View Full Version : Creating a clear window on a sign

Scott Shepherd
08-15-2007, 2:17 PM
I was recently given a one off job of recreating an existing sign. It was pieced together from various materials. I did the best I could with it, it turned out well, but not as smooth as I'd like it to.

Well, go figure, they want a bunch of them.

Here's the situation, it's a multi-layer acrylic sign, mostly black.

It's about a 10" wide by 12" tall sign. In that, there's about a 7" square that's clear. Behind that is a piece of paper with vinyl letters for the name of the space. The theory being, you can remove the paper and replace it easily. No problems with that.

My problem came in trying to duplicate the piece with the 7" square clear area. I cut out a piece of vinyl and placed it over it and then painted it, and then peeled the vinyl away, leaving a black background and a clear square. The square wasn't perfectly straight and it was a pain.

All the work I'm mentioning is done on the backside of the sign, so it's clear acrylic, sprayed black on the back, with a see through window.

Making one was a pain, but making possibly 50 of them ain't gonna work for me. Any ideas on how to mask off the square that needs to be clear? One thing is that you can't really let the paint dry on that, or it'll bond with the vinyl and you'll have jagged edges when peeling the masking off. I also don't want to have to run a razor knife down the edge of the vinyl to break that paint bead before peeling.

Anyone got any tips or ideas to do this? I also thought about applying black vinyl to the back of the acrylic with the hole cut out, but when I did that, it looks crappy. Any alternative methods of construction would be welcome too.

Thanks in advance.

Rodne Gold
08-15-2007, 2:51 PM
Why not use black perspex for the sign , laser cut the sq in it and then laser cut a sq of clear that is an interference fit. (make it a wee bit bigger than sq you cut in the black to compensate for cut width. You dont have to paint anything then.

Scott Shepherd
08-15-2007, 2:53 PM
Thanks Rodne, that's about all I came up with as well, but wasn't sure how to adhere them together and look good so I discounted it. Any recommendations on that?

Rodne Gold
08-15-2007, 3:00 PM
Well , you wouldnt really have to glue it if it's interference , but tensol 12 , wich is an ultrathin capillairy action glue , applied via a syringe at the join would do well.

Mike Null
08-15-2007, 3:16 PM
I'm not sure I understand all that you have to do but would a piece of reverse engravable black work for you. It would give you the even black back surface and you could cut the hole.

Brian Robison
08-15-2007, 3:20 PM
Hi Scott,
I'm probably reading this wrong, I have a unique ability to do that.
Why don't you mask, laser cut the square, peel the border and paint?

Scott Shepherd
08-15-2007, 3:26 PM
I might be back in the building later today/tonight. If so, I'll take a photo of one of the signs and post it.

Thanks Rodne, I think I'll give it a go and see how it looks.

Joe Pelonio
08-15-2007, 3:34 PM
Note: I moved this to the sign design and fabrication forum.

I'll add another idea or 2, that I have done many times.

1. Cut your black vinyl 10.1 x 12.1 and the hole centered. Weed the hole, tape. Apply the vinyl to the back of the clear acrylic. The extra .1 each dimension allows you to keep from a slight edge gap. Turn over and trim any excess with a utility/xacto knife. Remove the transfer tape and you are done. Use a new squeegie bacause any air bubbles or wrinkles will show through.

2. Cut the square hole out of a 10x12 piece of 1/8" black acrylic. Cut a 10x12 piece of 1/16" clear and glue it on the front using acrylic cement. The whole thing would then be 1/4" thick, and though 8.5x11 paper would be set back 1/8" they could cut it to the hole size.

If you have problems cementing without bubbles, instead of glueing wrap the edge with strips of clear vinyl and trim. Either way it would work out less work, though a bit more material. In fact I'd suggest non-glare for the clear.

As for painting, the krylon and rustoleum paints made for plastic stick best. I have used transfer tape as a mask, but there's also a vinyl masking material with less adhesive and a little stiffer than regular lettering vinyl. I use cal-mask by arlon. The time consuming part is getting the vinyl centered and perfectly aligned. When the paint is still tacky remove the mask peeling from one corner using tweezers.

Scott Shepherd
08-16-2007, 11:11 AM
Here's a sample of what's there now. I'll have to get a photo later of the one I did to copy it.

It's not a good photo, but the light was low and I didn't want to use a flash and get the glare off of the chrome strips or the clear window. The letters are also chrome vinyl, which I do for them now.