October '20

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A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N 2 0 G R A P H I C S P R O O C T O B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M Y O U R L A S E R A T W O R K | B O B H A G E L MAKING A RAISED LETTER SIGN WITH YOUR LASER Y our laser can cut out objects just as it can raster (laser) material. So, you can cut out acrylic or even wood and other materials to mount on a back- ground. That background might be a sign blank or even a wall. These raised letter signs are needed by many clients, so let's talk about why you should offer them and some considerations to do so. WHO AND WHY Raised letter signage has an upscale look. Businesses or any organization that has many outsiders coming into their facil- ity want to present a classy vibe to their guests. These may include salons, law offices, restaurants, insurance agencies, or an upscale car dealer. I even have a li- brary client that I've made a whole series of raised letter signs for. Being upscale, the colors are typically themed to the building's d├ęcor. They are a premium product as customers are often picky about the materials. They require more design and planning, have more labor involved in making them, and if graphic cutouts are included, can be challenging. Raised letters can be melted off or shifted by sunlight, kids picking at them, or poor adhesion. Consider replacing letters from time to time in pricing and how you will warranty your product. Know up front whether the sign will be used inside or outside, will it be exposed to the sun or kids, and how it will be installed and by whom. PRICING Raised letter signage is a premium prod- uct and commands a premium price. Many buyers have higher expectations as well. When pricing raised letter sig- nage, make sure you take into consid- eration your design time, any premium for materials, and labor in applying the letters to a sign blank and installation, especially if they are to be applied di- rectly to a wall. If you are creating simple raised let- ter signs that are applied to a small sign blank and they are to be installed by the customer, the project should be much simpler and is a good way to get started with raised letter signage. Just understand that advertising a capability for raised letter signage may begin your journey down a rabbit hole that can lead to expectations that can quickly over- whelm your business and be beyond your capabilities. As a graphics shop that offers simple interior signage or a small sign shop printing banners, real estate signs, and other signage that the customer typi- cally picks up and installs themselves, raised letter signage can become chal- lenging. Projects may include signage with standoffs, applying large raised let- ters to walls, complicated graphics, cus- tom wood base signs with the applied text and graphics, and many installation challenges. You may want to limit your raised letter signage projects to cutting letters for sign businesses with these ca- pabilities. DESIGN AND LAYOUT As the letters and graphics will be cut out, letter centers (such as with an O or P) and the unused parts of the inside of graphics must be removed (weeded) be- fore installing them on the sign blank or wall. Depending on the size of the text and graphics, thin lines may be delicate and break off easily, so font selection and what graphics are used make a big difference to the results and production time. The larger the text and graphics, the less the weeding and line thickness will be a challenge. This raised letter sign features acrylic on acrylic, on a custom wood base. Contour lines are lasered on for text placement. (All images courtesy Bob Hagel)

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