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 2 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 Some of the various weeding tools available. Thick block fonts are the easiest; how- ever, many customers want fancier thin fonts and fonts used in their logos. Only experience will guide you in what you can do for the price you charge. Graphics can be a particular challenge. Complicated graphics may best be rastered onto an appliqué or a cutout piece that will be attached to the background blank or wall. If this isn't an option, attempt to negotiate a simplification to the graphic. Many complex graphics do not cut out in one piece and require multiple pieces be installed in precise positions. Thin lines create another issue to deal with. You al- ways want to know the exact graphics intended for the project and expectations regarding how they are to look before you agree to the project and pricing. With smaller signage, readability should be considered as well. Script fonts and complex graphics might not only be difficult to apply but be difficult to read. Kerning or separation of letters is always an option to improve readability. The contrast between the background and the applied text and graphics is also important for readability. Backgrounds, whether it's a wall or sign blank, should not be busy and that includes the grains of a wood sign. Dark letters on a light background or light on dark provide the needed contrast. Don't forget to consider the kerf or the portion of the part that will be burned away by the laser. On small pieces, the width of the laser beam can burn away a noticeable amount of the letter or graphic part. Enlarging the part a small amount and kerning it can make all the difference. PRODUCTION AND APPLICATION Cutting out the text and graphics to be applied is typically fast and varies by material and depth. Weeding small text and graphics that are not cut all the way through or are slightly sticky can be time consuming and even a challenge. Make sure you cut all the way through without burning the pieces. That may mean reducing the power or speeding up the laser and cutting with additional passes. I use old dental tools to assist with pushing the extra parts through. You can purchase similar tools online. Applying the cutout text and graphics can be the biggest challenge. If the sign is fairly small and text and graphics all fit on the laser cut sheet as laid out, the remain- ing material may be used as a guide for in- stalling the cutout pieces. To help you ap- ply the cutouts straight, consider cutting out the appliqué sheet into the size and Another example of a sign using acrylic on a custom wood base. It was created using a paper template cut on a laser. A sophisticated design and font are used here. Some lines were thin and fragile enough to create an installation challenge. A paper template was cut on a vinyl cutter, but a vinyl template would have been more appropriate.

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