Tips to avoid sun exposure on shop signage - Image Magazine


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Tips to avoid sun exposure on shop signage

Tips to avoid sun exposure on shop signage

Here we discuss the unique challenges that printers, designers and ultimately, their customers, sometimes have to face in a hurry as the deadline approaches and the quick Google search only leads to dead ends. With hands-on tips and tricks from industry experts, we set out to create a library of solutions to un-google-able issues.

In this article we will have a look at shop signage that has to withstand excessive sun exposure, providing you with tips on how to avoid pitfalls and ultimately, unhappy customers.

To understand the problem we need to have a closer look at solar ultraviolet radiation or ‘UVR’. This type of radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by the sun and is composed of three wavelengths: UVA, UVB and UVC. While the sun is the main source of UVR, it is not the only source. UVR also comes from solariums, fluorescent, neon and halogen lighting, industrial arc welding, ‘black lights’ and UV lasers. Fortunately, the amount of UVR in these is so small, that none would affect signage in any way.

When it comes to the solar UVR distribution, we are lucky that all of the UVC, and most UVB radiation, are absorbed by the atmosphere. However, all UVA and about 10 per cent of UVB radiation reach the earth’s surface. Both are known for the vital production of Vitamin D in the human body. Unfortunately, they are also common causes of skin cancer - and since these wavelengths can damage our self-renewing skin so badly, it is no surprise they can damage signage too.

Strategy 1 - Cover up

Looking at our skin, the easiest way to avoid sunburn is to cover our self with clothes. The same rings true for signage, just not in the literal sense. If possible, you should advise clients in the more sun-struck areas of the country to invest in awnings and shade structures above their shop entrance or to consider strategically placing their shop signage in places that are only in direct sunlight for short periods of time per day.

Another thing to look out for are reflective surfaces like metal, washed concrete or water features. Even if the signage is safely tucked away under an awning, a highly reflective surface in the area might still cause UV radiation damage over time.

Strategy 2 - Back to basics

As with so many things, going back to the roots is always an option. When it comes to digital vinyl print, there are many manufacturers who swear by their ink or the specific vinyl they print on to achieve UV resistance. Some attribute the UV resistance of their print products to fancy finishing techniques but which in fact tend to actually make it worse and speed up the deterioration.

Fact is, no digital print is as good as the very basic vinyl cut. For the readers who have entered the industry only in recent years - self-coloured vinyl takes its colour from particles that have been mixed directly into the vinyl upon production. These self-coloured foils are then cut to shape using vector files. A graphic with multiple colours can easily be achieved by using a masking transfer tape layer to mount multiple layers onto each other. In an outdoor application, good quality vinyl should last about six to eight years.

Strategy 3 - Back it up

If you’re looking to create something really long-lasting, the best choice is to go back in time even further. The most sustainable and reliable way of creating UV resistant signage is still the same as it was hundreds of years ago - buying a brush and a bucket of paint to do signwriting the old-school way. An almost lost art, that only got revived in recent years. If you are looking for someone who is not just a talented calligrapher but knows their way around paint and surfaces, the best term to search for is ‘lettering artist’.

To achieve the best possible results for your clients, it is important to get a good brief and ideally scout their premises together to make informed choices on signage placement and materials. Actively applying your expertise can make a big difference to your customer service and help you retain market share long-term.


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