FAQ About Photopolymer Signage
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When you’re contacted by a school official, hospital administrator, or other professional seeking ADA-compliant signs for their facility, the conversation will almost certainly turn to photopolymer signage, as this type of signage is a popular choice for such applications.
However, if your facility doesn’t have the resources to produce photopolymer signage, you may not be prepared to answer all the questions your potential client has about how such signs are made and why they’re a good choice for ADA-compliancy purposes.
And, if you plan to outsource the order to another sign shop that does specialize in photopolymer signage, you likely have some questions of your own.
In order to make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding photopolymer signage—from both end users and sign shop owners like yourself.
- What is photopolymer?
- Is photopolymer durable?
- How are photopolymer signs made?
- Can photopolymer signage be customized?
- Is photopolymer an environmentally friendly material?
- Are photopolymer signs expensive?
- How quickly can a photopolymer sign order be filled?
Armed with this new information, you can confidently address your prospect’s questions and concerns, ensuring they have everything they need to make the right decision for their business.
What is photopolymer?
Photopolymer is a synthetic compound (also referred to as a light-activated resin) that changes its properties when it’s exposed to light.
This material is a popular choice for sign-production purposes because it’s created in a single sheet rather than separate pieces.
Though the technology has been around for roughly 25 years, it has experienced significant growth over the last decade as an alternative to other common methods of sign development.
Is photopolymer durable?
Photopolymer is extremely durable, which makes it an excellent choice for signage in high-traffic areas. Unlike other types of sign materials, photopolymer is highly resistant to cracking and weathering, so signs made out of this material can last for years without requiring repair or replacement.
Additionally, photopolymer signs with Braille components are made in a single piece rather than incorporating plastic beads like the Raster Braille method. This means there is less risk of Braille lettering suffering damage that would make it difficult or impossible for visually impaired individuals to read.
Further, photopolymer is easy to clean, which is a characteristic that is appreciated by those who perform janitorial duties in schools, hospitals, and other heavily populated facilities.
How are photopolymer signs made?
The procedure for creating photopolymer signage is simple, but it all hinges on having the right equipment, including a photopolymer processor.
Once the desired design is transferred to a sheet of photopolymer film, the steps to actually producing the sign are as follows:
- The film is placed in the photopolymer processor so that the material can be exposed to UV light.
- Once the photopolymer is exposed, the technician then cleans the material to rinse off the emulsion.
- The photopolymer is then placed in a dryer for about 15 minutes.
- After it’s dry, it’s placed back in the tray for a second exposure, which will burn for roughly 5 minutes.
- When the design has been burned on to the photopolymer, the material is then cut.
- To add color to the sign, the material undergoes either a hot stamp or silk screening process.
Can photopolymer signage be customized?
Because photopolymer is so easy to work with, signage made from this material can be customized to fit a client’s exact needs.
Customization options include the following:
- And more
Since a common worry regarding ADA signage is that it will clash with a building’s existing aesthetics, it’s worth noting that photopolymer signage eliminates this potential issue completely.
Is photopolymer an environmentally friendly material?
Photopolymer is considered to be a “green” alternative to other types of sign materials because it’s water soluble—meaning no harmful chemicals are required for processing. Additionally, no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are emitted during production either.
Depending on the manufacturer from which the photopolymer is obtained, it may contain upwards of 40% post-industrial recycled content as well.
Since many businesses are taking steps toward becoming more eco-conscious, it’s worth highlighting the “green” benefits of photopolymer signage, especially since the low environmental impact of such signs can help with gaining more LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points.
Are photopolymer signs expensive?
As with anything else, the price of photopolymer signage varies. Typically, however, such signs are more expensive than traditional acrylic.
Photopolymer signage does have a higher raw material cost, and it takes additional time to process the material (though buyers can still expect to receive their order in a timely manner).
Ultimately, it comes down to value. Those who choose photopolymer for their ADA-compliant signs can look forward to lower maintenance, fewer repairs, and less frequent replacement.
While signage made from other materials may be ruined by graffiti and require replacement, photopolymer signage can stand up to vandalism and continue to perform its intended purpose for years afterward.
Though the initial cost may be slightly higher, photopolymer signage can reduce future budgets by eliminating the need to factor in new signs.
How quickly can a photopolymer sign order be filled?
Obviously the answer to this question depends upon the sign shop tasked with producing the order. However, another benefit of photopolymer signage is that it’s ideal for a high-volume workflow.
With the right equipment, an order of as many as 400 8” x 8” signs can be produced in a single workday.
Further, photopolymer signs are easy to replicate and develop in large batches, which means a client in need of a single sign design placed throughout their building can look forward to a quick turnaround time on their order.