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VIC company’s world-first metal braille sign production process 

Braille Sign Supplies of Torquay says its newly launched BrailleFace, an innovative manufacturing process that uses a single piece of metal, is gaining interest across Australia and internationally.


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   Travis Ashford, Braille Sign  

BrailleFace, developed by Braille Sign director Travis Ashford, allows continuous-faced braille and tactile signage to be produced from a single piece of aluminium, stainless steel and other types of metal such as brass and copper.

“With no parts fixed to the sign in any way, the process creates braille and tactile signs that have outstanding durability, superior hygiene properties and are non-combustible,” the company said in a statement from its factory in the seaside town of Torquay, 97 kilometres south-west of Melbourne.

“Of significant importance in high-volume user areas, such as public transport and in the health sector, is the fact there are no engraved parts to the sign, meaning no grooves or crevices for bacteria to harbour. A continuous-faced braille and tactile sign is also easier to clean and more comfortable to use, with no sharp edges or engraved parts that could dislodge over time.”

Ashford, a qualified signwriter, started Braille Sign Supplies in his small Jan Juc garage 17 years ago after finding braille and brailleface signtactile signage difficult to source. “Either they were cheap non-compliant imports or they were expensive with long lead times,” he said. 

After learning to make Braille & Tactile signs himself, the business took off with growing demand due to changes to the building code. The original method involved drilling holes into the sign then manually inserting each Braille bead, which was labour intensive and left the signs vulnerable to vandalism and difficult to clean.

In 2014, Ashford found a solution for acrylic signs and produced them using a hydraulic press with 200-tonne of pressure and heat to form a moulded continuous-faced acrylic braille and tactile sign. The new method provided flexibility with colours, designs and backgrounds, allowing artistic freedom for designers.

Ashford continued to look for a better way to produce metal signs, which were being manufactured via the traditional process of machining and inserting Braille beads - known as the Applique method. 

After years of research and development, “an idea was sparked at a trade show four years ago." After investigating local options, Ashford commissioned a machine from Germany and designed the tools himself in Torquay.