Sign & Digital Graphics

Recognized Supplier Guide '20

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3 2 • M A R C H 2 0 2 0 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S finishing becomes too costly. Poor pre- cision drives up labor costs and quickly consumes already tight margins," Cross outlines. "Most companies who operate older generation or poor-quality letter forming machines cannot form halo-lit letters from .063 because the machines are just too inaccurate. Most companies with this old, poor quality equipment actually still bend halo letters by hand because its less work than trying to fix the sloppy results from their antiquated bending machines." But there is light at the end of the tunnel as Cross continues. "This is no longer a necessity how- ever, because newer, precision manufac- tured bending machines like the Channel Bender Series from SDS Automation are so precise, the letter faces do not require flush-trimming." There are other resources and prod- ucts available that lend to greater preci- sion in these projects such as LED design software, bending/cutting tools and accessories, and more. Manufacturers and distributors are more than happy to offer assistance. PROBLEM: Choosing the wrong background negates the impact of the halo light. SOLUTION: The right backgrounds are available as a natural part of the wall or an added piece in the project. "One common error is failing to con- sider or choose the correct background," states Flaska. "Shiny surfaces will reflect the light without diffusing and show each module instead of a soft, halo glow." This is a typical mistake because it is usually not the first thing sign mak- ers consider when executing this work. When all of the concentration is put on the lighting, fabricating and install- ing, there isn't much room for thought about what will reside behind the letters. Though, that doesn't make the back- ground any less important. "When mounting halo-lit letters to a shiny background, close attention must be paid to what the back of letters look like when lit up as the shiny background acts as a mirror, which could reflect the individual L E D s, like twinkle lights, unless a diffuser is utilized," Camp offers. "Many times, shiny backgrounds are not a good fit for halo-lit letters." According to Flaska, "Matte surfaces or masonry type surfaces work well with halo-lit signage." One of the steps in every halo-lit proj- ect should be to inspect the area of where the sign is being installed. If it won't cor- rectly emit the LED light then sign mak- ers can create a custom background on which to install the letters. "Halo-lit signs need a background on the same plane," shares Camp. "For example, a heavily corrugated or a var- iegated depth wall might not work well because some of the halo light would be bright and other parts would be dim, due to the further recessed depth of the wall. That's why halo-lit letters don't work well for raceway mounted letters, unless a background is first mounted on the raceway." All told, halo-lit channel letters are more than an afterthought or a nice bonus. There are customers that rely on halo-lit letters as an essential part of their business—a way to lure in visitors with the ambiance of their location, starting with their sign. They require the high- est quality and "goodness" in the letters, which all begins with the sign maker. SDG Trim Cap Trouble and a Halo-Lit Haven By James Cross, VP Signage Division, SDS Automation Trim cap letters will always be in demand because of eco- nomics. They're cheap and just about everyone under the sun makes them. However, in today's market, trim-capped channel letters are typically considered low-end and visu- ally unappealing relative to other more contemporary letter fabrication techniques. SDS Automation, for example, manufactures automated chan- nel letter forming capable of processing a trimless channel letter coil called LetterForm, eliminating the need for trim cap. Many of the nicer cities, towns and commercial shop- ping districts no longer permit trim-capped letters. Simon Property Group is one example of a company who does not permit trim-capped letters on their properties. Many govern- ment-run facilities like rail sta- tions and airports also no lon- ger permit trim capped letters. Anyone who fabricates signage for entities like these can target the opportunities with halo-lit letters or trimless letters. Sometimes face-lit letters are not permitted due to building codes, zoning codes, or light pollution restrictions. Halo light- ing still enables signage to be highly visible after dark without causing a high level of light pol- lution. Image cour- tesy of SDS Automation.

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