A gallery of CNC sign ideas

By SignCraft.com

Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

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The copy and details on this 33-by-135- in. sign are CNC-carved HDU board with convex faces on the copy and round faces on the black and silver details, by Jim Lago, Healdsburg Signs, Healdsburg, California. Details are finished in 1 Shot Metallic Gold and Metallic Silver enamel. The frame and background are stained natural cedar. Jim uses a MultiCam CNC router.

As you see in every issue of SignCraft, CNC routing makes a wide variety of 3-D signage not only possible, but practical. The versatility of CNC’s cutting and routing capabilities makes it a very powerful tool in the hands of a creative designer.

Of course, a CNC router can handle plenty of routine production tasks—like cutting and drilling. But it also makes it easy to add layered outlines, background effects, panels and borders. It lets you create the type of graphics that draw the viewer’s eye.

In a world where viewers are bombarded with visual messages, this becomes a critical task: getting them to choose to look at and read your client’s message. Dimension can add a lot of interest and appeal to a message. It lends a feel of quality and permanence to the image of the business.

Take a look at how these sign makers are using CNC routers to create custom signage, combining a variety of materials and production techniques. You’ll see textured backgrounds, holes right through the sign face, applied convex letters, simple cutout layers and incised letters. There are graphics cut from PVC, HDU and ACM. And don’t overlook the example of how the results Bob Fiddler is getting when he prints directly on routed PVC signs using his flatbed printer.

We’d like to see how you are putting this equipment to work, too. Send your photos to signcraft@signcraft.com today.

SignCraft, November/December 2015

Top and center panels are routed HDU board by Appalachian Signs, Boone, North Carolina. They use a ShopBot CNC router and Vectric Aspire software. “The bottom panel is overlaid plywood,” says Sarah Evans. “We laser-engraved the donor nameplates on our Trotec laser.”

CNC-cut 3-by-2-ft. double-faced Extira Exterior Treated Panel by Sandy Baird, Windwalker Signs, Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. Sandy uses an AXYZ CNC router and Vectric Aspire software.

The base panel/border is 3mm brushed aluminum composite material [ACM]. The woodgrain background is the flooring material from their office, bonded to a 3mm ACM panel. The hand logo and outline of the lettering is laser-cut ½-in. black acrylic and the lettering is ¼-in. acrylic with a brushed aluminum laminate, both from Gemini Inc. Dave Correll, Brushwork Signs, Faribault, Minnesota

This 7-by-11-ft. double-faced sign was CNC milled using Vectric Aspire 3D software from multiple sheets of HDU board with epoxied seams. It was fastened to an aluminum cabinet designed to mount between stone pillars. Total thickness was 2 ft. All sign components were painted with acrylics and Ronan Aqua Leaf metallics. Roger Cox, House of Signs, Frisco, Colorado

Routed 36-by-22-in. SignFoam HDU panel with digital print graphics, by Denise Baum, Shannon-Baum Signs & Graphics, Inc., Eldersburg, Maryland. Denise uses an Industrial CNC router.

Letters and arrows were cut from PVC board, then finished with 23k gold leaf and mounted on a 32-by-32-in. PVC panel, by John Liptak, Liptak Signs, Portsmouth, Rhode Island. John uses a ShopBot CNC router and Vectric V-Carve Pro software.

Each face of this 22-by-36-in. sign is 1-in. HDU board was CNC carved, then bonded back-to-back. The convex carved primary copy was finished with gold leaf and the background done with black smalts. Jim Lago, Healdsburg Signs, Healdsburg, California

Background is ¼-in. clear acrylic panel with dusted crystal vinyl applied second surface. Letters are router-cut ½-in. black PVC board with cut vinyl applied on faces. The swirl designs are vinyl, applied first surface. Sign is mounted using flat-cap standoffs. Brian Meister, Image 360 Lauderhill, Lauderhill, Florida

Lettering/shadow was routed and cut from ¾-in. PVC board with the lettering V-carved then mounted on a 36-by-53-in. panel of ¾-in. overlaid plywood. The oval panel with the young woman is ½-in. PVC board. David Hassan, Hassan Woodcarving & Sign Company, Cohasset, Massachusetts, uses a MultiCam CNC router.

Sign panel is two pieces of HDU board dowelled together to create 93-by-93-in. panel with routed graphics. Router-cut letters are finished with 23K gold leaf on the acrylic latex background. Bird is hand carved. Carousel Signs & Designs, Rockville, Virginia

Router-cut HDU lettering mounted on a Dibond ACM background panel using standoffs, covering the old logo on the limestone slab. Bob Fiddler, Johnny’s Signs, Bedford, Indiana

Graphics were incise-carved on the router in 2-in. HDU board and finished with 23K gold leaf. Sign is banded with mirror gold .040-in. aluminum edge trim. Bob Fiddler, Johnny’s Signs, Bedford, Indiana

Routed, carved PVC board, printed on a HP Scitex printer and clear coated with ClearShield UV absorber. “This sign was done with a new process we’re using,” says Bob Fiddler, Johnny’s Signs, Bedford, Indiana. “It allows us to print the graphics on the sign, including any texture—wood, marble, steel, etc.—created with Photoshop. This eliminates all labor involved with finishing.”

This 55-by-65-in. single-faced sign is fabricated from HDU board in multiple layers with a total thickness of 10-in. It was CNC milled then hand-painted with acrylics and Ronan metallics. The starfish are sculpted from sculpting epoxy. Roger Cox, House of Signs, Frisco, Colorado

The Wooly Fleece lettering and the scissors are router-cut aluminum composite material [ACM]. Sewing Trade was hand painted. Phil Johns, Signs of Excellence, Aitkenvale, Queensland, Australia

Router-cut urethane board distressed by hand for aged effect. Phil Johns, Signs of Excellence, Aitkenvale, Queensland, Australia

Letters were cut on a Shopbot CNC router from ¾-in. 18-lb. SignFoam HDU board and mounted on a 42-by-42-in. panel laminated from ¾-in. cedar and stained. The sign has a metal wrap and is mounted on a cedar post. The dory was hand carved from 3-in. HDU board. John Liptak, Liptak Signs, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Roger Cox, House of Signs, Frisco, Colorado