Marabu to Present Safe Inks for Indirect Contact with Food at K 2022

Marabu will be at K 2022 (Stand 4C63-1) to explain why GMP compliance is so important for inks that come into indirect contact with food, demonstrate how LED-curable screen printing inks on packaging can save energy and reduce CO2 emissions, and present new screen printing and pad printing inks for the plastics and automotive industries.

GMP-compliant inks for safe food packaging

Food safety is an increasingly important aspect of food packaging. Consumers want to be sure that they aren’t risking contamination from a plastic water bottle or the coating inside a lunchbox. That is why inks for food packaging are subject to strict quality audits to ensure that they are not susceptible to migration. This includes compliance with the EU’s good manufacturing practice (GMP). Marabu’s Ultra Pack UVFP screen printing ink is GMP-certified and approved for use on migration-sensitive PE/PP plastics. These are the most commonly used materials for food packaging and can be found in packaging films, plastic tubes, bottles and the lining in cartons.

marabu inks food packagingThe solvent-based pad printing ink Tampa® Tex TPX is also ideal for indirect contact with food and can be used on bottle caps, condiment bottles and lunchboxes. It will receive GMP certification later this year. However, compliant ink, substrates and processing conditions are only one aspect of food safety. Ultimately, the manufacturer bears responsibility for providing safe products and packaging, and consumers should expect nothing less.

Energy-saving UV-LED curing for packaging with a small carbon footprint

Printing on packaging can be more energy efficient with UV-LED-curable inks. Marabu is an industry leader in LED technology and is committed to promoting environmentally friendly processes among manufacturers and printers. Used in combination with LED-curable ink systems, such as the Ultra Pack LEDC, UV-LED curing offers many advantages over traditional UV curing. For example, UV-LED lamps require no warm-up time and do not generate heat. This reduces their energy consumption and means that substrates, such as cosmetic tubes, are not subjected to potentially harmful temperatures during printing. UV-LED lamps furthermore use only UV-A light, which means they do not generate any ozone and do not require extraction systems. They also have a very long service life. With the right ink system and industry partner, switching to UV-LED technology is a good investment for everyone’s future.

New screen printing ink for film insert moulding (FIM)

Mara® Mold MPX was specifically developed to be used in film insert moulding (FIM) processes on polycarbonate (PC) films. It is easy to shape, can withstand high temperatures and adheres well to injection-moulded substrates. The range is ideal for all sorts of designs and includes a non-conductive opaque black and various effects. Shaped FIM components are used in the automotive sector, as control panels for household appliances or consumer electronics, and in medical devices. Marabu’s new in-house FIM plant (equipped with high pressure forming technology from Niebling) means the company can ramp up development and address specific customer requirements in the shortest possible time.

Water-based pad printing inks

Maqua® Pad MAP is the world’s first water-based pad printing ink. It is ideal for printing on sensitive products such as toys, FFP2 masks and textiles that come into direct contact with skin. The ink is very safe to use and is as good as odourless thanks to its water-based formula. It contains very low levels of PAH and VOC (volatile organic compounds), and is BPA and BPS free. Careful preparation must be undertaken before switching to water-based pad printing inks, and it is important to find the right room temperature, humidity level, printing machine, pad hardness and cliché type, and to only use limited auxiliary materials. Marabu will also be presenting Maqua® Coat MAF and Maqua® Color MAC, two water-based inks that can be applied using a spray gun or brush. They are particularly suitable for decorating figurines and are easy to use.

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General Formulations Announces the Launch of Three NEW AutoMark™ Cast Films

General Formulations, a leading manufacturer of Pressure Sensitive Films, is pleased to announce the launch of three NEW AutoMark™ Cast films; GF 830 AutoMark Cast with DRIFT® Technology and two complimentary cast laminates, GF 831 AutoMark Cast Gloss UV Laminate and GF 840 AutoMark Cast Matte UV Laminate.

general formulations automark

Joining the cast family with already popular GF 242 OptiMark™ Cast Optically Clear UV Laminate, is GF 830 AutoMark Cast with DRIFT Technology. This premium full-body gloss white wrap film is designed to meet the long-term demands of full or partial vehicle wraps as well as many other graphic applications. The DRIFT Technology and adhesive combination offer the right amount of adhesive tack and Micro Air Egress channels that make application quick, easy, and bubble-free.

GF 830 AutoMark Cast provides an excellent white point, delivering the perfect solution for high-quality printing across Eco-Solvent, Solvent, Latex, and UV print systems. For your preferred finish, UV protection, and added durability, pair GF 830 with GF 242 or the NEW GF 831 or GF 840 cast laminates.

“We are extremely excited to announce the release of our AutoMark Cast films,” states Lisa Humrich, Vice President, Marketing & Product Development, General Formulations. “We can now offer multiple AutoMark Film products to fit all of our customers full or partial fleet and vehicle wrap needs.”

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SBI NSSA Northeast Conference & Expo: Preparing Your Sign Shop for Success!

Come hear from members of the Board of the Northeast States Sign Association (NSSA)—your fellow sign shop owners and suppliers—about how you can ensure success for your sign shop in the coming year and beyond. The panel, Preparing Your Sign Shop for Success, will take place right on the show floor of the SBI NSSA Northeast Conference & Expo on September 21 at 9:30 am.

successful sign shop sbi/nssa conference and expoPanelists will present an overview of the current sign industry landscape and discuss what they see as the trajectory for:

Panelists will include:

  • Bruce Walker, NSSA Director and Director Wide Format Technologies, Central Paper
  • Matthew Mansfield, NSSA Director and Account Manager, Tubelight
  • Chris Flejtuch, NSSA Treasurer and President, Quality Quick Signs
  • Mike Leary, NSSA Director and President, Sundance Sign & Design

The panel will be moderated by Rachel Wolfgang, NSSA Executive Director and Project Management Supervisor at Poyant Signs.

This panel will be open to all attendees of the SBI/NSSA Expo. Bring your questions—there will be plenty of time for Q&A at the end. The panelists will also be available for discussion after the session.

Register today!


SBI NSSA Northeast Conference & Expo

The SBI NSSA Northeast Conference & Expo will be held on September 19-21, 2022 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

The conference program will feature two days of sessions that offer actionable “how-to” lessons to sign shops of all sizes and levels of experience. With a focus on how sign shops can increase sales and profits through strong business management and operational efficiency, this conference will arm you with all the tools you’ll need to become a better business owner.

Of course, no sign shop is complete without the right equipment and services, and there will be a large show hall filled with exhibitors from across the sign industry, hands-on product demonstrations, and valuable networking opportunities.

The day-to-day challenges of operating a sign shop along with larger issues like labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, can make it nearly impossible to step back and evaluate your sign shop’s current operations and future plans. Join us in Providence this fall and make the time to work on all the aspects of your business that will result in increased profits, a stronger team, and a clear path forward.


For more information on sponsorship and booth opportunities, contact David Harkey at 973-563-0109 or


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Watchfire Signs, a leading provider of exterior and interior LED signs, was selected by Stroud High School in Stroud, Okla., to provide digital video scoreboards for three of the school’s sports fields.watchfire signs digital scoreboard

Stroud High School, a school of about 200 students located midway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, outfitted its baseball field with a 22’ x 26’ videoboard, its track field with a 14’ x 20’ videoboard, and its softball field with a 6’5” x 20’3” videoboard, creating a campus with exceptional branding and flexible messaging.

School administrators initially began searching for a scoreboard solution for its baseball field, and quickly realized that the other stadiums would also benefit from new scoreboards. Although administrators had seen video scoreboards at college facilities, they didn’t think they were within reach for a high school.

“We started investigating options and gathering quotes. When we did a cost-benefit analysis of our options, video scoreboards seemed to be the best choice,” said Joe Van Tuyl, superintendent of Stroud Public Schools. “The Watchfire videoboards gave us the ability to use the boards beyond just keeping score.”

“Watchfire provided a strong solution for our needs,” said Van Tuyl. “Watchfire’s support through the installation has been awesome.”watchfire signs digital scoreboard

The boards were installed in the spring as sports were wrapping up for the year, and Van Tuyl says that the school will be focused on using the boards to their fullest this fall. He said that the boards stay on 24/7 to showcase the school logo and to be used for announcements on a large scale, in addition to scorekeeping.

The school also intends to train students to design content and help program content on the scoreboards.

Stroud Public Schools is focused on providing a high standard of excellence in academics, and strong extracurricular programs including athletics. “We are very fortunate to have quality facilities, and the videoboards add to the experience,” said Van Tuyl. “The video scoreboards make the students and fans feel like they’re at a big-time athletic venue.”

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Roland DG to Relocate Headquarters

Roland DG Corp. (Hamamatsu, Japan) has announced that the company will relocate and consolidate its headquarters to Miyakoda, Japan and construct a new “Nearly ZEB” certified building that will reduce energy consumption by 75%, according to a press release from Roland DG.

The company plans to integrate its factory and headquarters that are currently located at two separate buildings in the Miyakoda area of Kita-ku, Hamamatsu.

The decision was made in part to further improve efficiency. Thus, the company has decided to relocate the headquarters to integrate factory and headquarters functions that are currently located at two separate venues in the Miyakoda area in Kita-ku, Hamamatsu, also per the press release. As part of this effort, Roland DG will construct a “Nearly ZEB” certified* building by July 2023 as for its headquarters.

Image courtesy of Roland DG.

“ZEB certification defines four levels of certification based on the level of achievement of a zero-energy construction,” according to the release. “Zero-energy construction aims to reduce the annual primary energy consumption balance required for air conditioning, lighting, etc. to zero by combining energy-saving technologies, such as use of natural energy and efficient equipment systems, and energy-creating technologies, such as solar power generation.”

Image courtesy of Roland DG.

Roland DG’s new building will achieve a primary energy consumption reduction of 75%+ through energy conservation (50%+) and energy creation.

For more information, visit

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These Sign Pros Are Adding New Services to Their Shops

THIS IS PART TWO of an article on sign pros and side gigs, with the shops below describing new and different types of signs or services they’ve recently taken on. Click here for Part One and click here for Part Three.

  • We have taken some additional wholesale work. We don’t consider ourselves a wholesale fabricator, but do so now and then to assist some of our signage partners and keep certain key pieces of equipment running more frequently. — Tom D., Tewksbury, MA
  • Custom lighting fixtures. For some reason we received one request and now a few more projects came down the pike. — Tish S., Los Alamitos, CA
  • We decided to channel our efforts into more internal signage. We bought a new printer — [a MUTOH XpertJet 661UF Tabletop Flatbed UV-LED]. This will give us more in-house control of our production line and timeframe. — Gwen S., Vista, CA

  • We assist electricians and low-voltage companies when they need to get up high. We have also assisted window washers in the past. — Melvin L., Augusta, GA
  • Introduced ADA sign manufacturing to get another chunk of the bid packages. — Adam B., Milwaukee
  • We are simply expanding our sales effort into other regional markets. Making a bigger sandbox to play in. — Steven C., Minneapolis
  • We added a laser, which will allow us to keep some jobs we outsourced under our roof. It allows us to control our turnaround and do some jobs for other sign companies in the area. It also allows me to keep my guys working. — Pat D., Torrance, CA
  • In the middle of expanding to residential customers. — Herbie N., Mason, OH
  • We’ve explored and started some ventures into vertical markets that we hadn’t approached before as a way to continuously supplement our growth and expansion. — Derek A., Columbus, OH

  • We are doing more small jobs like stickers and vehicle decals to fill the slots left open by fleet customers. We are expanding into in line sales of these items. — Catherine B., Orlando, FL
  • Added flatbed printer. First time for us. Cheaper production. — Ted D., Covina, CA
  • We are always looking for new revenue streams. More and more products are becoming commoditized, making them unprofitable for us. We are a Mom & Pop again instead of having employees. Scaling back on expenses and pushing marketing will help the bottom line. — Jean S., Jacksonville, FL
  • Back in 2020, we created an e-commerce shop. Now this can be hard to do in a custom world, but the signage we offer on there is pre-designed or the customer is able to upload their own artwork. This seems to have the most activity during graduation season as we have a lot of pre-design graduation signage for the local schools in our area. We are considering adding simple pre-construction site signs as well. — Mallory L., Brighton, CO
  • We dove into electrical signage. We saw a need for responsive tech and we filled that need. — Jeremy V., Salinas, CA
  • Last year I purchased a 6 x 10-ft. CNC router to expand my offerings. In addition to signs I’ve been pricing making flat, Victorian-style railing balusters for a local woodworking shop, etc. Also other sign companies are calling for CNC work. While not really a side hustle, we’re doing non-sign work with the new machine. — Rocco G., Pennsauken, NJ
  • We are always open to adding products, and offerings. A lot of our customers get our company involved in many fabrication projects that are outside of the traditional sign products we offer. — Tim W., Frederick, MD

For part three of this article — No Side Gigs for These Busy Sign Pros! — click here!


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No Side Gigs for These Busy Sign Pros!

THIS IS PART THREE of an article on sign pros and side gigs, with the majority of respondents to our recent Brain Squad survey saying they’re hustling enough already! Click here for Part One and click here for Part Two.

  • We are one year into sign business ownership. We are still busy developing business opportunities with current customers while marketing to new customers. I believe there are plenty of untapped opportunities in our market. We just need to find ways to bring in these customers. — Jeffrey F., Pflugerville, TX
  • No, [we’re a university] campus signshop. — Grace F., San Diego
  • We’ve always focused on core competencies and value/benefit for our clients. Expenses are covered by price adjustment. A loyal client base was our primary shop expansion strategy since the ’90s. — Larry M., El Dorado Hills, CA
  • No. We are very busy with our normal work. — John J., Fresno, CA
  • Not this year, our current plan is to hit the gas pedal on what’s working well, and simplify/streamline as much as possible. — Dominic T., Cleveland, OH
  • No time for side hustles. — Geoff O., Campbell River, BC, Canada

  • We are focused on wholesale-only fabrication of ADA signage, which is all that our customers are asking for. — Vince C.,Greensboro, NC
  • No, slammed as it is! — Rob S., New Smyrna Beach, FL
  • We are still working steadily and have not had to take on jobs that we didn’t already have on our schedule. We have consistently run about 6-8 weeks out of all sizable jobs for the last few years. Of course, we still have our weekly work that comes in and out of the door the same week. — Nonnie L., Norwood, NC
  • No. — Brad T., Versailles, KY
  • Not yet. — Jeff B., Fort Myers, FL
  • No, we don’t have the people to support more or new work. No qualified applicants. — Robert B., Oakdale, CT

  • We have not. Business has been steady and we are a 31-year, small family-owned company and are well respected in our community. — Jeffery B., Burlington, NC
  • When setting out on my own seven years ago, I projected five different potential avenues of revenue stream. That said, I have essentially stayed within two of those avenues the entire time and not needed to look beyond. — Keith D., Chester Springs, PA
  • No. I believe in doing one industry and doing it better than anybody else. — Harold P., San Juan, PR
  • No. I simply don’t have time for that. — Jake Z., Randolph, VT
  • Can’t keep up with the sign work coming in, let alone a side gig! — Peter P., Swanzey, NH

  • No, not yet. — Corey S., Phoenix
  • I have not — work has been steady and time-consuming enough. — James N., Charlotte, NC
  • We have not created any new revenue streams as expenses rise. We’re fortunate to have stayed busy through the pandemic and our clients have understood/agreed to pricing increases to offset rising costs. — Scott M., Phoenix

  • No. No time. — Bobby L., Scranton, PA
  • No side jobs or non-traditional signage. We are pursuing other traditional revenue streams that we haven’t concentrated on in the past. So we are broadening our offerings within the traditional signage streams. — Carl H., Cincinnati
  • Nothing new. Sticking to what we know best. — Ben P., Seaford, DE
  • No, we’ve got too much to focus on already without adding an additional stream. By focusing on our efficiencies, we’re able to increase margins to mitigate. — John K., Fort Myers, FL
  • Not yet needed to. I have an Etsy store ready to launch if needed. — Raychel O., Burlington, MA
  • Just charging more, too old to do more. — Corky D., Fairlawn, OH
  • As of right now, no, there is no side-hustle. The reason being that there just isn’t enough time in the day to manage the business that we currently have, complete a second job, and continue to raise a family. — Laura A., Milford, OH
  • Not yet. But I am looking into it. — Jeffrey C., Seminole, FL

Side gigs create extra revenue to make our lives a little easier. They can be difficult to find but sometimes they can be a big help. One sign pro explained it well: “Yeah, I’m struggling a bit. Not a lot of work, but I have moved to a new location a year ago. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do differently.”

At the end of the day, finding work can be hard, but constantly keeping your head up and looking for new things can only help your business!

See also part one of this article12 Sign Pros Disclose Their Side Hustles — and part two — These Sign Pros Are Adding New Services to Their Shops.


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Burgeoning Signshop Makes First Acquisition

The Sign Shop of Sheboygan (Sheboygan, WI) is buying local for its first acquisition.

The 17-year-old business has purchased Great Lakes Blueprinters (GLBP; Sheboygan, WI), a nearby digital printing company.

The Sign Shop of Sheboygan made the announcement on LinkedIn, saying the acquisition gives clients access to more services under one roof. The plan is for GLBP to be up and running inside The Sign Shop as early as Sept. 6.

Ross DeRosier, the co-owner of GLBP who’s also serving as its acting operations director, is “partnering” with the Sign Shop on the deal, according to the announcement.

The Sign Shop of Sheboygan was founded in 2005 by Bill and Judi Greinke. In 2016, the Greinkes sold the business to Sam Clark. That same year, the shop moved into a bigger facility.

The shop currently employs eight people. You can read more about its growth at

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My Employees’ Ideas Aren’t Good – Is It So Bad to Impose My Own from the Top Down?

We’ll start our 2023 planning soon. In the past I’ve sought input from staff, but honestly, they so rarely come up with useful ideas. And it’s time-consuming ensuring everyone feels heard. Is it really such a downer to simply impose our ideas top down?

It’s true that brilliant individuals will come up with more creative ideas than any “design by committee” approach, but individuals can also come up with the worst ideas. The real wisdom of crowds is that they will weed out the terrible ideas (see Putin and “Let’s invade Ukraine”). It helps, too, to keep in mind some of the dynamics of group situations when planning: One is that groups tend to be only as smart as their most confident member. When someone, usually the boss, argues forcefully for something, the rest of the crowd will fall into line (Putin again). The bestselling organizational psychologist Adam Grant thus suggests creating a schedule of intermittent collaboration, where you balance time working separately and together with your teams, with initial ideas proposed in writing to be winnowed down to a short list. As the strong leader you no doubt are, you will benefit from exposure to the best out-of-the-box thinking of the individual mind as well as thoughts about the things that could go wrong — without too much of the rambling brainstorming.

I’d like to propose a collaborative marketing activity with another small business in our town. How do I go about it?

Begin by introducing yourself and your business in an email and explain what you have in common and how you believe you could complement each other. Then, articulate your vision for the collaboration. What is the purpose of this partnership? Who is the target customer? What kind of activity did you have in mind, and perhaps most importantly, how will each business benefit? There’s no need to be too specific in your initial contact — you are selling a vision of mutual success. When you get into the details and the division of labor and who will contribute what, then it’s wise to get very detailed and have everything written down. Remember, the goal should be for an arrangement that allows each party to play to its strengths, to work with business leaders in your local community, to partner with those who share your values, and to be open to new ideas.

What’s the best way to address someone (a customer, job applicant, sales rep) with a name you don’t know how to pronounce?

It’s good that you’re asking. While it might seem like a relatively minor issue, a viral post on LinkedIn revealed how people with non-Western names often feel excluded and devalued when people mispronounce their name. The author of that piece, Damneet Kaur, says his preference is that you just ask for the correct pronunciation before you attempt to say it. Note that it’s a good idea to try to do your homework beforehand. LinkedIn offers a feature that enables users to click on a person’s name and hear them pronouncing it. There are also sites like PronounceNames, which allow users to type in a name and access a database of recordings.

Want to see your questions featured in this department? Send your emails to:


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Stolen Sandwich Shop Sign Returned After 20 Years

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Just ask Jenny O’Brien, proprietor of The Pickle Barrel sandwich shop in Montana, who has regained possession of her charming, barrel-shaped sign after it was stolen 20 years ago.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle tells the feel-good sign story in which O’Brien opened up her business one day last week and found a surprise at the doorstep – a cardboard box containing the sign along with an anonymous letter from the men who stole it.

The article summarizes the letter, which explains how the sign was swiped by two “middle aged dudes who made a drunken mistake a long time ago.” While walking home from the bars one night in 2002, they ran into two other men, who were presumably also drunk. The foursome, emboldened in their altered state, thought it would be a good idea to steal the sign.

“It has spent its last twenty years residing in the darkest, uppermost recesses of the attic above my old garage, and most recently tucked quietly in the back corner of my wife’s garden shed,” the letter reads. “My crony and I recently concluded that after all these years, it is time for the Pickle Barrel sign to finally be returned to its rightful home.”

The letter states that its writers want to stay anonymous “for obvious reasons.”

Read more at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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