Commercial signs are used by virtually all brick-and-mortar businesses. Here is a short explanation of how this type of signage is made.
The selection of the sign material
After the design for the signage has been finalised, the material from which it will be made needs to be selected. Signs can be made from a wide range of materials, including PVC, wood, vinyl, metal and acrylic.
Several factors are taken into consideration when making this decision, including the overall aesthetic the client wants to achieve and the climate in which the sign will be displayed.
In some cases, compromises need to be made; for example, the client might request a rustic, 'old-world' sign made from reclaimed wood; however, if this is to be an outdoor sign which will be frequently exposed to snow, sun or rain, wood may not be the most appropriate choice, as moisture will often lead to this material rotting, whilst UV rays can cause its colour to fade. In this example, a faux-wood sign made from a robust, weather-resistant form of plastic might be more suitable.
After the client has chosen the material and the design for their signage, the production process then begins. The first step will be to cut the raw material into the shape specified by the design drawings. Nowadays, this is rarely, if ever, done manually; instead, manufacturing facilities will use CNC laser cutting machines to do this job for them. The exact dimensions and shape of the sign are programmed into a computer and this information is then used by the laser cutting machine to cut the materials into the correct shape and size.
Text and image printing methods
Following the cutting and shaping of the sign, text and images will be added to it. There are several different ways to do this. Solvent printing, for example, involves chemically fusing coloured pigments to the signage material. This method is often selected for outdoor signs because it reduces the chance of the lettering and images fading when they are exposed to sunlight or moisture. In instances where weather resistance is not a concern (i.e. for indoor signs), water-based inks are often preferred. This approach allows for the creation of very vivid, striking colours and images. UV laser printers are another popular option; these create digital signage which can be used in both outdoor and indoor settings.
The finishing touches
The final stage of sign fabrication involves the assembly of the sign's components and the addition of lighting (if requested by the client). In most manufacturing facilities, the sign will then undergo a number of stringent quality-control checks before it is packaged and delivered to the end user.