Sign Maintenance

A sign being maintained by skilled sign maintenance specialistsOnce installed, signs are subject to the effects of the ageing of time-limited components and wear and tear imposed by weather. Sign maintenance is designed to mitigate these and other effects and so keep sign performing optimally.

Sign maintenance can be managed on a needs-based per-incident intervention basis, or in a planned fashion which sees a crew attend the sign and then perform works required to replace aged components, clean standing structures and make good any damage.

Sign maintenance will be required in situations where damage has been incurred, for example a breakage caused by high winds or by vandalism. Repair may be effected by replacing parts of the sign known to be damaged or by repair on site where possible.

Signs can experience many modes of failure. More recent signs have reliable LED lighting and so outages caused by the failure of earlier means of illumination are greatly diminished. The accumulation of airborne dirt can impair a sign’s performance and so this represents one of the most common of all service interventions.

Sign are manufactured from materials designed to endure exterior conditions. These materials include plastics, metals and woods. Such materials are often finished with weather resisting coatings including paints and so resist exterior conditions. If kept in good repair, a sign may last twenty-five years or much longer. Signs that are allowed to deteriorate without sign maintenance may require replacement or total refurbishment and a newly commissioned sign installation.

When a sign is sold, its manufacturer may approach the subject of a maintenance programme with the customer commissioning the sign’s production. A sign maintenance programme may achieve more than simply keeping the sign in operation. It will ensure that the sign performs optimally and so favourably halos the brand of business it is working hard to promote. On that basis alone, sign maintenance is seen by may as good value.

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Surface Restoration

Di-Noc wood grain wrapping film - Close up Surface RestorationSurface restoration techniques, materials and technologies are capable of transforming existing surfaces, extending their useful life, or of bringing areas when excessive wear has taken place back to a new or near new state.

Paint is among the most common of surface restoration media. Applied typically by brush or by spraying, paint covers the underlying substrate, resists further weathering and can look attractive. A surface that is textured will have the texture show through the applied paint layer. Detailed preparation is known to mitigate the effects of texture show-through but does increase costs and lead-times.

Varnishes and other protective coatings have use in surface restorations and are known to impart remarkable durability. Varnishes can impart a colour or accentuate the underlying material’s structure, for example wood grains.

Applied materials such as rigid sheets of phenolic materials provide work surfaces that resist weathering and the action of wear from repeated contact. Such material can be costly and disruptive to install.

Modern surface restoration materials are filmic in composition, for example, 3M Di-Noc. These materials typically feature a specialist pressure sensitive adhesive, and are possessed of a high degree of conformability so they can negotiate irregular surfaces.

In manufacture, filmic materials can be both embossed and printed. This means they can very closely approximate other materials in look and feel. Wood effects are among the finishes known having a convincing look and a textured feel also.

Applied filmic product are extremely durable, have a good feel in the hand and are appealing to look at. Once applied, their maintenance is as simple as a wipe over with a suitable solution of soap and they typically resist staining well.

By using applied surface restoration materials, costly removal of structures can be avoided and better use made of resources. Installing filmic products in particular results in only minimal disruption.

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Temporary Hoarding Graphics

Hoarding Graphics Access PointTemporary hoardings fitted with temporary hoarding graphics are now commonly employed to physically exclude passers-by from work sites in shopping centres, to obscure the view of works and to turn an otherwise empty retail space into something looking more like a business in waiting.

In shopping centres, churn in a centre’s tenant roster often means that rows of occupied premises are punctuated with empty ones. This can spoil the impression of a shopping centre overall and so it is now common practice to erect a temporary hoarding in front of such empty units.

Temporary hoarding graphics commonly feature a design that resembles a shop interior. This interior may promote the trade or business of an incoming tenant or the brand of the shopping centre itself.

The structure supporting the temporary hoarding graphics may, within it, feature an access door providing a way into the premises behind for construction staff engaged in shop-fitting, electrical installation works , the installation of shopping centre signs or other building trades. The hoarding provides a barrier between the site and the public.

Hoarding Graphics used as backdropTemporary hoarding graphics are typically made from digitally printed self adhesive vinyl. Such material is easy to apply to the hoarding construction and relatively inexpensive. The expected life of temporary hoarding graphics is usually measured in months and both installation and removal dates can be planned with some precision. Installation of temporary hoarding graphics in malls and in shopping centres is usually undertaken when the premises are closed to the public for safety and the efficient operation of the surrounding retail space.

The potential of temporary hoarding graphics as a medium for out of home advertising has not been lost on brands and those with events or places to promote. However, the fact that the shopping centre owner is effectively a media broker means that such spaces will not be used to promote anything contrary to their interests.


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Vehicle Livery

Can graphics can span several vehicle panelsVehicle Livery broadly describes a class of graphics that are applied to vehicles, such as vans, busses and trucks, primarily with the intention of advertising brands or promoting the commercial interest of the vehicles’ owners or operators. Vehicle Livery is typically produced using specialist wide-format printing hardware, vinyl cutting plotters or a combination of the two.

A minimal Vehicle Livery might comprise nothing more than an arrangement of cut and applied lettering in a given style or colour, or a much more elaborate design with printed elements including pictures of product or complex matter that could not be rendered in a single colour.

The medium used to produce a Vehicle Livery is, most commonly, self-adhesive vinyl. Such vinyl might have properties that make it conformable so that it can cover the complex surfaces of the vehicle contours and accommodate changes in direction curves’ radii. One such material is Metamark MD-X. This material is receptive to print and can be easily cut so it can easily fulfil the need to produce the elements of a Livery.

Limitations in materials and imaging technologies once imposed limits on the practical extent to which a Vehicle Livery can cover a given vehicle. Today’s technologies remove this limitation meaning the every panel surface can convey a message, display a picture or have its colour changed.Van graphics even work on the roof of a van

Using vehicle body colour as an element of Livery is a growing practice. A vehicle, for example white van, can be totally covered in a corporate colour, for example a particular green, and have the further elements of the livery, lettering for example, applied on top of the new colour. When the vehicle lease expires, the Vehicle Livery can be removed leaving a pristine van underneath. This achieves higher residual value in the vehicle.

Vehicle Livery is available to suit all budgets and so represents a very practical, cost effective means of broadcast promotion. Typically, brands use Livery as an identity continuation, livery can also promote a sense of place.

Recently, devices such as QR codes, links to websites and social media accounts have been used to further connect the observer with the promoter’s livery.


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Vinyl Application

Vinyl Lettering being applied by a vinyl application specialistVinyl application is the process of applying signs and graphic that are made from printed or cut vinyl material to a variety of substrate materials or structures. It is a craft-based art involving manual dexterity and other such skills.

Vinyl is typically self-adhesive and so readily adheres to the substrate or surface to which it is applied. Skilled application is however essential if a reliable end product is to result.

The most demanding of all vinyl application techniques is popularly known as wrapping and the result of its practice is a so-called wrap. Most commonly used for vehicle branding, wraps cover most of the available panels of a vehicle. Vinyl is supplied in flat sheets and rolls and so must be elongated and stretched if it is to accommodate the complex surfaces of a vehicle. This is achieved thanks to the skill of the person undertaking the vinyl application.

The polar opposite of wrapping sees flat printed vinyl sheeting being applied to flat substrates to result in flat signs and other graphics. Such applications are simple to visualise and moderately skilled vinyl applicators can accomplish them. A good finish is judged by an absence of any marking to the printed graphic and a totally bubble-free lay.

Vinyl Application - Completed GraphicVinyl application is subject to weather conditions when exterior signs are being produced. Vinyl does not adhere reliably to surfaces that are cold and so temperatures must be observed. Vinyl will tolerate application to wet surfaces subject to any entrapped liquid inclusions being forced out during the application process using a tool known as a squeegee.

Once a vinyl sign has been applied its service life will be dictated by the rating of the vinyl used. Poorly applied signs and graphics will experience many modes of failure before the material itself expires. The craft based skills practiced as a basis for vinyl application ensure that signs last.

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Vinyl Lettering

Vinyl Lettering being applied by a skilled installerVinyl lettering is today probably the most commonly encountered medium used to depict the lettering used in signs and graphics. The vinyl used is typically of an advanced formulation free from phthalates and chromium, and is produced by the means of casting, cylinder-casting and by calendering.

Vinyl lettering is produced using machines known as cutting plotters. A sheet, web or roll of vinyl is loaded into such a cutting plotter and a design sent to the plotter by a computer causes the plotter’s cutting knife and the loaded roll of vinyl to move in relation to each other in a fashion ordained to describe the outlines of letters.

The material is removed from the cutting plotter once the design is executed and then undergoes a process known to those skilled in the art as weeding. Weeding removes unwanted vinyl matter from the roll or sheeting to leaved discrete indicia, or lettering, upon the sheet.

Vinyl is available to signs and graphics producers for making vinyl lettering in a very wide variety of colours and finishes. Manufacturers such as 3M, Avery, and Metamark are known to provide such materials.

Vinyl Lettering - Completed GraphicColoured vinyl materials are coloured in the mass of the vinyl and so can be used to produced vinyl lettering which is adhered to glass. The lettering can be cut in a mirrored image fashion so as to be applied inside glass and be visible in a right-reading fashion from the outside.

Vinyl letters can be produced in a range of sizes. Practical considerations limit the size of vinyl lettering from about eight millimetres to many metres tall. Printing can substitute for cut vinyl lettering if these parameters or other considerations are exceeded.

Once applied, vinyl letters can be conveniently removed, unlike painted lettering. This makes it ideal for every form of signing from window graphics to vehicles liveries and more.

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Wall Coverings

A wall covering in a car park Wall coverings, in the context of digital printing, comprise printed materials designed to be applied to walls in the manner of wallpaper, but typically feature special pressure sensitive adhesives which need no water to activate them. Application of wall coverings or “hanging” them is, therefore, a simple undertaking and relatively trouble-free.

Wall coverings may be used in domestic situations, for example in bedrooms and have been for years. A design printed upon the material, such as a pattern, colour or picture, can then be used to impart a decorative effect to the bedroom. This decorative effect, because the material is digitally printed, can be of any design desired.Vinyl graphic custom wall covering

Wall coverings are useful in public spaces and places. Heavy-duty materials are known that resist the effects of pedestrian traffic. Commonly used in libraries, hospitals and other buildings with significant footfall, wall coverings for public spaces can be printed with decorative effects or useful information, for example directions as in a “wayfinding” scheme.

Wall Graphics - SchoolBusinesses have many applications for custom printed papers and coverings. For example, a restaurant specialising in a regional cuisine can display upon suitably printed wall coverings pictures of the region, its wines and its foods. Menus can be displayed in similar fashion and ambience enhancing designs are possible.

Because the materials are made using “digital printing,” the content can be entirely bespoke in nature. Pictures can be featured for example in a mural-like display. Custom designed patterns are possible. Even user-created designs can be accommodated working with anything for reference from old photographs to physical objects like a treasured toy for example.Vinyl Graphic wall covering in a restaurant

The materials used for the manufacture of decorative papers and coverings can have a pronounced embossed pattern or texture associated with them. For example a sand-like finish suggests an exterior paint-like quality. Wood grains are known and other useful surface effects are readily available.

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Wall Graphics

Wallpaper Mural Corridor ViewWall Graphics represent an attractive means of transforming any expanse of wall-space, inside or out, permanently or temporarily, and in domestic, commercial or public spaces. Applied wall graphics can depict a design or pattern, a picture such as a mural, or a colour or printed texture. Unlike wall coverings, such as wallpaper, that are typically produced using printing technology which require that a design repeats at intervals, digitally printed wall graphics do not have such constraints.

Wall Graphics are produced using digital printing technology, often a wide format inkjet printer. Able to print wall covering materials over a metre wide, these printers produce photographic resolution output. The origination that ultimately drives the printer is digital too. This means that no silkscreens, lithographic plates, flexographic stereos, or engraved gravure rollers are needed and the corresponding costs are avoided. Volume driven economics are changed by digitally printing wall graphics too. Low volume are practical and affordable.

Material species are know for producing digitally printed Wall Graphics which are very similar to those materials known in the production of conventionally printed wallpapers and wall coverings. Most digitally printed wall graphics utilise material species featuring pressure sensitive adhesives and so require no liquids or pastes in order to apply them.Wallpaper Mural Design

Being free of the constraints imposed by legacy printing technologies means that the content printed upon modern wall graphics can comprise practically any subject matter. For example, an agency selling dwellings could have a wall of its premises dedicated to a map of the locality. Similarly, a theme drawing on childhood could be used in a child’s bedroom. Restaurants could have ambience enhancing landscapes, schools elements of curriculum material.

Applied graphics can, in commercial settings, be used for highly impactful display of data on a temporary basis. Results for a sales meeting, or infographics for example. Adhesives are known that support the clean and complete removal of applied material used in such applications.

Graphic designs for walls are often promoted by their producers and enabling the display of anything the customer is capable of imagining. This frames the subject well. Such versatility is only amplified further when it is considered that any wall or surface inside or out is potential a space that digitally printed wall coverings could transform.


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