Fixtures and Fittings - May 2010

Ever wondered how sign fixings are made?

Chris Ferrie, Managing Director of i-sPi, explains the production process to readers of Sign Update.

Fixings in a range of finishes, from i-sPi.
Brass rods at i-sPiCutting machine cutting a rod to length.Cut lengths are drilled and threaded.Barrels, cleaned and off to the polishers before plating.The finished fixing

Sign fixings, whether brass, aluminium or stainless steel, are used in increasing quantities in the sign and shop-fitting markets today. Recently, whilst on a trip to our production facilities I followed the manufacturing process from beginning to end, and saw the work, effort and manpower involved and the use of traditional skills and craftmanship in their manufacture.

Each step is done by hand using traditional tools and relatively basic machinery. The manufacture of our fixings uses a total of seven different factories.

A visit to the local metal trader buys us brass, aluminium or stainless steel rods, each around three metres in length and ranging in diameter from 13mm up to 120mm. Here we also buy 8mm rod which we use for the male threaded part of the fixings.

The rods are taken to the factory where they are cut to the required length (13mm to 75mm for i-sPi fixings) and 5mm thick "discs" are cut to make the head of the fixing, all the time working to a tolerance of less than 1/10th of a millimetre.

The barrels and heads are then drilled and threaded internally.

The 8mm rod is cut to length before going on to the next factory where it is threaded.

Next step in the process is to clean every element and then finely polish each part in preparation for plating.

The raw, but polished metal is now taken to the plating factories. At i-sPi we use three different plating companies, each specialising in certain finishes. One factory does chrome and polished gold, another specialises in our satin chrome finish and another anodises our aluminium range.

The finished and plated heads, threaded bar and barrels are all taken back to our main factory where under 500 kilos of pressure the threaded bars are joined to the heads. This new top or male section is then assembled with the corresponding barrel and the complete unit is bagged, boxed, labelled and prepared for export.

One week later it is on a ship, four weeks later it is in the UK and pretty soon after that, it’s is on your customer’s wall.

So, next time you install a sign using one of our sign fixings you will know exactly what went into their production, just in case anyone asks.

i-sPi can be contacted on telephone 0141 764 1600 or via

Complete 12mm rod system available online

Shopkit’s intire 12mm rod systems are now available online.Shopkit pioneered rod signage and display systems and was in fact, says Shopkit, the first company to offer rods in 12mm diameter.

Following publication of Shopkit’s new components brochure the entire 6 and 12mm rod systems have been made available to purchase online, along with some new components previously available only as special items. With a noticeable increase in market interest in sustainability, Shopkit’s products, being manufactured from recycled raw materials, with high quality engineering and finishing, enables elements to be used again and again, making them well placed to meet this desire for reusable systems.

Shopkit’s rod systems are designed for use within all sectors of the signage industry; they are flexible and strong with a large standard range that includes low-voltage lighting options and virtually unlimited special items, making them highly adaptable.

The rods, available in different lengths, simply screw into one another to achieve any required total length. They are capable of holding heavy signs and glass panels with a variety of fixing methods and suspension options which allow panels to be wall mounted vertically, horizontally or in a grid formation with crossover connectors, as well as being ceiling, or ceiling to floor mounted.

To find out more go to or telephone 01923 818282.

Customers love Snapfix’s lifetime guarantee

Snapfix’s range of letter fixings

Snapfix, based on The Wirral, manufactures and supplies the Snapfix range of letter fixings worldwide through a network of distributors.

Mark Ashcroft, Managing Director of Snapfix, says that sign makers often find it’s the cup that fits to the wall that fails first, and because of UV degradation this can be in as few as three years.

"Then, when you try to buy a replacement cup you find they don’t sell the cup on their own, you have to buy whole new fixing," says Mark. "You can buy whatever part you want from us, including a cup alone, but no one asks for replacement cups because ours don’t degrade."

Snapfix has been manufacturing fixings for almost 50 years. Its products have been tested over many years in South Africa, which has incredibly high temperatures, lots of sunshine and high UV light levels, but in a location that also experiences very low temperatures. These dramatically different conditions are chosen to be a real test of durability and have proved so successful that Snapfix products come with a lifetime guarantee.

"This means that sign businesses using Snapfix letter fixings on a job can use our logo featuring the lifetime guarantee. This gives customers tremendous confidence in both the product and the sign maker, it’s been a deciding factor in them winning work on many occasions," says Mark.

Snapfix also supplies adhesives for use with its locators, along with glue guns and mixer nozzles.

Prices and more at the website or telephone 08448 007866.

High-tech adhesives tapes and sealants show their worth

Man spraying water based adhesives.Traditional fixing methods such as rivets, screws or spot welding have been used for many years but have now fallen out of favour with many sign makers.

Part of the reason for this is that they add to production and/or installation time, and so therefore increase costs. In addition, drill holes, welding or fasteners can detract from the aesthetic appeal of a sign. By comparison, the latest fixing and bonding options provide strong and reliable cost-efficient assembly and fixing solutions. They eliminate finishing costs such as weld grinding, require little or no investment in machinery, and can produce signs that are of better quality, stronger, have cleaner lines and offer higher resistance to corrosion.

The correct solution is dependent on several factors, including what materials are being used, the sign type and weight, what substrate the sign is to be fixed to; and whether it’s to be a permanent or temporary fixing.

Keeps things clear with new two-part adhesive

3M, the diversified technology company, has launched a new advanced two-part adhesive which offers all the established 3M benefits of strength and ease of use alongside astounding clarity.

3M Scotch-Weld EPX Acrylic Adhesive DP804 offers superior adhesion to plastic and glass surfaces, making it ideal for commercial signage and point-of-sale manufacturers. However, it will also bond most metals and is suitable for any application where a coloured adhesive may detract from overall product appearance.

Offering superb, long-lasting clarity and strength, DP804 is fast-acting with bonded surfaces typically able to cope with manual handling in as little as four minutes. It has been formulated to a viscosity which allows for simple, hassle-free workability. It offers excellent UV resistance with very good ageing properties in warm and humid environments.

The product works without damaging the surface of plastic, meaning screen printing is not affected, while any excess can be removed without leaving permanent blemishes, creating a superclear finish every time.

For further information on 3M’s range of tapes and adhesives, visit

Adhesive tapes

3M’s VHB Acrylic Foam TapeAdhesive tapes are one solution being chosen for an increasing number of different applications.

They provide immediate handling strength and bond quickly, which means fast and easy assembly. Indeed, many people find assembling large signs easier when using tape than a rivet gun. And because adhesive tapes produce a flexible bond, the join is subject to less stress from wind movement, for example, than a rigid fixing such as welding would be.

Adhesive tapes work well for joining different materials, successfully bonding most painted and powder coated surfaces including hard-to-bond plastics. They also stop water getting in to the fixing area, such as occurs with mechanical fastenings and their elasticity reduces vibration and noise.

Possible applications for adhesive tapes appear endless and includes mounting letters, post and panel signs, light boxes, box signs, totems, and fixing fascias, to name but a few.

Several suppliers offer various adhesive tapes; one range that’s widely used by sign makers in this country is 3M’s VHB Acrylic Foam Tapes. A major advantage of VHB tape is that it’s viscoelastic, i.e. it stretches as it absorbs the force applied to the bond and then returns to its original shape.

3M’s range of VHB Acrylic Foam Tapes includes tapes specifically designed to bond at temperatures as low as 0 degrees C, others for fixing to specific surfaces, and a clear tape. Die cut VHB Acrylic Foam Tapes are also available.

Structural and hot melt adhesives

Adhesives generally provide structural strength. Two part component structural adhesives provide quick, economic, clean, precise processing and quick set up times for a low investment cost.

Often, the bond strength is as strong as, or stronger than the materials joined. Two part adhesives are widely used for permanent high strength bonds with materials such as metals, glass, ceramics, wood, technical plastics, and rubbers. Epoxy, polyurethane, and acrylic formulations take different times to cure and have different properties for a variety of applications.

Hot melt adhesives tend to provide fast initial set and handling strength, which helps eliminate or minimise fixturing while enabling speedy assembling.

Temporary fixings

For temporary fixings that can be easily fixed and then removed or updated, one method is reclosable fasteners.

Reclosable fasteners have many of the same benefits of adhesive tapes compared to mechanical fasteners, i.e. clean lines and smooth surfaces, no need for drilling, fast and easy assembly, but in addition, they eliminate alignment issues common with drilling and riveting, and allow rework if mistakes are made.

3M’s Dual Lock Reclosable Fasteners employ hundreds of mushroom shaped stems which interlock when the two parts are pressed together for an extremely strong yet reclosable assembly. 3M says standard Dual Lock is 12 times stronger than traditional hook and loop systems.

Discover 3M’s adhesives, sealants, and more at the website

Design by