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Sign Frames vs. Vinyl Graphics

Posted by Joe Giral on

What are the Pros and Cons of using 
Sign Frames v. Self-Adhesive Graphics?
You may be just starting out or a seasoned graphics, sign or marketing pro, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

The basics:
Outside bus and transit advertising is generally divided into one of two types:
Self-adhesive graphics printed on vinyl, or printed signs on rigid panels in a sign frame.
Whoa- aren't sign panels and frames from the 1960s?

If frames are so "60s" why would anyone want to use sign frames?
Yes, metal sign frames have been a low-tech solution used on city buses and trolleys since the 1960s- that's half a century ago. 
Full-wrap graphics WITH a changeable frame

Here are the pros and cons of these two ad systems.
Self-adhesive graphics:
This is usually printed vinyl with a removable adhesive backing
Pro: May be applied to almost any smooth and clean non-porous surface.
Surfaces must be non-porous because the adhesive needs to fully contact the surface in order to cling without blowing off in the wind.
Pro: May be used to "wrap" a bus entirely, sides, top and back.
Pro: May be purchased perforated to go over windows.
Con: Must be removed by a trained graphics or sign person 
Con: Surface must be cleaned and detailed prior to installing graphic.
Con: Installation must be carefully measured and applied by a trained graphic/sign person.
Con: Vinyl is easily damaged or scratched.

Printed Panels and frames:
Frames generally are push-up, drop down (PUDD) or snap-open styles (the snap-open style is quickly overtaking the old fashioned PUDD style, as the snap-open frames are considered more secure at highway speeds).
Pro: Sign panels can be changed out and replaced within an average of ten minutes per frame, by a person with a basic skill set.
Pro: Sign frames can now be made in almost any size.
Pro: Sign inserts may be printed both sides so a simple "flip" of the sign reuses the panel.
Con: Frame size dictates the size of the sign inserts useable.
Con: Some care must be taken to maintain or repair frame if damaged.

So to say this another way, it's cheaper labor-wise to use frames?
That's true. It's much cheaper to use frames and printed panel.

An average installation of vinyl graphics, including removing the existing graphic, preparing the surface (cleaning, prepping) and alignment and application of a new graphic averages 2-3 hours per graphic of Sign Company or Graphics person time at an average hourly rate of $45 per hour. That's $90 to $120 to change out the average graphic up to 120" x 36".

The average installation and replacement time for a snap-open or old-style PUDD frame is 10 minutes per sign for an average $2-$3 per sign by a current staff person, mechanic, driver or administration person.
Different frame "profiles" available at this manufacturer

What is your point of view?
 

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