GRAPHICS PRO

November '20

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The first was development of 24V sys- tems to reduce installation times and cost in large signs; the second was the use of kitting and preassembled systems for sign makers to allow them to reduce labor and time. Layered on top of this was a trend to- ward lower profile signs and the blurring of signage and architectural lighting, particu- larly in outdoor applications on and around building and gas canopies. 4 MAJOR TRENDS Now that we have looked back, it is time to look forward. I would like to highlight four major trends that we'll experience over the next five years. These trends are a natu- ral extension of application expansion and sophistication of offerings. 1. Growth in the domestic supply chain. With the current tariff situation and continued geo-political risk with Chi- na, I believe more LED and electrical manufacturers will onshore a portion of their production to North America. Domestic products mean that the just- in-time benefits that U.S. assembly cre- ated in the retrofit and kitting market can be applied at the module level. This will result in more readily available product options in stock for the sign maker, such as a full range of colors and color temperatures, spacing options, and lens choices. 2. Blurring of the lines between signs and lighting. As LEDs have become commoditized and the costs are a small part of the overall sign system, end us- ers are looking to light everything up on or around their building. Sign mak- ers are the trusted advisor for those cus- tomers and have a great opportunity to move beyond signs into a range of interesting architectural products, in- cluding downlighting, linear lighting, and RGB and color changing systems. With the cost effectiveness of address- able RGB modules and IP-rated strips, sign makers can now design and create a range of unique lighting effects. Bitro Group offers full-color animation with its LightSymphony Signature system. I anticipate this area of the market will continue to grow. 3. Integrated systems and IOT. One growing trend that will continue is the integration of systems and tools for sign makers. Most LED suppliers have a range of tools to help sign makers sell to end users. These include ROI and energy savings calculators, as well as estimating software. At Principal LED, we have a rebate group that helps sign makers take advantage of energy re- bates. Sign/LED Wizard, provider of LED layout software, now offers its in- tegrated desktop product free of charge to sign makers. "…our production version allows sign makers to estimate costs of other materials and can be eas- A timeline of LED trends in electrical signs. Be on the lookout for new technologies that move the cheese by creating new form factors or new manufacturing technologies and processes. 4 2 G R A P H I C S P R O N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M Above: LEDs have gone from replacing exist- ing technology in neon and T-12 fluorescents to integration as a system, and now expansion of applications that offer a range of more so- phisticated ways that they can be used. Right: As with most disruptive technologies, early LED systems were overpriced and underper- forming; however, they had the potential to adapt and create new form factors.

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