Sign & Digital Graphics

July '17

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88 • July 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S other types of lighting systems without warping or posing a safety hazard." Polycarbonates, specifically, are great options for backlit and illuminated sig- nage applications because of their ability to transmit high-clarity light. Sign mak- ers should take note of the amount of light that is emitted through a sign face, especially in thin sign cabinets or closely configured applications. For instance, " SABIC's LEXAN sign white SGC510D sheet provides uniform light diffusion to eliminate LED pinholes and a view of light sources, and superior light transmission for exceptional opti- cal brightness at lower energy costs," Millhof says. In the end, sign makers can consult with manufacturers to make sure they are using the best possible option for lighted signs. "Many manufacturers offer grades specifically developed for the sign indus- try," Race says. "These include LED com- patible grades and digital print grades." Practicality for Sign Makers For sign shops that are offering their services in plastic signage, it's important to consider all of what the user wants in the sign. For example: Where is it being placed? What is the application? "Polycarbonate signage is a durable and versatile option in a wide variety of applications," Millhof says. "It's an excel- lent choice for decorated outdoor signs, including cabinet signs and channel let- ters. LEXAN polycarbonate sheet comes in a variety of specialized sign grades, can be thermoformed with crisp detail, offers excellent aesthetics, and is tough enough to withstand high impact and abuse." Even between polycarbonates versus acrylics, there can be some major differ- ences. Sign makers should give thought to which option should be used per project. "There are many differences in the materials when it comes to fabrication," Race says. "Both products can be cut eas- ily with saws and routers. Polycarbonate can be die cut, guillotined or sheared, which is common in thinner gauges. Acrylic cannot be cut with these meth- ods. Polycarbonate, unlike acrylic, can be cold formed and bent in a brake press. Both products can be thermoformed, but polycarbonate needs to be pre-dried to release excess moisture, as the forming temperature is much higher than acrylic." And, again, keep in mind that the environment will have an impact on the integrity of the sign. "Acrylic sheet can be used both indoors and outdoors," Race says. "Polycarbonate with a co-extruded UV cap layer, like Makrolon SL, is intended for outdoor use. General purpose poly- carbonate should only be used in indoor applications." As a sign maker, there are always a number of factors to consider when trying to implement the best signage solution for the customer. If plastics are potentially part of the project, then look at the following: What's the budget? Plastic may be a more attractive option than other sub- strates, and acrylics are typically very affordable. How long does the customer want the sign to last? Polycarbonates have a very strong composition. Will the sign be used in outdoor or in lighted settings? Check how each ele- ment will perform against the customer's checklist. SDG Acrylic is also a favor- ite material for shops using laser cutters and engravers because it can be worked to a fine fin- ish. (Image courtesy of Trotec Laser)

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