Best way to make reflective signs

Signed Out

Very Active Member
Working on a bid for signs for a water dpt. They want diamond grade reflective signs, the backgorund is half blue and half white with text and a full color seal on the signs as well. My question is are people printing on 3m 4000 diamond grade reflective sheeting? I dont think i can with my eco solvent xj540. Should I just sheet aluminum with white diamond grade.. and then print the sign graphics on clear and apply on top of the sheeting? This way the whole sign would be reflctive. Or should I just do the blue and white background with the diamond grade reflective and the sign graphics with cut vinyl? Obviously going with a printed clear layer will be cheaper but will it look better or would it be hard to read with everything reflective?
 

Freese

Member
Working on a bid for signs for a water dpt. They want diamond grade reflective signs, the backgorund is half blue and half white with text and a full color seal on the signs as well. My question is are people printing on 3m 4000 diamond grade reflective sheeting? I dont think i can with my eco solvent xj540. Should I just sheet aluminum with white diamond grade.. and then print the sign graphics on clear and apply on top of the sheeting? This way the whole sign would be reflctive. Or should I just do the blue and white background with the diamond grade reflective and the sign graphics with cut vinyl? Obviously going with a printed clear layer will be cheaper but will it look better or would it be hard to read with everything reflective?


I know a few companies (traffic companies) who print directly to the 3M reflective using their HP Latex printers.

As for how to do it without the printing direct, I can't help you.
 

Signed Out

Very Active Member
I print directly to 3m and oracal reflective quite a bit too, but have never tried printing to 3m 4000 diamond grade refective, its 22 mil.
 

Signed Out

Very Active Member
Diamond Grade 4090 White sheeting on Aluminum with Electrocut (Transparent) 1175 Blue applied over the white.
Thanks, never noticed the 1170 before. So I should probably do all the text with that too, and I'll do the full color seal with a clear print. Problem is i have to do 70 of these, and this process will take a lot longer. Seems I would get the same effect with just printing the sign graphics including the blue portion of the background on clear and apply to the white reflective sheeted aluminum, since the ink is translucent too.
 

Signed Out

Very Active Member
^ Is ther a something that I'm missing which would make using the 1170 as any overlay rather than a printed on clear overlay a better looking/functioning?
 

Signed Out

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Thanks, that's good advice and I will do so. Thing is these aren't traffic signs, they will be marking water mains or something, but they requested hi intensity diamond grade reflective signs so... I think a clear vinyl overlay will work fine, but i will call 3m to confirm. Thanks for the input. keep it coming if you'd like.
 

Pat Whatley

Major Contributor
I'm not a screen printer... don't want to sub it out either

You might want to think about that if they're all identical. You can probably have them screenprinted and shipped to you cheaper than you can even buy the translucent blue vinyl (and that's before you put in all the labor to do them).

Maybe whoever did all the local reflective signs that were inkjet printed on clear then stuck over white reflective didn't know what they were doing but in about a year they had faded to useless. Seems like expensive signs to be done with the wrong technology.
 

Mosh

Major Contributor
+++++You can probably have them screenprinted and shipped to you cheaper than you can even buy the translucent blue vinyl (and that's before you put in all the labor to do them).
 

SignosaurusRex

Major Contributor
................. Thing is these aren't traffic signs, they will be marking water mains or something, but they requested hi intensity diamond grade reflective signs so...

Why didn't you say so in the first post?

Sorry, I missed the part about full color Seal on the signs in your original post. Without knowing the exact details and what the Seal consists of and what the customer expects to get, I can't give you the best method. Forget printing directly onto DG 4000 with your printer. We always screen printed all our colors directly to the DG using 3M transparent inks and UV clear flood print. For very short runs with minimal colors we used Electrocut film. Unless you are properly set up for these type of orders and really know your materials, you would be best off ordering them from a supplier that specializes in road signs such as Zumar or an equivalent, getting a trade discount and adding a small mark-up. Remember, you are bidding on this job...against most Likely a couple specialized suppliers that you cant beat without being properly set up yourself. Unfortunately it sounds like you are not set-up for these & trying to properly do them yourself and hopefully make a couple bucks will likely only net you a bunch of headaches and a much lighter wallet.

if its for the water dept and doesnt need to meet MUTCD standards or anything, print on clear and be done.

Considering what they are.............probably the cheapest option if the water department will bite, but they won't have the life I would think they are expecting.
 

Signed Out

Very Active Member
Screen printing wouldn't do much better for me, they all have unique addresses and numbers, not to mention teh full color seal. My big concern is the longevity of the clear printed overlay. it would be a cast clear with cast overlam but...
 

sfr table hockey

Very Active Member
I dug around for a bit and found a sample I printed on of a high grade diamond reflective. Can't say what brand it was as it was a scrap I had.

I print with an old Roland and ecosol inks and the stuff printed great. Not a pile of heat needed to get a good print. I have also done several other printed reflective parking signs that I do laminate after the print and are looking quite good. Have not been up that long, as they were only printed last summer.

Try to print a sample and see how the ink bites.
 

boxerbay

Active Member
^ Is ther a something that I'm missing which would make using the 1170 as any overlay rather than a printed on clear overlay a better looking/functioning?

the solid 1170 will not fade or scuff as easily as the clear printed vinyl. You should probably laminate the printed clear.

also the solid blues will be solid. not sure about you but i can always see a slight wave pattern when i print clears. I hate printing clears.
 

SightLine

Very Active Member
1170 series Electrocut for everything but the full color seal. The printed bit WILL fade the fastest but there is not a lot of other options there.
 
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