Sign & Digital Graphics

January '17

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Simple 3D Easy steps for adding dimension to storefront signage B Y R I C K W I L L I A M S Shop Talk our client was glad to pay a bit more for a better look- ing sign, and we were happy to provide it. The letters we used were 5/8" thick, and were a shop-made composite of ½" thick PVC sheet with a surface of aluminum laminate with a gloss white fin- ish. The two materials were bonded together with a full coating of regular banner tape as the adhesive. Then shop-laminated material was cut on a waterjet at full power (a stream of water and sand under 50,000 pounds of pressure), which is a fair test of a how good an adhesive bond we produced when joining these two materials. The edges were painted white so the lamination was not visible. But to make each letter stand out from the sign a bit more, small blocks were cut from .25" thick PVC sheet and glued to the letter backs with plumbers PVC glue. This extra offset will cast more shadow, shed water better, and gives us more depth to screw into when securing the letters from behind with #10 sheet metal screws. The two decorative stars were made like others I've fabricated before, five diamond-shaped points bent on a brake, then tack-welded from the backside. My aluminum welding is pretty bad, but even I can tack-weld these together while they are held in align- ment with small pieces of strapping tape on front and back of every joint. A back plate that fits into the hollow star's backside was also tack-welded in place to provide a flat surface to screw into for mounting. These 3 D stars were powder coated a metallic gold color, which would contrast from the red, white and blue color scheme of the sign itself. The entire sign was made by com- bining flat panels of blue powder coated .080 aluminum sheet, and basic .040 pre-finished red aluminum formed using a 10' sheet metal brake to bend the long sides, and a smaller 48" fin- ger brake (also called a "pan brake") to create hollow dimensional panels that raise up off the blue background. The depth of the pans was 1½", and our old A t our commercial sign shop, we really don't pro- duce any serious 3D signage, and we don't own a 3D router. But that does not mean we don't do signs that have some dimension and incorporate raised ele- ments to create more custom-looking signs for our clients. In fact, some of the steps we might employ to take a flat sign job and give it some dimension and character are quite simple, but still effective. A sign we did for a local gun shop might be a good example to show some easy ways to produce a custom, dimensional sign without spending an unjustifiable amount of time or money doing it. On this sign, almost every part of it is raised off the surface. The sign panels themselves are formed on a brake, the center panel and its border were fabricated and raised, as were the letters and the large stars at each end. None of this was complex or inordinately expensive. It did cost more than a simple flat sign, but Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and documenting the sign business since 1986. Contact him at RickSignCo@ MASTER'S TOUCH 74 • January 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Making 3D signs, or at least dimensional signs without a 3D router is not at all impossible. Almost all elements on this sign job were raised.

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