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Harford County Signs and Banners Blog

Lighten Up Your Printing Process

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Today’s digital printing advances have brought sign printing out of the dark ages of screen and offset printing and into a whole new world of light – UV light, that is.  UV flatbed printers are offering quicker turn-around, quicker drying and clearer images by using a process that dries simultaneously with the printing.  While the usual printing process allows ink solvents to evaporate into the air, giving off volatile organic compounds, UV printing uses a photomechanical process created through ultraviolet lights.  The lights cause the ink to turn directly from a liquid to a solid.  Not only does the ink dry faster, there is less emission of VOC’s into the environment.

The final product is more vibrant in color and clarity.  Because the ink dries faster, it is automatically prevented from being absorbed into the printing material, leaving the ink dot higher on the sheet.  The ink dots are more colorful and robust because the dots haven’t had time to sink into the material before drying.   The UV digital printing process makes it easier to print on a variety of substances, including plastic or wood.  At the plastic end of the spectrum, the plastic doesn't normally absorb the color, and at the wood end, the ink is usually too quickly absorbed.  Both types of material and those all along the spectrum can benefit from UV printing.  The most successful printing seems to be on uncoated stock, but as the process matures, so will the materials for which it is made.

It’s Spring and the Cruisin’ is Easy

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

As more people come out of their homes and businesses to greet the warmer weather and sunshine, car wraps are a great opportunity for both getting attention and communicating messages.  Car cruises traditionally feature souped up vehicles, refurbished older models, and “hot cars.”  You can get your car noticed with creative, eye-catching wraps.  Not only does the wrap protect the car’s paint, but it updates it to be a fun set of wheels that is truly not your father’s Oldsmobile (or family mini-van as is more likely today).  Aurora Graphics, a leading vehicle wrap company, offers over 16 patterns of camouflage, and anything from patriotic to wild flower scenes.  Get something that reflects your personality.  Be sure to have a professional sign manufacturer do the installation of the wrap for more accurate placement and better results.  While this is not for the faint of heart or wallet – a typical wrap costs about $2,000 – it will keep your car looking newer longer -- it has about a four-year life span.

Plus, if you have a small business, there’s no better time than cruisin’ time, to try mobile advertising.  That $2,000 will go far in advertising ROI.  According to 3M, a manufacturer of materials for vehicle wraps, a little more expensive wrap – at $3,500 -- is worth $130,000 in advertising.  The Transportation Advertising Council estimates that a vehicle wrap generates 30-70,000 impressions per day.  And lest we wonder if anyone will remember seeing this vehicle wrap – the Transportation Advertising Council says mobile ad messages have a 97 percent recall rate.  Ask your signage professional for help in creating graphics and photos that appear seamless on your vehicle.

You can hardly go wrong with a vehicle wrap – whether it’s to protect your paint job or capture attention – it’s cruisin’ season!

Trend-Setting Signs

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring fashions are already at retail, and there’s lots of color.  The Pantone Fashion Color Report for 2013 reports a “balancing act” between dynamic bright colors and neutrals.  Fashionistas want a balance between being classic and being able to express their individuality.  The result is a list of colors with names like Dusk Blue, Grayed Jade, Tender Shoots and Poppy Red.  The Color Report says greens will be big this Spring.  But should you consider using green or something called “Tender Shoots” on your signage?

While fashion is a sign of the times, signs do not have to be in fashionable colors.  They need to be readable.  Following color trends is fine if you’re a fashion retailer.  But if you’re doing vehicle wraps, on-premise signage or trade show banners, you want to look at what people see the best, not what color matches their spring rain coat.  Trendy colors can often be difficult to read when applied to graphic lettering.  The U.S. Sign Council provides a list of the most readable, visible colors for signs, and we didn’t see Grayed Jade or Dusk Blue on it.

For good color visibility, signs should use contrasting colors for the background vs. the foreground lettering.  Combinations like black on yellow, green, red, blue or black on white, brown on yellow or white on red are easy to read.  They are combinations that “pop” off the sign and make you read the message.  Choosing a color combination for your signs should incorporate your company colors.  The text should be some variation of your logo color, provided it is among the typeface colors that are readable and sharp.  If it’s not, consider using black or reverse white on a colored background to prevent introducing too many colors and to make your message very readable.  

Since you’re likely not going to be changing your sign every time the fashions change, choose something that is classic, not trendy.  Set the trend of having a sign that works for you. 

Carve Your Business In Their Memories

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why do you need a sign?  It’s a fair question.  Answers might be: to direct people; to attract people’s attention; to let people know where your business resides; to communicate your product to potential customers.  The reasons businesses need signs are as varied as the businesses themselves.  But the overall reason a business needs a sign is so people remember it.   

People will remember a well-placed and well-designed sign that helps them locate a business.  If they can’t find you because you have poor signage, the result will be a frustrated customer.  They will grouse to your staff, complain to their friends, tarnish your good business reputation.  A custom sign for your business will leave a lasting impression and get the entire experience off on the right foot.

Today’s newest materials for custom signs include High Density Urethane or HDU, a material that is designed to look like wood.  HDU is lighter than wood and more weather resistant, so it requires less maintenance.  It can be painted or stained to give the impression of age or a more beautiful wood finish.  Unlike wood, it is resistant to rot and insect pests, so it will last longer and maintain its characteristics.  HDU material can still be hand-painted in any color, carved to look three-dimensional or gilded with gold or silver.  It still gives the impression of wood, but the material simply makes the sign last longer and look better.  A better looking sign makes a better memory for your customers.  That’s a good reason to have a sign.

Window Perf- Something Other Than Just Advertising

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Did you ever have a problem where the sun just makes it too hot when it comes through the windows?  

Establishments often spend lots of money to install blinds or window cover to help reduce the amount of heat that is coming into a location.  Do you want to reduce the effects of the sun as well as improve your presence with your customers by advertising your business?  Window Perf could be the answer.  Window Perf is a vinyl material that has a percentage of the area punched out to allow light to come through and you to see out.  From the outside you see full color graphics and when looking out from the inside you see the outside world.

Reducing the effects of the sun was the main concern of one of Blue Water Sign's customers.  In the winter months when the angle of the sun is low it shines through the retail entrance of Wockenfuss Candies' new space.  The answer was a combination of window perf and window tint.  A window film that rejects approximately 50% of the total solar energy was used on the primary doors so customers could still see when they approached the store.

Blue Water Signs developed a graphic package with the customer that would both reduce the solar energy entering the retail space as well as make use of valuable advertising space on all other window surfaces around the entrance.  The window perf that was used was a 70/30 (70% solid/30% holes). 

 

The combination reduced the heat transmission so that the candies were not receiving the heat load they had in the past.  Soft and melted chocolates were a thing of the past after the installation.

Window Perf- A Solution for Many Applications

Friday, December 28, 2012

Window perf has become a very popular choice for advertising, not only on vehicles but also for retail spaces and business for a number of reasons.  For those that are not familiar with this material, window perf is a vinyl that has had lots of small holes punched into the material.  It has a black or very dark backing and because of this when applied to a window we can print full color graphics on the face and then apply to the window.  From the outside your customer and the public can see the graphics and from the inside you can still let the sun in see out like you are looking through a screened window.

The difference between what is used for retail spaces and that used for vehicles is the percentage of material to open area created by the holes.  For vehicles most states require that the material be no more than 50% closed or what is often referred to as 50/50.  For retail the material of choice is 70/30 (30% open and 70% solid material to print on).  The retail material can be more vivid due to the amount of ink that can be laid down.

Below are a couple of examples of applied window perf.  Window perf can be a great solution when you have open window space but you don't want to block your view.  Many retailers use window perfs on retail store fronts to keep the heat of the sun out.

Give Blue Water Signs a call to discuss and help you make your blank windows start working for you.

Backwards and Forwards – At A Glance

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Early in 2012, as in most industries, experts gave their predictions on the direction of the signage industry.  While the thoughts were varied, the list of trends most often included an increased prevalence of digital signage, one-way vision window graphics, vehicle wraps and the advancement of large format digital printing.  

Digital signage certainly has grown.  We’re seeing more of it around Harford and Baltimore Counties – both indoors and outdoors.  From health clubs to banks, businesses are learning about the flexibility of digital signage and the advertising benefits it holds.  Maryland sign companies can thank the electronics industry for its ultra-thin, affordable displays created specifically for this market.  We can give credit to computer and switching manufacturers who have also provided easy-to-use packages of hardware and software for creating digital signage content.  Looking forward, this industry will continue to flourish, and become more affordable.

The newest trends in printing have caught the attention of most sign manufacturers.  One-way vision window graphics and large format digital printing are both great advances in sign printing.  The materials used and the crisp, clear images make signs come alive like never before.  We think these two areas will continue to thrive in the coming year as more and more businesses realize the trend.  

Vehicle wraps have also found new markets this year, as predicted.  They’re not just used by the car enthusiast anymore.  They can make your vehicle a moving billboard while protecting the paint at the same time.  The materials used to make the wraps also make the graphics so clear and natural that heads turn no matter where the vehicle goes.

Looking ahead to 2013, we think these areas will continue to grow and Maryland sign manufacturers will bring the newest, high-quality materials to more businesses across the state.

On The Outside Looking In

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You can attract customers passing by your Harford County storefront windows by using a signage technique that has been used for years on vehicles -- one-way vision window graphics.  These custom-made signs advertise your message by adhering to the window, allowing the customer to see the information while “window shopping,” but not allowing them to see into the store.  One-way vision window graphics overcome the pitfalls of a giant poster board or vinyl banner in the window, addressing challenges like darkness in the store and the inability to see out the window.  

How does it work?  Most one-way vision window graphics are made from a type of perforated vinyl – it has small holes throughout the material.  The graphic can be seen clearly on one side – the outside of the window where potential customers roam.  From inside the store, you can look out the window and see clearly what’s happening outside.  In addition, the material is light-filtering, so that daylight comes in the window.  The vinyl also uses a special adhesive that makes it easy to place and moved around, if necessary.  It’s easy to remove and cost-effective, so the graphics or message can change frequently, keeping customers coming back to see what’s new.  

One-way vision window graphics can also be designed for use on trucks, cars or vans.  This is a great way to create a moving billboard for your advertisement and maintain a safe driving environment.  With the perforated window graphics, people can see your message anywhere the vehicle goes, and you can see outside with no barriers or blind spots.  Ask your Maryland sign company for some examples of one-way vision window graphics.

Build Your Company’s Character From Wood

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Custom-carved signs are a solid representation of a company’s image.  If you are a small or medium-sized business that is looking for a classic, updated look to your custom business signs, consider wood.  It is durable and natural-looking, and it gives the perception of strength.  However, if you choose wood, be sure your plans include maintenance.  More common woods like redwood or cedar can be used for signage, but for outdoor signs, this wood tends to get weathered quickly, and show peeling paint.  

One of the more recent advances in wood signage that overcomes some of these challenges is high density urethane, or HDU.  This material is more stable and weather-resistant than natural wood, is lighter weight for easier moving, and it doesn’t peel or blister.  Made from a combination of closed-cell foam and recycled material, HDU resists moisture, rot and insects.  HDU can be sculpted or painted, and can handle copper or gold leaf gilding.  It can be hand-carved to showcase three-dimensional lettering, logos or designs by your custom sign maker.  

HDU can also be used for two-sided hand-carved signs.  Each side is fastened to a center board of marine grade plywood, giving the final product a thickness of 2 ¾ inches or thicker – stable and strong against wind, rain, or physical contact.  Custom designed wood signs last much longer than vinyl or digitally printed signs, and they can be personalized to your needs.  We think they’re well worth the investment, and we’ve been successful with creating many different looks.  Click this link to see some of them and get ideas for your own wood sign.  

Wall Spiders New Super Heroes of Signage

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Like Spiderman, wall spiders are nimble and flexible, scaling your wall with the greatest of ease. You’ve seen these custom signs in Maryland -- they may be life-sized graphics or photos, or curvy lettering snaking around corners. They are versatile and easy to manage. The newest materials allow them to be used to decorate just about any surface in your home or office. They even work on cars - and are great for trade show signage


life-size wall graphic (wall spider)So, if you have an idea for a larger-than-life, realistic-looking image, explore the newest materials and graphics available for wall spiders. From enlarged photos for life-sized images of sports figures, action heroes and animals to creative graphics that beg to be admired, wall spiders give you the flexibility and versatility you need for just about any surface. The fabric-like material can be used on uneven surfaces, and it can be maneuvered easily. It can be wrapped around corners and poles or under doors and window sills. 

Baltimore sign companies like Blue Water Signs are using Photo Tex wall spiders, because they feature a flexible material that feels like fabric, with a peel and stick backing. The special adhesive allows it to be removed easily and reused, no matter how long it’s been in place, and it doesn’t leave a sticky residue on surfaces. It doesn’t rip or wrinkle, making large wall spiders easier to apply as one complete sheet.

company wall graphics - wall spiders by Blue Water Signs in MarylandOutdoors, wall spiders themselves are virtually weather-proof. Ask your custom sign company about the ink source, which can affect the longevity of the product. Liquid lamination may also be recommended for certain solvent inks. The Photo Tex material doesn’t shrink or curl in extreme temperature changes, so your Maryland outdoor signage made from Photo Tex can take you through at least a year or two of local weather changes. Then, when the next sports figure or action hero breaks through, you can change your graphics, too! 



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