WHEN DESIGNING A sign for a customer, how much time do you spend thinking about the substrate options for where the design will be applied? In many cases, this is a non-issue, as the type of sign or its ultimate location will determine the blank to be used. For example, backlit signs require some type of translucent plastic, like acrylic, but for many other signs you have a choice, and will want to select the right blank for the design. Let’s take a look at some sign situations and the types of blanks for the jobs.
Real estate and other hanging signs present a number of options. The most popular selections are aluminum blanks and corrugated plastic. The blanks are cheap, come in standard sizes and handle outdoor conditions well. In many cases, aluminum signs also can be easily changed. Corrugated plastic is typically cheaper but may be more susceptible to weather conditions.
For more traditional storefront signs that are not backlit, many signmakers choose an exterior-grade plywood. Typically available in 4 x 8-in. or 4 x 4-in. sheets in either a primed or painted surface, this material readily accepts vinyl, painted or printed graphics. The outdoor durability is great and the edges can be routed or cut with typical shop tools to create non-rectangular shapes. Even if you don’t have the tools or time and you want a circle, oval or sculpted blank, you can find a number of companies offering PVC blanks in various sizes and shapes.
However, if your shop is proficient in carving, CNC routing and/or sandblasting, the above materials won’t work for you. For these sign types you need a soft, but rigid material. Redwood is available in various-sized blanks, though it can be very expensive. Large boards are typically made by gluing strips together to create a rectangle or square blank. When sandblasting, the glue joints may show up in the blasted area, in addition to the hard grain. Sign foam (high-density urethane or HDU) is lighter than and the best alternative to wood. Sign foams are easy to carve, sandblast and rout — and have no knots. After priming, the foam accepts paint and is very weather-resistant.
You may want a flat, rigid board for mounting or hanging, and corrugated plastic and aluminum sheet options may be too thin, while MDO plywood or wood blanks may be too thick. A good alternative is an aluminum composite material (ACM), in which a foam core is sandwiched between two aluminum sheets. The boards are rigid, lightweight and easily accept graphics.Advertisement
Obviously, there is a great variety of sign blanks available on the market. Be sure to consider the blank material as part of your design. You may be able to offer options to your customer and select a material that will last a long time under the expected conditions.
PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)
Find it here! ISA Sign Expo 2023
Whether you're looking to grow your business or advance your career, ISA International Sign Expo® 2023 is the only place to find everything you need to be successful in the sign, graphics, print and visual communications industry.
2024 Women in Signs Awards Winners Announced
Opinion: Historic Neon Signs Are Irreplaceable, Inimitable Cultural Treasures
Image360 Middle River Under New Management
15 Super Wraps for the Super Bowl
23 Historical Photos of Signs in Monochrome
15 Historical Photos of Signs in Color
Photo Gallery2 weeks ago
15 Historical Photos of Signs in Color
Business Management1 week ago
16 Tips to Become a Better Sign Business Negotiator
Benchmarks1 week ago
5 Vehicle Wraps At Your Service
Product Buying + Technology4 days ago
Mark Kissling2 weeks ago
LED for Neon Retrofit for a 50-Year-Old Rooftop Sign
Real Deal2 days ago
A Demanding New Client is Pushing a Sign Company to the Wire
Electric Signs7 days ago
Right-Lighting 3 Varying LED Sign-Lighting Situations
Tip Sheet2 weeks ago
Getting Organized and Staying in Touch with Sign Clients Top February’s Tips