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Michael Arruda
04-09-2013, 2:50 AM
Hello,

I have been asked to quote on a backlit halo style raised lettering sign on an exterior wall for a church I've been doing some work for.

My plan is to cut Corian lettering with an acrylic backer, finish and patina with sculpt nouveau and set inserts for stand offs and Cree LEDs recessed into the back. Power supplies will be Meanwell 48v drivers in a water resistant can mounted behind wall. Lettering is 15" tall, whole sign around 12' long, 27 letters.

The other option is to get 20 ga sheet steel laser cut and weld it into backlight cans. I would rather go the Corian/ acrylic route as I am more comfortable with the material than steel. My only concern is durability- this is going on an exterior pony wall on the corner of the property, so it could be subject to kids beating on it, etc. I'm concerned about the thermoplastics chipping or cracking under this stress.

Has anyone done this kind of job? Any suggestions or ideas? What kind of price point should I be shooting for?

Thanks for any ideas or pointers you could provide.

-Michael

Joe Pelonio
04-09-2013, 8:55 AM
I would suggest polycarbonate rather than acrylic, the Corian should be fine. Beware of local sign ordinances, this would require a permit here, UL approved electrical and installation by a licensed electrician. Price depends on a lot of factors that you may not now yet such as material cost and possible subcontracting, and the economy in your area, but I have seen similar projects here at about $10,000.

Keith Outten
04-09-2013, 9:36 AM
Michael,

I'm not a big fan of acrylic being used outside so Joe's suggestion to use polycarbonate seems like sound advice. Another option since you are using Corian for the letters is to use translucent Corian for the backing material. Quarter inch thick Arctic Ice, assuming a white background, would be just the ticket, using Dupont adhesive would get you a sign that should last for 50 years.

Note the sculpt nouveau has a 5 to 15 year life in an exterior application according to what I was told.
.

Michael Arruda
04-10-2013, 1:48 AM
Why would you not use acrylic? I've done some vinyl lettering for light boxes, and they use translucent backlight acrylic for the faces, which are outside for years- long enough, for most of them, to be relettered multiple times.

I've been looking into thermoforming the corian into the letters I want, but I think it might be more trouble than it's worth.

Thanks for the input thus far,
Michael

Joe Pelonio
04-10-2013, 8:49 AM
Why would you not use acrylic? I've done some vinyl lettering for light boxes, and they use translucent backlight acrylic for the faces, which are outside for years- long enough, for most of them, to be relettered multiple times.

Michael
Polycarbonate can take impact, acrylic not so much. I have done many replacement acrylic back-lit sign faces due to the original getting cracked by someone throwing a rock at it or even a heavy wind rattling it around enough to crack it, and you mentioned kids.

Scott Shepherd
04-10-2013, 9:18 AM
Why would you not use acrylic? I've done some vinyl lettering for light boxes, and they use translucent backlight acrylic for the faces, which are outside for years- long enough, for most of them, to be relettered multiple times.

Polycarbonate is the right way to make those panels. In the good/better/best world, acrylic is in the good range while polycarbonate is the better/best side of things.

Keith Outten
04-10-2013, 10:11 AM
Thermal forming Corian is pretty easy to do if you have the means to make really good forms. Once Corian is heat saturated it is very soft and easy to manipulate but it takes 20 minutes at about 320 degrees F. Quarter inch Corian is probably what you are considering, will take less time in the press or oven. You will have to have a male and female form with plenty of clamps to keep it stationary while it cools down, the edges will curl big time if your forms aren't rigid enough.

I'm far from an expert thermoforming Corian but I have been bending Corian for about three years.

Scott Shepherd
04-10-2013, 12:27 PM
Just to add, there are many places that provide ready to install signs like this, based entirely on your design. You send them the design, the crate arrives, you install it, done. All UL approved, all done right, all done by people that make that type of signs for a living.

Paul Phillips
04-11-2013, 8:00 PM
I would agree with Steve, if you're not stuck on using Corian, ordering pre-fab channel letters is the way to go. We make custom Aluminum Channel letters but for a standard type design we order them for way cheaper than we can make them by hand. They use a machine that they feed the sheet material into and it comes out cut with the returns perforated, tabbed and bent, radius-ed and ready to fabricate, amazing. And like Joe said if you're doing any kind of electrical work you really need to have it UL approved. Many get by ignoring the laws until someone has a problem. We had a competitor a few years back the consistently ignored the laws by installing illegal signs (and under-cutting our prices) until they had an installer get electrocuted while repairing a sign, after the law suit they got UL approved.
Paul