Although many experienced sign professionals are familiar with the differences and best applications for the most commonly used interior sign materials of acrylic and photopolymer, education is an important component for those less experienced in selecting the best material for a project. In most applications signs constructed of photopolymer and acrylic materials still dominate the ADA signage market and are the preferred materials in many sign specifications.
Acrylic signs with surface applied raised graphics – An attractive and economical choice
Acrylic signs with raised text applied to the sign face and using the raster fit method of braille insertion provide a cost effective sign solution for protected settings such as hospitals, clinics and office buildings. Acrylic material with a non-glare surface finish is available in 1/16, 1/8”, 3/16” and ¼” thicknesses. Graphics can be applied on the sign face or subsurface using painted or digitally printed accents and text.
The raised text utilizes 1/32” thick ADA compliant plastic materials with high bond adhesive applied to the back of the material then attached to the sign face. For added protection the text can be recessed by engraving an area for a 1/16” thick letterform that sets 1/32” below the sign surface. Grade 2 braille uses acrylic braille beads that are pressed into a high tolerance drilled hole for very tight fit. Many laminate materials such as WilsonArt, ChemMetal and Pionite can be incorporated into acrylic sign designs to provide a unique appearance. Basic one color acrylic signs with contrasting color that are comprised of a 1/16” faceplate and a 1/8” backplate are priced in the neighborhood of $.50 per square inch and up depending on the options added and the complexity of construction.
Photopolymer – A Step Up in Durability
Many unprotected environments such as educational facilities and buildings with public access require signs that provide a more durable product with a greater degree of vandal resistance. Photopolymer is a common sign making material that provides raised text and braille that is integral with the sign surface and makes it more difficult to remove the tactile components of the sign. Photopolymer material can be finished in many of the same techniques as acrylic signs, such as painting or digital printing on the sign face or reverse applied decoration (sub-surface).
Because of a higher raw material cost and the additional time to process and finish the material, photopolymer signs are more expensive than a comparable acrylic sign. In many situations the added durability of the sign justifies the additional investment. Basic one color photopolymer signs with contrasting color text in a 1/8″ thick material are priced at approximately $.80 per square inch and higher depending on the finishing method and the complexity of the sign design.
Thermoformed – Tough Signs for Tough Environments
The right material for your project may be Thermoform. Thermoformed signs combine acrylic with heat and pressure to produce a true one-piece sign. The molded raised text and braille provides a very high level of vandal resistance. In addition, the braille is rounded and 100% ADA compliant. Thermoformed signs can be installed in both interior and exterior environments. The cost for a 1/8″ thick, one color thermoformed sign with contrasting color text is approximately $.80 per square inch. As with the other types of sign construction previously discussed, the overall price may be slightly more depending on the additional features required on the sign.
The staff at Park Place can provide assistance in selecting the right type of sign for your application. In addition, we are very familiar with the current ADA sign codes and can answer your questions concerning ADA sign requirements and their installation.