Knowledge Base Topics: (scroll down for each topic)
Vinyl Installation
Magnetics Care
Letter Size / Visible Distance
Design Tips
Materials Descriptions / Term Definitions



Quick Vinyl Application Tips....

  • Do not apply in cold weather - adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
  • Do not apply in extreme heat, apply in the shade - vinyl will get very soft and stretch.
  • Do not use alcohol to apply - it will destroy the adhesive.
  • Do not use ice scraper on the sticker/decal - may lift or break pieces off..
  • Do not touch the adhesive backing - oils from your skin will prevent sticking.
  • Do not point high pressure car wash nozzle at the edges of the sticker/decal for a long time - may lift or break pieces.
  • Do not allow harsh chemicals or petroleum products to ever contact vinyl - especially digital prints!!!!!
  • Car washes with mild soaps are safe.
  • Before application make sure there is no wax or rainx products on the surface - adhesive may stick but will lift easily.
  • Don't apply wax over graphics, especially if the wax contains any petroleum distillates. 

Basic Vinyl Installation Instructions:   GeneralInstallationInstructions.pdf

Vinyl Decal Removal:

  1. Never scrap vinyl - damage of underlying surfaces will occur
  2. Begin by carefully heating one corner of the marking with a blow dryer, heat lamp, hot water or heat gun until warm to the touch. Pick up and lift that area you just heated (use a razor or scrapper carefully only on glass surfaces). Slowly begin pulling back the decal, at less than a 90 degree angle. Continue applying heat to the area just before the area that is being removed.
  3. Once you have removed the marking, check to make sure that all of the adhesive residue has been removed. Remaining residue may be removed by using Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or an adhesive remover such as GooGone.

 


Magnetic Sign Care and Use Tips....

Help My Magnetic Sign Blew Off.......This is one of the most common complaints that we hear about magnetic signs.  All of the time, this is caused by applying the sign to a dirty surface, applying a dirty sign, or applying the sign while it is cold.

Magnetic material becomes stiff and relatively inflexible when it is cold.  When the sign is applied while it is cold and stiff, it does not properly grip the vehicle surface.  Take a trip down the highway at high speed, and you could wind up losing your sign.

First and foremost, never apply your magnetic sign cold! It's ok to put the magnetic sign on in cold weather, but the sign itself must be warm.  That means you must store your magnetic signs in a warm place during cold weather or you must take the time to warm up your magnetic signs before applying them to your vehicle.  You can use your vehicles heater to warm up the signs before applying them.  Start up your car and turn on the heat.  After the cars starts to generate heat, place your magnet's in the car under a heat vent for about 15 to 20 minutes. Assuming your car has good heat, that should do it. Make sure the sign feels soft and flexible before applying it.

Also, the magnetic rips and tears very easily when it is cold.   Always be careful when handling a cold magnetic sign.

Always apply a clean sign to a clean surface. It's a good idea to wipe off the area you will be placing the magnetic sign on with a soft damp cloth to remove any loose dirt that might be there.  It's also a good idea to wipe off the back side of the sign too.  If both surfaces are clean, then you should have no problems getting a good strong bond between the magnetic and the vehicle.

It's also very important to store your magnet's flat.  Don't toss them in the trunk or the back of your pick up truck and pile other stuff up on top of them.  Magnetic signs tend to take the form of whatever they are up against.  If yours is in a folded, crumpled heap under a bunch of junk in your trunk or pick up bed, your 're going to have trouble flattening them out next time you want to use them.  If they are not flat when you apply them, they will not properly grip the vehicle surface.

Follow these simple tips and you should get years of service from a set of our magnetic signs.

  • Apply your magnetic signs warm
  • Apply clean magnetic's to a clean surface
  • Always store magnet's flat

Basic Vinyl Installation Instructions:   VehicleMagCare.pdf


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Design Tips for Effective Custom Signage Design:
1. Keep it visible and legible.
Often times, LESS really is MORE! In other words, by keeping your message short, your sign is easier to see and read at a glance.

2. Save the details for the sale.
Don't attempt to sell them with information on the sign - save that information until they are in your business.

3. Keep it simple.
The proper
sign design is critical to its effectiveness.
Crowding the sign with too many words or lines of text makes it impossible to read from a distance. Use as few words as possible so your signage is legible. Fewer words are better, and three to five words are optimal for quick readability.

4. Grab attention.
There should be something about the sign that will reach out and command attention. Ideally, the first read should be a large pictorial graphic or your company logo, but it can also be large dominating text.

5. Your sign is your handshake.
Your sign is your handshake with the buying public, and first impressions are lasting impressions. Your sign must project the image you want the public to have of you. People will judge the inside of your business by how it looks on the outside.

6. Use new technologies.
With today's internet based technology, you no longer have to accept the limitations of what a sign company can design for you. With the design platform, "Signs In A Flash!", you have the ability to signs with more effective designs t delivering their owner's messages while also becoming more cost effective. The new online sign design "wizard" allows you to change the message on your sign as easily as you change your mind.

7. Appeal to impulse buyers.
Many owners mistakenly think of a sign as merely a device that identifies the business. What they fail to realize is that 55% of all retail sales are a result of impulse buys. People see, shop and buy. If a sign is ineffective, it can actually cost the business owner more in lost sales than the entire cost of a good sign.

8. Aesthetics and suitability.
Your sign must be attractive and appropriate for your type of business.

9. Keep it near the viewer.
Put the sign as close to your viewers as possible.

10. Make sure your sign is conspicuous.
Your message competes in a complex environment. A passerby must be able to differentiate your sign from its surrounding environment.

11. Avoid obstructions.
Make certain the sign can be viewed without obstruction from any source. Drive past your business from all directions to help determine the most visible location for your sign.

12. Use pictures or graphics.
It should have an attractive pictorial graphic or company logo that clearly grabs a viewer's attention first.

13. Make it memorable.
It should make your products or services, and your location, easy to remember.

14. Make it enticing.
Your sign should make a potential customer want to stop and see what's inside the business.

15. Consider colors carefully.
Too many colors take away from the quick readability of the sign. Again, stay simple. Make sure colors are contrasting. Yellow on white is not readable, whereas black on white is very readable. (Refer to a color chart or wheel for best contrasting colors.) If you have several colors in a graphic, stay away from multi-colored lines of text or words (they will compete with the colors in your graphic). Black text is better.

16. Consistent visual image.
Ideally, the design and the colors of your building should reinforce the design and colors of your sign (or vice versa). Color is probably the easiest and most cost-effective device for this coordination of design for business identification.

17. Avoid clutter.
"White-space" is the surface area of a sign's face that is left uncovered by either text or graphics. The proper amount of white space is just as important for quick readability as are graphics, text and colors. 30% to 40% of the sign's face area should be left as white space for optimal readability.

18. Place it to be seen.
An attractive and well-designed sign will only be effective if it is placed in a location that optimizes its visibility to passers-by. Your goal should be to make the sign unavoidable to the passing viewer. In summary... Your sign will do many things for your business, from creating the initial impression to providing the message to new and potential customers about your products and services. A sign does this through a combination of light, size, text, construction, placement and more. Keep these design tips in mind as you design an effective sign for your business. 




Brief Material Descriptions / Term Definitions....

PSV
Pressure sensative vinyl; rear adhesive vinyl which adheres when pressure is applied.
RTA
Ready-To-Apply; vinyl graphics prepared pre-spaced with premask ready for the customer to install.
High Performance/Cast Vinyl
2mil premium vinyl intended for long term exterior use; typically 5-8 years life; used for computer assisted cut vinyl & digital printed vinyl
Intermediate/Calendered Vinyl
3mil vinyl intended for shorter term exterior & longer term interior use; typically 1-3years life; used for computer assisted cut vinyl often on banners & various interior projects 
Banner
Most common vinyl with a nylon scrim; 10, 13, 16 & 18 oz. weight for shorter to long term use; Size can also impact desired weight for durability; glossy or matte finishes; one or two sided applications; can be decorated with cut spot color vinyls or can be digital full color printed; may choose hems, grommets, D-rings, webbing, or pole pockets; many uses and versatile functions and mounting options; can also be a variety of special materials such as sheer polyester, cotton, canvas and  nylons which may be embroidered, screen printed or dye sublimated as banners, backdrops or flags.
Corrugated Plastic/Coroplast
Corrugated plastic, also known by the brand name Coroplast®, is a versatile, extruded twin-wall plastic sheet that comes in a variety of basic colors; resembles plastic cardboard; lightweight and cost-effective, it is ideal for a wide variety of indoor and short-term outdoor uses; often used with wire stakes/frames for yard signs as business advertisments and political signage; common yard sign blank is 24"x18", but can be cut to desired sizes up to a full 4'x8' sheet in 1/8" & 1/2" thicknesses. It is primarily waterproof, but UV deterioration occurs.
PVC/Sintra
Expanded PVC (polyvinyl chloride), also known as foam PVC or designer plastic, Komatex® and Sintra®, helps you project a high-quality, professional image; Medium-weight and durable, expanded PVC can be installed and transported easily and is great for long-term indoor or short-term outdoor use; available in a variety of basic colors; thicknesses of .060", .125", .25", .5", .75" & 1"; its semi-gloss finish reduces glare; can be cut easily into shapes, so you can create custom applications; excellent for all interior signage, but warpage can occur on exterior uses, scratching can become an issue and is only semi-waterproof.
Foam Core
Foam core board is made by adhering two sheets of paper, somewhat resembling poster board,  to both sides of a foam core; Foam core board is lightweight yet sturdy; ideal for all indoor mounting applications; foam board is clay-coated for an extra smooth surface; comes in a variety of colors and is well suited to trade show applications and many other indoor uses. Foam board accepts ink jet and full colour printing very well. Standard foam core board is an economical product for temporary and short-term use. 
Gatorfoam
Gatorfoam is a laminated panel with a core of extruded polystyrene and a face made of resin impregnated (melamine) wood fiber veneers, similar to foam core, but many times stronger; good interior and exterior panel; can be routered into dimensional letters and can be painted; can also be mica laminated for a sophisticated look; strong yet lightweight.
Styrene/Polystyrene
Economical thin plastic material with a smooth matte surface; sheet  form 4'x8', easily cut to custom sizes; thicknesses from .010" to .125";  great for interior signage and short-term exterior use; rigid material and becomes brittle in cold temperatures; yellows outside in 12-18 months; very good ink  adhesion; hangs straight and nice appearance; can be direct digital printed.
Acrylic/Polycarbonate
Acrylic is an extremely versatile plastic sheet with a glossy finish; commonly known brand name of Plexiglas®; is the perfect choice when you want signs with a sophisticated, high-tech look. excellent UV characteristics, good durability and available in a variety of colors, acrylic is often used for illuminated, architectural, tradeshow and point-of-purchase signs; common sheet sizes 4'x8' or smaller; may require added thickness to obtain strength, especially on larger faces.
Polycarbonate is an extremely strong versatile plastic sheet with a glossy finish; commonly known brand name of Lexan®; is the perfect choice for larger size units or when higher impact and flex strength is required; good UV characteristics, excellent durability and available in a variety of colors, Polycarb is often used for larger illuminated signs both flat and formed pan faces; common sheet or rolled sizes 4'x8' to 6'x100'; may require added thickness to obtain strength, especially on larger faces; can have specialty coatings applied for scratch resistance.
Acrylic is less cost and less UV yellowing. Polycarb is more costly and yellows sooner, but much stronger. Both are waterproof.
Aluminum
Lightweight, yet sturdy, sheet aluminum is a great choice for outdoor signs; variety of thicknesses .040", .063", .080", .125", .25" and .5"; commonly sheet form up to 5'x10' and common parking type sign sizes 12"x16", 18"x24", etc.; comes in a variety of colors, and with a baked enamel finish, is highly durable, weathering the elements without rusting; used on a variety of signage faces/panels and dimensional signage such as letters. Other shapes and extrusion forms are also used in sign fabrication, such as illuminated cabinets, frames, and posts
Dibond/MaxMetal
Dibond aluminum composite made of two strong sheets of .012" aluminum with a thermoplastic core; 2mm, 3mm & 4mm thicknesses, most common is 3mm about 1/8" thick;  factory baked polyester paint most common color is white, but also comes in several other basic colors; 4'x8' sheets; very versitile material and long lasting interior and exterior,; great alternative to aluminum , 50% stronger, for rigid wall mounting, normal life 5-7 yrs.
Alumalite/AlumaCorr
Alumalite/Alumacorr are strong aluminum composites made of two strong sheets of .012" aluminum with a high density, corrugated polyallomer (CPA) core that will not swell, corrode, rot, wick water, or delaminate even under prolonged water exposure; 1/4" &  3/8" thicknesses, factory baked polyester paint most common color is white or black, but also comes in several other basic colors; 4'x8' sheets & white v5'x10'; extremely strong material and long lasting exterior; great alternative to aluminum or wood composites for free standing, normal life 5-7 yrs; use caution when tightening screws to avoid colapsing panel.
Omega/Luster Board/MDO
MDO is made with a high-quality paper saturated with phenolic waterproof resin solids and overlaid on exterior-grade plywood panels; typically requiriing priming and paint.
Omega Signboard is a high-quality laminated panel board constructed of premium-grade plywood, fully sanded and finished with .015" white vinyl surface; provides durability and weather-ability for signs and displays; very strong is cost effective and long lasting. 
Luster Board is a high-quality laminated hardwood panel board constructed of premium-grade plywood, fully sanded and finished with .015" aluminum surface; extremely rigid and strong and provides durability and weather-ability for signs and displays. Omega Signboard is cost effective and long lasting.
All are available in 1/2" & 3/4" thicknesses; 4'x8' sheets; very good choices for free standing exterior signs; very durable and good windloads; suggest plastic trim to reduce water into edges; normal avg exterior life of 5-7 yrs.
HDU
HDU is short for high-density urethane foam; Unlike other foam with which you may have experience, it consists of more solid and less air; using urethane as a base means that it is impervious to all petroleum-based solvents, even in it's "raw" state, it is completely waterproof and unaffected by climatic changes; very workable and can be sanblasted, sanded or routed with unlimited textures and shapes; because of it's waterproof characteristics, moisture does not get under the painted surface reducing risk of premature failure; Extremely long lasting material; available in 15 & 18 lb densities; 3/4" to 2.5" sheets; 4'x8';  great for carved and cut out letters/logos, only negative is strength and ability to use fasteners. 
Yard Signs
short term, tempoary signs used to promote or advertise a business or event; also common political signs; can be many sizes up to 4'x8', but most common 18"x24"; most commonly 1/8" coroplast, but can be plastic bags or polyboard fold overs; used with wire or wood stakes into ground and inserted into sign; quantities less than 25 pieces are vinyl and greater than 25 are screenprinted; costs drop dramatically as quantity increases; cost also varies based on 1 or 2 sides graphics and number of colors being used.
Site Sign
Temporary signage used to identify a building site project or rennovation; provides keep information such as what is being built including name and possibly achitectural rendering, contractors, general contractor contact info, and expected construction timing; often free standing unit with wood or steel posts.
Illuminated Cabinet/Light Box
An interior or exterior cabinet or box which is generally constructed from aluminum extrusion or covered angle iron structure which contains internal lighting to illuminate a sign face; sizes vary from large to small, literally from 1-1000 sq ft  to ; thicknesses range from 2" to 48", common is 7", 9" or 12"; can be pole, monument or wall mounted; may have pan, flat, aluminum with push through letters or flexible faces; normally rectangular or square, but can be contoured; lighting most often is flourescent or LED.
Dimensional Letters
Any lettering or logo which creates a true 3 dimensional appearance; hollow back or solid core; various materials, such as, foamcore, gatorfoam, pvc, plastics, acrylic, aluminum, stainless steel, brass or bronze, often depending upon interior or exterior use and desired appearance;  letters may be painted or plated and may have a secondary laminated surface such as mica or metals to provide a professional appearance at a lesser cost alternative; letters may be backlit with LED lighting for a unique appearance; some plastic cast, formed or injected letters may include a lifetime warranty if installed by ViZual Express. 

Channel Letters
Illuminated dimensional letters that are generally 5" deep most commonly constructed with aluminum returns, acrylic faces and gemlite trim; several methods of illuminating letters, such as,  openface, facelit, backlit, combination lighting; direct or raceway mounted; neon or led lighting; interior and exterior applications.
Flat Face/Push Thru - Pan Face/Embossed - Flex Face
Typically face types for backlit illuminated cabinets with lighted decoration or changeable copy lines:
Flat faces are typically 1st surface decorated; often with transluscent vinyl; generally for smaller sized cabinets; cabinet thickness should be on the thick side, greater than 8", to avoid obvious bulb lines; most common are acrylic or polycarbonate between 1/8" and 1/4" thick.
Push thru face is normally also a flat face made of aluminum; the face has the respective letters routed out and acrylic or polycarbonate letters of the same size cut for insertion thru the aluminum face cut outs; provides a unique appearance that the letters are illuminated only, not the entire face; can vary appearance with transluscent vinyl, thickness of letters, amount of push thru and lighting brightness.
Pan Faces are formed faces for a cabinet that raises about 2"; can be 1st or 2nd surface decoration with transluscent vinyl or paint; the added depth gives the face greater strength and also allows for great light diffusion to reduce bulb lines; works great with small to medium sized cabinets and thinner cabinets for a nice appearance.
Embossed pan faces add an additional raised area on the face, maybe letters or logo, which creates more 3 dimensional effect on the face and draws attention more to that repective area of the face; it also adds more strength to the face with the additional forming. 
Flex faces are similar to semi-transluscent very heavy weight banners; normally 1st surface transluscent vinyl decoration; very durable for large size cabinets and can be seamed for extreme applications; requires a unique retaining system to allow for tensioning of the face.

Monument Sign
A ground mounted sign which has many varieties of constructions & appearances; Often constructed from aluminum, masonry products, such as brick or stone, a variety of synthetic textured products or EPS foam with poly coating; may be internally or externally illuminated; can be adapted to LED message centers; MANY application and style options.
Pylon/Pole Sign
Normally a freestanding sign with single or multiple poles; can utilize a variety of covers to hide appearance of pole construction; often has some form of illuminated cabinet and/or LED message center; poles can be telescoping in size depending on height and wind load requirements.
Post & Panel
Constructed of metal, vinyl or treated wood with 2 to 3 posts and some form of sign panel between or across posts; Normally not an illuminated unit; inexpensive day time signage alternative that can have a distinct and lasting appearance or can be a standard rectangular shape; good common panel uses are alumalite, Omega panel, MDO or fabricated bent aluminum.
LED Message Center
called various names, such as electronic message board, digital message sign or scrolling message sign; both interior or exterior units available; use LED's which are light emitting diodes; can be monochrome (single color) (red or amber), three color or full color; options of text only or full animation capabilities including movie/video clips; pixel pitch is distance between clusters which provides clarity, sharpness or resolution of the unit; 16mm size is very clear with high resolution while 35mm is large with much lower resolution; lower pixel pitch for closer clearer viewing and higher pixel pitch for farther distance and text only uses; sizes vary depending on use and viewing distances; many combinations of software and communication methods for these units; can be incorporated in many sign configurations or even as stand alone units on a building.
LED versus Neon
NEON  LED 
 Less inital cost, but higher maintenance costs  Higher inital costs, but lower maintenance costs
 greater fire risk as lighting ages (7500-15000V)  Safer for fire & maintenance (12-24VDC)
 avg 10-50,000 hours  avg 25-100,000 hours
 higher energy consumption (2-6X)  lower energy consumption power supply 1A
 wider 360deg illumination  less viewing angle (90-180 deg)
 wider variety of colors  Limited color options and colors are more costly
 less durable, easier broken  more durable, not easily broken
 Not Eco Green  Eco Green
The LOOK, people love the traditional neon look evolving look, rope/modules - can be HOT spots
 More difficult & costly install/repair (direct mount many holes)  Easier install, less costly (less holes in building)       




























Our opinion or if we choose for our own sign, it would certainly be LED hands down. We really like the look of RGB leds with controllers. I also prefer the longevity and economics as a long term cost of ownership point of view much better. While neon certainly has it's place, on most projects we tend to go toward the technology of LED.

Digitizing
the process utilized to convert a picture or artwork into a sewable thread pattern used by computerized embroidery machines; common stitches are run, satin & fill (tatami); common file formats we use are .dst, .U00, .emb & .cnd; 99% done in-house with our own software; saved to directly load to our embroidery machines.  
Embroidery
process of using computerized machines to sew or stitch lettering or logo's directly to garments and apparel, such as polo's, jackets, shirts, hats, blankets, bags, pants and coats; can also be used for patches or applique; two machines used in-house for our embroidery; elegant more professional appearance, but more costly than screen printing.
Screen Print
the process of directly applying inks to garmets, apparel or signs to achieve your lettering or logo requirements; min quantity of 12 pcs on apparel and 25 pcs on signs; economical method of printing information on signs & shirts for promotions, customers or employees; requires a screen fee for the process; much greater durability t