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THOUGH A FEW MONTHS have passed since the ISA International Sign Expo 2023 in Las Vegas, we’ve been busy collecting the thoughts of the sign pros and our teammates who attended, on the product or two that stood out to them the most. Some are new, some are forthcoming, some are popular — but all made an impression on our Squad.

MUTOH’s XpertJet 1462 UF (top), a 55 x 27-in. UV-LED flatbed printer which will be available in August, as well as sample prints (above) for ADA signs and more.

3D AND ADA SIGN PRINTERS

Brain Squad member Keith Davis of KRD Design (Chester Springs, PA) offers some interesting insights on a new kind of channel letter and the materials involved.

G2G Lighting were pushing a 3D-printed channel letter product with a multi-filament printer, using a combination of translucent and opaque filaments to create a single piece. I have long seen this as a viable industry product, but I’m pretty sure they were among the very few showcasing this capability.

My biggest concern is the use of PLA (polylactic acid) blend in the filament. It is not exterior grade and PLA will be brittle in about six months, so longevity is not your friend in PLA printing. The blend will increase its durability, but in this arrangement cannot be used for exterior regardless.

  • I think the sweet spot for sign manufacturing may ultimately be in the use of a PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) filament. It is exterior grade with a lower melt point than ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) so as to not require heated build chambers and/or more controlled environments, but higher durability than PLA. Regardless, I am curious to see this market segment progress over the next several years. — Keith Davis, KRD Design, Chester Springs, PA
  • ADA 3D Printers. Life of the sign warranties for LEDs. Further automation within our industry. — Matt Brasel, Indigo Signworks Inc., Brasel, ND

The SquareCoil booth was buzzing with interest throughout the show.

SOFTWARE

Sign company management software proved to be one of the products most mentioned among the Brain Squad, with plenty of variation.

  • ONYX Align management software. Very comprehensive. — Ian McLellan, Hill House Graphics, Bristol, RI
  • We are very excited about Mothernode software for the sign industry. — Rochelle Letourneau, Security Signs, Portland, OR
  • We are looking forward to Corebridge’s new software release later this year to help bridge some of its shortcomings! — Adam Montoya, Image360 South Bay-Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, CA
  • It is not quite new, as they have been around for years, but the best product hands down is SquareCoil. — Louis DeSantis, Sign Shop Illuminated, Colorado Springs, CO

I gained a new appreciation for chop-saw operators after Dale Salamacha and Rick Ream from Media 1/Wrap This showed me this automatic kerf-cutting saw.

CUTTERS AND FINISHING MACHINES

No other category of products brought out more praise and excitement than cutters and finishing machines.

  • We were impressed with the redesign of the Keencut cutter. — Earl Walker, Image360 Tucker, Tucker, GA
  • I loved the Colex [finishing] machine! I started dreaming up all sorts of additional revenue ideas while watching it work! — Alexandra Lund, Bismarck Sign Co., Bismarck, ND
  • The machines [specifically, the AL-225 Series Automatic Kerf Cutting Saw] that Haffner Machinery was demonstrating were incredible. — Rick Ream, Media 1/Wrap This, Sanford, FL

Principal Prism Synergy is the first co-branded Principal Sloan product to hit the market.

LEDS AND LIGHTING

One of the benefits of attending the ISA Expo is the ability to monitor the steady march of technology across products and equipment. Two areas experiencing advances are LEDs and solar power — both of which were on the minds of these Brain Squad members.

  • I see potential for flexible LED products. Still trying to find the most universal, cost-effective and best of breed products. — Tim Ward, Sign Solutions, Frederick, MD
  • Anything neon-replacement is hot for the requests we are currently getting. The general public and non-artisan small businesses are all in for LEDs at this point. — Edward DeZuzio, Butler Sign Co., Wayne, NJ
  • Solar for signs. — Mike McClure, Ad Art, San Francisco

Gemini featured new letter finishes (right) while Trotec Laser’s sample wall (above) displayed the latest in engraving.

THE BIG PICTURE PERSPECTIVE

Covering the ISA Expo with Signs of the Times, as always, were our colleagues and teammates from Big Picture and Screen Printing magazines: Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief and Matt Danford, managing editor.

Yellotools had some very interesting hand tools for graphics application, according to Nicole Bergstrom from SmithCraft Signs (Phoenix).

Palmer noted following the release of its first wide-format printer a few years ago, Konica Minolta continues its commitment to this space with the AccurioWide 250. With a 2.5m bed, the hybrid UV LED machine offers a larger option for those interested in printing a wide range of media for indoor and outdoor applications.

And Danford found the collaborative robot that can work safely alongside people on the Zund cutting system — reducing the manual labor required to sort and stack material — just as cool if not cooler than the cutter itself.

Printed samples showing the range of Canon Arizona and Colorado printers.

PHOTO GALLERY (17 IMAGES)

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