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Need Help In need of a sign. lol

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by KY_Graphics_Gal, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. KY_Graphics_Gal

    KY_Graphics_Gal New Member

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    This is going to seem like a really dumb question to most of you. Let me give a little background first: I own a small printing/graphics company (celebrating 10 years in Sept!!). We do a little bit of everything but mostly printing biz cards, brochures, forms, etc. We do lots of design work for billboards and large format printing. We outsource yard signs, vinyl banners, foamcore, etc, but outside of banner material we can't do anything large due to shipping restrictions. Usually 3x5 is about max on rigid material. I joined this forum a few months back (and read posts every day) to try and learn a little more about sign making. For years I have just told my clients, "sorry, I can't make that type of sign" but I currently have THREE of my very good clients wanting signs made and I just can't turn them away.

    I don't even know what type of material most signs are made of. My clients have told me they want something that lasts for years and years and can be hung on 4x4 posts, and most are for "road signs" that are placed out in front of the business. We are in a VERY rural area and outside of sending my clients to Louisville 1.5 hours away, I'm the only option around.

    I don't have enough space (or money) to buy a large printer/plotter, etc so is there an option for outsourcing? Or at least outsource the printed material that I can install/affix to a substrate I can buy locally?

    Any advice would be extremely appreciated.
     
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  2. Pixels Are Bad Mmmkay?

    Pixels Are Bad Mmmkay? Very Active Member

    Absolutely. A lot of sign shops start off without an in-house printer and just order prints from a reputable trade printer, then apply them to the substrate. However, you'll find there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to mounting prints, especially the larger and harder to handle they become. This is where you may want to buy some sort of laminator or Big Squeegee to enable easier mounting.An application/laminating table is the ultimate tool for this, but they come at quite a cost and have a footprint that's larger than your space from the way it sounds.
     
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  3. GaSouthpaw

    GaSouthpaw Active Member

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    The materials depend on the $$ the customers want to spend, and how long they want it to last. A simple rectangular sign on posts could easily be done with 1/4" ACM- something most suppliers would have. If you're in that small of a town, though, you might have to drive to Louisville to pick up the materials.
    You could also use MDO- just make sure to seal the edges to stave off the inevitable rot (ACM will not rot, but you can dent it). A third option would be to use .090" aluminum. For a finished look, I'd add stringers at the top and bottom.
    Also, if the whole shebang is on you, charge 'em for the permits you'll more than likely need. If you put up a sign in my area and there's no permit, you're liable- even if the customer said they'd handle it, because you're supposed to have them before installing. Follow any codes applicable (you don't want to get dinged on anything- especially your first time out).
    Outsource your printing to the supplier of your choice, apply prints, install sign.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    Sounds to me like you just want to make the signs, and the clients install them. In that case outsource laminated digital prints and get substrates locally.
    It would be nice if there was someone carrying some of the composite panels that most sign shops use now, but if not use MDO as suggested. It can be had at a good lumber yard and has to be prepped as though it was a finished sign even if you are applying a print.
     
  5. KY_Graphics_Gal

    KY_Graphics_Gal New Member

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    Yep, I'm feeling pretty dumb. What kind of print? What is it printed on? I've researched the fire out of this and finally decided to bite the bullet and put my lack of sign knowledge out there for the world to see and ask you guys. Where would one find these "prints" and what material am I seeking?
     
  6. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Use Signs365.com and get the 3M Ij-35-C material. Put it on 6mm thick aluminum composite panel.

    You may need to practice putting something that large on... I recommend the "Bill Collector" squeegee from Fellers

     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. Jay Grooms

    Jay Grooms Printing, Printing, Printing......

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    It's printed on Pressure Sensitive Vinyl (Think BIG sticker)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    If you want, and your customers are willing to pay for it to be shipped, Signs365 can make your 4x8 panels for you. That might be the easier way to get the first one or two. Then when you have time, you can spend the money to buy a printed vinyl graphic, get something to put it on, an installation tool like the Big Squeegee, and try it out.
     
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  9. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    So there’s two ways to make these types of signs.

    Print on self adhesive vinyl (SAV) - a giant sticker (then laminated) and mount to aluminium, composite (substrate). Naturally there are different levels of quality of SAV which have different life spans, and it’s pretty much the same for the substrate.

    Or someone with a flatbed can print directly onto the material.

    You can go down the route of buying the printed vinyls and applying them to the substrates, but then it generally helps if you have something capable of mounting the prints, then it helps if you have something capable of cutting aluminium unless you have loads of different sizes of blanks on hand and so on.

    Looks a lot like you’d be better just outsourcing your sign work to a trade supplier. There’s already been a couple mentioned I think. You just give them the artwork and money, then wait on your sign being delivered. Could potentially just get it delivered to the customer and then go up to install it too. Saves a lot of hassle.

    Naturally, by going this route you do miss out on some of the profit margin. But it sounds like you don’t have much competition so you get to decide what signs cost in your area! There’s also less room for error on your part provided all your files are fine.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  10. KY_Graphics_Gal

    KY_Graphics_Gal New Member

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    You guys are amazing! Everything that's been said above makes perfect sense. I'm super excited to dive into this project on Monday.

    After 6 weeks of no Saturdays off, this gal is taking it easy for a couple of days! Thanks!!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. The Big Squeegee

    The Big Squeegee Major Contributor

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    Good luck and :welcome: 2 :signs101smilie: From OK.
     
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  12. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

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    I agree with Texas, just order the print from Signs365 and put it on some ACM. When it's laminated, it's nice and thick and easier to apply than cut vinyl. Once you get to the point of applying, post again with some pics of what you have. Many here will explain step by step how to apply or even talk to you on the phone :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. d fleming

    d fleming Very Active Member

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    Print, print, print. Not one mention of plotting vinyl. Your customers have asked for something that lasts years and years. That's not print. Composite panel ( not the thinnest they sell) with high performance vinyl cut on plotter. Or a variety of other substrates depending on job at hand. You've been ten years in, take the jump. Get a vinyl plotter. You'll be doing a ton more in house before you know it with total control over schedule and output. Next will be vehicle graphics and fleet markings. We'll talk in another 10 ;-)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. FireSprint.com

    FireSprint.com Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing

    We're a wholesale trade-only print shop that can handle your needs! Shoot us an email at support@firesprint.com
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

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    I'm really surprised no one has said invest in a laminator. If you're not going to buy a printer, you might as well buy the laminator so that you're not having to re-buy prints you screw up, which will happen when doing them by hand, especially starting out.
     
  16. ddarlak

    ddarlak Trump Hater

    I too was surprised that a small vinyl cutter was not mentioned. It is the next logical step, then again, signs101 has turned into a 95% digital print forum.

    Doesn't matter how far out of town you are you'll be surprised how far a deliver truck from some sign supplier will travel. might be only one day a week, but there has to be someone that will deliver ACM.

    get yourself a 24" cutter and you wont have any days off!
     
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  17. jfiscus

    jfiscus Map Wraster

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    What is your nearest town? In NKY everything can be delivered.
    You can ship larger signs via freight, how far do your signs need to ship?
     
  18. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    I honestly just assume that's everyone's first piece of equipment. Then I see so many jobs that could have been done with the cut vinyl and translucent vinyl that are now burned out and unreadable. Seen vehicle wraps that way too. Blows my mind. Our shop was a basically just a 24in plotter and 20ft table for like 10-15 years before we got our first solvent. We did a lot more painting and outsourcing scotchal prints.
     
  19. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I used to do a lot with my 30" plotter...but I'm pinched for time and it's more valuable for me to just order the prints and slap em on. Ill do CUT if I can and if its a long term sign.
     
  20. KY_Graphics_Gal

    KY_Graphics_Gal New Member

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    Kentucky
    OK, since my original question I have researched for days and days on how to best approach this potential new venture -and I have looked into each of your suggestions. I am thinking that you are right about me needing a cutter/plotter. I don't need the printer because it really is cheaper for me to outsource that type of product. So now I'm down to researching cutters and I'm pretty well lost. Can anyone recommend something to me? The number of brands, sizes, speeds is pretty overwhelming. I'm in the process of upgrading my production printer and that is EXPENSIVE so my budget for a cutter is pretty limited. Is it possible to get something decent for $800 or less? It doesn't have to sing and dance, just do a basic job.

    Thanks in advance!
     
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