3D effects can take signage to another dimension by adding textures, shapes, unique designs and finishes. Brands are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves, and these extra details will help them stand out in a sea of signage. This article appears in the Sign Africa Journal.
One type of 3D signage is vacuum forming. ‘This process is not only more cost effective in terms of labour and time but can give a seamless finish that is unmatched by the older and more traditional signage methods,’ said Matthew Glanvill, Maritime Marketing.
Another option is 3D resin letters, which are a high end product. ‘Due to the scarcity of skills associated with manufacturing resin LED channel letters, signage companies that can do this work are in a position to charge a lot more for this type of signage,’ said Shawn Bezuidenhout, NSI 4 Africa. ‘This is certainly the trend with resin signage manufacturing abroad and the South African market is likely to follow suit.’
3D Styrofoam illuminated letters and laser cut signage can also be used to achieve 3D effects.
Below are distributors of 3D signage products:
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH 3D PRINTING?
3D printing dramatically enhances the ability to create eye-catching added-value visual communications that better engage target audiences. With recent studies suggesting that 3D advertising has five times the stopping power and four times the staying power of 2D advertising, it is clear why this is the technology for sign and display applications. The ability to print larger than life campaigns not only enables brand and marketing managers to differentiate their business offering, it also allows them to maximise their budgets with as much WOW-factor as possible.
3D printing allows retailers to create vibrant, eye catching window displays, point of purchase (POP) stands, visual merchandising and exhibition elements and even bespoke retail outlets that surpass what can be achieved with traditional manufacturing. It transforms the way high-level advertising, visual merchandising and POP and POS displays are created within the retail space.
WHICH SIGNS ARE BEST SUITED TO 3D PRINTING?
The 3D process is geared more to shell and hollow bodied objects that need to be strong and lightweight. The great aspect about our 3D material is its rigidity, ensuring signs last long and brands continue looking good.
WHICH 3D PRINTING SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
Our bureau can offer 3D printing to sign makers, brands, retailers and end users. The bureau has installed a Massivit 1800 printer, which transforms the way high-level marketing, advertising and themed projects are created. It can produce high quality 3D pieces up to 1.8m (6 feet) high. 3DpXL’s unique offering is intended to stretch from artists to the end users. We have the scalability to handle one-off small prototypes as well as extra large models.
CHANNEL LETTER FACTORY (SPECIALIST MANUFACTURING DIVISION OF NGS)
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH CHANNEL LETTER SIGNAGE?
From unusual letter styles to custom logos, 3D channel letter signage draws attention to businesses, enabling users to give company logos more definition, promote brand names, additional services or special offers.
The design options are endless: open or reverse pan, or front-lit, halo, step-cut or flat cut-out letters with pins. Shaped light boxes can be manufactured to almost any design and letters are available in different thicknesses and finishes. Channel letter signage and lightboxes can be matched to any corporate colour and supplied with LED or neon illumination.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ALUMINIUM CHANNEL LETTER SIGNAGE?
Greater freedom of design – from unusual letter styles to custom logos.
Quick production process with 100% reproduction accuracy and quality.
Different lighting options.
Fire proof – aluminium does not burn.
Colour customisation with high quality paints.
Strong and durable, especially when exposed to harsh outdoor elements and vandalism.
Easy to refurbish and reproduce only selected parts of the signage in the event of damage.
Mounting flexibility – can be positioned on flat, curved or unique architectural structures.
WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING CHANNEL LETTER SIGNAGE?
Aluminium channel letters cannot be side illuminated; aluminium must be painted to produce a colour and there are some limitations in terms of very small and fine detailed projects.
As with all signage projects, care must be taken with handling, transport and installation.
WHICH SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
The Channel Letter Factory is a trade supplier and manufacturer of tailor-made aluminium signage using fully automatic channel letter bending technology. The computerised production environment results in consistent fit, finish and 100% job accuracy with a quick production turnaround. Signage can be created with sizes from 100mm-230mm return depth with 100mm-5m high letters, and up to 12 creative letter styles.
Lightboxes and letters can be supplied individually or pre-assembled, ready for installation with the wiring diagrams and installation layouts included.
CHANNEL LETTER BENDER
WHICH 3D SIGNAGE SOLUTIONS SO YOU OFFER?
The Accu-Bend Ace is the first machine in the world to notch, flange and bend complete channel letters. Its cutting-edge technology includes a material-feed table for loading full coils of aluminium and an offload table for supporting the channel letters as they are being bent.
The Channelletter Former is a solid, heavy-duty machine produced with high end quality components and with a strong vacuuum pump that creates very high vacuuum levels and air flow rates. The Former produces channel letter faces, push through letters, and thermal form signs and parts are made to withstand both weather and time, ensuring a high standard of quality and reliability. It can create the most completx 3D faces, which allow for special lighting effects that help businesses stand out from the competition.
In addition, the company offers the Channel Letter Saw, which makes it easy to trim vacuum formed letters.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH CHANNEL LETTER BENDING?
For those looking for ways to visually differentiate their clients, products or brands and to grab attention, 3D channel letters is the best option.
WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING CHANNEL LETTER BENDING?
Know the requirements for the products you want to produce and ensure the machine can process these materials, as you dont want to be stuck with equipment that can’t meet your needs.
Letter bending is all about learning the technique – once this is grasped, anyone can bend letters. Look for suppliers who can offer extensive training and reliable back up service.
WHICH SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
The TPS fully automatic channel letter bending machines can bend aluminium, stainless steel and galvanised iron. The minimum bending radius is 7mm in stainless steel and 20mm in aluminium return. The height of the return can be from 20mm to 180mm. which can bend very small to big letters more than two metres high. TPS machines feature a front feeding straightening mechanism, clamping alternating conveying mechanism and slotting mechanism. It has a built-in high performance eight axis motion control card. The intelligent bending software programme ensures forming precision. The equipment also features a multi-layer super-long guide rack.
The V3 Channel Letter machine can produce various types of channel letters at 10-15 mins per letter, depending on the size and complexity of the font of the letter.
GRAPHIX SUPPLY WORLD
WHICH SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
The Mimaki 3DUJ-553 is the world’s fist 3D printer with over 10 million colours, enabling the production of colour realistic signs, prototypes, parts, products and other 3D printed applications that eliminate the need for time consuming hand painting of 3D printed objects. It jets successive layers of ink, which are instantly cured by UV light until the object is fully formed. Fine layers accumulate on the build tray to create one or several precise 3D models or parts. Where overhangs or complete shapes require support, the 3D printer jets a removable support material. It can also be used for display graphics, promotional items and more.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH VACUUM FORMING?
The effects are endless and the process is only limited by your imagination. Users can create 3D lettering, body shapes, logos, waves and anything that would be relevant to your sign or prop design. Different material finishes can easily be obtained with plastic. You can paint after the process or use the latest technology by pre-printing sheets first and then shaping them without distorting or cracking the ink.
WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CHOOSING 3D SIGNAGE?
Material choices have become a lot easier thanks to the development of plastic over the years. The first thing to look at is whether the plastic will be exposed to outdoor elements, what size you would need, will there be lighting behind or whether the sign requires pre-printing. The materials generally used are Perspex, ABS and IPS but you can also use PVC, PETG, and PMMA. The options are all available and the Formech Machines have enough heating strength to form any of the above materials, allowing the freedom of creating any sign required.
WHICH SIGNS ARE BEST SUITED TO 3D EFFECTS?
Most signs these days come with some form of 3D effect. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve. Most Point Of Sale signage is 3D mainly because you want the customer to be drawn to what you are selling. Product props are also a great way of not only showing a physical example of the product but also encouraging people to touch it.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL 3D SIGNAGE?
Make sure you know what you want to achieve, have a clear concept before production and don’t skimp on the process. Make signs that will last and that won’t be easily damaged or tampered with. Try and think outside the box, adding small elements to a sign can go a long way in making it stick in the customer’s mind. Play around with lighting, finishing and shapes to make the sign worthwhile.
WHICH 3D SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
We have a complete range of machines, from small desk top units, simple line bending and trimming machines, medium sized floor standing, and large floor standing machines, all the way to fully automatic and high-end vacuum forming machines. We have a solution to fit all needs and can even custom build machines if need be.
NSI 4 AFRICA
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH 3D RESIN LETTER SIGNAGE?
LED channel letters finished with EZ Ultra Lumens epoxy resin do not reuqire traditional Perspex or acrylic facings and make for an unusual, impactful, neat and striking result. The domed, borderless effect achieved with this material never fails to impress and the end product is durable and looks professional and attractive 24 hours a day, whether it’s light or dark.
WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN OFFERING CLIENTS RESIN SIGNAGE?
Your working environment is important as the temperature needs to be ideal for mixing and curing. You need an experienced partner to take you through the correct equipment. It takes commitment to invest in a proper set up, there are no shortcuts if you want the best results.
As a large amount of preparation needs to take place, accuracy and precision are key. You need to keep records of all materials used, including colours and the type of LED used. If this is done properly, it will result in quick turnover of letters, if for example, a client needs a letter replaced.
WHICH APPLICATIONS ARE POSSIBLE?
Resin letters are ideal for retail and end consumer environments, which require attention to detail and unique branding to differentiate offerings. Returns can be given a mirrored or brushed steel alternative finish. You can also use different techniques to achieve unique lightng effects for movement and brightness. Basically, what can be achieved is limited to your imagination.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL 3D RESIN LETTER SIGNAGE?
Resin is primarily an indoor product as lengthy exposure to direct sunlight will cause yellowing of the sign. When used indoors, colours won’t fade for at least two years, and this is a gradual fading, so is not noticeable. Standard economy type LED’s can last for 10,000 hours.
Make sure you have the correct training. LED Resin letters are an art form, so there is a large amount of learning involved. We offer different levels of training, from beginner to advanced. Our advice is to begin with a small investment for a starter kit and grow from there. Bear in mind that once the curing process begins, you will have to use all the materials that have been combined with the activator agent.
WHICH SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
EZ Ultra Lumens liquid resin.
EZ Channel Letter Bender D – for profile channel letter bending.
EZ Channel letter Bender C – for coil media bending including stainless steel and aluminium.
EZ 220W Laser welding machine.
Phoenix CNC Automatic Slotting machine for accurate manual channel letter fabrication.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH 3D FOAM PLOTTING?
Sign makers can produce plain signage as well as complete illuminated 3D XPS foam signage or letters with a brilliant finish. The XPS foam return illuminates with a brilliant sparkle and sign faces can be customised with vinyl graphics or digital prints.
Standard 3D foam cut letters and designs can be produced in different thicknesses or finished with step cut layers. Users can apply self adhesive vinyl or do a direct digital print; laminate the face with another layer of different coloured XPS foam, acrylic, ACM or bamboo or apply glitter or paint techniques. Textured backing boards can also add a different dimension.
XPS foam is eco-friendly, cost effective, rigid and versatile. The foam does not absorb water, is easy to finish and install and contains fire-retardants, making it ideal for retail applications. Back illuminated XPS foam exhibits bright, uniform light with no visible join lines. The foam can be cut to tight tolerances, meaning creative, fine detailed illuminated letters or shapes can be produced. Ultra light XPS foam signs and displays are ideal for ceiling mounted or suspended applications and are easy to transport and install. Foam cutting waste can be used as protective packaging.
WHICH SIGNS ARE BEST SUITED TO 3D FOAM PLOTTING?
Users can produce professional, lightweight signage, illuminated letters, logos, in-store retail displays, wall decor, decorative/shop fitting elements, packaging, architectural shapes, theatre props, set design elements, hobbies, crafts, toys and more.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL 3D FOAM PLOTTING SIGNAGE?
Ensure the signs are finished well to add value. Use quality coatings to protect and increase outdoor life expectancy. For the faces, use quality media, translucent vinyls, direct UV printing and make sure LED’s are sourced from reputable suppliers. Incorporate intricate designs to showcase the advantages at no extra cost. With XPS foam cut returns users can vary the return thickness to accommodate the LED and light transmission in tight areas.
WHICH 3D SOLUTIONS DO YOU OFFER?
The Obelisk Computerised XPS Foam Plotter makes it easy to produce 3D Styrofoam illuminated letters, signage and decorative elements. It cuts styrofoam with no smoke, smell or noise and can cut a maximum foam sheet size of 1250mm x 600mm and thicknesses up to 100mm. Cutting surfaces are smooth and free of any jagged edges. Ultralight and cost effective XPS or EPS Polystyrene foam does not absorb water and is easy to finish using water based or acrylic paint. Sign-Tronic offers a five year exterior warranty when properly coated with Sign-Tronic XPS Liquid Coating.
Sign Africa Journal www.signafrica.com/magazine