For many businesses and institutions, a 3D sign is a way to add a touch of class to the venture. A 2D sign is essentially a large piece of material with an image printed on it. Some of those are back-lit, others are not; in either case, a 2D sign risks looking flat and temporary, especially if it's a smaller sign that hangs in an indoor location, such as the wall behind a reception desk.
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3D signs have better viewing distance, are more eye-catching, the extruded shapes add emphasis and give a sense of respectability and permanence.
In this article, we will give a quick overview of the 3D sign fabrication process.
First and foremost, the design needs to be developed. Today, sign makers have powerful software tools to help them create text and logo signs; some software can take a flat drawing or graphic that was made in an image editor, then extrude it into the third dimension to add volume. 3D sign-making software has yet another advantage: if the manufacturer has a CNC carving router, they can send the design directly to the router and have it carve automatically, without the need to transfer the design to a template, then have a worker carve it into the material.
Next, the sign maker needs to pick the right material. A 3D sign can be made of metal, plastic; high density polyurethane foam is a popular choice, since it is fireproof, weatherproof and durable; recently, advanced materials such as carbon fiber panels have been gaining ground. If a sign is to be hung outdoors, it needs to be made of a material that can withstand sunlight, rain and the other indignities of open air; same goes for any paint or dyes used, which needs to last years without peeling or fading.
After this, it's time to get the design implemented in the real world. As we already mentioned, a modern Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router can accept a 3D model directly from the designer's computer, completely bypassing the need for printouts, templates and the like. A CNC router has the motor and drill mounted on rails over the working surface, so it can rise, lower, and move freely over the workpiece without being guided by a human hand.
Once the CNC machine has done its work, the sign gets cleaned of sawdust; if it's in multiple pieces, these need to be attached with glue and/or screws to some type of framework. This could be an assembled metal skeleton, or a single backing made of one piece of material. If the sign is already in one piece, the sign maker can move right on to painting and finishing it - just make sure that the sign gets a nice protective UV coating on top that will prevent the colors from fading!