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Differences Between Photopolymer and Thermoformed Signs

Two of the major choices that architects and designers have when it comes to their ADA and braille signs are photopolymer and thermoformed signs.

But what is the difference between the two? Does it really matter which type of process a company uses to create tactile signs? We believe that it does.

Let’s take a look at the differences between photopolymer and thermoformed signs.

The Process of Creating Photopolymer Signs

Photopolymer signs are one piece signs that are created using a polymer resin (a clear plastic in liquid form) that is hardened to form a plate.

In order to create the raised braille writing and other shapes that appear on the sign, the characters are first made on a film negative and then placed on a photosensitive sheet of polymer. The polymer and film are then exposed to UV light, which forms the desired shapes and characters.

There are some customization options with photopolymer signs. Architects can choose from some shapes, colors, and thicknesses to match their needs, but there are always limitations to the custom capabilities. It can take two weeks or more for companies to complete orders using this process.

The Process of Creating Thermoformed Signs

Thermoformed signs are an economical alternative to photopolymer signs that offer huge amounts of customization options.

The thermoforming process has been around for centuries. Long before companies were using the technique to make tactile and ADA signs, ancient Egyptians were using it to form horns and tortoise shells into a variety of shapes and sizes.

And the technology and techniques involved in the process have evolved over thousands of years.

Like photopolymer signs, thermoformed signs come in a single piece, but the process of creating them is very different. Thermoforming involves heating up a sheet of plastic and forming it over a customized mold to create the desired shape. There are a few different methods of thermoforming, which makes it a highly diverse way to form signs.

Design Capabilities of Thermoforming

Using the thermoforming process, architects can work with designers to create a truly customized ADA sign. From layering in acrylics to achieve depth, to creating 3D shapes, signs made using the thermoforming process can take almost any shape, allowing them to blend in any environment.

Thermoformed signs can also be created with any color combination, feature vibrant graphics and images and also have a variety of textures added to them, as well.

Easy to Start, Easier to Finish

Getting a thermoformed ADA signs is an easy process. At Encompass Signs, our designers work closely with you to gain insights on your project, helping you get the best sign possible for you or your clients. To get started today, contact our team. To start designing a sign, check out our 101400 studio to create a sign in 3 easy steps.