Sign Industries Ltd is a family owned and run business which specialises in etching onto Brass, Bronze and Stainless Steel.
The company was formed in 1989 when Gordon Norrie decided on a change of career direction, it started in a small way printing onto T-Shirts. Sign Industries has developed and grown over the years to encompass fascia signage and vehicle livery which is still part of today’s modern business but our main work is our quality etched signage.
Gordon was farming quite intensively when we sold up in 1985, he quickly got bored so we had to find something to do. When we’d been abroad on holiday we’d seen the sublimation system which transfers ink on to sweat shirts etc with a heat press and that’s how Sign Industries started, we went from there to fascia signage using aluminium and foamex (expanded plastic) and vinyl lettering which we still do but Gordon felt that the market was a little restricted and to go Nationwide we should branch out a bit. We went to a few Sign Shows and the etching plant was bought, mostly second hand, so yet another learning curve! At that time most work came through on fax and had to be reworked before we could use it, let me take you through the processes for the different methods and materials we use and show you a few examples in the materials and pictures.
The etching is our mainstay and we’ve sent signage as far as the Falkland Islands for the Stanley Museum and to Nigeria where it shows the way to the Nigerian Defence Intelligence Agency, that makes me laugh when you see the intricacy and brightness of the design, of course it might be a ruse and the actual agency is in the little tailors shop 4 doors down! Our bread and butter work is etching the legend on to door entry plates and memorial bench plaques. We work in Brass, bronze and stainless steel, bronze and S/Steel need no aftercare but brass needs polished now and again. We’ve tried with different lacquers to seal the brass but if any weathering gets in behind the lacquer it looks awful quite quickly so we don’t recommend it.
The process of etching: First cut your metal, we have a fairly large guillotine for cutting normal squares etc, if we need an odd shape we send it to a laser or water jet cutter to get that done so any shape is possible! We then cover the back side of the metal with vinyl and make a mask with the pictures or legend on it, this is placed on the front of the metal which has been polished and finished by the supplier where the letters and images are then picked out, any part of the sheet which has not been masked will etch. It is then placed on runners to go through the plant, we use ferric chloride to etch, which is a salt although the process is called acid etching there is no acid involved. The metal usually has two passes to get the depth needed but that can depend on the material, S/Steel is harder than bronze so it takes a little more time. By etching, it means we can cover a bigger area with more text, mechanical engraving on to S/steel is very time consuming and much more expensive. It then gets cleaned and with the mask still on, progresses to the paint shed. We use a 2 pack car paint to give longevity. We can do as many paint colours as you like but they all have to be done separately and we must have a thin divide of metal between the colours or they’ll mix together, it is only then that the vinyl is removed, the last job is polishing and packing, for delivery we use a carrier who gives us next day delivery to most parts of Great Britain.
Sublimation: We print out the legend on to photographic paper with special sublimation ink, the paper is pressed on the metal which has a polyester coating, (or a sweat or T shirt which has polyester through it) where it‘s placed on a heat press, the combination of heat and pressing transfers the ink to the metal where it becomes permanent. It’s a good system for badges, inside & small signage but it can fade in the sun.
Aluminium Signage: These are everything from road signs to large factory signs. Depending on the quality of the vinyl used they will last for 15 – 20 years. The aluminium is cut to size and the legend is placed on where it is rolled to secure. We don’t have the facility to make special designs but we know who to contact to get that done. Examples of the signage, the Sea Front at Montrose, which was made in 2006, and still looks good. More modern is Murton Wildlife.
Before the change in countryside legislation we made almost all the Rights’ of Ways signage so most of the green signs are ours.
Foamex Signage: Is much the same principle as the aluminium but a slightly cheaper and not quite such a hard wearing backing. As temporary signage it’s great as it’s not so heavy to handle.
We can also work on Perspex, wood, slate and traffolite with our laser cutter. The traffolite or rowmark plastic is like a sandwich with different colours fused together, we can laser through the top layer to reveal the under layer showing the contrast as we see here. This is often used by Gardens to name the plants, it also makes good memorial plates which are fairly long lasting but not as expensive as the normal bronze plaque.
Perspex signage: Our newest signage is Perspex based which you’ve seen before, it suits the more modern buildings.
Backing boards: And lastly we make our own wooden backing boards with a clever system to secure and hang as we have here.
Sign Industries is without a doubt the preferred supplier of our commemorative plaques. The staff are helpful and efficient, and the quality of the plaques are second to none.
James Salomons – Royal Botanic Gardens
I would like to thank you for the care and attention you have provided. The plaque is perfect and exceeds my expectations. I am certain my family will share the thanks I express.
Thank you to everyone at Sign Industries that put forth the effort and patience to work with my individual request overseas.
Sign Industries Ltd’s professional and personal service will guide you through the materials and design choice to make certain that the bespoke signage you need is the right choice for the situation.
All our materials are sourced from companies based in the UK who understand our business and customer needs.
For more information please Email [email protected] or Telephone us on 01307 463997
Sign Industries Ltd is registered in Scotland. Number SC148278