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Signs Win in a Route

(May 2017) posted on Tue May 09, 2017

Dimensional signs broaden offerings and sales margins.

By Mark Kissling

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“We had sold a job in ¼-in. brass before we had our first machine delivered and were able to wor kon a real job with the trainer beside us,” recalled Dan Hansen, CEO of D.H. Signs of the Times Enterprises Inc. (Victoria, BC, Canada), of the way his company started routing signs. Hansen had carefully planned his “route” to this point; his keen attention to details aided him as much in his router investment as it does in the intricate signs his company designs and fabricates today.

A router can mill textures, inlays and custom-shaped letters, as well as provide precision cutting for multiple pieces of a substrate to fit together accurately. In addition, a router can countersink, drill holes, cut out shapes and mill the background away for a “relief” or 3D appearance. Finally, all of this – according to Hansen –can be done at the same time, a huge savings in production. Hansen decides to use a router whenever 3D or intricate details are required, and estimates that 70% of all signs his company produces are routed.

If you are contemplating entry to the routed sign market and you missed Chris and Kathi Morrison’s excellent intro, “CNC Routers” (see ST Feb. 2017, pg. 30), please read it. (Also, for more details about carving itself, see “Strictly Commercial: Big Cat Comin’ at You” on pg. 48.)

Signs of the Times Enterprises routes urethane, plastics, aluminum and wood. In 2016, they produced a “dimensional mural” of artwork by Connie Watts for the M’akola Development Society building, four stories of residential units and office space. “The idea of placement was to elevate different pieces off the wall at different elevations and to add some dimensions,” Hansen said. High-contrast colors for the background and a clear anodized aluminum plate on top accomplished the dimensionality. For this, like many of their jobs, they rode their workhorse, a Pacer 4008 ATC router from AXYZ Intl.


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