What is the difference between 3D, Partial 3D and Flat signs

Having recently being asked the difference between a 3D sign and a FLAT sign, I realized how seldom buyers actually expose their lack of knowledge, but assume that a sign is a sign is a sign, and the difference in cost is mostly related to higher profits.

This article will hopefully remove the uncertainty and assist buyers with their sign investments.

In general a FLAT sign is similar to a print on a piece of paper. It is exactly what the name says – FLAT. There is no depth to the sign, there is no body to the sign, and when one runs their hand along the sign it is FLAT.

A 2D sign – what the attached image states is FLAT is in fact slightly (up to 5 mm) THICKER than a FLAT sign, and when one runs your hand over the face of the sign there will be a definite depth to the sign. This depth is created by the material, and can range from microns to approximately 5 mm.

A partial 3D sign is the same as the 2D sign but has legs aka pins on the rear of the 2D portion making the sign STAND PROUD. The partial 3D has NO SOLID SIDES, so the pins are visible. Partial 3D signs are often used to create HALO ILLUMINATION and also to get the shadow that the sun leaves when it shines onto the sign. Partial 3D signs can vary from about 5 mm to about 125 mm in depth.

3D signs, like partial 3D signs have DFEPTH, but where partial 3D has open sides and the pins or legs are visible, with full 3D signs the sides (known as returns in sign language)close the distance from the front to the rear of the sign. 2D signs are the only way to get full illumination through the FACE of the sign. Also, full 3D signs require the most labor of any of the signs and as such tend to come at a higher cost.

So while the different sign types all require different amounts of labor, different material costs and can be used for different effects – for example halo illumination versus light through the face – they are ALL SIGNS, in that, similar to the difference between a ROLLS ROYCE, a LAMBOGINNI and a DONKEY CART, they are all vehicle that do not require the driver to do much work. They can all get the driver from point A to point B, but the difference is in the luxury of the ride, the PERCEPTION of a viewer of the driver and how long the ride will take – except in signage terms, it is not so much about the length of the drive, but much more about the life of the sign.

A digitally printed FLAT sign will last up to a maximum of three years in the African sun. A painted partial 3D sign should maintain it’s color for up to 7 years if a good automotive paint is used and the face receives more than one coat of paint. If a 3D sign is made with a good quality acrylic or acrylic and Aluminium, the sign could last up to ten years.

Thus, while a 3D sign may require a higher initial investment, if the client is looking to create a professional image that a ROLLS ROYCE or similar vehicle would create, the 3D sign is definitely the way to go. Similarly, if the initial investment of a 3D sign is less than double the initial investment of a flat sign, then one should factor in the life expectancy of the signs, and if the flat sign will require refacing in 3 years but the 3D sign will last an expected 10 years, then unless the 3D sign is more than 3 times the cost of the flat sign, the 3D sign may be a better investment.

Of course, budget is always important, and in reality the signs will ALL make one equally visible if they are all the same size, so in the end it boils down to (a) how much budget one has, (b) how long one wants the sign to last and (c) the kind of impression one wishes to create.

If you are in the market for signs and would like more information on what sign would best suite your business image contact Arnold of SignForce on +27 (0)11 440 7524 or arnold@signforce.co.za

You can visit SignForce’s website at http://www.signforce.co.za