layers of ¼-in. plywood using epoxy to laminate it. He also did a few by cutting curved PVC supports and laminating the HDU board over that.
“As time went on,” he says, “I moved towards using a curved thin-wall tubular aluminum frame with aluminum composite material over it. I bond the face to the frame with Lord adhesive, which chemically welds it to the frame. It’s very strong.
“I now have a Baliegh R-M7 radius manual tubing bender. I run the aluminum tubing through it and get nice consistent long arcs. It’s a fairly inexpensive tool that uses a hand crank to feed the tubing between rollers to bend it. Once I have the tubing bent into the arc that I want, I just laminate the aluminum composite material over it. It’s super rigid and super strong.”
Simplifying the production method makes creating curved sign faces a practical option. Whether it’s a simple curved panel that carries all or part of the primary copy or the entire sign face is curved, the added dimension and drama make it another tool in the sign designer’s bag of tricks.