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PDF - Brochure

Subak Signs
Subak Huose,
9A Stocks Street
Manchester M8 8GW



Guide to Material Information for signs

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Aluminium is a lightweight metal that is used extensively in the sign industry. Sheets - Signboxes - Extrusions - Directory signs etc. Once coated aluminium has excellent weathering properties. Beautiful anodised finishes are available or it can be powder coated or spray painted for a lasting effect.

This product is a laminated aluminium sheet that combines the weathering capabilities of the metal with the lightness of plastic and produces a sheet of very high rigidity. This material can be rolled and bent to produce amazing shapes. Vinyl lettering and screen printing produces very pleasing results.

Brass is an alloy made up of copper and zinc. It is used extensively in the sign industry for plaques and nameplates. Its bright golden colour is instantly recognisable, often engraved and infilled with different colours to beautiful effect. It tarnishes rapidly and requires relatively high maintenance, however regular polishing gives an aged quality. A good quality lacquer can be applied, but this is not a lasting deterrent.

Bronze is an alloy made up of copper and tin, it can be cast for decorative results. It is red/brown/gold in colour. It will tarnish, not as rapidly as brass, but the patina effect is recognisable from bronze statues.

Ultra thin gold (Gold Leaf) was used in sign production extensively because of its amazing appearance and its ability to weather without tarnishing. It is used less these days because of its relatively high cost.

Silver leaf can be used in sign production with similar qualities to gold.

Steel Stainless Steel and Iron
Stainless steel is often used in the fabrication of individual letters; it has amazing resistance to weathering. It can be powder coated in many colours for lasting results. Steel is often used for structural purposes, where strength is an important factor. Steel angle, pole and box section can be used say for posts and cross members for a sign structure. Steel mesh can be used in areas where wind is a factor, letters or small sign could be mounted on the mesh and can reduce the effect the wind would have on the structure.

Wrought Iron is used in the sign industry for projecting signs or where intricate

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PVC and PVC Foam
Often called Foamex, although like Hoover this is a trade name, PVC foam is a plastic sheet that has had gases introduced into it during the manufacture. It produces a sheet that is lightweight and is strong. There are different grades, although not immediately apparent and not always noted. Cheap foamed sheet will, in time become brittle and discoloured, but is fine in applications where time is not a major factor, exhibition displays etc. It can be screen-printed, or have vinyl graphics easily applied. Low flammability means it can be used in fire sensitive areas. PVC foam is available in 1mm up to 25mm sheet thickness.

PVC can easily be formed, drilled, routed, cut and is resistant to many chemicals. Is used in many applications including point of sale.

Polycarbonate Sheet
Polycarbonate sheet is clear, has good impact resistant qualities and so is well suited to areas where vandalism is an issue. Without the addition of UV protective layers exterior use is limited. Screen printing or vinyl graphics can be used. In flammability tests it has been shown to be self-extinguishing and so is rated either class 1 or 2 when tested to British Standards.

Acrylic Sheet
Often known by the ICI product name, 'Perspex', acrylic sheet is an extremely versatile material that is available in many different colours and forms. It is almost impervious to the adverse discolouring effects of the sun. Clear cast acrylic offers over 90% light transmission with little or no colour bias and will remain that way for many years in external situations. There are many colours both opaque and translucent, it can be cut, polished, routed to shape and in-laid into other acrylic panels. Applications include cut out letters and shapes, fascia panels; inserts for illuminated sign boxes and panels for edge lit signs. Extruded acrylic sheet can be thermoformed more easily than cast acrylic to produce 3 dimensional lettering and shapes.

Standard cast acrylic has been found to have more than 3 times the impact strength of plate glass, but is brittle and will break if struck with any force. There is a modified sheet that offers improved impact resistance if required.

Glass Reinforced Polyester Resin (GRP)
GRP can be moulded or cast into intricate shapes like letters or crests or into large shapes like panels and signboards. With the addition of coloured pigments the signboards can be made into different colours. They can be easily screen-printed and take the application of vinyl letters very well. They can be extremely tough because of the glass fibre matting that is laid into the surface gel coat, with the addition of UV absorbers to the gel the sign boards can be used outside for many years. They are used quite often in the by building developers.

Flexible Face Signboxes
Sign boxes using an extruded aluminium frame, often supplied with internal illumination, with a woven politicised polyester cover stretched over a hinged or removable face. The cover is kept taut by means of adjustable devices. They can be decorated with self adhesive vinyl films or using the full colour electrostatic printing process, which is often to be seen on curtain sided trucks. The advantages of the flexible face sign box is that they can be fabricated to almost any length without joins in the face. They provide excellent tear resistance if tensioned correctly but may need to re-tension the face occasionally or after bad weather.

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Wood and Wood Based Panels
With the introduction of plastics to the sign industry, timber use has been drastically reduced. However it is still the preferred choice for many applications such as hardwood plaques for mounting brass plates, traditional looking signboards and hoarding panels. Advances made in connection with timber related products such as preservatives, finishes, glues and types of panels have enabled specifiers and end users to be more confident. Broad-leafed trees produce hardwood whereas softwoods come from coniferous trees, but not all hardwoods are hard, nor are softwoods all soft; Balsa wood is in fact a hard wood. Sheet material used for exterior applications, such as Birch faced exterior grade plywood, marine ply or exterior grade MDF (medium density fibreboard) must be coated with some form of preservation. This comes in the form of stains and varnishes paint coatings and so called 'microporous' coatings.

A standard for the application of paint coating would be thus:
1 coat aluminium primer or similar
1 coat undercoat
2 coats of gloss
Special attention must be paid to edges on all sheeted material, as these are most prone to water and insect migration. The labour costs involved in producing such a product can be quite high, but there is no point in attempting to 'cut corners' on these guidelines as it will result in poor performance and wasted time and money.