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3D printing is adding a new dimension to signage

The writing's on the wall for traditional channel or built-up letters as signmakers turn to the limitless creative possibilities offered by large format 3D printing technology, according to application engineer Matan Weinstein from pioneering large format 3D company Massivit.

massivit 3D

Matan Weinstein
 Matan Weinstein, Massivit

 Let’s face it, whether you’re selling a product or service, it has never been harder to attract the attention of your target audience than it is today. A recent Forbes article stated that digital marketing experts believe the average American is exposed to a staggering 4,000 to 10,000 adverts every day. With all these brands and different messages bombarding our lives, it’s no wonder that people have learnt to tune out to the majority of them. However, one marketing medium that remains hard to ignore is channel letters (also referred to as built-up letters). Using this illuminated signage to display your brand name or logo on the side of a building, in a shopping mall or at a trade show continues to help companies stand out from the crowd and attract passing custom. Of course, even this failsafe marketing method needs to work harder to compete against an increasing amount of noise.

So, how can brands up their game when it comes to ensuring signage is both more creative and effective? Traditional production methods (using acrylic/aluminium sheets or thermoforming) for these complex signs can only offer so much. Basing the design on 2D graphics that are simply protruded by 90 degrees means that texture, design, angles and geometries are limited insofar as both conceptualization and production capabilities. In addition, it’s a time-consuming and predominantly manual process to create channel letters using these technologies, which in turn can often have a negative impact on costs and delivery times. As such, brands are understandably reluctant to increase the complexity of the design.

All of that said, there is light at the end of the tunnel – large format 3D printing technology. 

Firstly, by creating a design file in 3D from the start, all aspects of the letters can be included in the design process. This means the creative possibilities are limitless. Brands can incorporate unusual shapes, curves, different angles, side textures and they needn’t produce just one letter at a time… or letters at all for that matter. 

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Suddenly, the flexibility and freedom of the 3D printing process enables users to produce cursive words, a complete logo or graphic elements of the logo, such as a teddy bear, globe or coffee cup. Products and mascots can be printed as separate, eye-catching signs or incorporated within the letters. Compare this to the challenges sign makers using aluminium endure when creating letters with an empty cavity (like ‘O’), and you start to see the tangible benefits this technology delivers such companies. Additional eye-catching features, such as LED lighting or video mapping, can also easily be added to 3D printed channel letters for even greater visual impact.

What’s more, the speed at which these complicated, creative signs can be produced using 3D printing technology is significantly higher than using traditional methods. Aside from taking less time and reducing the manual intervention required, a solution like the Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D Printer – engineered for large format visual applications, including attention-grabbing retail signage, high-impact vehicle wraps, and track-stopping event and exhibition displays – also features dual printheads, enabling the production of two models simultaneously. This not only offers faster delivery times but reduces the cost to the end customer.

Reducing the manual elements of the production process also reduces production errors. By amending the design on screen before sending it to the 3D printer, for example adjusting the curve of a letter, the user can eliminate any errors and avoid costly iterations altogether.

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Looking at the clear advantages of 3D printing, it’s no wonder that sign makers serving a wide range of different markets are choosing to expand their business offering and product portfolio by adding 3D printers to their production capabilities. Large format 3D printing solutions are the only technology on the market that enables sign makers to take this next step. The Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D Printer and the Massivit 1500 Exploration 3DPrinter enable print providers to produce innovative, versatile 3D printed applications for the advertising, retailing, entertainment, events & exhibitions and interior design industries. 

The most significant difference compared to other 3D printing solutions available today, is that the Massivit 3D printers have been developed to ensure that there are far less constraints in terms of the size of printed output. Print providers and brands can literally, and creatively, think big insofar as sign and display production. As such, when it comes to breaking new ground with creative, cost-effective, large-scale signage, such as channel letters, you can write off traditional production methods - large format 3D printing is clearly the way forward. 

 - Matan Weinstein, Massivit 3D.

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