Sign & Digital Graphics

June '19

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ELECTRIC SIGNAGE dent of SDS Automation's sign-making division. "Right now, there's still a sur- prising number of people bending by hand, but it is getting more difficult for them to be competitive." Channel letters are popular because they are a great way to attract attention to a business and to represent the busi- ness's brand, Cross adds. The channel bending technology helps sign shops because "there seems to be a prevalence of people who want to collect a paycheck but a deficit of peo- ple who want to earn a paycheck," Cross says. "By reducing the amount of labor, it helps them overcome two challenges: efficiency cost-wise and a shortage of skilled and willing labor." Costs of this machinery continue to drop. When the first Accu-Bend machines came out, they were around $130,000, says Ondracek. Now, one of the larger machines costs about $40,000 and Computerized Cutters just introduced a table-top channel letter bending machine called the Accu-Bend FREEDOM that is priced less than $20,000. "Companies as small as you want, who only do one set of channel letters a month, will pay for the machine in one year," Ondracek says. And the machines fit on a workbench, rolling cart or shop counter, making them available to even the smallest sign shop. Kevin Kane, sales manager at CLN of South Florida, Inc., says that CLN's Fusion channel letter bending machines are fairly simple to use, taking about two hours of training to make anyone a chan- nel letter expert. Most of that training is done over the phone, he adds. "The technology has developed in a way that loading the coil is the hardest part of the job," he says. Since the tech- nology is simple to learn, anyone can get into making channel letters. It can be dif- ficult to get into serving retail customers with this technology only because of the "hoops you must jump through, like per- mits," he says. "In most big cities to pull a permit you must be a licensed electrical sign contractor. This requires liability insurance, an insurance bond, occupa- 18 • June 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Images courtesy of SDS Automation. Since the technology is simple to learn, any- one can get into making channel letters.

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