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Head Turners

Attention-grabbing Trends in Signage



Signs Defined

  • Styrene: Styrene is a lightweight rigid plastic substrate that provides strength, flexibility, and durability.
  • Celtic cloth: This is a fabric with a pure white base that assures excellent color rendition for customers who need exact PMS colors.
  • Adhesive vinyl: Adhesive vinyl is an all-purpose, adhesive graphic plastic material that appears seamless when applied in sections.
  • Flag cloth: Flag cloth is sheer fabric that can be viewed from both sides. It is perfect for the designer who wants to convey a message, but not block the view of the customer.
  • Banding: In lightboxes, banding refers to the hot and cold spots created by the fluorescent lights and the distance between them.
  • CNC router: CNC routers are computerized cutting machines that use computer and software systems to create shapes and cut images from metal, wood, plastics, etc.

When Apple Computer wanted to create an attention-getting welcome for Apple Store customers, they went to EXPOTRANS, headquartered in Lake Forest, CA, who developed innovative spinner lightboxes to greet customers as they walked in the door. The spinner lightboxes added to the store’s elegant architecture, and also served as a form of advertising to build brand recognition.

Signage is the first component of a building that meets the eye of the customer, and is one of the most critical tools in successful marketing. Signage creates the welcome for a customer, and comprises the visual image and impression that a visitor receives and retains. A well-designed sign will capture the attention of the reader, and colors, shapes, and messages can be used to make a sign noticeable. Fonts, distortions, shadows, text on curves, and colors all affect the readability and legibility of the sign.

Ultra-wide building banners are a rapidly growing area of signage because of their ability to garner maximum customer attention. Wide-format signage is currently a $7.6 billion market, and is expected to grow between nine and 15 percent per year. PRESSVU printers can print directly to both rigid and flexible materials, and handle substrates up to 72 inches wide and up to any length.

Newer materials and lighting technologies are allowing thinner lightboxes with different shapes, other than the traditional squares and rectangles. Because of the flexible new materials, lightboxes today can be circular and multi-dimensional.

Lightboxes contribute to the architectural design of buildings because of their beauty and brilliance, and are extremely effective in large public places such as museums, shopping malls, airports, and at retail locations for point-of-purchase advertising and decision-making. Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse stores use large lightbox configurations for their carpet and tile displays nationwide to assist customers with product choices and decisions. Oakley stores feature eye-catching bright logo lightboxes to add new dimension to stores, while also building brand equity and customer recognition.

One of EXPOTRANS’ newest lightboxes features a curved face for a more panoramic perspective. The curved lightbox combines a horizontal or vertical profile with an advanced built-in reflector design that delivers powerful, even illumination and eliminates banding from hot spots and shadows. The all-welded aluminum frame requires no special tools, and the hinged door access allows easy graphic changes and lamp replacement. Curved lightboxes are perfect for long hallways, department stores, airports, shopping malls, restaurants, commercial and hotel lobbies, and other high-traffic interior locations where outstanding visual performance is necessary.

In the past, CNC computerized technology had limited usage due to the prohibitive cost. CNC technology is now more affordable, and it is possible to manufacture free-form lightboxes, kiosks, and menu boards in almost any shape desired by the customer. With high-quality CNC router output, the initial design is done by hand, with computer-cutting, perfect, true curves.

In the past, signage was a relatively stable product, with few major changes. Today, exciting developments in technology and manufacturing are allowing customers more flexibility in signage products.

Rick Farrell is the president and chief executive officer of EXPOTRANS Visual Display Systems Inc. ( and IPG Imaging Professionals Inc. (, headquartered in Lake Forest, CA.


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