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Electric Signs

One From the Heart



Aultman Hospital, which serves Stark and surrounding counties in northeast Ohio, asked its agency, Innis Maggiore (Canton, OH), to create an advertising campaign that stressed its leadership position in cardiac care in its market area. The Aultman Heart Center, which does more than 600 open-heart surgeries annually, has implemented several strategies to insure patients receive the best and fastest care for cardiac conditions.

The original concept for this board, an illuminated graphic, would pulse across the top of the extension to simulate the screen of a hospital’s EKG machine. Constraints from the Ohio Dept. of Transportation mandated production of a static, illuminated image of the heartbeat instead of using neon or another, traditional light source.

Innis Maggiore contracted with NYC-based Metromedia Technologies (MMT) to provide the signage as part of a larger, multimedia campaign that involved newspapers, radio, OOH and online advertising. MMT, a visual-communications company that specializes in billboard printing, banners and building wraps, and stadium and arena graphics, suggested using LightTape©, an electroluminescent technology (EL). This particular EL technology utilizes a flat, almost paper-thin lamp that emits a bright light in a wide color array.

The 14 x 48-ft. base and the 4-ft.-high, sculpted vinyl extensions were “painted” using MMT’s proprietary “Core” technology. This process applies automotive-grade, acrylic paint, as opposed to standard, inkjet-based toners, via a proprietary drum technology in MMT’s Wooster, OH manufacturing facility. MMT’s process produces a wider color gamut and minimizes fading to protect the graphic for years, as opposed to weeks or months.

Once the vinyl extension was painted, pockets for the LightTape© lamps were constructed on the reverse side. To allow the light to emerge, a 2-in. channel was removed, by hand, from the 7.3-oz. grey vinyl in the shape of the EKG line. Clear, matte, 19-pt., scrimless, marine, window vinyl with MMT matte coating was then welded in place with a Fiab RF welder along the EKG line, and blank white vinyl was added on the back to form the actual pocket. Roughly 60 ft. of LightTape was used.

Electro-LuminX® Lighting Corp. (ELLC), Chester, VA, built and installed the EL lamps. ELLC constructed each horizontal and angular light segment as individual lamps that would be wired together to complete the full circuit. Once the lamps were inserted into the pockets, and the circuits were tested, the vinyl was carefully rolled and delivered to CBS Columbus for installation, which Sign Experts (Powell, OH) helped complete.
The vinyl extension, which was kept as one, long, continuous piece to accommodate the electronic circuits, complicated the installation process. A normal extension would have involved hoisting six, individual, 4 x 8-ft. plywood sections, with the vinyl pre-mounted on each piece. In this case, the plywood sections were measured, cut and installed prior to mounting any vinyl. The vinyl extension served as the template for cutting the EKG shape.


A large wooden spool was constructed, upon which the vinyl was rolled. The spool was then hoisted via a turnbuckle, which allowed the installers to unroll the portion of the extension required. The plywood on the billboard structure was pasted in sections, and the vinyl was adhered, using squeegees and rollers to eliminate the wrinkles. The wires from the EL lamps were fed through pre-drilled holes in the plywood.
Electrical contractor OD Miller Electric Co. (Louisville, OH) ran the conduit, mounted the electrical boxes and transformers for the lamps, and completed the wiring and timing of the lamps. The EL lamps come with a power transformer that allows the lamp luminance to be adjusted.

CBS, MMT and OD Miller worked together to finetune the luminance levels and reduce the brightness of the front spotlights to insure the maximum visibility of the LightTape product. As with any light source, another, brighter light source that competes with it reduces the luminance. To minimize the effect of the spotlights directed on the sign, OD Miller installed partial shields on the spots to reduce the amount of light that hit the extension.





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