Sign & Digital Graphics

July '17

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86 • July 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S ARCHITECTURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL it an outdoor sign facing tough weather conditions? Is it located in a place that is subject to vandalism? Does it contain elements that may cause failure? "General purpose acrylic has a long lifespan due to its excellent resistance to UV damage, acrylic is prone to breakage, however," Race says. "Co-extruded poly- carbonate sheet can be expected to last 10 years without significant yellowing and is virtually unbreakable." In addition, polycarbonate offers greater heat resistance than acrylics, and has a higher impact strength with increased resistance to breakage. These traits of both polycarbonates and acrylics will contribute to the life expectancy of the overall sign. "The expected lifespan varies depend- ing on the type of plastic being used and the conditions it is being used in," Buckley says. "To achieve the best results and the longest life span, it's important to select the right plastic for the specific needs of each project. Considerations like end-use environment, weight, and durability will help drive that decision." Price—Sign businesses want to make money; that's not a secret. But being able to provide the best end-product without overspending is a very attractive option. Plastics in sign projects allow a shop to price jobs competitively. "Historically, polycarbonate has been priced significantly higher than both GP Acrylic and Impact Modified Acrylic," Race says. "This price delta has been shrinking over the past few years. In many cases polycarbonate may be pro- cured with less cost." This is something sign makers should certainly consider as they are choosing which materials to use for each job: price versus performance. Strength—Durability has always been an attractive quality for sign users. The customer wants to know that he can rely on his investment and, thus, the sign shop that provided it to him. The advantage to polycarbonate is that it is very strong and dependable. "Polycarbonate is significantly stron- ger than acrylic and impact modified acrylic," Race says, "especially after being thermoformed." According to manufacturers, polycar- bonates are far superior than acrylics in the strength category. "Lighter than glass, Polycarbonate delivers more than 30 times the impact strength of acrylic, and 10 times that of impact-modified acrylic, so signs main- tain their appearance over time, and can be used in areas of high vandalism," says Jay Millhof, SABIC strategic account manager, image market—Polymershapes. Against other substrates, plastics can also be looked at as a very trustworthy alternative, especially when consider- ing their complete compilation that enhances longevity. "Plastics can be engineered to be more durable than metal or wood; over time, they will not rust like metal or rot like wood. Used with LEDs Lighting is a big part of today's sig- nage. Users who want to make sure their displays are seen everywhere—in the dark, in the back of a store, among other displays, and more—are turning to LEDs for an illuminated advantage. Plastics can team with LEDs to make sure the best results are achieved. "Because synthetics can be engineered to provide varying levels of opacity, they can work very well with LED and other lighting systems," Buckley says. "Some plastics have higher heat tolerances than others, and can withstand the heat from The versatility of acryl- ics makes it a commonly used substrate for a vari- ety of styles of room sig- nage. (Image courtesy of the Acrylic Idea Factory) Polycarbonate sheeting is being used as an efficient diffuser in the emerging LED lighting industry. (Image courtesy Covestro)

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