Size & Weight Constraints

PMA-slider-new4PMA’s largest presentation of etched graphics was a project for the NFL’s headquarters in New York. An etched photo of action football scenes covered an entire interior wall on four floors. This was accomplished by etching sections of the photograph in 4′ x 10′ pieces. The thin metal was laminated to the wall. Seams were not visible and the effect was dramatic.

Most of our work is less than 24″ x 30″ in size and in a wide selection of thicknesses. For larger presentations, sections may be assembled for a very large graphics display. A map of Europe 16′ square was done in raw steel with 4′ sections assembled for the Holocaust Museum. In using sections for large graphics, even photographs can be assembled.Weight and fastening to walls is a consideration for all designers. Often we will laminate thick plexiglass or a light weight metal such as aluminum, to the back of more exotic metals for weight relief on walls.

For thick appearances, the sides of the sign are sanded and blended or painted for a more dramatic appearance of depth. Laminating a sign face also offers cost considerations. A thinner face material creates the sign’s character. Thickness is an illusion that can be enhanced with a backer. Considering the escalating cost of metals in recent months, designs are often subject to major cost considerations not in a sign budget. A second benefit to lamination, especially for public displays is vandalism. How many roadside historic plaques do you see nowadays? Those once beautiful bronze casting are quickly disappearing and ending up in a recycle center. There is little motivation in stealing an aluminum-backed bronze plaque. If it is stolen, the replacement cost is a fraction of a thick bronze casting. There is another twist to a laminated sign format. We often see a design for a metal sign where there is fine grain or even polish on the background of a raised graphic piece. It’s a little difficult to grain or polish a background when there are raised graphics. Remember that the surface of metal is an applied finish, there’s no grain under the skin of the metal.

The remedy for a specific finish with contrasting raised graphics is to etch a cavity in the face of the material, apply the specified finish and inset the lettering or graphics to be raised into the cavities that were etched.

The cavity is etched deep enough to hold the lettering securely to the face of the material. Generally those letters are lasered, waterjet cut or etched elements that snap into place when applied to the face. One can even use a different metal for this design. A bonding material such as silicone or an epoxy, bonds the lettering permanently to the face. With our extensive experience of sign designs all over the country, we can assist designers in developing a desired effect or appearance.