Welcome To Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals

Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals is the LARGEST online community & discussion forum for professional sign-makers and graphic designers.

 


  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Converting to flexface

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Texas_Signmaker, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    4,519
    1,659
    113
    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    Is there an easy solution to converting a cabinet from leaxan to flex face? Would using something like 1/2"x2" flat aluminum bars fastened to the inside of the frame be a stupid tension system?
     
    Tags:
  2. Richard2717

    Richard2717 Member

    33
    5
    8
    Mar 18, 2019
    MD
    If it is a normal square/ rectangular cabinet I always use Signcomp retrofit extrusion. There used to be some decent write up on the web on proper assembly 20200829_091450_resized.jpg
     
  3. Modern Ink Signs

    Modern Ink Signs Premium Subscriber

    531
    132
    43
    Jun 27, 2008
    Waukesha, WI
    Why are you switching?

    I’ve done this a few time over the years. You need a retro fit flex face frame.
     
  4. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    7,463
    642
    113
    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    used the signcomp kit the few times I've done it.
     
  5. Rocco G

    Rocco G Member

    125
    17
    18
    Feb 27, 2014
    Pennsauken NJ
    While I'm in favor of the signcomp retrofit kits (they make the installation SOO simple), you could also make a stapled system similar to how "milliken" style awnings are produced. To over-simplify it - you take the awning extrusions, make the frame and staple the face in place. The completed "flex face" then gets attached to the cabinet. I've seen it done a bunch of times and have done it once or twice, but then you have to use sheet metal moldings or something similar to make it look decent. In Philly I've seen it just screwed to the old retainers which is quite ugly imho. It's cheaper than the signcomp retro system and that's why people do it. I.E. a signcomp single 4x8 kit is ~$275 (mill finish) where you can get two lengths of the awning extrusion for ~$110.00 - enough for two 4x8 faces. The stapled system has a higher initial cost (staple gun, compressor, clamps, staples) but once you have them you can make awnings too. Ten clamps (vice-grip 9R welding clamps to be specific - and DO NOT buy the harbor freight ones, they are worthless) is a starting point. If you get heavily into awnings, a couple hundred clamps isn't too many. Oh, and one or two of the vice-grip sheet metal clamps makes tensioning the fabric easier as well. The signcomp system basically only requires their tensioning tool. For extra large faces, signcomp is really the only way to go because you can easily add supports set back behind the face to keep it tight.

    I've also seen very junky jobs where someone just took aluminum tubing and tek screwed the flex material to the "frame system". They are never very tight and are usually full of wrinkles.

    YMMV
     
  6. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

    4,519
    1,659
    113
    Oct 21, 2016
    Frisco, TX
    I'm asking because I cant get polycarb.

    Rocco g, is this what you're talking about? This was tight

    20200826_185336.jpg
     
  7. signbrad

    signbrad Member

    391
    191
    43
    Jun 15, 2014
    Kansas City
    Most cabinets are not strong enough

    One problem with a retrofit is that most cabinets are not strong enough to support a flexible face. The returns will tend to "concave inward," on the long dimensions especially. If the cabinet is made with angle iron and a metal skin, the odds are better this won't happen. But most people these days build lightweight cabinets made out of aluminum extrusions. So...fastening flat aluminum to the inside of the cabinet to anchor the face may not work well, since it would be relying on the strength of extruded returns to tension the fabric.

    The best way to retrofit is with the retrofit kits available from extrusion makers. The support for the flexible face is provided by the frame rather than the cabinet, and the assembly can then be attached by a top hinge to the top face flange of the cabinet. This allows for a flex face that is easy to service safely by one person and does not rely on the cabinet for strength. Of course, these kits are not cheap.

    Regarding wrinkles, this is generally not the fault of the frame system. Rather, it's a fabricator issue. Duck-billed pliers, both the locking kind and the kind that do not lock, are essential, in my opinion. I have even used homemade stretchers successfully. These were bar clamps with a locking duckbill welded to one end of the bar. The duckbill clamped the fabric while the stationary clamping leg hooked over the edge of the sign cabinet. The trigger leg, in the middle, pulls the fabric when actuated. Turning the trigger leg around, so that it faces away from the permanent leg, allows for better pulling power. (I wish I had a picture.) They aren't pretty, and they're a little hard to weld up, but they work. I used them in addition to handheld duckbills.

    Homemade frames

    Using one-inch aluminum tube to make a homemade retrofit frame actually does work. Yes, it's cheap. It's a pain in the butt and requires at least two workers for any future service work. And you need to lower the whole face to service the sign. But, it's cheap, it works, and can be done without wrinkles. The trick is to add center braces so the perimeter frame members do not bend inward too much. The braces need to be installed parallel to the florescent lamps so they do not create shadows. To do this, you position the braces a few inches behind the frame, attached with diagonal pieces of tube welded to the perimeter frame. (Again, I wish I could show a picture.) The braces then lie protruded into the spaces between the lamps, floating beside them without obstructing light. The small diagonals need to be welded to the frame in a way that the frame can still lie flat against the front of the cabinet.

    Careful tensioning of the fabric using truss-head screws an inch or inch-and-a-half on center can be done with no wrinkles. The finished unit will cup somewhat on the dimension not braced, but attachment to the cabinet flattens it out. A hassle? Of course. But so is installing and servicing a large polycarbonate face when there is no hanging bar to help do it safely. Two or three people and two trucks either way, right? And the polycarbonate will turn yellow; the flex face will not. Also, you can strip and re-letter a flex face in situ. I have even done eradication while the face was in place.

    Homemade frames like this don't allow for extreme tensioning, but they work, they're cheap, and most people won't notice that the sign is jerry-rigged. Make sure the customer understands that the cost of service calls will eat up any savings from the initial conversion. An engineered retrofit kit is always superior and safer for servicing.

    Brad in Kansas City
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. guojianbin

    guojianbin New Member

    Thank you, it helps me a lot
     
  9. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

    1,836
    363
    83
    Sep 28, 2017
    Arkansas
    Ugh, can't get lexan? I'd tell the customer to wait it out. I know Reece had a 100" roll just last week... GSG has been getting some as well.
     
  10. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

    1,836
    363
    83
    Sep 28, 2017
    Arkansas
    Oh, and the Sign comp frames work beautifully. It's just a whole lot of work unless you're getting them fabbed somewhere. Need a saw, aluminum welder, that weird two forked signcomp tool, measuring tape... But if they're built right, they pop right in. If they're built wrong (Too small to fit over the cabinet), the sign looks like a trapezoid from a profile view, because they tend to get hung from the top and let the extrusion rest against the front side of the frame at the bottom.
     
  11. signbrad

    signbrad Member

    391
    191
    43
    Jun 15, 2014
    Kansas City
    My description above of a homemade stretcher using a bar clamp is faulty, just in case you had a hard time visualizing it from my description.
    If you lay a bar clamp on a work table along with the duckbill locking pliers, and think about it, you can figure out how to make this.
    We had four of these at a shop I worked at about 15 years ago. They had already made two of them. And I made two more. I should have taken pictures.

    Brad
     
Loading...

Share This Page

 


Loading...