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CNC Sign Material Suggestions

Discussion in 'CNC Routers & Engravers' started by rkiefer2, Jun 28, 2012.

  1. rkiefer2

    rkiefer2 New Member

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    Jun 26, 2012
    Hello,

    I making a sign for a customer of mine. I'm more into making and selling the CNC machines, but I continue to get referrals for making signs for other sign shops and from businesses directly.

    Looking for advise on the material, see sign below.

    Sign Specs
    -Size: 4ft tall X ~6ft wide
    -Mounted out Brick building
    -Wisconsin year round climate conditions
    -Insulation foam used for letters, then covered with Styro spray.

    Material
    -1/2 MDO for base
    -3/4 Foam (pink) letters/boarder cutouts, glued to MDO
    -Edges sealed with caulk, then covered with Styrospray
    -Paint = probably go with Oneshot


    Questions:
    -Anyone have experience with styro spray?
    -Will the MDO hold up or is there a better base material to use?
    -Pink insulation foam much cheaper than HDU, worth the extra effort with putting on hard coating like styrospray?
    -Any other suggestions?


    Thanks,


    Roger Kiefer
    Innovative Designs, LLC
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2012
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  2. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    use the right product. HDU.. Period..
     
  3. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    why not use hdu and save yourself the time and labor of using mdo as the backround substrate & ensuring that all edges are sealed completely then painting the mdo, then routing home insulation foam for your lettering/graphics/logos - then applying the hard cote - then painting the routed pieces - then creating a pounce pattern/vinyl mask/or some other type of pattern to allow you to properly layout & assemble the individual routed pieces to your background piece of mdo - install & wait for the phone calls that in my experience are eventually going to come from constructing a dimensional sign in this manner.

    when you could use a sheet of HDU paint the sheet the color of the raised elements - route your sign - paint the relief area (background),the returns (sides of letters) & any of the other raised elements of your design that need to be a different color than your substrate was painted prior to routing if necessary - install and sleep well at night knowing you built a well built sign that will withstand the elements.

    in my experience customers that want a dimensional sign, want a quality sign..something that will standout versus the majority of non-dimensional signs.

    I have no problem using alternatives to hdu for interior applications & have also constructed many exterior signs early in my career using foam insulation sheets, it just is not worth the time imo to properly build a sign of this nature when I can buy a substrate that is suited for the application & avoid an abundance of additional labor that eliminates the money saved using cheaper materials than HDU.

    dimensional signs are still a product that commands a premium price. Charge the customer accordingly, build the sign using quality materials or refer your potential sign customer to one of your existing sign shop customers as a token of appreciation for buying the routers & equipment that you manufacture so they prosper & buy bigger/better tools from you in the future.
     
  4. slipperyfrog

    slipperyfrog Active Member

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    I think this sums it up best.
     
  5. rkiefer2

    rkiefer2 New Member

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    Jun 26, 2012
    Thanks for the responses.

    The reason I was trying to go with a cheaper alternative is I'm working with the customer on a barter basis and trying to keep the costs low. In heinsight you are correct with HDU. Its not my style to produce anything but the best so I will likely go that route based on the responses.

    More Questions
    -From a pricing prospective what are some guidelines used for quoting? I think I'm way to cheap based on the business I have been getting from sign shops for cutting only and making complete signs.
    -Can HDU be layered or glued on itself? I dont have much experience with tiling and my maching only cutss 50" X 50" so I was going to hand cut the base with a templacte, and place the pieces on top.
    -If I decide to try tiling and cutting it out of one piece what size and weight HDU?
     
  6. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    grrr..just lost my reply typed on my phone prior to posting..here we go again.

    Pricing,many of us are reluctant t discuss pricing in the open areas of the forum. More importantly it is important to charge what you need to charge to keep the doors open & earn a profit. If you search the archives there are multiple discussions regarding determining a shop rate that will allow you to achieve those objectives.

    Tiling or Indexing..this is a great time to use your original substrate idea (blue/pink foam) until you are confident with the procedure. Indexing is intimidating at first but much less stressful using a cheap substrate.

    sheet size. Very few distributors sell anything other than 4x8's so that makes it easy for you ..but even if you have a distributor who will cut & sell smaller sheets for the size you need you will be paying for the majority of the sheet anyways...buy the sheet & make a showroom sample or save it for the next job.

    thickness..many things to consider, how far the sign will be viewed from, effect you are trying to achieve, the design,etc..but the majority of the dimensional signs that I have made that I would refer to as 'normal' were constructed using 2",2.5" or 3".

    weight or poundage. Myself I prefer to use the higher weight sheets, to me the difference in price is worth it fr the amount of time saved in finishing. Lower weight sheets really show their cellular structure 'holes' & if the sign is going to be viewed up close,at eye level,etc...it is not an attractive look & requires a cote, or multiple cotes of high build primer, which usually also requires sanding to obtain the look most customers want who are investing in a dimensional sign. The higher weight sheets have a much 'tighter' cell structure & do not require the use of a high build primer to close or hide the 'holes' in the lower weight sheets. Many people will argue this next statement but go to the hdu manufacturer's websites & do your own research..hdu does not require a cote of primer, so unless I amworking with lower weight sheets or I am trying to achieve a certain effect, using higher weight sheets saves a considerable amount of finishing time.

    gluing hdu, yes hdu can be glued..with multiple types of adhesives..not to be smart but do a search & you will eventually find more information than you want on the subject of gluing high density urethane.

    what did we forget to answer? This sign should be done already in the amount of time we've spent talking about it. :)
    Just kidding...maybe another hour or two to let the paint dry.
     
  7. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    This sign is in the 3 grand range minimum.. Trying to do a sign like this on the cheap is almost an insult to those who do this for a living full time.

    In fact I walked out on a client who insisted he get a 3D sign for what he thought was a reasonable offer. This type of high end work is not up for bid to the lowest bidder. There are very few people around who can really pull this off so trying to do one on the cheap is not worth the effort..
     
  8. SignProPlus-Alex

    SignProPlus-Alex Member

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    Go with 18# HDU. Prime and paint all around 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint. All cost for paint and HDU should be less than $400.
     
  9. rkiefer2

    rkiefer2 New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I think I will go with #18 2" as recommended

    -Would a cut depth of 0.5" be to much or to less? Needs to be visible from ~100' away.
    -Any suggestions on products for mounting it to the brick building? Should it stand off?
     
  10. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Depending on how this is to be machined, I'm not so sure ONE piece of material (HDU) is the only choice for a quality sign & ease of labor. I'm thinking if he chose alternate materials, then possibly your replies may have been different.

    http://www.signs101.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81756

    .
    .



    The statement below is good advice. If you build and sell CNC machines, maybe you should stick to what you do best. Refer this job to one of YOUR customers.
     
  11. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    For the way he described this job my replies will not be different., Your examples from Signmaniac show free standing signs.. The poster said what he wanted to use MDO and pink foam and styrospray to hard coat it. He said mount it on a brick wall.

    Using 1.5 inch 20# HDU foam, or use 15# corofoam ,,dunna board (a better product) and machine it all in one swoop. 6 hours... Its DONE Paint it and its out the door. 1 day machine time 1 day paint.

    Its a waste of effort to use a lesser material and then try to beef it up with some type of coating. The styrospray product will need at least two coats as well as leave brush marks through it. Plus, that coating will wash out details especially if you try to stipple it. All that extra work takes too much time.. We all know the major cost of a sign is not the materials. It is the time of labor to finish it. Any extra production step does nothing to add value while extra steps do everything to add cost and reduce the sharpness of the panel.

    A well designed panel using a heavier foam sign product is very fast and efficient to make. He wanted to use pink foam. Anyone with any experience machining that stuff knows it is full of holes and finishes rough.. That means layers of filler and primer.. At least an extra day of time and expense.

    SO no,, I would use sign foam of some brand, mount it with a french cleat ( example> http://www.homedepot.com/buy/tools-...dog-mounting-screws-13-piece-pack-179220.html) and be done with it.
     
  12. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    I'm saying 6mil Dibond, and pvc would make excellent choices, whether the sign is free standing on mounted on a brick wall.....and in my opinion is quicker routing the individual layers & time it saves to paint. Cost, you may run about the same vs the HDU (more material vs expensive material). Both would be good options.

    I don't do much with pink foam, although it does make for nice interior signs (in the right setting)...... and if you're equipped for the proper topcoats, even styrofoam is a good choice......but not for the sign the poster showed.

    IMO

    I agree with you Tech. The materials & technique the poster planned to use, is not the best approach.
     
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