SignFab (UK) Ltd has the largest lettermaking department in the UK. They employ the most number of skilled letter-makers, and as a result, work shift patterns to cover the demand from clients.
“Built up letters have never been so popular, and we are able to turn orders round faster and with a higher quality rate than ever before,” says Simon Berry, Marketing and Business Development, SignFab (UK) Ltd. “From an end user’s perspective, built up lettering offers an opportunity for a business to appear more prestigious and gives them a choice of materials and illumination. From a manufacturer’s point of view, built up letters are still a skilled craftsman trade and is one of the few surviving old school techniques.”
fired iron heaters for soldering, and have two AXYZ CNC routers with 4m length beds that are continually running from 7am until 5pm each day of the week. When it comes to precision cutting for the letters, the process is meticulous. “We receive artwork from our sign company clients and ensure that stroke widths are suitable for required levels of illumination, and then we maximise the layouts for the faces to minimise waste material,” he explains. “The letter faces are then cut on either our 4 kilowatt Amada laser machine which offers fast, precise cutting and gives sharp points on fonts where needed (and is very effective at small text height), or through one of the CNC routers. The letters are then built up and finished to a very high standard before being either painted or polished and then inspected before they are delivered.”
According to Simon, the most popular material is descaled stainless steel, which is then powder coated to a RAL paint reference colour. However, he notes that the team is seeing a marked increase in brushed and polished stainless steel options, which offer a more premium look. The overwhelming majority of the letters made by SignFab (UK) Ltd end up outdoors in external installations.
Some end up as standalone letters that fix to a wall, some attached to a fascia sign, while others are illuminated with their own reliable LUMAIRE brand of LEDs. Built up lettering and LEDs share what Simon calls a “very special relationship,” in that the depth will dictate the amount of LED modules required to achieve the desired amount of illumination whilst avoiding spotting. There are numerous things to consider when working with LEDs, such as the modules themselves, power output, lenses, whether the back tray is painted (and if so, what colour), the depth of return, thickness of acrylic face, translucent vinyl, digital print overlay, distance from fascia sign/wall, paint finish of reflected surface, and the level of diffusion required.
But although letters are primarily used outdoors, some can be installed in interior signage as well. “The size of most of the letters dictates that they are designed to be read from a reasonable distance away, but having said that, smaller sized letters with a shallow return can look very effective on an interior reception wall,” says Simon. “Even thick white foam letters on a white wall offering just the oblique shadow effect is also a great way of displaying built ups.”
Simon’s tips for upselling built-up lettering to end-users:
- Obtain a sample letter or two, because until a potential customer gets to see and feel a quality built-up letter up close and personal, it will always be a difficult sell. Alternatively you can show them a next-door competitor, which might help with creating envy!
- Small differences in heights and depths of return in built-up letters have huge cost implications, and this is amplified if you add LED modules. The thinner the letter, the more modules you need to avoid spotting so the cost ramps up. This is hard for an end- With effects like LED proving to be more popular than ever, sign makers are examining new technologies and techniques to create built-up lettering with a unique finish. Jemima Codrington spoke with three leading providers to learn more. user to grasp. If you can increase the depth by 20-50mm then you will see a huge difference in price. Make the customer decide if style or cost is the overriding factor. Letter heights can easily be reduced to save money - use kerning to increase wording span, but only so it’s unnoticeable.
- Ask us! We have a huge amount of knowledge and know all of the options available to you without ruining the overall effect. If you are struggling to close a deal then speak to us, we can help.