Martin Supply Company Launches Two New Websites

Martin Supply Company (Baltimore) recently launched two new websites.

At, visitors will find a selection of supplies and equipment for the sign and digital printing industries, along with support from customer service and technical support teams.

The company’s new specialty lighting division, Martin Lighting Solutions, can be found at The division was created to offer sign manufacturers and lighting designers a technology partner who can provide lighting systems and the resources necessary to facilitate a successful lighting project.

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Maximize Production on Any Device with Ricoh’s Wide Format Elite Access Service

Ricoh USA, Inc., has announced its Wide Format Elite Access, a new service that connects wide format print professionals with production workflow experts to help them maximize wide format production capabilities and bridge the knowledge gap to better satisfy customers. This 1-1 connection to industry experts is designed to empower printers to quickly resolve production challenges and share practical knowledge and best practices for sign and graphics workflows, regardless of brand.

With Wide Format Elite Access, print professionals can keep pace with the evolving versatility, growing customer demands and unique challenges of wide format production by fast-tracking support to simplify wide-format and specialty applications. This peace of mind provides printers confidence and support to flatten the learning curve, avoid production delays, increase uptime, improve media usage, maximize equipment capabilities and accelerate their business.

“Wide Format Elite Access gives customers immediate access to skilled print experts with superior understanding of application and production. Whether printers use Ricoh equipment or not, we are here to help them tackle challenges and position their businesses for future success,” said Heather Poulin, Vice President, CIP Marketing & Portfolio Management, Ricoh USA, Inc. “Our Wide Format Elite Support Team is made up of industry-leading service engineers with more than 153 years of combined production experience in wide format. This team was created to help print service providers solve problems and share practical knowledge that helps create opportunity and drive new revenue, enabling printers keep an eye on what’s next.”

The complexity of a particular media or process and other production challenges can stall workflows, lead to extra expenses and generate media waste. Wide Format Elite Access helps printers avoid these pitfalls and address the most common challenges facing sign and graphics print providers—including workflow design and file prep, applications and media, custom media profiles and substrate qualification—to give users a lasting advantage over the competition. Wide Format Elite Access is available in two service levels, so print providers can select the level of support that best fits their needs.

—Press Release

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The Domino Sugar Sign Shines Brightly Again

Domino Sugar
The new Domino Sugar sign built by Gable of Baltimore, Maryland.

The Domino Sugar sign, perched high over the Baltimore Harbor, is an iconic part of the city’s history. The original sign was constructed by Artkraft Strauss Co., of New York. It was installed on top of the Domino Sugar refinery in 1951, and its neon lights have illuminated the skyline ever since.

But after seventy years of exposure to the elements, the sign was starting to show its age. Domino (ASR Group) turned to Gable, a visual solutions and sign company in Baltimore, to give the sign a refresh.

“The ASR Group originally thought they just wanted to replace the lighting on the sign,” says Paul Gable, president of Gable. “They had us go through an exercise of doing a complete survey of the sign to determine if the neon could be replaced with LED tubing.”

After a full analysis, it was discovered that the situation was actually more dire than had been anticipated.

Significant portions of the steel letters were found to be rusted and eroding. The steel frame also needed repairs. “The ASR Group knew it was time to rethink the sign,” says Paul Gable. “We were given the opportunity to find another way to replicate the sign as close to the original as possible, while employing modern-day fabrication, lighting techniques, and materials.”

Domino Sugar
The new letters have an aluminum frame, aluminum faces and backs, and aluminum returns.

Gable started with a series of technical surveys, taking detailed measurements of the letters and their positions. Workers physically measured the height, width, and girth of every letter segment—no small task, with the sign measuring 120 feet long and 70 feet tall.

“Not only did all the letters have to be measured but [so too] the spaces in-between all the letters, to make sure the layout was visually exact,” says Bill Sackmann, vice president of Construction Services and Quality Management at Gable, noting the company also used a drone to shoot footage of the front of the sign layout.

These measurements were crucial for replicating the look of the original sign. “One of our major goals for the client was to maintain the integrity of their typestyle,” says Paul Gable. “The original typestyle was hand drawn because there was no technology in the making of patterns back then. Everything had to be mechanically reproduced by hand on large paper patterns.”

Domino Sugar
Putting the “G” letter together in the shop.

In the next phase, Gable worked as a consultant and collaborator with a Domino Sugar contractor to remove the old letters, taking them down in pieces. For example, the letter “D,” standing at more than thirty feet tall, came down in six sections.

During this process, Gable’s expertise as a sign company proved essential. “Being in this industry for over forty years, I knew that a lot of people who climbed high in the air on a sign frame didn’t always bring that transformer back to the ground when servicing the sign—and transformers were quite heavy back in the day,” explains Sackmann. “They had to be super careful when starting to remove letters, as the sections came apart, that the transformers didn’t fall out and hurt anyone.”

The contractor planned to remove the letter pieces via a freight elevator that opened onto the tenth floor, the same level as the roof. However, because the letter pieces were so large, the contractor first needed to remove a window and part of the wall to access the elevator. Even with this modification, some of the old letters still had to be cut into pieces. (Note: Domino Sugar donated the old letters to Second Chance, an architectural salvage nonprofit in Baltimore.)

Domino Sugar
The “S” letter being built in Gable’s shop.

Domino Sugar’s contractor removed old electrical cables and coordinated with Gable on which parts to reuse. The contractor also handled structural repairs on the steel sign frame, including re-engineering the frame’s connections to the building and repainting the frame a medium gray.

On Gable’s suggestion, the contractor added two continuous catwalks that extended across the frame to make it easier and safer for workers to service the sign. “In the past, when someone had to service that sign, they had to hook onto the steel structure, climb around, and do everything from planks. They had to try to change transformers and neon from the planks, which was very unsafe,” says Sackmann.

Design + Build

When it came to designing new letters for Domino Sugar, Gable had to contend with several logistical challenges.

The original letters had been brought in on a barge and hoisted up the side of the building. This installation strategy meant there were few limitations on the size of the letter forms. “They split their ‘O’ down the center. It was twenty-two feet tall,” says Sackmann.

However, since then, the footprint of the Domino Sugar refinery had changed, making current access points an important factor in how Gable designed its letter forms.

Domino Sugar
Gable group shot.

To get the new letter forms onto the roof, Gable was going to have to fit pieces through an 11-foot-wide set of bay doors in the refined sugar warehouse, then down a narrow 12-foot-wide aisle, and finally into a freight elevator measuring 14-1/2-feet-deep and 12-1/2-feet-wide.

This influenced Gable’s design of each segment of the sign. For example, Sackmann says, unlike the original vertically split ‘O,’ Gable’s version was split horizontally. This would allow the workers transporting the letters to hook it through the opening of the bay door. “We had to measure the elevators at least three times,” he says. “We had a couple of the letter forms that were right up against the edge. We maximized it.”

The new letters have an aluminum frame, aluminum faces and backs (sheet goods), and aluminum returns (coil stock). “Our goal was to lift every letter as a whole letter. In order to do that, we had to keep our weight down,” says Sackmann, noting why they decided to use aluminum rather than steel.

Domino Sugar
Painting the “S.”

The original letters had porcelain enamel faces with exposed skeleton neon tubes for the lighting. To match the color of the original, Gable used Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnap technology. They cleaned off a segment of the original porcelain enamel and took a photograph, which sent the color to a smart phone. Gable primed the new aluminum letters and applied four coats of Matthews Paint—two in a high-solid yellow and two in a transparent yellow.

For the new lighting, Gable used SloanLED’s FlexiBRITE Citrus Orange flexible LED tubing. The company assembled the letters in its shop and connected and tested the LED lights to make sure everything was functional before shipping. They then disassembled the letters into segments for transportation, wrapping the lengths of LED tubing around the letter forms.

Domino Sugar
Truck arriving at the Domino Sugar facility in Baltimore.

Using CAD software to visualize layouts of the letter forms, access points, and rooftop, Gable coordinated a process whereby completed letter forms were transported via flatbed trailer to the Domino Sugar refinery. Once there, workers lifted individual letter forms onto specialized dollies and reviewed their strategy for maneuvering the letter form into the building.

“We did a couple of diagrams showing the door and showing the letter, as well as a video of how they had to orient,” explains Sackmann. “When we were offloading the trucks, we took a minute and looked at that before we started to move anything, so we knew what we were doing.”

Even with aluminum construction, the segments were still large and heavy enough that it took four or five people to move each one. When assembled, the “O” weighed in at 1,200 pounds total, making each of its segments 600 pounds. The “D” was 2,200 pounds in total, with each of its five segments weighing more than 400 pounds.

The sugar refinery was an active environment, and to avoid disrupting the factory schedule, Gable’s workers started early in the morning. They maneuvered letter forms on dollies through the bay doors and down the aisle to the first freight elevator, which went up to the ninth floor.

After that, they moved the letters across the ninth floor and into a second identical freight elevator, which opened onto the tenth floor, level with the back roof behind the sign.

Domino Sugar
Letter in the elevator.

On the roof, though, workers faced another space limitation.

The area where they could store letter forms measured approximately 93-by-32 feet, which was enough room for only four to five letters. Gable pre-planned how to lay the letter segments on the roof using CAD. This also influenced the order in which the letters were manufactured. Gable manufactured the first set of letters based on what would be installed first and then continued to manufacture the others while the first set was being installed.

Once letter forms were delivered onto the roof, workers lifted the pieces onto saw horses to get them into position and bolted segments together to form complete letters. After test-lighting each letter, they used two hoists attached to the top of the sign frame to lift the letters into position. Having two hoists allowed for proper adjustment of the slant of the italicized letters, giving enough control to adjust the right- and left-hand side of each letter.

Domino Sugar
Workers lifting one of the letters.

According to Sackmann, the “D” required its own choreography.

“Our team members pre-assembled sections of the ‘D’ on two levels of the roof, because it was too large to fit on the portion of the upper roof perpendicular to the sign frame,” he says. “We temporarily installed the bottom portion of the letter onto the lower portion of the frame, aligning the seam with the lower catwalk. The upper section, which was pre-assembled on the upper roof, was then married to the lower section, internally bolted together, prewired, and erected as one piece.

“We orientated the letters and sections underneath the backside of the frame, so our pick points were directly underneath our hoist, and crisscrossed the lines to spin the letter forms so they would face outwards.”

Domino Sugar
Rooftop installation.

Careful measurements were key to making sure the rectangular border around the letters fit properly.

The top and bottom horizontal lengths of the border were offset by two-and-a-half inches, making it necessary to adjust to that difference while installing the vertical segments. After installing the first forty feet of the upper left hand corner, Gable’s workers paused to take a measurement and ended up making a half-inch adjustment.

“Overall the installation went very well,” says Sackmann. “The last piece that we installed was a perfect fit.”

Domino Sugar
Two continuous catwalks helped make it easier and safer to install the sign.

Other Challenges

Gable faced further install challenges—from water to wind.

Shortly before the installation of the “O,” a rain forecast prompted Sackmann to purchase a thirty-foot tarp to cover the letter. Returning to the site after the storm, he found that some thirty gallons of water had pooled in the center of the tarp-covered “O.” The Gable team had to remove the water so the letter would not be damaged.

Due to the building’s height and location, wind was also a significant factor.

“Not many people realize when you’re this high up on a building, next to the inner harbor, it’s a very windy job site,” says Sackmann. “When you’re trying to lift large, heavy letters up on an open frame, you have to be very careful.”

Because the wind picked up in the afternoon, usually starting around noon, Gable began each day at 6:00 a.m.

Domino Sugar
Photo by Roger Katzenburg.

The new sign has greater brightness and clarity. It also consumes significantly less energy. Whereas the old sign consumed 25,000 kilowatts of power per hour, the new one only uses 1,300 kW.

After a few test lightings, the sign publicly debuted its new look at Domino Sugar’s Fourth of July celebration with more than 300 people in attendance. Its illumination coincided with the refinery’s one-hundredth anniversary.

A Domino Sugar employee of more than fifty years had the honor of pushing the button to light the sign. And the residents of Baltimore were thrilled to have their favorite landmark back.

“We’ve had amazing feedback and a lot of positive support and ‘thank you’s.’ I’m very proud of the sign and the way it turned out,” says Paul Gable. “Every little step we took to be as accurate and precise as we were was worth it.”

—Emily Eckart

The post The Domino Sugar Sign Shines Brightly Again appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

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Kongsberg PCS Acquires MultiCam, Sets Sights on New Markets

Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems (Kongsberg PCS; Kongsberg, Norway) has announced the acquisition of MultiCam Inc. (Dallas, TX), a manufacturer and distributor of computer numerical control (CNC) cutting machines and digital finishing processes.

Stuart Fox, president, Kongsberg PCS

The acquisition of MultiCam includes its operations in the US and sales offices in Canada and Germany. In a release, Kongsberg said the deal creates “the world’s first diversified provider” of digital finishing and CNC cutting machines. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MultiCam will continue to operate under its own name within Kongsberg PCS, with David J. Morse joining the Kongsberg senior management team and continuing to lead the MultiCam business.

Founded in 1989, MultiCam supplies CNC cutting solutions for various industries and applications ranging from signmaking to digital finishing, aerospace to automotive, sheet-metal to plate-steel processing, and more.

The deal comes five months after Kongsberg PCS was established as a standalone business following its acquisition by OpenGate Capital.

“In addition to strengthening our hardware offering, we are also planning routes into new markets. … MultiCam has extraordinary market reach with its range of CNC routers, laser, plasma, waterjet and knife-cutting machines,” said Stuart Fox, president of Kongsberg PCS.

To read the full release, visit

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September 2021

september 2021 coverThe Sign Builder Illustrated September 2021 issue features stories on lighting, eps foam, digital signage, resin printing, digital printing, sign codes, visual branding, and more!

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Allegra Acquires 150-year-old Printing Company

Mark Goslen (L) and Perry Clark (R) at newly merged Allegra Printing.

One of the country’s oldest printing companies has merged with one of the Triad’s most technologically sophisticated marketing, mailing, and printing companies after 150 years as a family-owned business. Goslen Printing, headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Allegra Marketing Print Mail, also of Winston-Salem, have come together to serve nearly 1,000 businesses.

The Allegra operation in Winston-Salem is part of a franchise network founded in 1976. Allegra’s president, Perry Clark, and his wife, Kelli Clark, acquired their franchise in 2007 after years of working in the printing, display, and packaging businesses.

“Starting Allegra allowed me to come back to Winston-Salem after years of being on the road in the printing and promotions businesses and living in New Jersey,” said Perry. “We learned that the strongest growth opportunity in our industry comes from acquisition of new talent, technologies and resources. Goslen will be our fifth strategic acquisition.

“We are much stronger together.”

About Goslen

A mere fifty years after the first printing press came to Winston-Salem, Junius Waitman Goslen started his printing business in 1872 with a wood-fed, steam-operated printing press to publish newspapers and other commercial printing projects.

For the past 150 years, the company continued as a successful family business with four generations of Goslens involved. The company has been known for notable projects including the printing and publishing of Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac, as well as other garden and weather products that continue to be printed today.

“We are proud of our longevity and strong history of printing in Winston-Salem,” said Mark Goslen, president of Goslen Printing. “We feel fortunate that our legacy of consistent service and quality will be continued through our new partnership with Allegra. We will continue to operate out of both locations for the next several months while merging our operations.”

The Future

Printing services account for an estimated $178 billion in annual sales in North America.

“As we look at the future of printing, marketing and related services, diversification is the key to success,” added Clark. “Allegra uses the newest advancements in technology that provide a competitive advantage. For instance, we have an all-new platform that features an advanced and scalable cloud-based management information system (MIS) with an intuitive interface that integrates an e-commerce storefront technology and a prepress portal. With this technology, no one can make direct marketing any more precise or easier.

“Also, the addition of Goslen’s expertise will now allow us to better serve businesses of all sizes.”

Both companies have been very active in the local community helping non-profits with their ongoing events.  For example, Allegra’s FootPRINT Fund® helps nonprofits by donating $20,000 annually in free print, marketing, and mail services to local, community-based organizations.

—Press Release 

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FASTSIGNS Hosts Eleventh Annual Outside Sales Summit Virtually

FASTSIGNS International, Inc., the world’s leading sign and visual graphics franchisor with more than 750 FASTSIGNS® locations in eight countries worldwide, hosted its 11th annual Outside Sales Summit August 9-13 in a virtual setting. There were over 400 people from 5 countries in attendance.

With a Rebound theme, the 2021 Outside Sales Summit celebrated the FASTSIGNS network’s sales achievements between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. At the virtual awards event on Friday, 195 Outside Sales Professionals were recognized, including 24 who received the prestigious Platinum Award for achieving over $1 million in individual sales during the 12-month period.

Additionally fifteen individuals became Certified FASTSIGNS Sales Executives after completing an extensive certification program during the same period.

2021 marked the third year for presenting the Catherine Monson Salesperson of the Year Award. With this award, FASTSIGNS recognizes one Outside Sales Professional who best represents the concept and the spirit of the brand, both in the business community and within the FASTSIGNS network. Patrick Pennell from FASTSIGNS® of Jacksonville-St. Johns Bluff was recognized as this year’s recipient of the Catherine Monson Salesperson of the Year Award.

“We were thrilled to host our 11th annual Outside Sales Summit, held this year, as last year, in a virtual setting. This energy-packed event allowed us to provide the over 400 attendees with education and tools to continue honing their selling skills, as well as to recognize and celebrate the impressive work and achievements of FASTSIGNS Outside Sales Professionals from locations around the world,” said Catherine Monson, CEO of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. and Chair of the International Franchising Association.

One of the featured speakers included Ryan Serhant, star of Bravo’s hit series Million Dollar Listing New York and Sell it Like Serhant who delivered a highly energetic and advice-packed keynote session: How to Become the Ultimate Sales Machine.

Additional speakers from the FASTSIGNS International team covered a variety of topics including Industry Insights and Learning to Leverage Buying Trends, What Everyone Ought to Know about Selling Digital Content First, Achieving Success During a Pandemic Panel and more.

Sixty-four vendors participated at this year’s Virtual Outside Sales Summit Event, including six Diamond Sponsors. The Kickoff Session on Monday August 9th was sponsored by Orbus. Our Awards Event on Friday was sponsored by MUTOH America. FASTSIGNS also hosted fifteen Vendor Training Workshops from Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), Art Sign Works, Avery Dennison, Baker Sign Group, BEst Exhibits, ChromeSignage, Grimco, MUTOH America, Navitor, Showdown Displays, SignComp, SinaLite, Stouse, and TrueVert. There were also eleven Vendor Sponsored Commercials throughout the week and twelve Vendor Sponsored Gamification Games from 4Over, Avery Dennison, Clarity Voice, Clevertouch, Epson, Fellers, Grimco, Kapco, LexJet, Snap Frames, Stouse, and Trotec.

—Press Release

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Permitting, Fabricating, and Installing Digital Signs

By Ashley Bray

Sign shops have plenty to offer when it comes to selling and implementing digital signage for their clients, but where their skills truly shine is in the permitting, fabricating of custom elements, and installing the digital signage.

“Sign companies are a point of connection/leverage between manufacturers and end customers as well as important sources of installation,” says Taylor Nilson, market manager, On-Premise – Commercial Reseller & National Accounts, for Daktronics. “They also play a critical role of communicating knowledge of local sign jurisdictions to the manufacturers.”

First Thing’s First: Sign Permitting

digital sign fabrication
Photo: Complete Signs

That local sign jurisdiction knowledge is the first step in the install process where sign shops’ expertise is paramount. A digital sign manufacturer can’t know the rules in every individual county or town across the country. “They have an understanding of the signage codes within their jurisdiction, so being able to get permits and understand what the rules mean,” says Nilson. “What kinds of limitations are the city council going to put on animations or moving text and things like that—there’s no way for us as a manufacturer to understand that at all these locations, so they have a critical role to play in that regard.

“And it’s symbiotic—we can provide legislative support. If there’s a sign company out there that’s dealing with overly oppressive signage legislation, we have a legislative branch within our company that can figuratively fly in and help that sign company understand and maybe even help with some presentations to that city or county board. We talk about what other counties are doing successfully to keep signage reasonable but also supportive of the business climate in the area.”

Stuart Stein, president of ESCO Manufacturing, agrees on the importance of permitting knowledge. “There are so many wide ranging sign codes that vary from community to community,” he says. “All of those are things that have to be researched ahead of time with the end customer so that they fully understand what their options are.”

Getting Creative: Custom Fabrication

Once it’s determined that a digital sign is actually allowed and the restrictions and parameters it must meet are laid out, it is up to a sign company to make the client’s vision a reality.

Because manufacturers fabricate the digital display boards, some shops may think there isn’t much fabrication to do other than mounting provisions. However, this is where the creativity of sign shops can shine. Rather than just a display on a pole or a base, sign shops can make the signs really stand out through custom cabinetry and other fabricated elements. “Many times, [it’s about] incorporating a structure around it, so it’s just not a square box on a pole or in-between a pylon sign,” says John Danio, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Indigo Signs with locations across the midwest.

Justin Holland, co-founder and vp of sales and marketing for Complete Signs, agrees, “We hate selling signs that look like everybody else’s signs, so we try to design some creative and unique signs.”

Header cabinets featuring the client’s name with illumination are typically elements that are custom fabricated for digital displays. However, Steve Clark, director of Sales at KC Sign & Awnings in Aston, Pennsylvania, cautions shops about the depths of these cabinets. “My biggest pet peeve on install that I see is they either buy or don’t make that top cabinet to match the depth of the LED display and then they go and just put a ten inch deep cabinet on top of a 20- to 24-inch deep LED display,” he says. “One, it looks awful, but two, they’re going to cause themselves headaches because all of that snow and rain goes off the top cabinet and now it just sits on the top of the display. We custom build our top cabinets to stick out a half inch further than the LED display’s so the rain or snow doesn’t touch it unless it hits it directly.”

Like with other types of signage, sign shops have the option of handling the fabrication entirely themselves or outsourcing parts of it to other companies and wholesalers. As a wholesaler, ESCO says they work closely with sign shops to help design the best solution. “The key part where we come into play is definitely in the mounting provision of setting the sign so it can be installed [in the way] the end customer wants it, and talking about any other alternative design that may accomplish the same thing but may be more feasible or economical for both the sign company and the end customer,” says Stein. “We sometimes manufacture the sign cabinets or the mounting provisions or the bracing, and then ship that directly to the sign company and then they will actually take the digital display and install it on our mounting provisions, our sign cabinet, and then install it in the field.”

digital sign installation
Photo: Sign Store Macon

Many sign shops opt to handle fabrication and installation themselves. Nilson says sign shops are critical in translating the ideas of a customer unfamiliar with signage into something that is possible. “I have a lot of respect for what sign shops do in that regard because they are talking to a business owner that maybe is in a line of business that’s so wildly different from signage. And the business owner knows what they are trying to accomplish, but they don’t know how to describe what they want,” says Nilson. “So the sign company has to interpret that and understand the outcome that the business is trying to create. Then they turn that vision into a reality. And I think that’s critical regardless of what signage you’re working on.”

Sign shops are also highly capable of steering customers to the perfect pixel pitch or resolution. Stein says sign shops frequently compute a sign’s copy size based on parameters like viewing distance and the speed of drivers going by. All of these same parameters apply to the pixel pitch of a digital sign.

This is also why demos of a digital sign, preferably in the place it will be installed, are critical to making sure end users understand what they are getting. “It allows the end customer to fully grasp what they’re going to be purchasing with no surprises,” says Stein. “Being able to see the product first hand, live in action is such a critical part of the process.”

Putting it in Place: Installation

When it comes to installing the digital display, each manufacturer will have different requirements for air flow, grounding, etc. To ensure these different requirements are covered, Mike Lewis, CEO of Sign Store Macon in Macon, Georgia, says digital sign manufacturers/suppliers typically give sign shops a check list of installation requirements. “If you can install a lighted sign cabinet or channel letters that have power, it’s no different,” says Lewis, who notes the manufacturers’ checklist will explain things like how to weld the sign to a pole, how to ensure air flow and circulation, the need for a grounding rod and where to put it, etc. “There’s a lot of things you have to do when you install them, but they’ll usually give you a cheat sheet or an itemized checklist, and if you do that, then you should be fine.”

Nilson says manufacturers have also helped to make the installation of outdoor digital displays in particular easier. “You’ve got power, you’ve got the display, and then you’ve got a cellular modem that sits on the display, and we’ve removed a lot of the technological impediments to getting that stuff installed. Because there’s no ethernet bridge radios around anymore, we don’t have to deal with customers’ firewalls anymore,” he explains, noting that for a while, sign companies had to be IT professionals, which is no longer the case. “If there are sign companies out there still using ethernet bridge radios and struggling through that part of the process, I really encourage them to come talk to us about how much simpler cellular can make their installs.”

digital sign installation
Photo: Indigo Signs

Holland also encourages sign shops to find a manufacturer who will serve as a partner and walk them through the installation process. “If it’s not going to just be something you install once every five years, if it’s going to be something that’s more regular, it’s worth investing in the training. Any of these manufacturers will fly you in, you and your team, and they’ll take you through a little two-day shop training class in their factory and show you everything,” says Holland. “It’s worth getting comfortable working with cellular modems and IP addresses, and it’s worth knowing how to use software, how to change the power supply, and all that.”

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3 Reasons Resin Ink is Poised to Elevate the Sign Industry

Resin ink is a new signage-focused, water-based solution that includes both resin and pigment color in the formulation. When working with the right hardware, resin ink is compatible with a variety of media types and is an ideal solution for printing on wallpapers, fabrics, and uncoated papers, in addition to traditional signage materials.

The following dives into what resin ink is and its benefits for the signage and digital printing industry.

resin ink printer sample
A sample printed on SureColor R5070

1. It’s a water-based ink. Resin ink is multi-purpose ink comprised of a water-based liquid, resin, and pigment ink colors within the formulation.

Unlike solvent ink, resin ink is odorless when printing and does not require an off-gassing period before lamination. Its ability to instantly dry allows for immediate lamination and quicker project turnaround times. Without the need to off-gas for six to twenty-four-plus hours or lamination on select media types, print shops can finalize projects quicker, saving valuable time for incoming projects and increasing revenue.

The instant-dry ink delivers scratch-resistant output, ideal for indoor/outdoor applications and installations that are being installed for an extended period of time and in high-traffic areas that often succumb to markings due to weather, animals, or general wear and tear.

In addition, wallpaper tends to work especially well with resin ink due to the high scratch resistance and low odor. Digitally printed wallpaper has become a popular trend among designers and is an ideal output for resin ink.

2. Color consistency is key. Print shops oftentimes have difficulties reproducing color for panel applications. Color consistency can be critical for larger, longer print jobs with multiple wall panels or multiple panel installations as well as repeat jobs that need to be replicated completely.

For example, if a customer orders a hundred posters with specific red and blue colors for a project in February, and returns to re-order the same posters in July, many print shops will have difficulties reproducing identical copies months later. A few months after any project is completed, printers have been recalibrated, printheads have been changed, ink packs have been swapped, and maintenance has occurred—all of which can have significant effects on the final output.

Another common order for sign shops is multiple panel wall graphics. This type of order can stem from a large retail customer who is looking to order graphics that require twenty four-by-eight-foot panels to cover an entire wall in the company’s solid colored logo. It is critical that the color, such as a unique red, is identical on panel two and panel twenty, so the image and logo color is consistent throughout.

Resin technology today has the ability to deliver consistent, repeatable color guaranteed to meet client expectations. When looking at resin-based printers, it’s beneficial to identify hardware that also leverages optimizer in unison with the ink technology. Some printers will offer separate optimizer and color ink printing by laying the optimizer first and then color ink, so color consistency is easily achieved.

3. Impressive versatility. It’s critical that a print shop is able to produce the output clients are looking for, whether that’s on traditional media, vinyl, canvas, textile, wallpaper, or more. Print shops are oftentimes looking to use the same printer for various customer requests and print full campaigns for larger customer orders consisting of multiple printed pieces.

For example, a retail customer may request and order a “Now Open” banner for their outdoor signage, as well as an adhesive vinyl P-O-P display and floor graphics to advertise a sale inside the store. That same customer may also be interested in ordering custom fabric for interior décor pillows and canvas prints to hang around the store. A printer that leverages resin ink can handle all these projects.

resin ink
A sample printed on SureColor R5070

Today the majority of printing technology is limited to one or very few media types, based on ink compatibility or the temperature the ink requires on select media. Resin ink can cure on an incredibly wide range of media types from fabrics and wallpapers to uncoated papers and adhesive vinyl.

Low curing temperatures allow for printing on even difficult medias, like thin wall coverings and gift wrapping. This can further increase a shop’s versatility and output scope to generate additional revenue through new products and SKUs that can attract new and returning customers.

Considering the Next Purchase

If looking to add new ink technology like resin, consider current and future trends to ensure the shop will keep up with present and forthcoming projects and demands—such as the increase in printing panel applications like wallpaper. This is a unique area for print shops and an ideal situation for resin ink.

Wallpaper is an adhesive application that can be created with a variety of textured media types that can be easily produced with multi-purpose resin ink technology. The market for custom wallpaper and textiles has massive growth potential, especially with designers working directly with large corporate clients looking to create unique designs. This can help propel a print shop to success with the appropriate technology, clientele, and projects.

With the appropriate planning and forecasting, introducing resin ink technology into a sign shop can help further expand applications and provide customers with high-quality, color-consistent output to meet evolving trends.

By Matt McCausland is senior product manager, Professional Imaging, at Epson America, Inc.

The post 3 Reasons Resin Ink is Poised to Elevate the Sign Industry appeared first on Sign Builder Illustrated, The How-To Sign Industry Magazine.

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Hey Buddy, Your Procrastination Is Not My Problem

Things you wanted to say to frustrating clients, but didn’t.

Years ago, I once had an old-time sign guy advise me to tell my customer, “Your procrastination is not my problem.” Unfortunately, it is my problem if we want to keep the customer. Even though they sat on the fact that they had a set opening date many months ago, they did not think about their signage until a few weeks from the opening. We need to survey, design, price, review specs with client to meet budget; re-price, engineer, submit to municipal design review for a blessing; then to the building department and then fabricate channel letters, blade sign, awnings and interior graphics. Sure, no problem. I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence, but it happens frequently.

Woulda Coulda Shouldas are collected from the Signs of the Times Brain Squad and shared anonymously. You can join the Brain Squad at

The post Hey Buddy, Your Procrastination Is Not My Problem appeared first on Signs of the Times.

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