Rotating cabinet sign requires unique solution
By Steve Aust
Founded in 1925, Security Signs (Portland, OR) has a longstanding legacy as a prominent sign provider in the Pacific Northwest. When Tom and Carol Keljo purchased the company in 1997, they revitalized it and expanded Security’s repertoire to include monument signs, channel letters, architectural graphics and wayfinding, among others. Under their leadership (son Kevin is now also a part owner), the company has grown from nine employees in 10,000 sq. ft. to a 37-employee shop that occupies a 33,000-sq.-ft. space.
The company primarily designs using CorelDRAW software because it’s more familiar to staff designers, all of whom have 20 years of experience with it. However, Carol also praises Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for superior digital-imaging capabilities, compared to Corel, thus yielding more vibrant colors that better reproduce original artwork. And, Carol has noticed what she terms “stability issues” with Corel X5 and X6 – i.e., frequent screen freezes and crashes.
Predictably, budget is the leading – “or limiting”, she added – factor for most of Security’s projects. Value-engineering is always a goal.
“One of our project manager’s most important jobs is educating a customer about material choices and processes,” Keljo said. “There are plenty of ways for a dimensional sign to be made attractive, yet economical. For example, if your customer wants chrome letters for an interior sign, pre-fabricated letters with a chrome finish would be much more economical than a set of cast-chrome letters, yet still achieve the goal.”
And, customer or landlord specifications, and code mandates for wind load, weight and other factors, may also influence material and production selections.
“A sign’s depth definitely impacts the design process,” she said. “The depth of an electrical sign will impact how we light the sign, how we run electric to it, and where we place the power supplies or transformers. For neon signs, we must have a certain amount of space between the housings, which will establish
a minimum for how deep the sign can be.”
Security fabricates most of its 3-D signs on its MultiCam 3000 CNC router. To prep the router’s files, the shop’s production team uses SA Intl.’s EnRoute® 5 tooling software. Keljo said the best attributes of the software’s latest version include a distortion tool that allows 2-D files to be manipulated to appear dimensional; ShapeWizard, which allows the user to create shapes and contours; and, enhanced nesting features that permit the storage of multiple objects.
“When designing a dimensional sign, we balance the client’s wants against code allowances, site conditions and potential installation issues,” Keljo said. “In some cases, such as if the client logo incorporates a narrow font, we tell them that we’ll have to broaden it to properly illuminate it and accommodate serifs and other letter forms.”
The company fabricated a particularly challenging 3-D sign for the Portland Penny Diner, which references the coin that Frances Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy used to determine the city’s name when they founded it in 1845. To lure people in to try the restaurant’s creative bistro food, owners wanted a bracket-mounted, rotating sign that projected from a corner on its exterior walls.
“The client wanted a sign that was only 11 in. deep, which complies with city codes,” Keljo said. “A standard rotator normally used for such signs was too deep, but our production team was able to locate three smaller assemblies that would keep the sign in motion.”
Security installed three DynaPac H-20 rotators to operate the 6.5-ft.-tall sign. Two rotators installed vertically within the outer ring push the outside layer, and another, vertically situated conveyor moves the penny simultaneously. Fabricators machined the coin face and penny from 0.125-in.-thick aluminum on the MultiCam, and installed second-surface, ½-in.-thick acrylic for the text. The routed faces were secured to a 1-in.-diameter, steel-square-tube frame. This apparatus was attached to a radius-bent, 3-in.-diamater, steel square tube that’s bolted to the building wall. GE Tetra white LED modules give the penny its sheen.
Regarding 3-D signs’ future, Keljo said, “I think this market will continue to evolve, especially as LEDs’ color array and luminescence improves. Power-usage concerns will also, I believe, make solar power a more viable solution. Eventually, 3-D printers’ price point and capacity will make them more widespread in the sign market, and unlock additional production possibilities.”
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